In 1987, while still living in Houston, Siena executive chef Harvey Harris became the face of the “New Italian” cuisine movement in Texas.
TV shows, radio, newspapers, magazines all featured him.
Jacques Pepin called him a star and Italian food expert and author (the restaurant critic for Esquire at the time) John Mariani said he was “a chef to watch.”
Chef Harvey’s renown as an Italian chef led him back to Austin where restaurateur Reed Clemmons asked him to create the menu for what would become a turning point for the the city’s food lovers: Mezzaluna.
The restaurant had a two-hour wait every night and it drew national attention to the Austin Food scene.
Bobby Flay, Alice Waters, Susan Spicer, Barbara Tropp, Stephen Pyles, Giuliano Hazan, all came to dine at chef Harvey’s table.
He and the restaurant won 13 Austin Chronicle awards, including Best Chef, Best Restaurant, Best Italian and “Best of the Southwest” five years in a row. Chef Harvey also taught cooking classes at Central Market, Breed and Co., and Williams-Sonoma, and he was featured regularly on KXAN morning cooking segments, KLBJ morning radio shows and in Texas Monthly.
In 1998, Siena owner Stan Adams approached chef Harvey about opening a new Tuscan-themed restaurant in Austin. And the rest is history… The Chronicle still refers to Siena as one of the city’s leading “culinary destinations.”
Thank you, Chef Harvey! You are a pioneer of Italian food in the U.S. and one of the best chefs in Texas. We love you and appreciate what you do every day.
The Siena Ristorante Toscana Staff