Thirty Texas women chefs, winemakers and food artisans had a chance to shine brightly in the starlit courtyard of the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center on Thursday night. The sip-and-stroll tasting was the only public event of the three-day Les Dames d’Escoffier International conference held in Austin this weekend.
The Austin chapter hosts invited Les Dames members from across the state to bring their wares for sampling. Notable brands including Central Market, Paula Lambert’s Mozzarella Company in Dallas and Becker Vineyards in Fredericksburg participated, as did relative newcomers such as San Antonio’s Shrub Drinks and Dallas’ 3015 Restaurant.
“As a food artisan, I run into things that I’m not sure how to handle, and Les Dames gives me a group that I can turn to for help when I need it." — Leslie Horne, Aurelia's Chorizo
Austin was well-represented in the mix, with tastings from Chez Zee American Bistro, El Alma Café y Cantina, Fresa’s Chicken al Carbon, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Satay Restaurant, The Sticky Toffee Pudding Company, Tacos And Tequila, The Carillon, The RK Group, The Steeping Room and Weather Up.
Chef Kristine Kittrell of Mulberry and Weather Up used the event to highlight her new work with Weather Up, serving a smoked whitefish fritter with a pickled apple relish alongside a twist on a Negroni cocktail. “I love Les Dames and what they do," she said. "I am excited be part of the international conference that the Austin chapter has been working on for three years.”
Les Dames d’Escoffier is an invitation-only organization with 28 chapters, each offering education and philanthropy opportunities to female chefs, winemakers, restaurateurs, writers and other food professionals. Local chapters award scholarships to culinary students in their respective areas, host roundtables for members and provide a variety of philanthropic and networking opportunities.
The Dames Across Texas event was a fundraiser for the Les Dames d' Escoffier International Legacy Awards Fund that gives women interested in the culinary industry the opportunity to get hands-on experience.
Leslie Horne of Aurelia’s Chorizo in San Antonio said she relies on the organization to help her navigate the often-rocky terrain of running a food business. “As a food artisan, I run into things that I’m not sure how to handle, and Les Dames gives me a group that I can turn to for help when I need it,” she said. “I know there are others who have faced similar challenges, and we support each other.”
The conference continues through Saturday with a variety of educational sessions and a fiesta on the terrace of the Long Center and culminates with the Grand Dame Award dinner, at which Dolores Cakebread, co-founder of Cakebread Cellars in Napa Valley, will be honored for her many contributions to winemaking.