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Austen Schindler, a former finance major at UNCW, discovered his true passion in the restaurant culture. This love led him to transfer to culinary school at Cape Fear Community College, where he honed his skills. His journey took him from an internship at Pinpoint to the opening team at Covey. He recently assumed the role of Executive Chef, a testament to his unwavering dedication and passion for his craft.

What makes Covey unique?

When you walk into Covey, you feel like you’re in a different city. The building alone is a work of art. Upon sitting down in the dining room, one of our very attentive staff members greets you with complimentary homemade biscuits with honey butter. You can choose from our thoughtfully curated food and beverage menus, and have a wonderful evening. I truly believe there’s not another restaurant in Wilmington where you can have the same experience as Covey.

How would you describe the food you like to cook?

My style of cooking is elevated comfort food. We put a lot of time, care, and thought into our food here, and my goal is for people to feel like they’re having the home-cooked meal of their dreams.

What motivates and inspires you as a chef?

I believe in continuous growth through learning, whether from books, the people around me, or simply through experience. It’s a never-ending whirlwind of new ideas, wonderful people, and, of course, amazing food. Getting to put smiles on people’s faces through the process is a nice bonus.

What might diners not know about you? 

Most diners probably would not know that I am only 26 years old.

What is your current favourite dish on the Covey menu?

My favourite dish is our local catch served with cassoulet vert, bacon made from swordfish belly, a whole bunch of basil, and a preserved lemon and shallot conserve. It perfectly combines technique, thoughtful flavors, and local ingredients.

What’s your favourite local produce, and how do you use it on the Covey menu.

My absolute favourite ingredient we get is our local oysters from our friends at Three Little Spats. We serve them raw with seasonal condiments or baked with our Red Beard Farms collard green Rockafeller. On special occasions, you might even see some of them fried.

Favorite foodie city?


What’s your all-time best comfort food?

My mother’s fried chicken.

Describe the best meal you’ve ever eaten.

I was sitting outside, and I started with a negroni and a dozen raw oysters. Next was a delightful local seafood pasta, and I finished with one of each dessert. It was simple, fresh, and thoughtful. It was difficult to stand afterwards, but I’d gladly have that meal anytime.

3 Songs on your current playlist?

What advice do you have for home cooks? 

Taste everything, and a little extra salt and butter won’t hurt.


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