Austin spring festival that unites chefs and farmers unveils 2024 lineup
Farmers market fiends treasure a chance to sample a product straight from the booth. Vendors regale these shoppers with tales of sustainable farming practices, happy animals, and a strong avoidance of freezers. The snack somehow tastes better than it would have without the preamble.
Multiply this by two dozen and you get Field Guide Festival. The third annual event will return April 20 (we're begging for some cannabis-infused options), and the full lineup has been revealed.
This walk-and-taste experience is one of a growing category of similar events, but it sets itself apart with a unique concept: pairing chefs and food producers to create micro-dishes that are as illuminating of our food system as they are tasty. Perhaps because this festival is still in its relative infancy, it's much more laid-back than others. Chefs and farmers are eager to chat with guests, and that's the driving idea.
"A lot of times you're only seeing the farm names on menus," says Field Guide co-founder (and former ACL Music Fest festival director) Lindsey Sokol in conversation with CultureMap, operating on a generous assumption that restaurants even disclose their suppliers. "This was our way to bring that farm face to a name and be able to have conversations with these local farmers."
Much smaller than most of Austin's other festivals, Field Guide provides a more relaxing experience.Photo by Mackenzie Smith Kelley
Also on Sokol's team is Philip Speer, one of Austin's leading chefs, as the event's "chef curator" and culinary director. Speer is well-known for his work at the Mexican restaurant Comedor, but is seen about as much as a chef can be outside its walls, frequently engaging community members at creative events with sustainable food sourcing at the center.
“As a longtime chef and restaurateur in the Austin and Central Texas community, I have learned that the importance of supporting our local farmers is paramount to the future of our local food system,” said Speer in a release. “Without these working relationships built by our commitment to buy local where and when available, our food system is incomplete. Field Guide Fest shines a light on these pathways, making the information accessible to anyone, while enjoying amazing food and connection.”
He's not the only star chef chipping in. The full lineup includes:
- Amanda Turner (Olamaie) and Ty + Sara Burk (True Bird Farm)
- Ariana Quant (Uchi + Uchiko + Uchibā) and Tara Chapman (Two Hives Honey)
- Arturo Hernandez (Murray’s Tavern) and Ryan Gould (Geosmin Regenerative)
- Chelsea Fadda (Pecan Square Café) and Cody + Natalie Scott (Green Bexar Farm)
- Christina Currier (Comedor) and Travis Breihan (Smallhold)
- Colter Peck (Elementary) and Finegan Ferreboeuf + Jason Gold (Steelbow Farm)
- Daniela + Rosa de Lima Hernández (La Santa Barbacha) and Benjamin + Meghan Roberts (Elder Hill Farms)
- Edgar Rico (Nixta Taqueria) and Erin Gomez + Allen Li (Solana Farm)
- Fiore Tedesco (L’Oca D’Oro) and Perrine Noelke (Local Pastures)
- Graeme Little (Fairmont Austin) and Amalia Staggs + Adachi Ogbenna (Farmshare Austin)
- Harvard Aninye (Canje) and William Nikkel + Ivan Bates (Trosi Farm)
- Jo Chan (Bureau de Poste at Tiny Grocer) and Joe + Kasey Diffie (Joe’s Microgreens)
- Joaquin Ceballos (Este) and Anamaria Gutierrez (Este Garden)
- Kevin Cannon (Barley Swine) and Phillip Green (River Field Farm)
- Peter Klein (Holiday on 7th) and Jacob Grob (Urban Roots)
- Rick Lopez + Frank Harris (La Condesa) and Ben McBride (Heritage Seafood)
- Rodolfo “Rudy” Rivera III (Bottega) and Lis Stumpf + Mo Ryan (Hot Spell Farm)
- Sarah Heard + Nathan Lemley (Foreign & Domestic) and Hannah Gongola (H2Grow Farms)
- Sonya Cote (Store House Eatery) and David Barrow (Eden East Farm)
- Susana Querejazu (Lutie’s) and Sean Henry (Hi-Fi Mycology)
- Taylor Chambers (Suerte) and Hannah Beall (CTFB Garden)
- Todd Duplechan + Joey Atwater (Lenoir) and Germaine Swenson + Ivan Matula (Munkebo Farm)
- Tracy Malechek-Ezekiel (Birdie’s) and Becky Hume (VRDNT Farm)
- Special guests Tracy + Jack Geyer of Boggy Creek Farm
Sarah Heard, one of the returning chefs, brought this grilled pork chop salad in 2023.Photo by Mackenzie Smith Kelley
This year's festivities will also include educational talks (curated by co-founder Trisha Bates), a "farmer's bodega," a pizza party, and a miniature vegetable omakase experience. Guests to the omakase tent will get to taste three bites as part of a "10-minute culinary journey" that showcases some of Boggy Creek Farm's seasonal yields.
"The omakase experience that we are seeing not only in Austin right now, but also nationwide, I think has taken over so much of the food scene in a really exciting way," says Sokol. "[During an] omakase experience, you are being very intentional with knowing what you're putting in your mouth because of how the coursing experience is...so [that] is unlike anything that hopefully you'll have seen at a festival before."
Sokol believes that the main draw for such an all-star lineup of chefs is the festival's commitment to starting conversations in the community about how our food is sourced. Chef Fermín Núñez of Este — which is constantly on best-of lists along with its sister restaurant, Suerte — backs this up.“
We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to join a festival committed to fostering connections between farmers and chefs,” said Nuñez in the release. “This year, our restaurants are proudly represented by both of our chef de cuisines and given our own farm at Este, it was an obvious choice to participate. Cultivating the bond between farmers and chefs aligns perfectly with our values and we look forward to another great year.”
Because this is a smaller-than-usual festival and tastings almost always run out of food, guests should arrive as early as possible. Tickets are available now at fieldguidefest.com. Sales benefit the Central Texas Food Bank.