Who made the decision to cancel the Austin Food & Wine Festival?

Auditorium Shores was covered with puddles of standing water on Wednesday, as more rained moved in Thursday morning. (Credit: Matthew Odam AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
Auditorium Shores was covered with puddles of standing water on Wednesday, as more rained moved in Thursday morning. (Credit: Matthew Odam AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

If there were any smug jokers defiantly pointing to the sunny skies yesterday around the time the Austin Food & Wine Festival announced the cancellation of this year’s event, today’s rain has probably quieted their squawking.

It was unclear yesterday who made the call to cancel the fest for the first time in its five-year history, but Jason Maurer, the events manager for the City of Austin’s Parks & Recreation Department, said today that the decision was made jointly between city officials and festival producer C3 Presents.

City officials were on hand at the park throughout the week monitoring the situation with C3 reps. Load-in was supposed to take place on Monday, but torrential rains over the weekend delayed that process. With more rain Wednesday morning, the timeline for production kept getting pushed. As the grounds became more soaked, the feasibility of pulling off the festival became less likely.

“You get to a point where it’s too wet to get ready,” Maurer said. And, even if producers had been able to magically snap their fingers and put the festival together by Friday, more wet weather was predicted for Sunday.

“You have to have a broader perspective,” Maurer said.

With standing water, lightning and thunderstorms, public safety was also a concern of organizers and city officials, but Maurer said the decision ultimately couldn’t be put in just one box. Production timelines, public safety, the condition of the park and the festival experience (which would have likely been miserable on Sunday, given the prediction of more rain) all combined to force C3 and the city to jointly make the call to pull the plug.

Festival goers will all receive full refunds, organizers said yesterday. For those who were planning on a weekend of eating and drinking, check out our 2015 Dining Guide for recs on the best places to eat in town. And check out our story from yesterday about discounts and specials some restaurants are offering festival ticket holders.

 

Austin Food & Wine Festival: 10 Questions with … Tyson Cole

Tyson Cole and his Applewood Smoked Masu Taco at the Austin Food and Wine Festival's Rock Your Taco event at Republic Square Park on Saturday, April 25, 2015.
Tyson Cole and his Applewood Smoked Masu Taco at the Austin Food and Wine Festival’s Rock Your Taco event at Republic Square Park on Saturday, April 25, 2015.

Uchi founder and James Beard Award winner Tyson Cole will compete in Saturday’s Rock Your Taco (which he has won twice). He will also serve composed small plates at the Chef Showcase on Sunday afternoon at Republic Square Park.

First important meal you ever cooked for another person?

The first catering gig I did by myself for 20 or so people has to be it. The off-site cooking gave me the confidence to attempt to open Uchi in 2003.

Favorite cooking tool in the kitchen?

Sheet pans and aluminum foil.

Most overrated/underrated food?

Overrated: cake. Underrated: vinegar.

Just home from a long night in the kitchen, what are you drinking?

Water

What’s the next buzzy food coming to restaurant menus?

Carrots

Last meal in America (not at one of your restaurants), where do you go?

ABC Kitchen (New York City)

Neapolitan or New York style-pizza?

Neapolitan

Cake or pie?

Pie

Dream four-person dinner party?

Mario Batali, Matthew McConaughey, Thom Yorke, Jimmy Fallon.

Bagel or breakfast taco?

Taco, of course!

The Austin Food and Wine Festival takes place April 22-24 at Auditorium Shores and Republic Square Park. For tickets and more information, visit austinfoodandwinefestival.com

Austin Food & Wine Festival: 10 Questions with … Hugh Acheson

Hugh Acheson holds his Braised Lamb taco at the Austin Food and Wine Festival's Rock Your Taco event at Republic Square Park on Saturday, April 25, 2015. (Credit: Deborah Cannon)
Hugh Acheson holds his Braised Lamb taco at the Austin Food and Wine Festival’s Rock Your Taco event at Republic Square Park on Saturday, April 25, 2015. (Credit: Deborah Cannon)

Owner of restaurants across Georgia, famed chef Hugh Acheson has won multiple James Beard awards and was named Food & Wine Best New Chef in 2002. He also has gained celebrity as a judge on “Top Chef.” Acheson will conduct a demonstration on the wonders of the avocado at 12:30 p.m. Sunday at Auditorium Shores. He will also compete in the Rock Your Taco event, beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday at Republic Square Park.

First important meal you ever cooked for another person?

I remember cooking an elaborate (at the time) meal for my dad one time when I was maybe 15. It was a seared tuna dish with some sort of rice and a carrot sauce. Very ’80s.

Favorite cooking tool in the kitchen?

I love a good spoon, one that feels right in your hand and acts as everything a knife can’t be: spatula, baster, turner, stirrer, plating device.

Most overrated/underrated food?

Truffles are overrated and are just a ludicrous amount of money for earthy umami. Done with the truffle. (I am a cheap person.) Onion is the most underrated flavor and ingredient. It is a versatile workhorse.

Just home from a long night in the kitchen, what are you drinking?

A glass of red Burgundy. Nothing fancy, maybe a simple Beaune.

What’s the next buzzy food coming to restaurant menus?

More vegetables. We have learned how to cook vegetables and it kind of makes me giddy.

Last meal in America (not at one of your restaurants), where do you go?

Sushi Gen in Los Angeles. I like sushi a lot.

Neapolitan or New York-style pizza?

Neapolitan

Cake or pie?

Pie

Dream four-person dinner party?

Tom Waits, Kurt Vonnegut, Yoda.

Bagel or breakfast taco?

Bagel

The Austin Food and Wine Festival takes place April 22-24 at Auditorium Shores and Republic Square Park. For tickets and more information, visit austinfoodandwinefestival.com

Austin Food & Wine Festival: 10 Questions with … Janina O’Leary

oleary

Executive pastry chef and native Texan Janina O’Leary, who has worked at Per Se, Del Posto and Trace at the W Hotel, will join several other chefs for the festival’s unofficial kickoff event, Feast Under the Stars, on Thursday for a family-style al fresco meal.

Most overrated/underrated food?

Fried chicken sandwich is both underrated/overrated. They are everywhere, but they are pretty darn good when they are made right.

Just home from a long night in the kitchen, what are you drinking?

A margarita or a glass of wine.

What’s the next buzzy food coming to restaurant menus?

New Orleans-style food.

Last meal in America (not at one of your restaurants), where do you go?

I would stay home and eat anything my husband cooks or go to Tia Pol in NYC … We can eat the whole menu in one sitting.

Neapolitan or New York-style pizza?

New York-style pizza that’s been sitting on the counter and reheated to order. (Great memories.)

Cake or pie?

I wouldn’t dare choose.

Dream four-person dinner party?

My husband and two sons. The only thing better than a great meal is enjoying it with loved ones.

Bagel or breakfast taco?

Breakfast taco. Chorizo and eggs, please.

The Austin Food and Wine Festival takes place April 22-24 at Auditorium Shores and Republic Square Park. For tickets and more information, visit austinfoodandwinefestival.com

Looking ahead: Chuy’s to open in Cedar Park

Cedar Park will soon get its first Chuy’s. The Austin-born Tex-Mex restaurant is one of several tenants slated to join the The Parke, a 42-acre, 370,000-square-foot shopping center along the 183-A toll road near East New Hope Drive, according to Statesman business writer Gary Dinges. Other future tenants include 365 by Whole Foods Market and Freebirds. Find out more about The Parke in the story on MyStatesman.com.

 

 

Menu changes: Qui returns to a la carte offerings

(Credit: Ashley Landis FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
(Credit: Ashley Landis FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

When Qui opened in 2013 the restaurant from chef Paul Qui featured an a la carte menu, with offerings such as dinuguan, chawanmushi and rabbit seven ways. The restaurant later abandoned that menu for a fixed menu (and a fixed vegetarian menu)  that featured about seven dishes for around $75.

The restaurant recently returned to the idea of a la carte service, as evidenced by the menu posted on the restaurant’s website. The most recent menu (dated April 12), lists dishes like ocean trout kinilaw ($12), kare kare ($8), fried chicken with green curry ($14), smoked Wagyu short rib ($17) and popular opening menu dessert item cheddar cheese ice cream sandwich with cajeta ($12).

Chef-owner Paul Qui, who has taken a leave of absence from the restaurant, was arrested on assault charges in March.

 

Now open: El Chilito on Burnet Road

El Chilito 010 30tacos

El Chilito opened at 6425 Burnet Rd. last week. It is the third taqueria from the El Chile group, which opened the first location on Manor Road more than a decade ago. A fourth, on Manchaca Road near Texas 71, will open in the coming months. The new El Chilito is open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Try the cochinita pibil.