On a sunny April day last year, I attended the 6th annual Austin Food + Wine Festival and walked away with more than 20 cooking tips and tricks that I still use in my kitchen today. My favorite tip, overheard in the Grand Taste Pavilion, was to never salt your pasta water before it's boiling because otherwise, you'll scorch your pan. That tip was worth its weight in gold as I gave my scorched Dutch oven a good clean for the final time. I haven't had a burnt bottom since. This year, I'm excited to see what I'll learn at the festival and if the new Chef Showcase lineup is any indication, I'll leave with a notebook full of cooking hacks and tricks again.
So what do you need to know about Austin Food + Wine Festival before going? It's a two-day event at Auditorium Shores festival grounds in Austin on Saturday, April 28 and Sunday, April 29, 2018. The events begin at 11:00 a.m., and there are five main sections of the festival: the Grand Taste Pavilion, the Cooking Demo Tent, the Tasting Sessions Tent, Meet the Maker Tent, and the Fire Pit. The Chef Showcase will feature 40 local chefs and restaurants in the Grand Taste Pavilion, serving samples of signature dishes to festivalgoers. Check out the full list below.
Saturday, April 28
- Stephen Bonin of Geraldine's
- Jeff Brown of Old Thousand
- Louis Ciolla of Salt & Time
- James Cole of Jacoby's Restaurant & Mercantile
- Austin Ewald of Grizzelda's
- Natalie Gazaui of Eberly
- Sarah Heard & Nathan Lemly of Foreign & Domestic
- Clinton Kendall of East Side King
- Lance Kirkpatrick of Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew
- Stephanie McClenny of Confituras
- Jason McVearry & Trisha Fortuna of Poke Poke
- Josh Neises of Lonesome Dove Western Bistro Austin
- David Norman of Easy Tiger Bake Shop & Beer Garden
- James Robert of Fixe
- Charles Schlienger of Sway
- Eric Silverstein of The Peached Tortilla
- Jason Stude of Boiler Nine Bar + Grill
- Joshua Thomas of Mattie's at Green Pastures
- Miguel Vidal of Valentina's Tex-Mex BBQ
- Kevin Williamson of Ranch 616
Sunday, April 29
- Jeff Balfour of Southerleigh
- John Bates & Brandon Martinez of Noble Sandwich Co.
- Thomas Calhoun of Aviary Wine & Kitchen
- Taylor Chambers of Justine's Brasserie
- Ji Peng Chen of Wu Chow
- Kazu Fukumoto of Fukumoto: Sushi and Yakitori Izakaya
- Geronimo Lopez of Botika
- Harold Marmulstein of Salty Sow
- Brian Moses of Olive & June
- Ashley Neave of Forthright
- Daniel Olivella of Barlata
- Sterling Ridings of Guild
- Maribel Rivero of Yuyo
- Max Snyder of Pitchfork Pretty
- Anthony Sobotik of Lick Honest Ice Creams
- George Thomas of Unit-D Pizzeria
- Carmen Valera of Tamale House East
- Murph Willcott of Texas French Bread
- Kevin Williamson of Ranch 616
The excitement is already in the air as the chefs ready to appear at the festival. Of the festival, the executive chef of Yuyo, Maribel Rivero said in the press release, "I am beyond excited to share in the spirit of Austin Food + Wine's Chef Showcase this year. Being a new restaurant in Austin, I am grateful for the opportunity to share in the camaraderie of the city's most notable chefs and look forward to presenting Yuyo's signature dishes and bold Peruvian flavors to festivalgoers."
Chef Joshua Thomas of Mattie's at Green Pastures in South Austin echoed that sentiment in the press release, saying, "I think this is a great opportunity for Mattie's at Green Pastures to be featured among the other great restaurants in Austin and to give festivalgoers the chance to see the wonderful transformation that has taken place with the newly reopened restaurant and iconic event space."
There are two types of tickets that can be purchased to attend Austin Food + Wine Festival. The first is the All-In Ticket at $625/person. Though it's a pretty penny, you certainly get your money's worth. The ticket includes access to the Festival on Saturday and Sunday; over 40 cooking demonstrations beer, wine, and cocktail tasting sessions; access to the expanded Fire Pits; all-day access to the Grand Taste Pavilion, including the Chef Showcase; a special Sunday Gospel Brunch; Grillin' and Chillin', and an entrance to Saturday night's Rock Your Taco event.
The second type of ticket is the Weekender at $250/person. This ticket includes festival access for Saturday and Sunday; over 40 culinary demos; beer, wine, and cocktail tasting sessions; access to the expanded Fire Pits; all-day access to the Grand Taste Pavilion, including the Chef Showcase; a special Sunday Gospel Brunch.
Whether you live in the Texas Hill Country or you want to take a quick weekend getaway to Austin to enjoy the festival, you won't leave empty-handed. You can watch hands-on grilling demos from the pros and rub elbows with the best chefs in the country at book signings.
Last April, I had the pleasure of getting a book signed by Amanda Freitag, a high point of my year. After all, Los Angeles, Boston, New York, and Chicago aren't the only cities serving up amazing food. Experience a taste of Texas at this year's Austin Food + Wine Festival.