The Austin Food & Wine Festival will welcome a host of new faces and introduce a few changes at the seventh annual event that takes place at Auditorium Shores April 27-29. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. at austinfoodandwinefestival.com.
During a year in which much attention has been brought to the culture of sexual harassment in the workplace, it is worth noting that the festival will welcome a large number of female chefs, wine experts and celebrities, including Stephanie Izard of Chicago, the first woman to win “Top Chef;” fellow “Top Chef” alumnus Nyesha Arrington; Southern chef Cassidee Dabney of The Barn at Blackberry Farm in Tennessee; chef and renowned cookbook author Lidia Bastianich and Helen Johannesen, wine director of a mini empire of restaurants in Southern California. Those women, all first timers at AFWF, will join a group of fellow festival rookies that includes barbecue master Rodney Scott from South Carolina; James Beard award-winning chef and restaurateur Paul Kahan of Chicago and New York City pitmaster Billy Durney of Hometown Barbecue in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
The chefs will participate in the three-day event that includes more than 40 events, tastings and demonstrations, including Friday night’s Grillin’ and Chillin’ with chef Tim Love and the always-popular Saturday night Rock Your Taco competition, which will pit Tatsu Aikawa & Takuya Matsumoto (Ramen Tatsu-Ya / Kemuri Tatsu-Ya), Tyson Cole (Hai Hospitality: Loro), Amanda Freitag (“Chopped”), Diego Galicia & Rico Torres (Mixtli in San Antonio), Ray Garcia (Broken Spanish in Los Angeles), Izard (Girl & The Goat, Little Goat, Duck Duck Goat), Kahan (One Off Hospitality Group), Michael White (Altamarea) and others against one another in a battle for taco supremacy.
As we mentioned earlier this week, both the Fire Pits experience and Chefs Showcase during the Saturday and Sunday afternoon portions of the fest have grown this year to feature more chefs and more food, with names like Sonya Coté (Eden East, Hillside Farmacy), Wayne Mueller (Louie Mueller Barbecue) and Andrew Wiseheart (Contigo, Contigo Catering, Chicon) cooking over open flames at the former and Austin chefs including Ji Peng Chen (Wu Chow), Kazu Fukumoto (Fukumoto), Taylor Hall (Apis), Lance Kirkpatrick (Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew), Stephanie McClenny (Confituras), Jason McVearry (Poke Poke), Sterling Riddings (Guild), Maribel Rivero (Yuyo), Max Snyder (Pitchfork Pretty), Carmen Valera (Tamale House East) and Miguel Vidal (Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ) serving dishes at the latter.
The unofficial kick-off for the festival is a separately ticketed Feast Under the Stars dinner on Thursday night, with a meal prepared by Tyson Cole (Uchi), Mary Catherine Curren (ELM Restaurant Group), Todd Duplechan (Lenoir), Kevin Fink (Emmer & Rye), and Michael Fojtasek (Olamaie). Tickets to that cost $250 and can be purchased online.
Tickets for the April event go on sale at 10 a.m. and can be purchased at austinfoodandwinefestival.com.