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The Ultimate Guide to the Austin Food & Wine Festival: Chefs Reveal What They're Cooking

By Megan Giller
April 23, 2014

This weekend some of the best and brightest chefs in Texas and all over the country will gather Downtown for the third annual Austin Food & Wine Festival. The lineup looks amazing but also daunting, with literally hundreds of treats to try. So which demos, events, booths, chef showcases, small plates and tacos should you go for? We’ve created a curated guide that features one event per time slot for you to make the most educated decision about how to spend your festival. We’ve also gathered details about what chefs are serving so that you can eat the best bites and have a rocking good time. Also stay tuned tomorrow for a separate guide to the Grand Tasting booths.

Thursday

6:30 PM Feast Under the Stars

The sold-out event will feature a five-course dinner collaboration between chefs Tyson Cole (Uchi), Chris Shepherd (Underbelly), Tim Love (Lonesome Dove), Kent Rathbun (Abacus, Jasper's) and Jodi Elliott (Bribery). Think dishes like bone-in 44 Farms pot roast with Appalachian Jimmy red-corn porridge and Meemay’s vegetables from Shepherd and mustard-crusted rack of lamb with crispy leek hash browns (pictured above) from Rathbun (Butler Park, 1000 Barton Springs Rd.).

Friday

11 AM-4:55 PM Food Republic Interview Lounge

Join Food Republic editor Richard Martin for a day of interviews with chefs as well as comedians from the Moontower Comedy Festival. Think big names like Matt McCallister from FT33 in Dallas as well as comedians like Joe Mande (W Austin, 200 Lavaca St.).

7 PM-9:30 PM Taste of Texas

This evening event for those with a Savor Pass will highlight Texas chefs’ signature styles, which is much more than barbecue and Tex-Mex. Of course, Wayne Mueller from Louie Mueller Barbecue will be serving up some mean smoked brisket, but you’ll also see out-of-the-box dishes from dozens of Texas chefs, like fried lamb tongue with pickled Texas watermelon rinds and habanero honey from Olivia’s James Holmes. Plus, Tatsu Aikawa of Ramen Tatsu-Ya is making a Japanese play on eggs and bacon, with a soft-boiled, marinated egg with braised shiitake mushrooms and crispy house-cured bacon. Also hit up the garden fritters with smoked crème fraîche and herb sauce from Justin Yu at Oxheart and Lenoir chef Todd Duplechan’s fusion version of Thai larb, with fermented pork, shrimp and rice sausage with tamago and toasted rice, sided with an herb salad (Republic Square Park, 422 Guadalupe St.).

Saturday

11 AM-3 PM Fire Pit

Join chefs Jason Dady (Umai Mi, Tre Trattoria), Andrew Wiseheart (Contigo), Jack Gilmore (Jack Allen’s Kitchen) and Paul Qui (Qui, East Side King) for an all-out grilling event. Among the goodies, Qui is making grilled pork tongue and Filipino pickles.

11:15 AM-12:45 PM Chef Showcase: Josh Watkins

The Carillon chef is flexing his muscle with Thai pork spare ribs, mint, basil, cilantro, pickled cabbage, mustard seeds, garlic salt, fish sauce, barbecue sauce and curried peanuts (Grand Tasting tent).

12 PM -1:30 PM Surf, Turf and Earth With Tim Love

The Texas chef who co-sponsors the event returns for another year of his highly attended and much-beloved grilling demonstration. Be sure to get here early for this one, and be prepared for a line. The good news? It’s both Saturday and Sunday, so hopefully you can sneak in at least one of the days (Grilling area).

1 PM-1:45 PM Tour De Femme with Sommelier Vilma Mazaite

The advanced sommelier and managing partner of new Austin hot spot laV will feature six different wines and styles, including bubbles, rosé, white and red. All are made by female wine makers from Italy, France and the U.S., as Mazaite focuses on wine from a female point of view (Oak tent).

2 PM-3:30 PM Chef’s Showcase with Swift’s Attic, Vespaio and Epicerie

Zack Northcutt and Callie Speer of Swift’s Attic will be making masa gnocchi with almond mornay, salsa de arbol, huitalacoche chips and cilantro. Meanwhile, Sarah McIntosh of Epicerie will be serving foie gras and chicken liver ganache on toast with strawberries from local Boggy Creek Farm and Sandi Reinlie of Vespaio will be making a roasted pistachio panna cotta with rainbow-carrot curd (Grand Tasting tent).

3 PM-3:45 PM Big Balls With Andrew Zimmern

The fun-loving, weird-food-eating chef and TV personality returns to prepare Japanese chicken meatballs and pearl rice balls (Alder tent). 

7 PM-9:30 PM Rock Your Taco

In past years chefs have been quite adventurous in their definition of a “taco” at this Savor Pass event, and this year promises to be wild as well. Congress chef David Bull is making a black-heart taco with goat-heart morcilla sausage, chicken-liver mousse, parsley salad and lemon crema. Chef Kent Rathbun from Jasper’s is making an ancho-roasted pork shoulder taco with tomatillo-lime salsa and queso panela. Celebrity chef Rick Bayless is making cochinita pibil tacos with black beans and habanero salsa on corn tortillas. Also check out more liberal interpretations like chef Ming Tsai from Blue Ginger and Blue Dragon’s taco, a Chinese red roast duck taco with sambal-mango salsa and avocado purée, or Underbelly chef Chris Shepherd’s Korean braised-beef shin Ssam with Coca-Cola pickles and onions. Meanwhile, Barley Swine and Odd Duck chef Bryce Gilmore is making a mysterious “goat revolution taco,” and three-time event winner Tyson Cole of Uchi and Uchiko is keeping his dish a surprise to see if he can win for a fourth year. Judges are Graham Elliot of Graham Elliot Restaurant; Christina Grdovic, the publisher of Food & Wine Magazine; and Andrew Zimmern, TV personality and chef. Also get a bite of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams sundaes: the Too Much Sundae with Milkiest Chocolate in the World ice cream, salty and buttery roasted Spanish peanuts and salty-caramel sauce, plus the Not Enough Sundae with salty-caramel ice cream with salty and buttery roasted pecans topped with whiskey chocolate sauce (Republic Square Park, 422 Guadalupe St.).

9:30 PM-12:30 AM Cirque du Trace

Join Food Republic at Downtown restaurant Trace for a late night of circus-themed cuisine and fun. Beyond the contortionist, ringmaster and “strong woman,” the vintage circus theme features dishes like cotton candy, mini goat merguez with harissa aïoli, hot-dog sliders, Scotch quail eggs, candied apples, battered cake balls and housemade Cracker Jacks for sale with prizes at the bottom of the box ($40, Trace, 200 Lavaca St.).

Sunday

11 AM-2 PM Fire Pit

Join chefs Bryce Gilmore (Barley Swine, Odd Duck), Jack Gilmore (Jack Allen’s Kitchen), Aaron Franklin (Franklin Barbecue), Ned Elliott (Foreign & Domestic) and John Russ (Luke) for a day of grilled meat. All will be standout, but in particular father-and-son duo Jack and Bryce are making whole roasted goat with cowboy cornbread, beans, tortillas and Dos Lunas cheese.

11 AM-11:45 AM Dumplings to Live By

Watch chef Monica Pope make shiitake-mushroom dumplings with locally sourced blue-cheese-honey-cream sauce (Alder tent).

11 AM-2:30 PM Surf, Turf and Earth With Tim Love

The Texas chef who co-sponsors the event returns for another year of his highly attended and much-beloved grilling demonstration. Be sure to get here early for this one, and be prepared for a line. The good news? It’s both Saturday and Sunday, so hopefully you can sneak in at least one of the days (Grilling area).

1:30 PM-3 PM Chef Showcase With Janina O’Leary

Get yourself a lavender-Earl-Grey-tea éclair and chocolate Marcona financier from the laV pastry chef (Grand Tasting tent).

2 PM-2:45 PM Be on Que

This event is in Texas, after all, which means that meat masters Aaron Franklin (Franklin Barbecue), Wayne Mueller (Louie Mueller Barbecue) and Andrew Zimmern will discuss how to ‘cue (Rodney Strong Vineyards panel tent).

Places Mentioned

Congress

American • 2nd Street District

Food28 Decor28 Service27 Cost$98
 
 
 
East Side King

Thai • East Austin

Food26 Decor11 Service14 Cost$12
 
 
 
Blue Dragon

Asian • South Boston

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Franklin Barbecue

Barbecue • East Austin

Food28 Decor20 Service23 Cost$17
 
 
 
Uchi

Japanese • Montrose

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Blue Ginger

Asian • Wellesley

Food27 Decor24 Service26 Cost$54
 
 
 
Uchiko

Japanese • Rosedale

Food28 Decor27 Service27 Cost$59
 
 
 
Barley Swine

American • Zilker

Food28 Decor19 Service25 Cost$47
 
 
 
Jack Allen's Kitchen

American • Oak Hill

Food26 Decor22 Service24 Cost$26
 
 
 
FT33

American • Design District

Food- Decor- Service- CostE
 
 
 
Foreign & Domestic

American • North Loop

Food23 Decor17 Service21 Cost$40
 
 
 
Jasper's

New American • The Woodlands

Food24 Decor24 Service23 Cost$43
 
 
 
Vespaio Ristorante

Italian • SoCo (South Congress)

Food27 Decor23 Service25 Cost$43
 
 
 
Olivia

French • Bouldin Creek

Food25 Decor22 Service24 Cost$42
 
 
 
Tre Trattoria

Italian • Northeast Side

Food24 Decor24 Service23 Cost$35
 
 
 
Lüke

French • Downtown

Food22 Decor20 Service19 Cost$39
 
 
 
Tre Trattoria Downtown

American • Downtown

Food24 Decor24 Service23 Cost$35
 
 
 
East Side King

NoneEast Austin

Food26 Decor11 Service14 Cost$12
 
 
 
Louie Mueller Barbecue

Barbecue • Taylor

Food29 Decor16 Service21 Cost$21
 
 
 
Uchi Restaurant

Sushi • Bouldin Creek

Food29 Decor27 Service27 Cost$56
 
 
 
Jasper's Restaurant

American • Plano

Food24 Decor24 Service23 Cost$43
 
 
 
The Carillon

American • Campus

Food24 Decor21 Service22 Cost$55
 
 
 
Swift's Attic

American • Downtown

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
epicerie Cafe & Grocery Austin

American • Rosedale

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Underbelly

American • Montrose

Food- Decor- Service- CostE
 
 
 
Oxheart

American • Downtown

Food- Decor- Service- CostVE
 
 
 
TRACE Austin

New American • Austin

Food21 Decor24 Service22 CostE
 
 
 
Contigo

American • Mueller

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Odd Duck

NoneAustin

Food25 Decor25 Service25 CostE
 
 
 
East Side King South Lamar

Asian • Zilker

Food- Decor- Service- CostI
 
 
 
laV

French • East Austin

Food- Decor- Service- CostE
 
 
 
 
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