It was a celebration a long time in the making. For more than a year, we’ve called on our restaurants and bars to embrace their tenacity and confront unprecedented difficulties — all in the effort to feed Austin. The time finally came for the community to celebrate these local culinary champs in style.
On August 5, Austin’s Fair Market hosted the 2021 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, marking our signature ceremony and tasting event’s return to an in-person affair, following 2020’s virtual program.
Prior to the doors officially opening for the festivities, VIP guests toasted the nominees and our nonprofit beneficiary, the Central Texas Food Bank, while sipping some delightful cocktails from Maestro Dobel Tequila and Stranahan’s Rocky Mountain Single Malt Whiskey, plus “crushable” craft beers from Oskar Blues Brewery.
Once the doors flung wide and a flood of discerning Austin foodies arrived, the full fete began, with glamorously adorned guests merrily relishing the opportunity to reunite, honor Austin’s restaurant and bar heroes, and dine on truly scrumptious bites.
Amid the lively party atmosphere, guests strolled from one featured restaurant booth to the next, savoring bites like Honey Moon Spirit Lounge’s crab rice, Cuantos Tacos’ brisket-licious campechana tacos, Love Supreme’s perfectly named and roasted corn ribs, and the fiery chili wontons from Old Thousand, which, after a few nibbles, necessitated a visit to the Topo Chico stand for some cooling refreshment.
San Antonio restaurants also brought their A-game, with Mi Roti’s spice-driven jerk chicken bowl, Cuishe Cocina Mexicana’s tacos de lengua, and Landrace’s wagyu New York strip steak getting lots of happy nods from guests.
Some smart guests opted for dessert first, scooping up cookies from Swedish Hill and mouthwatering strawberry choux from Uchiko’s Ariana Quant, who would later win the title of Austin Pastry Chef of the Year.
Totally killing it in the emcee department was Alamo Drafthouse founder and dapperly dressed Tim League, who cheerfully revealed all the deserving Tastemaker winners — see them all here. Damien Brockway of Distant Relatives was honored as Austin’s Rising Chef of the Year, while Fiore Tedesco of L’Oca d’Oro was named Austin’s Chef of the Year, and adored East Austin taqueria Nixta scored the award for Austin Restaurant of the Year.
Chef Nicola Blaque of The Jerk Shack and Mi Roti netted the San Antonio Chef of the Year win, and husband-and-wife-owned café Clementine was named San Antonio Restaurant of the Year.
All in all, it was a celebratory evening filled with admirable toasts, new and longtime friends, and memorable bites from some of the region’s favorite eateries. We’re already craving more and can’t wait to toast you at next year’s CultureMap Tastemaker Awards.