Music lovers have ACL Fest, tech geeks have SXSW, but foodies? We have Austin Food + Wine Festival. One weekend every April, food lovers from across the nation gather at Auditorium Shores and Fair Market for four days of eating, drinking, and galavanting with the best chefs in Austin and beyond.
On January 23, AFWF dropped its hotly anticipated 2020 lineup and schedule, including appearances by more than 100 chefs, tastings and demonstrations, live music, cocktail samples, book signings, and lots of wine.
The ninth annual AFWF begins on Thursday, April 23, with Feast Under the Stars, an intimate, family-style dinner held outdoors at Auditorium Shores. Host chef Kevin Fink (Hestia, Emmer & Rye) is joined by Bryce Gilmore (Odd Duck, Barley Swine) and Trevor Moran (Locust, Nashville) for the can't-miss affair. The dinner, hosted in collaboration with Zero Foodprint, helps support Austin’s Zero Waste program, an initiative that aims to reduce 90 percent of the trash sent to landfills by 2040.
Friday, April 24, sees the return of Grillin' and Chillin', "a hands-on, interactive dinner party" hosted by DFW-based chef Tim Love (Lonesome Dove Western Bistro).
Rock Your Taco, a face-off competition and taco tasting in one, rolls back into Fair Market on Saturday, April 25. The chefs duking it out to see who has the best take on tacos will be Tatsu Aikawa (DipDipDip Tatsu-Ya); Mashama Bailey & Johno Morisano (The Grey, Savannah); Anne Burrell (TV personality and chef, New York City); Tyson Cole (Uchi); Scott Conant (Mora Italian, Phoenix); Andrew Curren (ELM Restaurant Group); Jason Dady (Chispas); Diego Galicia and Rico Torres (Mixtli, San Antonio); Sarah Heard and Nathan Lemley (Foreign & Domestic); JJ Johnson (Field Trip, New York City); Tim Love; Ryan Pera (Agricole Hospitality, Houston); Aarón Sánchez (Johnny Sánchez, New Orleans); Charles Schlienger (Sway); Philip Speer (Comedor); and 2019 reigning Rock Your Taco champion, Andrew Zimmern (TV personality and chef, Minneapolis).
“It’s always thrilling for us to be a part of bringing great culinary experiences to life,” says Food & Wine publisher Thomas Bair in a release. “Year after year, Austin Food + Wine continues to raise the bar, serving up creative tasting sessions, cooking demos, and events featuring standout talent in an amazingly fun setting — and this year is no exception.”
It wouldn't be a food and wine festival without the food and wine tastings, which happen at Auditorium Shores Saturday, April 25, and Sunday, April 26. Housed in tents across the expansive lawns will be dozens of the country's best chefs dishing out their best bites.
“As an Austin chef," says Eberly’s Jo Chan in a release, "it’s incredible to see our community come together, hosting one of the most fun and delicious events in the country, and welcoming in talent from all over to our beautiful city.”
Among the chefs slated to appear at this year's fest are Aaron Anselmi (Olive & June); Tano Avila (Grizzelda's); Jeff Balfour (Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery, San Antonio); Daniel Brooks (Licha’s Cantina); Jeff Brown (Old Thousand); Pedro Carvalho (Hopfields); Jo Chan (Eberly); Ji Peng Chen (Wu Chow); Matthew Davis (Forthright); Jacob Euler (Le Vacher); Reed Faitak (Austin Daily Press); Brandon Fuller (Jacoby's Restaurant & Mercantile); Taylor Hall (Apis); Sarah Heard & Nathan Lemley (Foreign & Domestic); Victor Ibarra (Andiamo); C.J. Jacobson (Aba); Clinton Kendall (East Side King); Lance Kirkpatrick (Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew); Geronimo Lopez (Botika, San Antonio); Jason McVearry and Trisha Fortuna (Poke Poke); Margarita Mendez and Nestor Mendez (Pueblo Viejo); Josh Neises (Lonesome Dove Western Bistro); David Norman (Easy Tiger Bake Shop & Beer Garden); Daniel Olivella (Barlata Tapas Bar); Ling Qi Wu (Lin Asian Bar + Dim Sum); Rich Reimbolt (Better Half Coffee & Cocktails); Edgar Rico (Nixta Taqueria); Christopher Rios (The Vegan Nom); James Robert (Fixe); Ryan Samson (Vespaio); Christopher Schaefer (Geraldine's); Eric Silverstein (The Peached Tortilla); Carmen Valera (Tamale House East); and Kevin Williamson (Ranch 616).
As guests sample bites and beverages, the grounds come alive with live-fire demonstrations at the aptly named Fire Pits, special panel discussions with top chefs, book signings, and specialty cocktail activations.
Overseeing the drinks portion of this year's event will be a "star-studded roster of sommeliers, wine, beer, and spirits experts" led by Master Sommelier Devon Broglie (global beverage buyer, Whole Foods Market) and Master Sommelier Craig Collins (Italian portfolio sales manager at Vintus, a New York-based fine wine importer).
Tickets and information
Tickets for Austin Food + Wine Festival go on sale Thursday, January 23, at 10 am and are priced at $625 for the All-In and $250 for the Weekender. Feast Under the Stars is also priced at $250 per ticket. For more information about ticket packages and to purchase a pass, head here.
A portion of all proceeds goes to the Austin Food and Wine Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to fostering awareness and innovation in the Central Texas food and wine community through grants, educational programming, and events. To date, the festival says it has donated $1.1 million to the alliance.