Photo recap: Aaron Franklin’s Hot Luck festival sets itself apart in second year

The Hot Luck festival co-founded by Aaron Franklin proved again in its second year that there is no food festival like it in the country. The a la carte festival spanned four days and included four evening and one daytime food events, and several chefs popped up with bites at the slew of music concerts that spread over the four days.

Franklin again swung open the doors of his Franklin Barbecue for “Hi, How Are You? “the official kick-off party for the festival he co-founded last year with Mike Thelin of Feast Portland and Mohawk owner James Moody.

Chef and Munchies star Matty Matheson has personality to spare. The Canadian has been having a blast in Austin, and his Instagram stories are must-view material this week. (Credit: Alison Narro)

Opening night focused on smoked meats, as Franklin’s staff served award-winning Franklin Barbecue inside and one popular gentleman patrolled the grounds outside passing out gigantic beef ribs. With several food stalls set up outside featuring food from Sam Jones of North Carolina and Daniel Vaughn from Texas Monthly (with an assist from Miguel Vidal of Valentina’s Tex-Mex BBQ) and plenty of cold beer and whiskey flowing, the first night had the feel of a tailgate party at the most famous barbecue restaurant in the country.

Chinese-Thai pork from chef Andy Ricker of Pok Pok at Night Court during Hot Luck. (Credit: Matthew Odam AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Friday’s Night Court event at Fair Market celebrated chefy plays on nostalgic food inspired by mall food courts of the 80s and welcomed a stunning roster of regional and national talent, such as Andy Ricker of Portland’s Pok Pok, who inspired memories of the free samples at Chinese restaurants in the mall with his khao moo daeng Chinese-Thai barbecue pork on jasmine rice. (See our full photo gallery here.) The nightcap event at Cisco’s Restaurant & Bakery captured the creative but deeply rooted spirit of the festival, as chefs prepared world class tacos for attendees in one of Austin’s most beloved culinary institutions.

If Thursday mimicked a tailgate and Friday mirrored a house party, the centerpiece Al Fuego event felt like party at your best friend’s ranch. (See our full photo gallery here.) The bucolic Wild Onion Ranch south of town welcomed chefs who cooked over open fire and did not hold back on the flavor or fun. If people were brave enough to visit all of the stations, they’re still thinking about the homemade Spam burger from Billy Durney of Hometown Bar-B-Que in Brooklyn; the beef hot dog with ikura and grilled spring onion from Renee Erickson of The Walrus and the Carpenter in Seattle; the smoked tri-tip on black sesame rice cracker from Loro; the beef tongue from Contigo; and what I like to call “The Finisher,” a doughnut drizzled with foie gras caramel from Rebecca Masson of Fluff Bake Bar in Houston, which sent attendees dizzily into the night.

Chef Philip Speer digs in at Al Fuego during Hot Luck. (Credit: Alison Narro)

By Sunday afternoon, you might expect the festival to have taken its food off the gas after three nights of fun, but the Austin Speed Shop hosted an open-air brunch called Coupe de Grille that went full throttle. (See our full photo gallery here.Kevin Fink of Emmer & Rye thrilled with the bite of the day, a migas taco served on white Sonoran flour tortilla and Houston’s Chris Shepherd of UB Preserv showed his deft touch mashing up cultures with boudin shumai. They were among about a dozen chefs who fed guests that wandered around a collection of gorgeous vintage cars and hot rods on display. Among the automobiles was a 1951 Ford F1, a classic that Franklin is having the team at Austin Speed Shop restore. Maybe it’ll be nice and shiny for the third annual festival next year, which seems like a fait accompli, as the organizers have dialed in the details that make their festival one of the most interactive, engaging, tasty, filling and unique food events you’ll find in America.

PHOTOS: Night Court | Al Fuego | Coupe de Grille

Select photos from the long weekend below:

Chef Chad Dolezal of Hightower with his Mapo(zole) Tofu at Night Court. (Scott Moore FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Chef Laura Sawicki of Launderette rocked a buttered popcorn ice cream sundae at Night Court. (Scott Moore FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Chefs Billy Durney and Ivan Orkin of New York City. (Scott Moore FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Chef Jason Stude of La Corsha Hospitality and his chicken fried steak sandwiches at Night Court. (Scott Moore FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

The new Austin-based Rambler, a Texas limestone-filtered sparkling water from Hot Luck co-founder James Moody and partners, made quite a splash at this year’s festival. (Credit: Alison Narro)

Festival attendee Jacqueline Howard of Chicago samples the flavors of Al Fuego. (Credit: Chad Wadsworth)

Fermín Nuñez of Suerte during Al Fuego. (Scott Moore FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Beer-can chickens fill a smoker at Al Fuego. (Scott Moore FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Beef tongue from Contigo at Al Fuego. (Scott Moore FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Chef Abraham Conlon of Fat Rice in Chicago goes to town on his dish at Al Fuego. (Credit: Jackie Lee Young)

Seattle Dog with ikura and charred spring onion at Al Fuego from Renne Erickson of The Walrus and the Carpenter. (Matthew Odam AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Smoked tri-tip with Thai chili chimicurri on black sesame cracker from Loro at Al Fuego. (Matthew Odam AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

I call this bite “The Finisher,” a doughnut glazed with foie gras caramel served by Rebecca Masson of Fluff Bake Bar in Houston. (Matthew Odam AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

The Austin Speed Shop hosted Coupe de Grille Sunday. (Scott Moore FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Chef Yoshi Okai of Otoko serves beef with kale at Coupe de Grille at Austin Speed Shop. (Credit: Chad Wadsworth)

Pork pate melts from Cured in San Antonio. (Scott Moore FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

The UB Preserv team serving boudin shumai. (Scott Moore FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Sunday barbacoa taco from Valentina’s Tex-Mex BBQ. (Scott Moore FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Korean short rib chilaquilles from Rico Torres of Mixtli in San Antonio. (Scott Moore FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Hot rods and hot food at Coupe de Grille during Hot Luck. (Credit: Chad Wadsworth)

Best bite a Coupe de Grille — migas taco on white Sonoran wheat tortilla from Kevin Fink of Emmer & Rye. (Matthew Odam AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Cold burrata from Il Brutto was a welcome treat at Sunday’s Coupe de Grille. (Matthew Odam AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Aaron Franklin with his 1951 Ford F1 that the team at Austin Speed Shop is helping him rebuild. (Matthew Odam AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

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