Huge food weekend: James Beard dinner, Texas Monthly BBQ Fest & brunches with food celebs

Live in Austin and like to eat? You’re in luck. The city will be bursting with great food events this weekend featuring world-class talent and big names.

Chef Ludo Lefebvre will be one of the big names at the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America event Friday. Tom McCarthy Jr. FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN

FRIDAY

The James Beard Foundation’s Taste America dinner takes place Friday night at the W Austin. The evening kicks off at 6:30 p.m. with a hors d’oeuvre and a reception featuring food from about a half-dozen Austin chefs. Beard winner Aaron Franklin will serve beef short ribs with pimento cheese, multi-year Beard finalist Bryce Gilmore will prepare boudin-spiced grits with pickled shrimp and two-time Beard semifinalist Philip Speer will make miniature pastrami Reubens. Chefs Iliana de la Vega (El Naranjo) and James Zoller (Trace) will also contribute dishes to the night’s opener. Those tastings precede a dinner prepared by Beard winners Ludo Lefebvre (Trois Mec), who will serve Nantucket Bay scallops with tandoori tuile, and Uchi’s Tyson Cole, who will serve up shima aji with king trumpet mushroom. Easy Tiger’s David Norman handles bread service duties and Launderette chef-partner Laura Sawicki caps off the wine-paired dinner with Parmigiano-Reggiano mousse with poached quince, candied buckwheat, thyme, ginger, and bee pollen.

Tickets for the dinner and reception cost $225 and can be purchased online. VIP tickets ($400) include a meet-and-greet with the chefs, a gift and access to Thursday night’s exclusive kick-off event, Smoke Session, a barbecue and beer event hosted by Aaron Franklin.

SATURDAY

The Texas Book Festival takes over downtown this weekend and, as usual, there are some folks with food-related books in town. Mark Bittman is at the fest to celebrate the 10th anniversary of “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.” Emmer & Rye will host the journalist and author for three-course brunch at 11 a.m. Cost is $150. Tickets include a signed copy of Bittman’s book.

SUNDAY

“Top Chef” fixture Gail Simmons is in town to promote her new book, “Bringing It Home: Favorite Recipes from a Life of Adventurous Eating,” and Olamaie chef-owner will welcome her for a three-course brunch at 11 a.m. The $150 ticket includes a three-course brunch based on the book, as well as a signed copy of the book.

And, finally …

TMBBQ Fest, the state’s hottest barbecue event, returns to the Long Center to celebrate Texas Monthly’s Top 50 barbecue spots in Texas. The event will feature grub from 31 Texas barbecue joints, including Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que (Llano), Franklin Barbecue (Austin), Lockhart Smokehouse (Dallas), and many more.

Tickets cost $80, with VIP ticket-holders ($165) getting early entry and access to beverages, more food and shade. Buy tickets online or at the door until sold out. 

In addition to the Sunday event, TMBBQ Fest will expand this year to a separately ticketed brisket brunch on Saturday at Juliet ($85).

 


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