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10 Can't-Miss Events at the 2016 Austin Food & Wine Festival

This year will bring more talent, tacos and toe-tapping than ever before
April 6, 2016
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by Veronica Meewes

Later this month, the Austin Food & Wine Festival will return to Auditorium Shores for its fifth year. The festival brings together some of the country's biggest culinary personalities — plus top musicians — for three days (April 22–24) of dinners, demos, tastings and presentations. Below, find 10 delicious events you won't want to miss.


Participants having a blast at Tim Love's grilling class last year (Photo courtesy of AFWF)

Learn grilling tips at Tim Love's rowdy hands-on grilling classes.
Tim Love's hands-on grilling classes (offered on both Saturday and Sunday mornings) are two of the festival's most anticipated events. Each participant receives  a cooler filled with goodies like steak, fish, vegetables, and spices plus a grill and all the tools needed to fire up a delicious meal while getting tips from the Texas restaurateur and grillmaster (who most recently opened Lonesome Dove in Austin). You can bet the white wine will be flowing and the event will end with a traditional round of tequila Russian roulette.

Robert Randolph will perform at a brand new Gospel brunch.
Live music is always an important part of the Austin Food & Wine Festival, where musicians like Delta Spirit, Lucinda Williams and Kings of Leon have performed in the past. This year Austin will welcome Robert Randolph to the stage for a brand new Gospel brunch performance on Sunday in the Grand Tasting Pavilion


Amanda Freitag joins AFWF's overwhelming pool of culinary talent (Photo courtesy of AFWF)

Amanda Freitag joins the talent roster.
In addition to the return of big name chefs like Andrew Zimmern, Hugh Acheson and Graham Elliot, Amanda Freitag, co-star of the Food Network’s hit series Chopped and co-host of American Diner Revival, will be leading a presentation entitled "The Chef Next Door" on Sunday April 24, featuring recipes from her first cookbook, which was just released this fall.

Kick back at a Friday night social hour at The Madison.
This year, the festival will kick off with a Friday night social hour event at the brand new Madison. Expect cocktail creations from Justin Lavenue and Dennis Gobis of The Roosevelt Room plus bites catered by The Peached Tortilla.


Jack Gilmore brought plenty of smoke and fire gadgets to last year's fest (Photo by Veronica Meewes)

See what our city's fire pitmasters have up their sleeves this year.
Each year, the grilling and smoking component of the festival gets bigger and bigger. Last year, there were several dedicated fire pit areas, which gave chefs the space to get really creative with contraptions a fire truck rotisserie designed by Jack Gilmore of Jack Allen's Kitchen, a corned beef pulley system built by Terrence Gallivan and Seth Siegel-Gardner of The Pass and Provisions in Houston and a whole calf roasted through the night Bryce Gilmore, Sam Hellman-Mass and Mark Buley of Odd Duck.


Chef David Bull returns to the Driskill Grill for a special dinner (Photo by Jody Horton)

David Bull returns to the Driskill for a special dinner.
To celebrate the 130 anniversary of the Driskill Hotel, chefs Troy Knapp (of the Driskill Grill) and David Bull (who led the Driskill Grill before opening Congress) will team up for a legendary six course dinner on Wednesday, April 20.


Tim Love receives the winning guitar for Rock Your Taco last year (Photo courtesy of AFWF)

The taco competition heats up once again.
Each year, the Rock Your Taco Showdown at Republic Square Park gets a little more competitive. Andrew Zimmern, Graham Elliot, Nilou Motamed and Christina Grdovic will serve as judges again as top chefs like Ming Tsai, Hugh Acheson, Tyson Cole, Jimmy Bannos, Jimmy Bannos Jr., Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo compete for the title of taco champion. This year, The Suffers will provide a soulful musical backdrop.

Acquaint yourself with statewide talent at the Taste of Texas
On Friday April 22, talented chefs from across the state will serve bites at the Taste of Texas in Republic Square Park. In addition to the return of chefs like Drew Curren (Italic, 24 Diner, Easy Tiger), Richard Blankenship (CBD Provisions), Rico Torres and Diego Galicia (Mixtli), look for exciting new appearances from Mary Cuclis (Pondicheri), Adam Dorris (Pax Americana), Matt Balke (Bolsa), Susana Querejazu (Barley Swine, Odd Duck) and more.


Janina O'Leary's pastry display from last year (Photo courtesy of AFWF)

See what kind of Willy Wonka magic Janina O'Leary has in store for us this year.
When she was at TRACE and then laV, the pastry queen set up elaborate displays of sweets at various events. Now that she's gone solo, we wonder what delicious, beautiful creations she has up her sleeve this year? 

Listen to Marc Vetri play the guitar at his own pizza party.
While not part of the official festival, Vetri will be hosting a five-course dinner at Pizzeria Vetri on Thursday April 21, featuring dishes by chefs Jonathan Waxman, Aaron Sanchez and Drew Curren. Afterward, Vetri and musician Phil Roy will play the guitar for diners.

Weekend passes, as well as some tickets for individual dinners and events, are available online at www.austinfoodandwinefestival.com. Tickets to the Pizzeria Vetri event can be reserved by calling (737) 222-5294.

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