When Nick Foles laced up his cleats before the big game on Sunday, February 4, the city of Philadelphia wasn't the only place rooting him on. A Westlake High School graduate, Nick Foles had the city of Austin (and probably the state of Texas) behind him, too. Foles is more than just a star football player from these parts, though, and his reputation expands beyond leading the Westlake High School team to their Division I title game in 2006. Foles comes from a family heavily involved in the Austin food scene.
Along with father Larry Foles, Nick Foles is one of the co-owners of ATX Cocina. Modern Mexican in downtown Austin, the restaurant focuses on the use of corn in the kitchen as its basis for traditional Mexican cuisine. The restaurant also prides itself on its use of natural, clean ingredients that include organic agaves and non-GMO maize, beans, and chilies.
His father and partner Guy Villavaso also opened Z'Tejas, Hopdoddy, Eddie V's, Salty Sow, Tumble 22, T22 Chicken Joint, and Red Ash in the Austin metropolitan area. As Austin360 discovered, however, was that there's one more restaurant connection lurking in this maze of football, Philly, and food:
If you untangle the Austin-Philly-football-restaurant connections a little further, you'll discover that ATX Cocina executive chef Kevin Taylor's parents in New Jersey were good friends with former Eagles player Brit Hager and his wife, Bridgette. The Hagers moved to Austin, and their son, Bryce, played at Westlake and became friends with Nick Foles. When Larry started visiting Philadelphia to watch Nick play with the Eagles, the Hagers put him in touch with Taylor, according to a rep for ATX Cocina. Larry Foles, who was interested in Starr Restaurants, became friendly with Taylor, who was the chef at Starr's El Vez Mexican restaurant. And, voila, the chef now works for Foles in Austin.
While that might be a lot to follow, it only proves just how small of a world we live in. The Philadelphia ties are strong in Austin, much to the dismay of Dallas Cowboys fans around.
Congratulations to the Foles family and to the Philadelphia Eagles on their historic win! And despite carrying Philly to the big win, Foles is a Texas boy at heart. As he told NFL Network, "I grew up in Texas. I played some Texas high school football... When the joy goes away, that's a hard thing... We're humbled in this moment and I'm grateful."