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Austin Food & Wine Alliance announces winners of inaugural grant program for culinary innovation

austin photo: arden_afwa grant winner_dec 2012
Announcing the winners of the 2012 AFWA grant program. Courtesy of Austin Food & Wine Alliance / Facebook
austin photo: arden_afwa grant winner_dec 2012
Courtesy of Austin Food & Wine Alliance / Facebook
austin photo: arden_afwa grant winner_dec 2012
austin photo: arden_afwa grant winner_dec 2012

This fall, Austin Food & Wine Alliance announced an open call for submissions to its "first-of-its-kind grant program,” which would award $20,000 in 2012 to support “chefs, farmers, spirit-makers” as well as “artisan producers and food-focused nonprofits.”

On December 12, the organization announced the winners of the inaugural grant program at an awards ceremony at the AT&T Executive Education & Conference Center. Winners were selected by a prestigious private panel of culinary professionals and community members.

In 2012, the Austin Food & Wine Alliance awarded three grants, one of $10,000 and two secondary grants of $5,000 to Argus Cidery, Telecote Farms and the Connally High School Culinary Arts program, respectively.

“The winning grant projects clearly demonstrate innovation and value to the community,” said Cathy Cochran-Lewis, AFWA president, in a press release. “We are so fortunate to have the ingenuity, talent and commitment of these individuals and organizations focused on the advancement of food, wine and spirits in our community. It’s an extraordinary honor to be able to help these projects come to fruition.”

The grant program is the first in the nation to provide funding specifically to support culinary innovation that contributes to a local community. Grant funding was generated through direct support from the Austin Food & Wine Festival, Whole Foods Market, Maker’s Mark Bourbon, FreshPoint Produce and the CultureMap Tastemaker Awards.

The 2012 winning projects, with descriptions provided by the Austin Food & Wine Alliance, are as follows:

Argus Cidery

"The $10,000 grant will be used to plant a test orchard in Dripping Springs for experimentation of new apple varieties and rootstocks not grown in Texas, and will be the first Texas apple orchard using organic practices. The orchard, which will be open to the public for picking as well as to supply local restaurants, will be for educational purposes to carry on the apple growing tradition in Texas since many apple growers are leaving the business."

Telecote Farm

"The Pitres [owners of Telecote Farm, a 20-year old organic farm] will use the $5,000 in grant funding for two projects — a pilot program to humanely raise endangered heritage breed hogs on pasture and supply its pastured pork to the Austin community; and to subsidize and deliver weekly CSA baskets filled with local and organic vegetables and heritage pork to low-income, underserved families in Austin, uniquely providing access to fresh foods."

Connally High School Culinary Arts Program

"The Connally High School Culinary Arts program is the first of its kind and offers real life experiences while building practical skills in the foodservice and culinary field.  The students have created a five-episode cooking show called Cooking with ConnallyWhere You Become the Chef and have won numerous awards and cooked at the James Beard House in New York City. The $5,000 grant will be used to produce a documentary film to teach students across the state about the process of raising beef in Texas from pasture to plate. Students in the culinary arts program will produce the documentary and gain the opportunity to interact with ranchers, beef experts, chef and restaurants on the BBQ Trail to the highest-end steak houses."

Honorable Mention:

  • Salt & Time Butcher Shop & Salumeria
  • The Homegrown Revival
  •  Skinny Lane Farm
  • River Oaks Elementary (Pflugerville)/Recipe for Success Foundation
  • Red Rabbit Cooperative Bakery
  • Farm City, State
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