With only a couple of months before the 2nd Annual Austin Food & Wine Festival kicks off, organizers of the anticipated event have just released news of four brand new interactive “Fire Pit” demonstrations featuring top Texas culinary talent.
Last year’s interactive grilling demonstrations with famed Fort Worth Chef Tim Love — which featured more than 200 attendees lighting up grills and trying their hand at grilling Love-style steaks — was perhaps one of the biggest highlights of the entire event.
This year, not only is Chef Love back for more with two interactive demos, Grilling 101 and It’s Tailgate Time in Texas, but four new Fire Pit demonstrations scheduled throughout the weekend will give attendees a front row look at how some of the Lone Star State’s finest chefs cook with live fire.
The festival weekend — with its host of cooking demonstrations from Texas and national chefs, wine and spirits seminars, grand tasting exhibition tents and live musical performances — runs April 26-28.
Dallas chef Tim Byres of SMOKE and Jason Dady of San Antonio’s Jason Dady Restaurant Group will host separate Fire Pits on Saturday, April 27 along with father/son duo Jack and Bryce Gilmore of Jack Allen’s Kitchen, BarleySwine, and Odd Duck Farm to Trailer. 2013 James Beard semi-finalist for Best Chef Southwest, Rene Ortiz of La Condesa and Sway, will host his own demo on Sunday, April 28.
“The whole concept is for us to cook a whole animal over live fire," says Bryce Gilmore, who also nabbed two James Beard nominations this year for Rising Star Chef and Best Chef Southwest.
“We're trying to show how primitive this cooking technique is. It's different than grilling burgers, it can definitely be intimidating especially for the at-home cook, which is why I'm looking forward [to] walking through our processes with everyone there. It's also a chance to remind people that what they're eating is an actual animal that had a life, and is not just pre-packaged for their convenience; it's about knowing where your food comes from.”
The Fire Pit demonstrations will be less structured than the larger demos, and are designed to be more intimate than the hands-on grilling classes. Guests will be able to engage with the Texas lineup of top chefs in a laid-back Q&A format during the cooking segments and also have an opportunity to taste the chefs’ bold creations.
“Nothing is more satisfying than cooking over live coals ripping with heat and the ability to manipulate that heat to showcase the modern cuisine we have today,” says Jason Dady who is also looking forward to showcasing what is, essentially, primitive cooking.
“I’m looking forward to showing guests the small little things about cooking over coals. You’ve got to treat it just like any other range that has hot spots, cold spots, resting zones. It’s so simple, yet so complicated all at the same time.”
And for those curious about the inclusion of local Texas purveyors at this year’s Grand Tasting Pavilion, the Austin Food and Wine Festival has also released the lineup of Grand Tasting exhibitors to round out the 2013 festival programming.
The H-E-B Grand Tasting Pavilion will include exhibitions and tastings from these Texas-based food and beverage purveyors: AustiNuts, Bastrop Brewhouse, Becker Vineyards, Butterface Bake Shop, Cake and Spoon, Corners of Time, Coterie Market, Cru, Delysia Chocolatier, Duchman Family Winery, Fara Coffee, Farmhouse Delivery, Flour, Hickory Street, In A Pickle Foods, Jasper's, Key Ingredient, Michael Angelo's, Pate Letelier, Pedernales Cellars, PhoNatic Vietnamese Cuisine, SFC Farmers' Market, Sheraton Austin at the Capital, Stubb's, Sullivan's Steakhouse, Teo, Texas Hill Country Olive Company. The Nature Conservancy, Tiny Pies, and Z'Tejas Southwestern Grill.
“We’re thrilled to be involved with the Austin Food and Wine Festival again this year,” says David Kuhlken, co-founder and winemaker for Texas' own Pedernales Cellars, who is particularly excited to bring a national presence to Texas wines. “Over the last few years, harvests here in Texas have been fantastic, and we can't wait to show those attending this year's festival how Texas wines are evolving.”
This year’s lineup was chosen by a selection committee based on a list of applicants. Among the many factors taken into account were the types of food or beverage each exhibitor would serve and whether or not the purveyor fit the overall “big picture” of the festival.
According to festival organizers, they did receive more applicants than there are available spaces, which means not everyone was admitted due to space constraints. While the Grand Tasting Pavilion is currently full, the selection committee is ready to reconsider any applicants that were not initially accepted should any positions become available.
The festival will also showcase a healthy smattering of other out-of-state food and wine exhibitors including Alaska Seafood, Amici Cellars, Alexander Valley Wines, Hahn Family Winery and more. See the event website for a full list.
Tickets for the Austin Food & Wine Festival are available in two options for either $250 or $850. All attendees must be 21 years of age or older. For more information purchasing tickets and what each option includes as well as a complete schedule of programming, visit www.austinfoodandwinefestival.com.