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.


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:


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 


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.


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.


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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