Hot Luck is coming back for a second year. Festival founders Aaron Franklin, James Moody, and Mike Thelin enjoyed success last May when they filled a weekend in Austin with incredible food from great chefs around the country and music shows from many genres. Despite it being a brand-new festival, it was a financial and culinary success. “We got so lucky last year,” Franklin said, referring to how everything came together, including the weather.
He is confident this time around that they won’t need as much luck thanks to the experience and preparations they’ve been able to make over the past year. “I’m excited that we’ve been able to craft our local team,” said Franklin on Wednesday afternoon, just before cooking ballpark-style hot dogs for a media preview event (“We’re going to fire up a grill on the roof of Whole Foods.”).
The festival, which runs from Thursday, May 24th to Sunday, May 27th at various locations, will repeat the structure of last year’s food events. This year’s theme, which Franklin likened to “eighties-era mall food courts,” is a new riff. He said his wife, Stacy Franklin, might be even be concocting a boozy version of an Orange Julius. Franklin plans to build himself his “own version of a Steak & Ale or maybe Arby’s.”
The Thursday night “Hi, How Are You?” industry welcome party, held at Franklin Barbecue, will have more of a barbecue focus. Recent James Beard semifinalist Samuel Jones, from Sam Jones BBQ, will be cooking an Eastern North Carolina-style whole hog. Also in attendance will be Billy Durney from Brooklyn’s Hometown Bar-B-Que and the Vidals from Valentina’s Tex-Mex BBQ in Austin. Franklin said to expect “a backyard party with plenty of cold beer and barbecue.” Maybe Franklin, which reopened in November after an August fire destroyed the smokehouse, will offer tours of the new pit room, which should be complete by then.
Throughout the four-day festival, a lot of Texas talent will be on hand, including Houston’s Chris Shepherd of Underbelly, Rebecca Mason of Fluff Bake Bar, and Justin Yu of Theodore Rex (one of Texas Monthly‘s top ten restaurants of 2018); San Antonio chefs Diego Galicia and Rico Torres of Mixtli and Steve McHugh of Cured; and John Tesar from Knife in Dallas. The large Austin contingent includes Bryce Gilmore, Jesse Griffiths, Laura Sawicki, Tyson Cole, and Takuya Matsumoto and Tatsu Aikawa of Kemuri Tatsu-Ya (also on Texas Monthly‘s top ten).
One pair of chefs to keep an eye out for are the men from Joe Beef in Montreal. David McMillan and Frédéric Morin had publicly swore off food festivals altogether a few years ago, but Franklin persuaded them to be part of Hot Luck. Other big national names include David Chang of Momofuku in New York, Ashley Christensen of Poole’s in Raleigh, and Andy Ricker of Pok Pok in Portland.
Music will once again play a big part of the festival (Moody owns popular Austin music venue the Mohawk). Among the acts performing this year are Galactic, Hot Snakes, Okkervil River, and Peter Hook & the Light.
Tickets are available now for the music and food events. A limited number of Whole Enchilada passes, which get you into the food events and parties, are also available for $550. Click here for tickets, event details, and more information.