trailers, and markets, and suppers, oh my
Delectable Austin panelists dish on their favorite food memories andculinary-scene predictions
People who truly love food, love not only to eat it, but to talk about it extensively as well. And on Wednesday, October 19, “Delectable Austin: Food trailers, Farmers Markets & Fine Dining,” an event hosted by the Texas Exes but open to the public, will offer attendees a glimpse into the minds of some of Austin’s foremost foodies.
Longtime Texas Monthly food editor, Pat Sharpe, will moderate a panel consisting of Mason Arnold, founder and CEO of Greenling; Laura Anderson, co-owner of Bananarchy; Davis Tucker, restaurateur and man behind NXNW and Red’s Porch; Neil Fuselier, general manager of The RK group; and Hannah Calvert, founder of Supper Underground.
In the spirit of the event, CultureMap caught up with two of the panelists, Hannah Calvert and Neil Fuselier, to talk about the Austin food scene—past, present and future—their favorite food trends, and where they would eat given one final meal in Austin.
Describe your favorite Austin food memory.
Hannah Calvert: In October 2006, after only a few months in existence, Supper Underground hosted a special four-course feast with food from Flip Happy Crepes. The dinner was held at Floribunda, an amazing nursery and landscaping business on South Lamar with all kinds of magical things like grass covered “couches” on the property. It was a clear night and everyone seemed to be glowing as they ate at a long table under the stars. I remember thinking that evening that Supper Underground might just turn into something…
NeilFuselier: Visiting First Thursday on South Congress for my first time is my favorite food memory. I was walking down the street when I suddenly inhaled these aromas of deliciousness. I knew I had to follow the sweet smells to their origin. When arriving at the location, a line of trailers on the side of the road, I began to try everything and anything I could fit in my stomach.
When it comes to food, what makes Austin special?
HC: Austin’s food scene is a lot like our cultural identity as a city—it’s accessible and dynamic. Our food scene is evolving all the time, attracting top talent from around the country, but many of the best restaurants in town are totally affordable and without pretense.
NF: Austin is a mecca of amazing food. Since moving here, I have never had a hard time deciding where to eat or what looks good. Austin has anything and everything you could ever want, which is what makes it so unique and incredible. Around every corner there is a different restaurant or street vendor offering an array of foods from different parts of the world.
In terms of food trends, how does Austin compare to other parts of the country? Are we ahead, behind, or do we create trends?
HC: We’ve led some trends, like food trucks and pop-up restaurants, but we’ve been slower to adopt others, like gastropubs. I think Austin’s unique approach to food trends, and sometimes distinct lack of “food trendiness,” suits most Austinites just fine.
NF: When compared to other parts of the country, Austin has proven to be ahead of the times. We do not specialize in just one category of food, but have everything one could ever ask for.
We’ve led some trends, like food trucks and pop-up restaurants, but we’ve been slower to adopt others, like gastropubs.
What new trends will dominate the Austin food scene in the next year?
HC: I'm not great with predictions, but I see more fried chicken in our future…
NF: Comfort food, petite plates, family style serving and deconstructed food. In the catering world, more of our costumers have been asking for game meats as well as action stations.
What is your current favorite food trend and why?
HC: I love anything with salted caramel and have been happy to see it showing up at some of my favorite spots in town—Hopdoddy and Alamo Draft House both have salted caramel milk shakes that are well worth the trip.
NF: My favorite food trend is the food trailers off. It may be because my favorite food memory revolves around these trailers, but the food is also delicious. Every meal is home cooked and prepared right in front of you why you wait. What can be better than that?
How has the Austin food scene changed in the last five years? Where do you see it heading?
HC: I think Austin’s food scene has truly moved past its “adolescent” phase and can now hold its own. I have loved living here long enough to watch chefs like Tyson Cole, David Garrido and David Bull open their own restaurants and get the national recognition they deserve. Our food scene is only going to continue to get better.
NF: In the last couple of years, all businesses small and local have become such a huge deal. Austinites find a sense of pride in supporting restaurants started by Austin residents. The scene will continue on the path of successful small businesses with more home grown and local items being used in each restaurant.
What is most surprising about the Austin food scene?
HC: Particularly for people who aren’t from Texas, there can be a misperception that all we eat here is Tex-Mex and BBQ. Part of that may be true, but in Austin we don’t just have BBQ. Thanks to Larry McGuire we have fancy BBQ at Lamberts with a menu that is truly sublime. And thanks to places like Taco Deli, Torchy’s Tacos and Garrido’s, the taco has been elevated to a true art form. In Austin, we take simple food and add our culture and our brilliant local chefs to make it something incredibly special and unique.
NF: Considering I am originally from New Orleans, the Cajun food capital of the world, I never thought I would find food that tasted anywhere near as good or provided so many options. Since moving to Austin though, I was pleasantly surprised by the diversity in food choices.
When it comes to food, what will never go out of style?
HC: If we’re talking about Austin, breakfast tacos!
NF: Since we are in Texas, Mexican food will never go out of style.
What are your favorite Austin eateries?
HC: I eat at Julio’s at least once a week – you can’t beat their roasted chicken. I like Second Bar + Kitchen a lot and am counting the days until I get to try Congress. I love the dinner menu and casual elegance of Texas French Bread, plus the fact that we can bring our own wine.
If you had one last meal in Austin, where would you go and what would you eat?
NF: Although there are so many good options in Austin, I would have to pick Matt’s El Rancho. Their quesadillas have changed my life and love for Mexican food.
Delectable Austin: Food trailers, Farmers Markets & Fine Dining takes place Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011 at Etter-Harbin Alumni Center. Check in starts at 5:30 p.m., and the panel starts at 6:30 p.m. If purchased beforehand, tickets are $20 for members and $30 non-members. Purchased at the event, tickets are $25 for members and $35 non-members.