beefing up its presence
The Austin Food & Wine Alliance is expanding across Texas. Best known for events like Wine & Swine and the Official Drink of Austin, the organization announced the formation of the Texas Food & Wine Alliance with corresponding chapters in San Antonio, Houston, and Dallas.
A 501(c)3, the nonprofit uses its events to raise money for grants that are distributed to chefs, farmers, artisan producers, wine-, beer-, and spirit-makers, and food-focused nonprofits. To date, AFWA has issued grants totaling more than $330,000, including more than $14,000 this year for immediate aid and pandemic recovery.
"The Austin Food and Wine Alliance's positive impact on our food community is so large that it is impossible to truly understand the scope," said Olamaie chef Michael Fojtasek. "They are able to support a huge number of uniquely different types of businesses and charity organizations in a calendar year. From farmer to chef to cheesemaker, the AFWA is a real small business champion in our great city and state."
Grant giving will begin in 2021. At a time when the coronavirus pandemic has forced restaurants, breweries, and other small businesses to close, the need for a statewide organization that provides financial support seems more urgent than ever.
"The pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges to the Texas hospitality industry, and it will take many years for full recovery,” AFWA executive director Mariam Parker added. “There is no greater time than now to fortify, to showcase, and to support the breadth of Texas talent, culinary businesses, and nonprofits.” (Parker, notes a release, will now serve as executive director of the TFWA.)
The rest of Texas will have to wait a bit for a proper introduction to the TFWA, as the organization will not hold any in-person events this year. Instead, it will launch the Alliance Academy, a series of online classes featuring some of the state's top chefs and beverage experts.
Instructors for season one, which starts September 17, include Austin chefs Edgar Rico and Sara Mardanbigi (Nixta Taqueria), Jackie Letelier (Casero), and Tavel Bristol-Joseph (Emmer & Rye, Hestia), and chef Rico Torres (Mixtli in San Antonio). Each class will feature ingredients shipped directly to participants via Austin's Assembly Kitchen. Afterwards, attendees will participate in a live Q&A with their instructor.
“Past, present and future, it all boils down to our communities and how we band together to keep the bond strong,” said Jason Dady, owner of popular San Antonio concepts Alamo BBQ Co., B&D Ice House, Range, Tre Trattoria, and Two Bros. BBQ Market. “From day one of the Austin Food & Wine Alliance, I have seen first-hand their community outreach and how it has helped keep the hospitality group together and help grow in positive and sustainable ways. I’m beyond excited to have them in San Antonio.”