A native of Dublin, TX, and one of the owners and chefs of Porter Gastropub, Neil Joiner grew up in the south with a love for food and hospitality; an interest that was only intensified by his food-loving grandmother. As a child, Joiner would observe her in the kitchen while she prepared meals of Texas staples from scratch and freshly grown vegetables pulled straight from her garden. Becoming fascinated with watching Julia Child and Jacques Pepin’s cooking shows, Joiner became determined to pursue a career as a chef.
At the age of 15, Joiner worked at a catering business before moving to Denton, TX, to attend the University of North Texas. He continued to work as a server at a local restaurant, Red Onion Bistro, which, unfortunately, closed before he was able to increase his experience in the kitchen. Later on, Joiner became manager at Cupboard Natural Foods, a local grocery store known for its gourmet foods, specialty beers, wine and cheese. He was in charge of prepared foods and beverages and became familiarized with many types of food allergies and dietary restrictions that the store catered to. Armed with his dream of becoming a chef, he and his wife, Becky, also an employee of Cupboard at the time, moved to New York City, where he followed his dream and attended the French Culinary Institute.
While in culinary school, Joiner worked at De Gustibus, a culinary and wine demonstration center, where he helped prep evening entrees, granting him exposure in the midst of New York’s chefs and sommeliers. After receiving his degree, Joiner had a brief stint at Lupa Osteria Romana, helmed by Chef Mario Batali. Later on, he was offered an opportunity to be part of the opening team at Rick Moonen’s RM Seafood. After a successful opening and several rotations in the kitchen, RM Seafood earned a three-star review from the New York Times, an accomplishment Joiner is most proud of. Joiner’s departure from RM Seafood led him into a position under Chef Gabriel Kreuther, the Executive Chef at the Ritz-Carlton Central Park. He learned incredible techniques from both the staff and Kruther, and met longtime friend and future Porter business partner, Joe Bixel. The two eventually went on to work at The Waldorf Astoria Hotel together.
Joiner and his wife returned back to the south where he became the Chef de Cuisine at Stories, a fine dining restaurant at the Hyatt Lost Pines Resort in Austin, TX. Shortly after, he was promoted to Executive Sous Chef, where Joiner managed all culinary operations and oversaw nine food and beverage outlets at the resort. It was also here that he met Trevor Lane, the third owner of Porter.
Joiner’s mentors include his parents, who have always been supportive of him and his career. Two of his biggest culinary influences include Matthew Accarino and Anthony Amoroso, two Chefs de Cuisine at RM Seafood, who inspired his passion for food and cooking.
What Joiner loves most about Austin is the uniqueness of people, craft beer, food, and art. When he isn’t in the kitchen at Porter, Joiner likes to spend time with his wife, Becky; son, Presley James; dog, Hank Williams; and cat, Wild Bill. Joiner is also a home brewer, and enjoys gardening and playing his guitar.