It’s a conversation that takes place in restaurants and bars across the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn every night: NYC is amazing, but it can be such a drag, so wouldn’t it be easier to live somewhere else? Most New Yorkers debate and debate, but then either get too drunk to remember the next day that they’ve decided to leave — or more likely, they’re too busy at work to even deal with thinking about moving. Except those rare successful New Yorkers who decide that living in Silver Lake or Portland allows for a creative lifestyle with far fewer big city hassles. Or, in the case of Rene Ortiz and Laura Sawicki, Austin. 

Speaking during our Food Republic Interview Lounge during the Austin Food & Wine Festival, the executive chef (Ortiz) and pastry chef (Sawicki) discussed their new lives in their adopted hometown. It was easier for Ortiz, a Texas native who had already moved around a bunch; still, he’d more than made it in NYC, where he served up inventive Mexican fare at the red-hot La Esquina starting in 2007. Sawicki had achieved a similar status as a young chef to watch, at places like Tom Colicchio’s Craftbar and at Marlow & Sons in Brooklyn. 

They could have joined forces in New York and created their own restaurant, Ortiz notes in this interview, “but it would have cost a lot more money.” Sawicki adds that Ortiz lured her down after he’d made the decision to start La Condesa for a two-week consulting gig, but she decided to sign on full time after just a few days. “You don’t have to struggle as much here,” she notes. 

The acclaimed pair talk about all this and more in the video below (including how Sawicki had followed a fellow Argentinian Jew, Michelle Bernstein, to the interview stage).

La Condesa, 400A West 2nd St., Austin, TX 78701, 512-499-0300,