Food Trip

Too cool? Texas' trendiest food festival is heavy on celebrities and Dallas chefs

Texas' trendiest food festival heavy on celebrities and Dallas chefs

Richard Blais Austin Food & Wine Festival
Celeb chef Richard Blais returns to Austin Food & Wine Festival to defend his Rock Your Taco title. Photo by Nick Simonite/Courtesy of Austin Food & Wine Festival

Austin Food & Wine Festival revealed its 2015 chef lineup, and it’s fat with national stars and Texas talent. More than 40 events take place over a jam-packed three days, from Friday, April 24, to Sunday, April 26.

After an exclusive Feast Under the Stars dinner on Thursday, April 23 (with Dallas-Fort Worth faves Tim Love and Matt McCallister), the festival officially kicks off with the Taste of Texas on Friday night. DFW chefs Michael Sindoni (CBD), Blaine Staniford (Grace, Little Red Wasp) and Omar Flores (Casa Rubia) are participating alongside Austin standouts Tatsu Aikawa (Ramen Tatsu-Ya), Alexis Chong (Sway) and Ned Elliott (Foreign & Domestic), as well as other Texas culinary darlings such as Justin Yu of Houston’s Oxheart and Steven McHugh of San Antonio’s Cured.

The main events take place April 25-26, when Austin’s Auditorium Shores transforms into a sea of cooking demos, tastings, book signings and Love’s infamous hands-on grilling event. (Yes, there will be tequila involved.) The festival’s ever-popular fire pits return this year, manned by Austin chefs David Bull (Congress), Paul Qui (Qui), Jack Gilmore (Jack Allen’s Kitchen), Bryce Gilmore (Odd Duck, Barley Swine) and Andrew Wiseheart (Contigo, Gardner).

Also on Saturday and Sunday, top Austin toques serve signature fare at the annual Chef Showcase. But the most talked-about festival experience is Rock Your Taco, which returns to Republic Square Park on Saturday evening. Lee Fields performs while 2014 champion Richard Blais defends his title against fellow celebrity chefs Hugh Acheson, former champ Tyson Cole, Jonathan Waxman and many more.

Saturday night caps off with Sips & Sweets at Mellow Johnny’s, featuring signature drinks and dessert bites from Austin pastry chefs such as Mary Catherine Curren (Easy Tiger, Arro), Thomas Calhoun (Lenoir) and Finney Walter (Olivia).

The 2015 festival features expanded ticketing options, which are now on sale. The all-in option ($550) grants access to the aforementioned events (excluding Thursday’s dinner) and guarantees a spot at Love's grilling demo. The weekender pass ($250) includes access to the daytime events on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets to Feast Under the Stars ($225), Taste of Texas ($150), Rock Your Taco ($200) and Sips & Sweets ($75) can be purchased individually.