Austin Food & Wine Festival announces talent; tickets now on sale Wednesday morning

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Bruce Davis of Houston raises his wine glass during a grilling class led by Chef Tim Love at the Austin Food & Wine Festival at Butler Park on Saturday April 26, 2014. (Jay Janner AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
Bruce Davis of Houston raises his wine glass during a grilling class led by Chef Tim Love at the Austin Food & Wine Festival at Butler Park on Saturday April 26, 2014. (Jay Janner AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Bruce Davis of Houston raises his wine glass during a grilling class led by Chef Tim Love at the Austin Food & Wine Festival at Butler Park on Saturday April 26, 2014. (Jay Janner AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

The Austin Food & Wine Festival, which returns April 24-26 to Auditorium Shores and Republic Square Park, announced its talent lineup this morning.

In addition to familiar faces such as Paul Qui (Qui), Shawn Cirkiel (Parkside), and Graham Elliott (Graham Elliott Bistro), this year’s festival welcomes newcomers such as Steven McHugh (Cured) and Quealy Watson (Hot Joy) from San Antonio; Sonya Cote (Eden East), Jesse Griffiths (Dai Due) and John Lewis (La Barbecue) of Austin; Hugh Acheson (Atlanta’s Empire State South); and Louisville’s Levon Wallace (Proof on Main).

Tickets are now on sale at austinfoodandwinefestival.com for the fourth annual festival that will feature daytime events Saturday and Sunday and showcase evening events on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

The price for the all-inclusive All-In badge has been lowered to $550 from $850. The badge grants attendees access to the daytime events at Auditorium Shores, the showcase evening events, and a spot at one of Tim Love’s wildly popular grilling demos. Unlike previous years, the badge will not include priority access to other demos or the Grand Tasting, and the (oft-overlooked) VIP area has been eliminated.

The price for the newly named Weekender badge remains $250 and will give attendees access to the daytime events at Auditorium Shores on Saturday and Sunday (except Love’s grilling demo). Weekender badge holders and the general public can all attend the evening events for an extra charge. This will be the first time since the inaugural fest that the weekend daytime events will take place at Auditorium Shores, which recently underwent major renovation.

“We are always committed to improving and evolving the overall festival experience for our guests,” fest co-founder Charlie Jones said. “We listened, and people wanted more flexible options to take part in the event. A la carte ticketing creates additional opportunities to experience the festival.”

The Saturday and Sunday afternoon festivities will include cooking demonstrations, book signings and interactive stations featuring chefs cooking and serving food from fire pits (of which there will be four this year). Chefs working the popular pits will include David Bull (Congress), Terrence Gallivan and Seth Siegel-Gardner (The Pass & Provisions), Jack and Bryce Gilmore (Jack Allen’s Kitchen, Barley Swine), Pat Martin (Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint in Nashville), Paul Qui and Jorge Hernandez (Qui), Tandy Wilson (Nashville’s City House) and Andrew Wiseheart (Contigo & Gardner).

The daytime Grand Tasting and Chef Showcase feature wine, beer and prepared food from a host of vendors, as well as small plates from John Bates (Noble Sandwich Co.), Ji Peng Chen and Ling Qi Wu (from the forthcoming Wu Chow), Shawn Cirkiel (Olive & June), Tyson Cole (Uchi), Sonya Cote (Eden East), Andrew Curren and David Norman (Easy Tiger), Todd Duplechan (Lenoir), Kevin Garrett (Bufalina), Jesse Griffiths (Dai Due), John Lewis (La Barbecue), Rick Lopez (La Condesa), Sarah McIntosh (Épicerie Café & Grocery), James Roberts (Fixe), Eric Silverstein (The Peached Tortilla) and many more.

The opportunity to buy a $150 a la carte pass to Taste of Texas should make the Friday night event at Republic Square Park one of the year’s most popular food fetes. The night features wine, beer, cocktails and food from about two dozen Texas chefs, including Tatsu Aikawa (Ramen Tatsu-Ya), Ned Elliott (Foreign & Domestic), Omar Flores (Casa Rubia), Allison Jenkins (La V), Steven McHugh (Cured), Wayne Mueller (Louie Mueller Barbecue), Hugo Ortega (Hugo’s Restaurant), Michael Sindoni (CBD Provisions), Quealy Watson (Hot Joy), Cori and Heng Xiong (Mala Sichuan) and Justin Yu (Oxheart).

Richard Blais will return to the Austin Food & Wine Festival to defend his title at Saturday night’s Rock Your Taco event at Republic Square Park. All-In badge holders get access to the event, and individual tickets will be sold for $200 to Weekender badge holders and the general public. Blais will compete in the quintessential Austin event against a roster of talent that includes Graham Elliot, Andrew Zimmern, Hugh Acheson, Jamie Bissonnette and Ken Oringer (Coppa & Toro in New York City and Boston), two-time winner Tyson Cole, Bryce Gilmore, Antonia Lofaso (Black Market in Los Angeles), Tim Love, Jenn Louis (Portland’s Lincoln Restaurant), Chris Shepherd (Underbelly), Jonathan Waxman (Nashville’s Adele’s & New York City’s Barbuto) and more.

The late-night dessert and cocktail party, Sips & Sweets, will be at Mellow Johnny’s following Rock Your Taco, with food from pastry chefs Mary Catherine Curren (Arro), Thomas Calhoun (Lenoir), Janina O’Leary (La V), Callie Speer (Swift’s Attic) and Finney Walter (Olivia). Sips & Sweets is included in the All-In pass but can also be purchased individually for $75.

The festival gets its unofficial start Thursday night at Feast Under the Stars, a 100-seat, family-style dinner with food from Tim Love, Tyson Cole, Jason Dady, Matt McCallister and Erica Wakmunski (Parkside Projects). Tickets are $225 and sold separately from badges.

The complete lineup and schedule for the festival, which will include dozens of sommeliers, beverage directors, mixologists and craft beer experts from around the country, will be released Feb. 18.


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