In its fourth year, the Austin Food & Wine Festival seemed to hit its stride. The logistics went smoothly, the lines moved quickly, the food and beverage seminars drew top quality talent to present and the grand tasting had a revamped, more open layout that made it easier to navigate. Even Mother Nature got in on the act and provided decent weather.
I took in as many sessions as I could. Here are some of my favorite:
- Spicing things up with Mark Oldman
- The ever effervescent Vilma Mazaite
- Rippin through the rosé with Devon Broglie
- Texas wine takes on the world
- Raucous rita party with the Tipsy Texan
- Ray Isle teaches to taste wine like a pro
In addition to the delicious and informative sessions during the day, there were several bad-ass events and parties in the evenings starting with the Feast Under the Stars on Thursday, Taste of Texas and Sips & Sweets on Friday, and finally Rock Your Taco and the Candy Land party on Saturday. The whole festival closed with a raucous dance party led by DJ Mel. The crowds were always fun and the chefs and beverage pros were a blast to hang with.
Sights from the 2015 Austin Food & Wine Festival
The cooking demos from Richard Blais and Tyson Cole packed huge crowds. The hands-on grilling Demo from Tim Love is a perennial favorite. Seeing incredible chefs like David Bull and Jack Gilmore prepare food in the middle of Auditorium shores is a treat.
Taste of Texas
The Friday night party gathers some of the best chefs in Texas to show their stuff with little bites. Ramen Tatsu-Ya drew huge lines. Ned Elliot brought his Foreign & Domestic magic to Republic Square Park and East Side King killed it, as usual. Thanks to a squadron of servers carrying armloads of Spanish wine, the crowd never went thirsty.
Sips & Sweets
The crowd was huge for this year’s Friday night dessert event. The booze flowed and the crowd gobbled up goodies from Swift’s Attic, Lenoir and Arro. The line stretched all the way across Mellow Johnny’s bike shop to get to Janina O’Leary’s impressive sweets display from laV.
Rock Your Taco
There were so many great tacos at the Saturday party in Republic Square Park. Favorites included Tyson Cole’s sashimi taro taco, Antonia Lofaso’s crispy octopus taco, Jason Dady’s duck confit carnitas taco and huge lines for last year’s winner, Richard Blais (I didn’t wait in line so I have no idea what he served).
A star-studded judging panel of Andrew Zimmern, Gail Simmons, Christina Grdovic and Graham Elliot picked Jonathan Waxman’s taco for second place (heavily assisted by Chef Drew Curran) and Tim Love’s beef tendon taco was crowned the winner.
Candy Land Party
The W Hotel hosed a Candy Land afterparty on Saturday night at TRACE. The sweets were great and the drinks were better, but the real treat was the incredible costumes. Proceeds benefited the Austin Food & Wine Alliance.
DJ Mel Dance Party
The Fest end with throngs of drunk, sweaty and insanely happy people dancing like mad to classic hip-hop and party music from DJ Mel. Fest organizers, Tim Love and Jason Dady, jumped on stage to chug wine and tequila with the crowd. Pro-tip: don’t let anyone pour a waterfall of tequila from a stage into your open mouth. You’re libel to get a tequila netty pot.
Disclosure: I was provided a media pass to attend the festival at no charge.