There are three words to describe how the Taste of Texas kick off event went last night…THEY KILLED IT! Being frequent attendees of food and wine festivals over the past several years, we can spot a great event when we see it. Last night, the Austin Food & Wine Festival got the weekend (and the party) started with an event whose aim was to showcase the great chefs and restaurants of Texas. From right here in Austin, to San Antonio and Dallas/Fort Worth, and let’s not forget the best city EVER…Houston!

Although the lines did seem long at some booths, you never waited longer than 5-7 minutes even at the most popular booths, like Paul Qui or Aaron Franklin. This was perfect and gave us plenty of time to jump in the next line and catch up on Twitter and Instagram while the lines proceeded forward. One of the great things about this event was that each booth had their chef on hand to ask questions, to share details about the dish, and to just mix and mingle with the guests. As we made our way up, we were given the full breakdown of what was being served and we got it with a smile from each chef. It doesn’t get any better than that. You could really feel their energy and they were genuinely having just as much of a good time as the attendees were having.

The kick off event at Republic Square Park was kicked up a notch when the music started to jam. It could be heard across the plaza with live performances by Delta Spirit and Whiskey Shivers. Wine, beer, and cocktails were being served at the bar and passed around by cute bartenders (bonus). The Moscow Mule was a favorite and they were not shy with the alcohol. And even though the rain had appeared earlier in the day, its attempt at ruining the event had failed. The weather cleared up just in time for the sun to peep out. The evening’s temperature could not have been more perfect and attendees were comfortable sporting their Springs’ best.

We got the opportunity to try all twelve booths with the exception of Philip Speer’s booth. But just to be clear, three hours was plenty of time to try them all…we were just too busy running our mouths somewhere…lol! The lineup was spectacular and truly “all star”: Tim Byres (chef/co-owner, SMOKE);  Jason Dady (chef/owner, Jason Dady Restaurant Group);  Ned & Jodi Elliot (executive chef/owner & pastry chef/owner, Foreign and Domestic); Aaron Franklin (pitmaster, Franklin Barbecue); Terrence Gallivan & Seth Siegel-Gardner (executive chefs/owners, The Pass & Provisions); Sarah Grueneberg (executive chef, Spiaggia & Café Spiaggia); James Holmes (executive chef, Lucy’s Fried Chicken & Olivia); Paul Qui (founder, East Side King); John Russ (executive chef, Lüke); Chris Shepherd (executive chef, Underbelly); Philip Speer (pastry chef, Uchi & Uchiko); Blaine Staniford (executive chef, GRACE); Danny Trace (executive chef, Brennan’s); Tre Wilcox (executive chef, Marquee Grill); Andrew Wiseheart (executive chef, Contigo); and Jamie Zelko (executive chef/owner, Zelko Bistro).


The chefs put their creative hats on and served up some of the most mouth-watering one bite wonders. From Waygu meatballs, to smoked oyster, to a BBQ shrimp and grits that would make you slap yo momma! But wait…the creativity didn’t stop there…the presentations were in a league of their own. Dishes were served in sardine cans, 3 inch bones for a soup infused with bone marrow, and Mexican street corn, served in a cream-based state, on a lime – Tequila shot style. Jason Dady gets the win for the most creative and refreshing dish of the night. The chefs were doing their thing! The only bittersweet part of the evening was when it came to a close.

We closed out the evening at Sips & Sweets, an invitation only event at Mellow Johnny’s that closely resembled a sweet tooth’s dream. In the end, we came, we saw, we conquered. Now check out the slideshow so you can re-live last night with us!

– Urban Swank

Urban Swank did receive complimentary passes, but the opinions expressed are our own.

The Urban Swank Girls


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