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Event round-up: Star Chefs, Foodways Texas Symposium, Austin Food & Wine Festival and Chefs for Farmers

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If you had any doubt that the Texas culinary scene is happening, all you have to do is look at the upcoming events to know that we are sitting at the epicenter of some really fantastic food.

Starchefs.com, an online culinary industry magazine that, in the words of one of my chef friends, “is a big deal,” has announced their Rising Star Award winners in the Austin/San Antonio area and is hosting an event on February 21st where you can sample dishes and sips from these all stars.  I’m particularly excited about this event because not only does it include some of my favorite Austin chefs like David Bull, Tyson Cole, Ned Elliott and Paul Qui, but you can also try the food of incredible San Antonio chefs like Jason Dady, Michael Sohocki and Quealy Watson without having to make a trek down I-35.  I was wowed by these San Antonio chefs last spring when I visited for my Edible Austin article and I can’t wait for you to have a chance to try their food.  The $85 ticket price is worth it.

Austin is also playing host to this year’s Foodways Texas Symposium March 25th to 27th.  This weekend conference focuses on celebrating and preserving Texas food culture and last year’s conference had rave reviews.  In addition to thought provoking panels, demonstrations and speakers, the food schedule looks pretty terrific with meals prepared by Chefs Sonya Cote, Tom Perini and Justin Yu.  I expect my brain and belly to be full by the end of the weekend.

A bit further out, but well worth planning for, is the Austin Food & Wine Festival the weekend of April 27th.  The former Hill Country Wine and Food Festival has transitioned to the experienced hands of Food & Wine Magazine and C3 Presents, the folks who bring us the Austin City Limits festival, and they are bringing some really big names to Austin for a weekend of food and wine fun.  Chef Morimoto is going to be here.  Chef Morimoto. This is a big deal!  Some have expressed sticker shock at the $250 price tag, but if you add up all the individual tickets you bought for previous festivals, the weekender pass comes out to be a bargain for two grand tastings and 35 cooking demos.  I choose to think of this as my annual food and wine holiday staycation and plan accordingly.  I’ve had the dates on my calendar since they announced the festival, my spare room is booked with out of town guests and I can’t wait to learn from culinary experts on the international and regional stage.

Also mark your calendar on April 26th for the Austin Food & Wine Alliance Live Fire event.  The Alliance is the nonprofit beneficiary of the festival and they will be using their funds to invest in local culinary entities through grants.  The Live Fire event, focused on barbecue and all things sizzling, promises to be a signature fundraiser for the organization .  This one of my favorite events at last year’s festival and it sounds like they are turning up the heat for even more fun this year.  The event will be held at the Salt Lick Pavilion and stay tuned for more details.

An event I’m sorry I’ll miss (niece’s birthday trumps foodie fun) is the Chefs for Farmers Mixin’ it up on the Boulevard festival in Dallas on Sunday May 6th. This casual tasting event includes over 30 Dallas chefs cooking up dishes featuring local produce, wine and cocktail tastings and a samples from local food artisans.  I so wish I had a cloning machine.

Following are details on these and many other events in Austin, Dallas and Houston over the next few months. (Events are organized by city in alphabetical order, then by date.)  If you think I missed something, send it to me and I’ll add it to the list.

Austin

Thursday, February 16th,  Slow Food Happy Hour at Foreign & Domestic, 5:30pm-8pm,. Slow Food Austin’s Monthly Happy Hour will be Thursday, February 16th at Foreign & Domestic 5:30-8pm featuring a special charcuterie menu prepared by Chef Ned Elliott and a $5 Slow Drink Menu featuring beer from St. Arnold’s Brewery.  Please dress appropriately, there is limited indoor seating.  306 East 53rd Street.

Tuesday, February 21st, Star Chefs Rising Stars Awards Revue, 6:00 – 9:30 pm.  StarChefs.com, an online magazine for the culinary industry, has announced its first class of  Austin–San Antonio region Rising Stars award winners. Each winner will offer a sample of their fare at this walk-around tasting and attendees will get to vote for their crowd favorite.   Tickets are $85 per person; VIP tickets are $125 and include a private reception with Champagne and Petrossian caviar, beginning at 5:45pm. Tickets can be purchased at www.starchefs.com/tickets or by calling 212.966.7575.  Driskill Hotel, 604 Brazos St. 

The 2012 Austin – San Antonio Rising Stars Award Winners are:

CHEFS

David Bull, Congress Austin – http://www.congressaustin.com/congress

Ned Elliott, Foreign & Domestic – http://www.fndaustin.com

Aaron Franklin, Franklin Barbecue – http://www.franklinbarbecue.com

Bryce Gilmore, Barley Swine – http://www.barleyswine.com

Rene Ortiz, La Condesa – http://www.lacondesaaustin.com

Paul Qui, Uchiko – http://www.uchiaustin.com/uchiko

Quealy Watson, The Monterey – http://www.themontereysa.com

Andrew Wiseheart, Contigo – http://www.contigotexas.com/Austin 

PASTRY CHEFS

Plinio Sandalio, Carillon – http://www.thecarillonrestaurant.com

Philip Speer, Uchiko – http://www.uchiaustin.com/uchiko

SUSTAINABILITY CHEF

Michael Sohocki, Restaurant Gwendolyn – http://www.restaurantgwendolyn.com

HOTEL CHEF

Josh Watkins, Carillon http://www.thecarillonrestaurant.com

ARTISANS

John Bates and Brandon Martinez, Noble Pig – http://www.noblepigaustin.com

RESTAURATEURS

Tyson Cole, Uchi, Uchi Houston, and Uchiko – http://www.uchiaustin.com

Jason Dady, Bin 555, Tre Trattoria, and Two Bros. BBQ Market http://www.jasondady.com

SOMMELIER

June Rodil, Congress Austin – http://www.congressaustin.com/congress

MIXOLOGIST

Jeret Peña, The Esquire – http://www.esquiretavern-sa.com

HOST CHEF

Jonathan Gelman, Driskill Grill – http://www.driskillgrill.com/

Monday, February 27th – Tuesday, February 28th, Brown Symposium: Back to the Foodture, 9:00 am Monday to 1:00 pm Tuesday. The Brown Symposium is presented by Southwestern University on an annual basis and this year’s focus is on the future of food and includes lectures from professors from Indiana University, University of California Davis.  Open to the public without charge, the symposium is funded through an endowment established by The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston, Texas. While the event is free, they do request that you RSVP.  2012 lecture events will be held in The Alma Thomas Fine Arts Center, 1001 E. University Avenue, Georgetown, TX 78626.

Saturday, March 4th,  Wine & Food Foundation of Texas Cowboys + Gauchos, noon to 4:00 pm.  This tasting features barbecue and wines from Texas vineyards and South American wineries, as well as beer from Thirsty Planet.  Participating restaurants include Judge’s Hill Restaurant & Bar, Cafe Josie, Zocalo Cafe, Live Oak Barbecue, Wild Bubba’s Game Grill, Mmmpanadas, Delysia Chocolatier and more.  Tickets are $40 for members and $50 for non-members. Salt Lick Pavilion, 18300 FM 1826, Driftwood, TX.

Friday, March 23rd – Sunday, March 25thFoodways Texas Annual Symposium.  This 2.5 day conference will focus on the ways we preserve Texas (as a region, as an idea) in our food and the ways we preserve food in Texas. Sessions will include  will include a canning demo by Confituras owner Stephanie McClenny, the folks behind the Shrimp Boat Projects out of Houston and a group of intrepid Austin historians out to collect stories from iconic restaurants around the state. Experts will update us on this historic drought and its effect on different segments of our food economy, while an expert panel of craft brewers will discuss the world of Texas breweries and help us launch our Craft Brewery oral history archive. Registration includes lunch and dinner on Friday and Saturday as well as a Sunday Chuck Wagon Brunch from Tom Perini of Perini Ranch Steakhouse. Chefs for the weekend include Justin Yu of Oxheart Restaurant in Houston and  Sonya Cote of East Side Showroom in Austin. The Blanton Museum of Art Auditorium will host our daytime speakers and panels.  Tickets:  $225 Members, $250 General Public, $85 Panels Only (no meals) limited availability.

Thursday, March 27th,  Connally High School Culinary Program, 7 pm.  The Cooking with Connally students  host the next dinner in their Guest Chef Dinner Series with Sous Chef Chris Wilson from Lake Austin Spa. Proceeds from the dinner support the cost of this high school program including uniforms, cooking supplies and registrations and travel for competitions where the students can win scholarships to cooking school. Tickets are $25.  Purchase tickets here. 13212 North Lamar Boulevard.

Saturday, April 14th, Wine & Food Foundation of Texas Rare & Fine Wine Auction, 6:00 pm.  This annual event includes a live and silent auction of rare and collectible wines, dinners and wine trips while patrons enjoy sipping an array of fine wines and a lovely buffet. This year a portion of the funds raised  will benefit The Texas No Kid Hungry Campaign, a public-private partnership with the nation’s leading child anti-hunger organization Share Our Strength® and the Texas Hunger Initiative. Ticket prices have not yet been announced.  Four Seasons Hotel, 982 San Jacinto Boulevard.

Thursday April 26th, Austin Food and Wine Alliance Live Fire!, time TBA.  The nonprofit beneficiary of the Austin Food & Wine Festival will host their own fundraising event the night before the festival kicks off.  This event celebrates meat, barbeque and all this is wonderful about it.  Details are still pending, but definitely mark this on your calendar.  Salt Lick Pavilion, 18300 FM 1826, Driftwood, TX.

Friday April 27- Sunday 29, 2012,  Austin Food & Wine Festival.   Food & Wine Magazine and C3 Presents, the event and promotion company that produces the Austin City Limits Festival, have taken over the former Hill Country Wine and Food Festival and are bringing some serious culinary star power to Austin.  The weekend long festivities will include demonstrations and sessions with internationally recognized Chefs Masaharu Morimoto, Marcus Samuelson, Michelle Bernstein and Andrew Zimmern as well as TV personality and culinary experts Gail Simmons.  Don’t worry, plenty of Texas chefs will also take the stage; Chefs David Bull, Tim Byres, Tyson Cole, Jason Dady, Aaron Franklin, Bryce Gilmore, Tim Love, Rene Ortiz, Monica Pope, Philip Speer and Paul Qui are all on the lineup. Tickets are $250 for a weekender pass or $850 for a VIP pass.    Most events are at Auditorium Shores with a few at Republic Square park.

Dallas

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.

Sunday, May 6th, Chefs for Farmers Mixin’ it up on the Boulevard, 1:00 – 5: 00 pm. Chefs for Farmers, a grassroots organization that celebrates all things local, is hosting a picnic style festival  featuring dishes from 30 of Dallas’ top chefs, wine and cocktail tastings and samples from local artisans.  Proceeds are given to Meals On Wheels, Inc., and Water for Chizavane.Lee Park Dallas, TX. Early bird tickets are $100 for two tickets through February 21st;  tickets are $60 per person starting February 22nd.  E-mail linfo@chefsforfarmers.com for more details.

Houston

Monday, February 27thThe 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.


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Event round-up: Cooking with Connally, TEDxManhattan and Alice Waters

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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.

Austin

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.

 

Dallas

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.

 

Houston

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.

 

San Antonio

Thursday January 26th – Sunday, January 29thSan 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.

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Picking a CSA & Road Trip to San Antonio

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I am delighted to have two articles in the Fall edition of Edible Austin.   The first recounts a fantastic weekend in San Antonio exploring the real food scene on the River Walk.  I was amazed how each place had such unique character – I felt like I was walking into a completely different city with each new venue. And, more importantly, the food was fantastic. If you haven’t been to San Antonio lately, I highly recommend it for a weekend away.

The Embracing Local article explains how to pick a Community Supported Agriculture or local produce delivery service.  Many farms are still taking members for the fall season and this article can help you narrow your choice to the service that will work best for you.

You can view the entire issue online or pick up a copy at a local farmers market, restaurant or store.

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Farmers markets are popping up all over San Antonio

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Whenever I visit San Antonio on a Saturday, stopping by the Pearl Farmers Market is a must.  The market has grown into a vibrant hub since it opened two years ago, and you can easily devote a morning to exploring the market stalls, restaurants and shops at the renovated Pearl Brewery.

During my last visit to Pearl, I was surprised to find a card listing all of the other farmers markets in San Antonio.  I knew there were a few farm stands, but this card listed over half a dozen markets that covered almost every day of the week.  Wow!

The success of the Pearl Market has San Antonians seeking out more fresh, local produce and the farmers and market organizers have stepped in to meet the demand.  Since we had some time in our schedule, we toured the Quarry Farmers & Ranchers Market  on Sunday (8 am to noon in the parking lot of the Whole Foods at the Quarry).

Photos by Jenna Noel

This neighborhood market hosts about two dozen vendors with produce, meats and prepared foods.  I bought some wild boar pan sausage from South Texas Heritage Pork and was delighted to see familiar faces from Engel Farms, Markley Family Farm Springfield Farm, Scott Arbor and The Gardener’s Feast as well as several vendors from the Pearl market on Saturday.

It was inspiring to see how one strong market spurs others in the same area and I’m looking forward to visiting some of the other markets soon.  Do you frequent any of these markets?  If so, which is your favorite?   Are there other markets that I’m missing?  I’d love your help exploring San Antonio’s markets.

Other San Antonio area markets:

Main Plaza Farmers Market on Main Plaza in downtown San Antonio, this market is run by the San Antonio Food Bank, Tuesdays 10 am to 2 pm.

San Antonio Farmers Market Association operates six area markets including:

Olmos Basin, 
100 Jackson Keller (between San Pedro and McCullough), San Antonio. Open year-round. Tuesday and Saturday 7:30am – 1pm.


Leon Valley Community Center, 6427 Evers Rd, Leon Valley, TX. Open year-round. Wednesday 7:30am – 1pm. 


St. Jude Catholic Church, 130 S. San Augustine St., San Antonio. Open May – Dec. Wednesday 8am – 1pm.

San Antonio Botanical Gardens, 555 Funston Place, San Antonio. Open May- Dec. Thursday 8am – 1pm.

St. Matthews Catholic Church, 11121 Wurzbach Rd., San Antonio, TX. Open year-round. Friday 8am – 1pm.

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