The new year is kicking off with a number of exciting events around the state. I had the distinct privilege to attend the most recent Connally High School Guest Chef Dinner featuring Chef Shawn Cirkiel of Parkside and Backspace last night and am looking forward to the February Taste of Asia dinner with Chefs Christina Lee and Louis Ortiz of Central Market Cooking School. The dinners help pay for the uniforms, food and textbooks for this two year program that gives the Connally High students a head start on a culinary career. For a very reasonable $25, you can enjoy a terrific meal and invest in the future of these highly motivated and hard working kids.
Opportunities to learn about local and sustainable food abound in January and February. On Saturday, January 21st, TEDxManhattan has once again organized their conference around the topic of changing the way we eat and is broadcasting the series of speeches online. Groups around the country host watch parties for this important conference and the Houston Chapter of Bioneers and Blackwood Land Institute are hosting the first Texas watch party. You can apply to host your own viewing on the TEDxManhattan site.
San Antonio is hosting its first cocktail conference the weekend of January 26th and it is sure to draw talented bartenders, mixologists and cocktail enthusiasts from across the state. If digging in the dirt is more your speed, the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Annual Conference is hosting it’s annual conference in Mesquite the weekend of February 17th with informative sessions for farmers and organic gardeners.
And last, but not least, The Progressive Forum and Urban Harvest are hosting restaurateur, author and activist Alice Waters in Houston on Monday February 27th. I’m expecting inspiring tales from the woman that many consider to be the mother of the local food movement in the US.
Details about all of these events and more appear below. The event lists are organized by city (alphabetical order) then date. If you know of other events or organizations I should consider, please feel free to send them my way.
Thursday, January 19th, Slow Food Austin Happy Hour at Contigo, 5:30 pm – 8:00 pm. Happy hour features a special menu prepared by Chef Andrew Wiseheart and a $5 Slow Drink Menu featuring El Tesoro Tequila and (512) Brewing Company. RSVP here. Contigo, 2027 Anchor Lane.
Friday, January 20th, Book People & Edible Austin host author Elizabeth Engelhart, 7 p.m. Elizabeth will discuss her book about Southern gender and Southern food, A Mess of Greens with panelists Carol Ann Sayle from Boggy Creek Farm and Stephanie McClenny of Confituras. Event is free. Book People, 603 N. Lamar.
Monday, February 6th, Connally High School Culinary Program, 7 pm. The Cooking with Connally students host the next dinner in their Guest Chef Dinner Series with A Taste of Asia four course dinner with Chefs Christina Lee and Louis Ortiz of Central Market Cooking School. Tickets are $25. Purchase tickets here. 13212 North Lamar Boulevard.
Friday, February 17th – Sunday, February 19th, Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Annual Conference. This year’s conference will be held at the Mesquite Convention Center in Mesquite. This annual conference is a valuable educational and networking opportunity for new farmers, experienced farmers and people who like to grow their own food, with an exciting lineup of workshops, vendors, a bookshop and more. Visit tofga.org for details and to register.
Saturday, January 21st, TEDxManhattan Watch Party hosted by Houston Chapter of the Bioneers and Blackwood Land Institute, 9:30 am – 4:30 pm. An inspiring day watching leaders from diverse areas of the sustainable food movement talk about impacts and innovations across the country as we shift to a more sustainable way of eating and farming. Event is free, but space is limited. Register here. Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church, 1900 Bering, between San Felipe and Westheimer.
Monday, February 27th, The Progressive Forum and Urban Harvest present Alice Waters, 7:30pm. A pioneer of the sustainable-local food movement since she established her famous restaurant in Berkeley, Chez Panisse, Alice Waters has inspired chefs, farmers markets, and leaders of the food movement by using the freshest, local organic products, served only in season. She’s the author of 11 books including The Art of Simple Food (2007) and 40 Years of Chez Panisse: The Power of Gathering (2011). She will sign books and greet fans at the end of the evening. Ticket prices range from $14 to $94. Wortham Center, 500 Texas Avenue, Cullen Theater.
Thursday January 26th – Sunday, January 29th, San Antonio Cocktail Conference. This series of spirit based events organized at various venues in downtown San Antonio brings together top bartenders for four days of education seminars, guided tastings and cocktail parties. Conference proceeds will benefit HeartGift San Antonio. It looks like a great place to break multiple New Year’s resolutions while learning more about the craft of cocktails.