The Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL) kicks off today, and it isn’t just the music scene that is attracting hoards of attendees to the festival grounds. The food lineup is just as alluring as the assortment of bands scheduled to play this year. A myriad of Texas restaurants, including The Salt Lick, Second Bar + Kitchen, and Woodshed, will be just some of the many food vendors at the event. In years past, places like The Mighty Cone, Amy’s Ice Creams, and P. Terry’s Burger Stand have been the main culinary attractions of the festival, but this year there are some fresh talented faces in attendance, such as Pâté Letelier and Torchy’s Tacos. To get an idea of what kind of preparation – not to mention anxiety – goes into an event like this, I reached out to a few of the vendors and asked them about the work that goes into the days leading up to ACL. You’ll see answers from them posted over the next three days of ACL. To start things off, David Bull of Second Bar + Kitchen explains how his restaurant is handling its first year as an ACL vendor. What factors go into deciding what kind of dishes you’ll serve at an event like this? We’re serving three different bánh mì sandwiches and our black truffle pomme frites. It was actually a long and grueling process to decide on the sandwiches. We surveyed our team on what they would want to eat, and we landed on something that was healthy-ish, hand-held, and had spice.
After a lot of brainstorming, we came up with the bánh mì sandwich, which is delicious, fresh, and hits all of the earlier points. Once we decided on the bánh mì sandwich, we then had to determine costs, yield percentage tests, and product availability, and most importantly, make sure it tasted great. What sort of prep work and labor goes into an event like this? We’re preparing food for tens of thousands of people within three days; it’s crazy! By the time ACL hits, we’ll have been working for a week prior to make sure we’re prepped and ready. We’re bringing on extra hands from the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts to help us prepare and serve at the festival – which will be invaluable experience for the students.
Are you going to catch any shows during ACL? If so, which ones? If I get a chance to see shows, I will be extremely lucky!