Texas’ skyrocketing culinary scene is about to get a huge boost.The Texas Food & Wine Alliance’s grant program has awarded $107,500 to 19 culinary innovators around the state. This marks the Alliance’s 11th year providing funding to support culinary projects contributing to local communities.
The award winners were recently announced in a ceremony at Austin's Holdsworth Center. A private panel of distinguished culinary experts chose the winners out of 40 grant applications this year. Three winners from Houston received a total of $12,750. Meanwhile, nine winners hail from Austin, three from Dallas-Fort Worth, and four from San Antonio. The awards range from $1,500 to $10,000, with a special $25,000 grant investment from Austin favorite Tito’s Handmade Vodka in honor of the company’s 25th anniversary. Grant funding will support chefs, farms, and culinary education groups, among others.
Here are Houston's winners:
Royal Caliber Ranch – $6,250
A winner of the Tito's Handmade Vodka Entrepreneur Grant, Royal Caliber Ranch is woman-led ranch raising diverse breeds of goats for nearly 20 years in Waller. Grant funds will help the business secure the dairy parlor's infrastructure, including labor and materials for a pole barn, concrete, and utilities needed per U.S.D.A. requirements, according to press materials.
J.I.V.E Juice Company– $4,000
The juice company specializing in cold-pressed fruit juices and smoothies using organic, non-pasteurized ingredients is the winner of the Houston Food & Wine Alliance Grant. Funds will facilitate product testing and a shelf-life study and assist in product branding and marketing.
F.D.’s Express Burgers and Wings – $2,500
This popular spot partnering with the Booker T. Washington Empowerment Center to launch a culinary training institute specializing in Soul Food received $1,500 from Truffle Masters Grant for Community Heroes and is also a Houston Food & Wine Alliance Grant recipient. Grant funds will supplement the cost of training those who require financial assistance.
Elsewhere in Texas
Austin-area winners received the most funding from the grant program, totaling $53,750, while San Antonio winners received $21,250. Dallas/Fort Worth winners were awarded $19,750. All of the 2022 winners reflect just how diverse the state's trailblazing culinary scene continues to expand.
“All of this year’s funded projects will further enrich the state through innovation and giveback,” said Erika White, executive director of the Alliance. “We’re extremely grateful to each of the Texas communities, our sponsors and their support in allowing us to reward these mold-breaking projects.”
In Austin, organic farm Trosi Farms was awarded the most funding, totaling $10,000 from Tito’s and the Austin Food & Wine Alliance. The wild crop-breeding operation will be able to use the funds to construct a germination shed for more stable plant start production. Locavore pioneer Boggy Creek Farm won $7,500 in grants to provide ADA-compliant accessibility to their new climate-controlled Tomato House. Texas’ first organic feed mill, Coyote Creek Organic Feed Mill & Farm, received $6,250 to help purchase a building to be used as a store for the local community.
The six other Austin area grant recipients, each winning $5,000, include Vista Farms at Vista Brewing, Jamaican family business Tierra Todun ATX, coffee roasters Rising Tide Roast Collaborative, culinary educator Chef Pascal Simon from Bake Austin, East Austin food truck Community Vegan, and Latinx pastry project Comadre Panaderia (who also just earned a James Beard nomination). All winners will be able to use their grants to improve efficiency and expand their businesses, or in Chef Pascal's case, further research and development for her upcoming cookbook for Gen-Z young adults.
Out of the four San Antonio area winners, Talking Tree Farm received the most from the grant program, $6,250 to purchase shipping containers for storage and to buy a solar-powered cold room for their harvests. John Marshall High School’s culinary arts program will use their $5,000 grant to establish a morning café. Agricultural project Habitable Spaces and pasture-raised chicken farm Cielito Lindo Farm also won $5,000 each to purchase equipment or build infrastructure to further their endeavors in the culinary space.
The winners in the Dallas-Fort Worth include:
For this year's Honorable Mention, the Alliance chose San Antonio eatery Tacos Cucuy
, who will soon open a brick-and-mortar space with an expanded menu. Tacos Cucuy are currently looking for support to develop a Tex-Mex charcuterie program called La Cura Carnes Especiales.
More information about the 2022 grants and its recipients can be found on texasfoodandwinealliance.org.