What better way to kick off food season in Austin than with an awards program celebrating the best of Austin's culinary and cocktail scene? CultureMap did just that with Thursday night's Tastemaker Awards, benefiting the Austin Food & Wine Alliance.
The second annual event, held at the iconic Driskill Hotel, brought together chefs, breweries and craft bartenders, along with the city's biggest food fans, for an evening of food sampling, cocktail sipping and celebration of Austin's diverse — and growing — culinary scene.
Guests sampled bites from celebrated restaurants including Congress, Barley Swine, Uchiko and Olive & June, and sipped cocktails featuring Texas spirits, crafted by bartenders Josh Loving, Jason Stevens and Tacy Rowland.
The highlight of the evening was the anticipated awards program, honoring winners in six categories: Restaurant, Chef, Pastry Chef, Sommelier/Beverage Director, Brewery and Craft Bartender. Emceed by famed Austin chef Jack Gilmore (of Jack Allen's Kitchen), the 2013 Tastemaker Awards highlighted the Austin food scene's growing diversity — and its acceptance of new talent.
The 2013 CultureMap Tastemaker winners are:
Todd Duplechan, Lenoir
Laura Sawicki, La Condesa
Mark Sayre, Trio
Tacy Rowland, Drink.Well.
Also announced was the winner of the 2013 CultureMap New Restaurant Challenge. Narrowed down from an initial pool of 16 new hot spots, Epicerie Cafe & Grocery was named the people's choice winner, based on CultureMap readers' votes.
“This year’s Tastemaker Awards shows the great strides Austin had made as a food community over the years,” says Jessica Dupuy, CultureMap food editor. “We have diversity in our restaurants and chefs, and a growing strength in our own craft products such as spirits and beer. It’s a good time for Central Texas.”
While only one nominee in each category could be named a winner, CultureMap celebrates all 2013 nominees — from restaurant and chef to brewery and craft bartender — for their contributions to the unique flavor of Austin's food scene.
Congratulations to the 2013 Tastemakers. Cheers to another year of spectacular food and drink in the Capital City!