Food for thought

Austin Food & Wine Alliance announces new grant program for culinary innovation in Central Texas

Austin Food & Wine Alliance announces new grant program for culinary innovation in Central Texas

Austin Photo Set: News_Matt_live fire recap_april 2012_josh watkins
Austin Food & Wine Alliance's Live Fire event in April 2012 Photo by Matt McGinnis

In its short existence, the Austin Food & Wine Alliance has become widely known for first-rate events that celebrate Austin's culinary expertise. But outside of deliciously-executed events, this nonprofit also gives plenty back to the culinary community that it shines a light on.

On Monday, the organization announced a "first-of-its-kind grant program" that will give $20,000 in 2012 to support “chefs, farmers, spirit-makers” as well as “artisan producers and food-focused nonprofits.” The grant program is the first in the nation to provide funding specifically to support culinary innovation that contributes to a local community; it will include one $10,000 grant and two $5,000 grants.

Originally outlined as a $10,000 initiative, the Austin Food & Wine Alliance has impressively doubled the original goal, thanks to strong community partnerships and successful fundraising events. Those partnerships include the Austin Food & Wine Festival, Whole Foods Market, Maker's Mark Bourbon, FreshPoint Produce and the CultureMap Tastemaker Awards.

The application process, which opened Tuesday, closes at midnight on Oct. 19. It's reserved for food and beverage artisans, producers, culinary professionals or representatives of a food-focused non-profit serving the Austin or Central Texas community. The grant application must also demonstrate that the grant will be used for culinary innovation in the wine, beer, spirits or food industries.

“We’ve invited a private panel of prominent culinary professionals and community members to carefully consider the applications and name grant recipients,” said AFWA executive director Mariam Parker of the review process. Grant winners will be announced at a ceremony on Dec. 12, 2012.

While Live Fire and the upcoming Wine and Swine events may be heating up headlines, it's the Alliance's dedication to supporting the culinary scene with initiatives like the 2012 grant program that speak to the organization's true pulse.

"We are thrilled to be able to give this sizable amount of funding for grants to benefit and highlight the talent, craftsmanship and innovativeness of the Austin culinary community," said Cathy Cochran Lewis, AFWA president.

For more information on the grant application process, visit the organization’s website.