Notable chefs from across the country arrive in Austin this week to wow crowds with their innovative culinary techniques at the Austin Food + Wine Festival. Familiar faces from Bravo’s Top Chef competitions and heralded culinary stars will share their cooking wit and wisdom at daytime sessions, the Fire Pit grilling station and the sold-out Rock Your Taco cooking showdown.
Rock Your Taco, taking place Saturday night, is the best opportunity to taste the creations of these kitchen masters. Here’s a sneak peek of what to expect from the celebrity chefs on Saturday night.
Acheson fell in love with foraging in his adopted hometown of Athens, Georgia, combining his love of fresh ingredients with his classical culinary techniques to great success. He was named Best New Chef in 2002 by Food & Wine magazine and the James Beard Foundation awarded him Best Chef: Southeast in 2012.
What he’s dishing up: Braised lamb taco with cotija, fava and ramp salsa on white corn tortilla
Also catch him at: “Spring Has Sprung: A Favorite Ingredient” demo session and signing for his James Beard Award-winning cookbook, A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen on Saturday.
Jamie Bissonnette and Ken Oringer
Bissonnette and Oringer are the James Beard Award-winning duo behind acclaimed restaurants up and down the east coast. The restaurants represent a wide range of styles, from Oringer’s Tsukiji fish market-style uni sashimi bar to the Roman enoteca, Coppa. Their tapas bar Toro was such a hit in Boston that they opened a second location in New York City.
What they're dishing up: Lamb chili hard shell taco
Also catch them at: “Paella: Double Trouble” demo session, and Bissonnette's book signing for The New Charcuterie Cookbook: Exceptional Cured Meats to Make and Serve at Home on Sunday.
The Top Chef All-Stars winner and reigning Rock Your Taco champion unseated hometown favorite Tyson Cole last year with his flavorful octopus and lamb picadillo taco. Blais is known for combining unusual ingredients in classic dishes and mixing in a touch of molecular gastronomy.
What he’s dishing up: Pig and prawn head a la pastor taco
Also catch him at: “For Goodness Steak” demo session and a signing for his cookbook, Try This at Home: Recipes from My Head to Your Plate, on Sunday.
Lofaso, whose winning smile and attitude made her one of the most beloved Top Chef contestants, will show off her culinary chops as she tries to claim the title from her former rival at Rock Your Taco. In addition to her California restaurants, this busy single mom recently joined chefs Joe Bastianich and Tim Love in the second season of CNBC’s Restaurant Startup.
What she’s dishing up: Crispy octopus taco with jicama, radish, pickle chiles, achiote
Also catch her at: “Cavatelli Party” demo session on Sunday.
On the heals of launching her first cookbook, Pasta by Hand, Louis brings her seasonally inspired Pacific Northwest cuisine to the festival. The popularity of Louis’ Portland restaurants has earned her a Best New Chef nod from Food & Wine, as well as two semifinalist nominations from the James Beard Foundation for Best Chef: Northwest.
What she’s dishing up: Root vegetable taco with escabeche, sikil pak and cotija
Also catch her at: “Tartare 101” demo session and book signing for Pasta by Hand on Saturday.
Mantuano, a culinary legend, has racked up countless accolades for his work, including the 2005 James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Midwest. His flagship restaurant, Spiagga, Chicago’s only four-star Italian restaurant, recently celebrated its 30th anniversary. The spot has also earned one Michelin star each of the last four years.
What he’s dishing up: Mushroom polenta taco with fermented black garlic aioli, parmigiano-reggiano and micro herbs
Also catch him at: “Filler Up” demo session and cookbook signing on Saturday.
Wallace recently moved to Nashville to launch the Link Restaurant Group’s first foray outside of New Orleans, bringing Cochon Butcher’s nose-to-tail charcuterie to the Music City’s growing food scene. Wallace earned his Southern cooking credentials at the widely praised Proof on Main in Louisville.
What he’s dishing up: Grilled pork adobo tacos with guacamolito
Also catch him at: “Chop Chop” demo session on Sunday.
Waxman, of New York's Barbuto and Nashville's Adele's, is credited as one of the original "bad boy chefs." Waxman has written two cookbooks, is a frequent guest on the Top Chef franchise and is a founding partner of Nashville’s Music City Food + Wine Festival.
What he’s dishing up: Nopales y hongos asados tacos
Also catch him at: “What a Catch, Passport to See Food” demo session and cookbook signing on Saturday.
Wilson’s culinary inspiration may have come from his mother and grandmother, but his Southern inspired take on rustic Italian cuisine at Nashville's City House is all his own. Substituting traditional ingredients for local favorites (think grits instead of risotto) and perfecting the art of curing meats have won him many devoted fans.
What he’s dishing up: Smoked catfish taco on corn tortilla
Also catch him at: The Fire Pit on Saturday.