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Erind Halilaj

Chef Partner, Il Brutto

  • Born in Albania and raised in Italy, Erind Halilaj learned the meaning of quality service at a young age. Through his mother’s role as Director of Operations for luxury hotels, Erind was introduced to a world of fine dining and 5-star service. This led to a deep passion for not only fantastic food but for all aspects of the dining experience.

    After receiving a degree in economics and tourism services management, Halilaj pursued his passion as Chef de Partie of Hotel Principe di Savoia, a 5-star hotel in Milan. There, he discovered an affinity for traditional Italian cuisine using simple, fresh ingredients. He went on to serve as Sous Chef at the AC Hotel by Marriott Milano before being named Chef Tournant at 5-star luxury hotel Excelsior Hotel Gallia in 2009. Halilaj worked at several other hotels and restaurants in Italy, including as Executive Chef of private club Canottieri Restaurant in Terni, before an opportunity with JW Marriott brought him to Florida in 2014.

    Once in the states, it wasn’t long before Halilaj decided to make the move to New York City, where he became Executive Chef at Obicà Mozzarella Bar in the Flatiron District. In his first year, he was promoted to Corporate Chef for Obicà. In this position, Halilaj was not only responsible for developing the restaurant’s menu, but also managing multiple kitchens, developing training programs, and opening restaurants worldwide.

    In 2017, Halilaj joined the New Waterloo team as Executive Chef of Il Brutto. Il Brutto offers a classic menu of fresh antipasti, daily housemade pastas, and pizzas, and was honored as one of the Top 10 Restaurants in Austin 2019 by the Austin Chronicle.