The Austin Food & Wine Alliance is expanding across Texas. Best known for events like Wine & Swine and the Official Drink of Austin, the organization announced the formation of the Texas Food & Wine Alliance with corresponding chapters in Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas.
A 501(c)3, the nonprofit uses its events to raise money for grants that are distributed to chefs, farmers, artisan producers, wine-, beer- and spirit-makers, and food-focused nonprofits. To date, AFWA has issued grants totaling more than $330,000, including more than $14,000 this year for immediate aid and pandemic recovery.
"Now, more than ever, coming together is important," Houston chef Monica Pope said in a statement. "I’m thrilled to see Texas Food & Wine Alliance bring the culinary community together statewide. And I can’t wait to see the impact their unique grant program will have in growing Houston food."
Grant giving will begin in 2021. At a time when the coronavirus pandemic has forced restaurants, breweries, and other small businesses to close, the need for a statewide organization that provides financial support seems more urgent than ever.
"The pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges to the Texas hospitality industry, and it will take many years for full recovery,” AFWA executive director Mariam Parker added. “There is no greater time than now to fortify, to showcase, and to support the breadth of Texas talent, culinary businesses, and nonprofits.”
Houstonians will have to wait a bit for a proper introduction to the TFWA and HFWA, as the organization will not hold any in-person events this year. Instead, it will launch the Alliance Academy, a series of online classes featuring some of the state's top chefs and beverage experts.
Instructors for season one, which starts September 17, include chef Edgar Rico and Sara Mardanbigi (Nixta Taqueria in Austin), chef Jackie Letelier (Casero in Austin), chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph (Emmer & Rye, Hestia, etc. in Austin), and chef Rico Torres (Mixtli in San Antonio). Each class will feature ingredients shipped directly to participants via Austin's Assembly Kitchen. Afterwards, attendees will participate in a live Q&A with their instructor.
"Food is such an amazing language and arguably one of the best ways to connect to other cultures," Pondicheri chef-owner and Alliance Academy instructor Anita Jaisinghani said. "I am excited for the cooking classes that Austin Food and Wine Alliance is launching in an effort to continue their good work in Houston by building more bridges in our community."