Dig out your pants with the elastic waistband: a gluttonous lineup of Texas chefs, interactive culinary demos, and tastings is on the roster for the fourth annual Austin Food & Wine Festival, which runs from April 24–26.
Tickets to the highly anticipated event go on sale today, January 21, at 10 a.m. Similar to years past, the gourmet gathering at Austin’s Auditorium Shores and Republic Square Park promises a substantial lineup. The forty-odd events include the ever-popular grilling demo by Tim Love, owner and chef of Lonesome Dove Bistro and Woodshed Smokehouse in Fort Worth; chefs cooking over fire pits; celebrity chef book signings; and a smorgasbord of other delicious tidbits.
For those who want the no-holds-barred experience, the $550 “All-In” admission package grants access to all the cooking demos, one of Love’s grilling demos, interactive fire pits, food/beverage tastings, book signings, Saturday’s and Sunday’s Grand Tasting and tickets to the Taste of Texas, Rock Your Taco, and Sip & Sweets events. (The name of the package really seems to say it all.)
At less than half the price, “The Weekender” buys you most of the same perks, but you’ll miss out on the grilling demos and you’ll have to purchase separate tickets to the Taste of Texas, Rock Your Taco and the Sip & Sweets events.
A private pre-festival dinner, dubbed the Feast Under the Stars, kicks off the festivities on April 23. It’s a five-course, family-style dinner cooked up by many of Texas’s most acclaimed chefs, including Love, Uchi’s Tyson Cole, Matt McCallister (FT33, Dallas), Eric Waksmunski (Red Star Southern, Austin), and Jason Dady (Tre Trattoria, San Antonio).
The next day the festivities open up to the ticket-buying public, starting with the Taste of Texas, where people can sample dishes made by both the rising and established chefs of Texas chefs, like Justin Yu (Oxheart, Houston), Hugo Ortega (Hugo’s and Caracol, Houston), Tatsu Aikawa (Ramen Tatsu-Ya, Austin), Allison Jenkins (La V, Austin), and Wayne Mueller (Louie Mueller Barbecue, Taylor), just to name a few.
A signature of the festival has become its fire pits demos. Chefs cook over open flames, and people are able to have a front-row view to watch them practice their craft. Demos will be led by a number of notable culinary masters, including David Bull (Congress, Austin), Thai Changthong (East Side King and Thai-Kun, Austin) Terrence Gallivan and Seth Siegel-Gardner (both from The Pass and Provisions, Houston), Jack Gilmore and Bryce Gilmore (Jack Allen’s Kitchen, Barley Swine, both Austin), Jorge Hernandez and Paul Qui (Qui, Austin), Pat Martin (Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint, Nashville) Tandy Wilson (Nashville’s City House), and Andrew Wiseheart (Contigo and Gardner, Austin).
Saturday and Sunday’s signature mix-and-mingle event, Chef Showcase, is a sampler’s paradise, hosted by an all-Austin group, including John Bates (Noble Sandwich Co.), Ji Peng Chen and Ling Qi Wu (Wu Chow), Shawn Cirkiel (Parkside and Olive & June), Sonya Cote (Hillside Farmacy and Eden East), Andrew Curren and David Norman (Arro and Easy Tiger), Todd Duplechan (Lenoir), Jesse Griffiths (Dai Due), James Holmes (Olivia), Lance Kirkpatrick (Stiles Switch BBQ), Sarah McIntosh (Épicerie Café & Grocery), Eric Silverstein (the Peached Tortilla), and many more.
Also on Saturday is the Rock Your Taco competition. Last year’s winner, Richard Blais (FLIP Burger, San Diego’s Juniper & Ivy), goes up against the following chefs: Hugh Acheson (Atlanta’s Empire State South), Paul Qui, Tyson Cole, Tim Love, Jason Dady, Bryce Gilmore, Antonia Lofaso (Black Market in Los Angeles), Jenn Louis (Portland, Oregon’s Lincoln Restaurant and Sunshine Tavern), Tony Mantuano (Chicago’s Spiaggia, Bar Toma and Terzo Piano), Chris Shepherd (Houston’s Underbelly), Levon Wallace (Cochon Butcher in Nashville), and several more celebrity chefs.
The taco competition will be judged by Christina Grdovic (Food & Wine publisher), Graham Elliot (Graham Elliot Bistro), and Andrew Zimmern (national television personality).
The festival continues into the evening with the Sip & Sweets after-party. The casual dessert and cocktail party features creations from Austin pastry chefs Mary Catherine Curren (Easy Tiger and Arro), Thomas Calhoun (Lenoir), Janina O’Leary (La V), Callie Speer (Swift’s Attic), and Finney Walter (Olivia).
The Austin Food & Wine Festival’s full talent lineup and schedule of events will be released on February 18. For more information in the meantime, please visit the Austin Food & Wine Festival website.