Huntsville has had an influx of quality dining establishments of late with new developments attracting bigger and bigger talent into town, but Asian Rim has landed quite the catch in their new restaurant manager Cristophe Ithurritze.
Born in the South of France, Chirstophe earned his culinary degree at the age of 17 years old and eventually found his way to Hollywood, Las Vegas and Chicago where he worked with Wolfgang Puck as a pastry chef for a total of 15 years as a partner, Corporate Chef and Director of Pastry.
The number of awards and recognitions he’s earned throughout his career, including, 4th place at the Worldwide Olympic Pastry Competition in 1999, “Best Pastry Chef in Las Vegas” 2001, and the Las Vegas “Up-coming Chef of the Year” award in 2003, could fill up the rest of this article alone.
And after only being open for three short months, downtown’s newest asian sensation, Asian Rim, has brought him to Huntsville.
Asian Rim, which first opened its doors on December 5th of last year, has been quickly making a name for itself in the Huntsville dining community and owner Roy Hockman couldn’t be more excited about the addition of his new restaurant manager Christophe. “It’s a game changer for us quite frankly.” said Roy. “I see Christophe coming in like a new head coach. We’ve already had a good system in place, but we’re looking to kick it up even more.”
Roy, who has lead a former life as an Outback Steakhouse franchisee, had all but retired from his working days when he says, “after watching the 4th rerun of the Andy Griffith Show, I thought I might want to get back to doing something.”
Roy was inspired to start his search for the perfect new restaurant concept, “I had a blank canvas, so I started calling around knowing that food is the epicenter of any restaurant.” And after many phone calls, dozens of visits to asian eateries around the country and interviewing numerous culinary firms and consulting groups, Asian Rim was born.
With an overwhelming response to their original Birmingham location, Asian Rim began looking to expand its regional footprint and set its eye on Huntsville. “It’s a phenomenal market,” says Roy. “The economy is bustling, it’s steady and I think the people here are pretty phenomenal quick frankly, Mayor Tommy Battle, Chad Emerson, Judy Ryals, everyone has been very supportive. Not to mention we feel like we have an A+ location.”
Opening the restaurant on the first floor of a hospital/office complex may not have been the obvious choice to most, but Roy couldn’t be more thrilled with their urban local. “Wesley Crunkleton, of Crunkleton & Associates, was instrumental in getting us the space,” said Roy. “It’s magnificent, and it has a nice commerce feel to it, but it also has a tremendous neighborhood where we’re connected to the hospital via the skybridge and have a great relationship with Homewood Suites and the Artisan Apartments.”
And since opening three months ago, the neighborhood hasn’t let them down yet, “It’s been phenomenal,” stated Roy. “We’ve developed great friendships, and there seems to be a lot of enthusiasm for the concept. I’m highly excited about getting the affirmation of the location with the guest response, the logistics to the hospital, just the whole package has been very gratifying and we’re just excited to be here.”
For his part, Christophe was looking for a change.
“I was ready to get out of the west coast, you know the fast paced life,” commented Christophe.
“I’ve done that for 20 plus years and I’m ready to slow down a little bit.”
And after a chance meeting through a mutual friend, the partnership between Roy and Christophe was born.
But Christophe isn’t only excited about embracing the southern lifestyle, he’s also excited for the new challenges awaiting him and for what he sees as a brand new opening for the restaurant. “Even though it’s been open for 6 weeks, I really see it as a grand opening because we’re going to start from scratch.”
Part of that includes training he wants to give to the staff. “I like to train my guys, especially in the kitchen, to bring them what I know and what I’ve done,” commented Christophe. “It’s not all about me, it’s about them. It’s about what they want to bring and invest of themselves.”
As to what we have to look forward to as far as the menu goes? Christophe couldn’t divulge too much just yet, but what he could say was that they have already begun work on the lunch menu, “we really want to make it accessible to everybody and guarantee that they can be in and out in 30 minutes. We want to make sure that people can come in and get a great bite to eat from our quick lunch menu and get them back to work.” In addition to the changes in the lunch menu, they’ll also be introducing a new brunch menu on Saturdays and Sundays in March.
For dinner? “We want to try to get serious about the food and really kick it up a notch offering a wider selection of high-end product. Not necessarily a wider menu, but something more unique and consistent.”
One thing Christophe will say for certain is that “the quality and technique of the cooking will be next to none.”
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