The Austin Food & Wine Festival will storm into town April 27-29 with a smattering of nationally recognized chefs and wine enthusiasts. Today, the brand spanking new food event to beat all food events — at least in Austin — has officially revealed its top headliners, a new live website for ticket sales and a few live music acts to look forward to. Put on by Food & Wine magazine, C3 Presents (the masterminds behind the Austin City Limits Music Festival), and notable restaurant kings Tyson Cole, Jesse Herman and Tim Love, the festival takes the reins from the former Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Festival.
As with the previous festival, food and wine fans will have the opportunity to check out a number of culinary and wine-driven events, but now, the festival will take on a larger presence in the national sphere with notable culinary and wine personalities including Marcus Samuelsson, Jonathan Waxman, Gail Simmons, Andrew Zimmern, Michelle Bernstein, Anthony Giglio, Ray Isle, Christina Tosi and Masaharu Morimoto.
“I have to say I’m most excited about having Morimoto as part of this festival,” says Tyson Cole chef/owner of Uchi and Uchiko. “He was someone I used to watch on VHS tapes when I was training to be a sushi chef. Later I had a chance to compete against him on Iron Chef America. He’s one of the reasons I became a chef and he’s an iconic figure in the American restaurant world.”
But not to worry, Texas chefs will definitely be along to represent the Lone Star state. In addition to Tyson Cole and Tim Love, we can look forward to San Antonio’s Andrew Weissman and Jason Dady, Houston’s Monica Pope, and Tim Byres of Dallas. And Austin will get to show off the best of the best in David Bull, Aaron Franklin, Bryce Gilmore, Rene Ortiz, Paul Qui, Phillip Speer, Laura Sawicki and Nate Wales.
Though events will be held throughout the city, look to Auditorium Shores as the central venue. And while a few of the events will involve a taste-and-sip theme, many of them will be more hands-on and educational. Want to learn how to filet a fish from Tyson Cole? You’ll get to. Want to be one of 200 to stand in front of your own grill, prepare your own fire and cook your own steak with Tim Love? You can. Want a step-by-step approach to how to taste wine? Anthony Giglio will show you how.
And no C3 Presents event would be complete without a little of what Austin is best known for: music. The festival will host a Friday night New Taste of Texas VIP Kickoff Event with Grammy-Award winning Lucinda Williams. And C3’s founding partner Charlie Jones revealed today that we may want to be on the look out for performances from the Black Keys, the Arctic Monkeys and Blue October.
Tickets for the event go on sale January 24. But instead of buying tickets to individual events as in the past, think of this more like a 3-day pass to the ACL Festival. You can buy a weekender pass for $250 and get into most of the vents, but if you want to pull out all the stops, you can gain access to everything with VIP pass for $850. Check out the new website for more information.
So yeah, this event is a bit steep in comparison to what the Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Festival pulled off for 26 years. But then again, this is a new time for Austin as one of the top culinary towns in America. Now that entities such as Food & Wine magazine are taking note of that, the goal is to make this event as sought after as the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen.
Will it work? Well, C3 has managed to pull off quite a moneymaker in the ACL Festival. We can only hope this new team of Food Fest entrepreneurs have what it takes to pull it off this spring.
And what of the former Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Festival? It’s still around, just in a completely different form; as in a formal 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with a shiny new name: The Austin Food and Wine Alliance. The AFWA will be the designated beneficiary of the new festival and has a mission to give back to the Central Texas culinary community by funding projects focused on culinary innovation. Additionally, the Alliance will feature educational programming and culinary events showcasing Central Texas’ chef talent along with artisan and local producers, world-class wine and spirit makers and craft brewers. We can look forward to a reprisal of last year’s Live Fire! event, which will be held at the Salt Lick Pavillion on Thursday, April 26. More information for this event will be available at austinfoodwinealliance.org.