Aaron Franklin heads to Houston this weekend for all-star barbecue event

If you’ve been looking for an excuse to visit Houston (a city that is much cooler than you might think, according to this GQ article), this weekend would be a good time. Aaron Franklin is participating in the Southern Smoke Festival, an event co-founded by fellow James Beard Award winner Chris Shepherd (One Fifth, UB Preserv), and he’s gonna be in some heady company.


Franklin and Shepherd will be joined Sunday evening by a stunning array of talent at the festival that is part of a non-profit that benefits the National MS Society and Southern Smoke’s Emergency Relief Fund. The roster of award-winning talent includes Daniela Soto-Innes of Cosme in New York City; Seattle chef Edouardo Jordan, who has taken home more honors in the last few years to count; famed pizzaiolo Chris Bianco of Phoenix; TV host and Beard winner chef Vivian Howard of North Carolina; barbecue bosses Sam Jones of North Carolina and Billy Durney of NYC; Matthew Rudofker of Momofuku; an all-star group of Houston chefs known as the Houston BBQ Collective and more.

Chingo Bling will emcee the afternoon event that will also feature musical performances from the Bayou City Brass Band, Max Flinn and Neon Rainbow and Mariachi Los Gallitos.

Tickets cost $200, with half of the ticket money going to charity (read: it’s tax deductible). Southern Smoke’s Emergency Relief Fund raised more than half a million dollars last year for Hurricane Harvey relief. The block-party style event runs from 4 to 8 p.m. next to UB Preserv in the Montrose neighborhood.

And, if you can’t make it down to Houston, you can still check out the festival’s eye-popping silent auction. 

Suerte chef collaborating with 40 North Pizza for charity special

What happens when one of the city’s best Mexican chefs joins forces with a rising pizza star? You can find out starting next Monday, as Suerte chef Fermín Nuñez will be the next chef collaborating with 40 North Pizza.

Núñez and chef Clint Elmore of 40 North have created a Mexican-inspired “La Buena” pizza topped with mole amarillo, nduja, pickled carrots, and kale.

Pizza Buena collaboration between chefs Clint Elmore and Fermin Nunez of Suerte. (Contributed)

The pizza, along with a queso fundido baked in 40 North’s wood-fired oven and featuring avocado, oregano, pickled onions, and chile morita, will be available on the menu at 40 North.

The restaurant will host a kick-off pizza party Monday from 6 to 10 p.m., with both chefs in the kitchen collabing on the La Buena and a one-night-only mole negro pizza. The La Buena and special queso fundido will be available for the month of October. As with each of their guest chef collaborations, a small portion of proceeds benefits charity. In this cases, $1 from each pizza sale will be donated to Grassroots Leadership, Núñez’s charity of choice.

40 North is the relatively new brick-and-mortar restaurant at 900 West 10th St. it shares a named with the pizza trailer Elmore previously operated on South First Street that made our Best Pizza in Austin list a few years back.



Snack on Franklin Barbecue, Foreign & Domestic, more at chef battle

The Austin chapter of the Les Dames de Escoffier hosts its fourth annual En Garde! Food Fight at 7 p.m. Sept. 20 at the Barr Mansion & Artisan Ballroom (10463 Sprinkle Road).

Franklin Barbecue in Austin. (Laura Skelding/2014 American-Statesman)

The night, which benefits programs for the nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the work of women working in the culinary, beverage and hospitality industries, will feature eight female chefs battling it out in contests like the Macaron Smackdown, Biscuit Battle and Paella Pair Off.

Franklin Barbecue, Foreign & Domestic, Sway and others will provide small bites, and wine will be provided by Virtuoso Wine and Spirits and Fall Creek Vineyards and Winery. Guests will also have the opportunity to challenge a sommelier in a blind wine tasting.

Tickets cost $65 online and $75 at the door. More details at ldeiaustin.org.

Texas Monthly BBQ Fest tickets now on sale

If you wanna be one of the lucky meat-sweaty hundreds at the Long Center the first weekend of November, you best move quickly. Tickets went on sale today for the November 4 event that showcases many of the magazines Top 50 barbecue spots around Texas. General admission costs $80, with VIP tickets (which include a subscription to the magazine, two drink tickets and early admission to beat the crowds) cost $165. More details and links to purchase tickets are available online.

Brad Stockman takes a bite of Stanley’s Famous Pit BBQ pork ribs at the 2011 Texas Monthly BBQ Fest. (Laura Skelding AMERICAN-STATESMAN)


Roster of all-star female chefs teaming for benefit dinner at Parkside

Parkside will host a five-course dinner prepared by a roster of some of Austin’s top female chefs on September 25. The dinner, which costs $85, will benefit the scholarship program of the Austin chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier.

Participating chefs include Jennifer Nguyen (parkside), Juliann Stoddart (Parkside Projects), Jo Chan (Eberly), Lindsay Flagg (South Congress Hotel), Bonnie Wright (Olamaie), Natalie Gazaui (Ramen Tatsu-ya), Abby Love (L’Oven), Sarah Heard (Foreign & Domestic), and Kendall Antonelli (Antonelli’s Cheese). Each of the chefs will create a dish inspired by a strong woman in their lives. The dinner will be preceded by a cocktail hour featuring craft cocktails from Tara Davies (Parkside) and Tacy Rowlands (Midnight Cowboy), and the meal’s wine service will be spearheaded by sommelier Krista Church (Eberly).

“This dinner is about bringing a community of stellar women together to create an evening of excellence unparalleled to anything else we have had here in Austin,” Stoddart said.

The dinner, which takes place on the second floor of Parkside (301 E. Sixth St.), runs from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online here.


Austin Restaurant Weeks run through Sept. 3

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The next couple of weeks in Austin will offer diner a chance to eat out at some of Austin’s top restaurants while supporting the community. Austin Restaurant Weeks began Aug. 16 and runs through Sept. 3, with more than 80 restaurants in the area serving fixed menus with a portion of proceeds directly benefiting the Central Texas Food Bank.

Olive & June is one of more than 80 restaurants participating in Austin Restaurant Weeks. (Laura Skelding AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Participating restaurants will serve lunch for $25 and offer fixed menus for $35 and $45 at dinner. What kind of impact does that have on the community? Organizers say that for every dinner served, Austin restaurant donate between $5 and $7 to the Central Texas Food Bank. And, with the Food Bank able to create four meals for every dollar raised, a dinner for two could help raise the money to feed up to 50 people.

Participating restaurants Barley Swine, Boiler Nine Bar + Grill, Central Standard, Contigo, El Naranjo, La Condesa, Olive & June, Parkside, Via 313 and many more. For a complete list of restaurants and more details on the event, visit austinrestaurantweeks.org.

Event: Fonda San Miguel welcomes world-class chef from Mexico City’s Quintonil

Fonda San Miguel, Austin’s original temple to fine interior Mexican cuisine, will welcome renowned chef Jorge Vallejo of Mexico City’s Quintonil during the next installment of its Guest Chef dinner series. The four-course dinner from the chef who helm a modern Mexican restaurant consistently ranked one of the world’s best will take place on September 30 and will $150 per person (inclusive of tax and gratuity). Reservations can be made by calling 512-459-3401. Before opening Quintonil in Mexico City in 2012, Vallejo worked under his mentor, Enrique Olvera of Pujol, and also at Noma in Copenhagen.


From 2014: The Feed to Go visits Mexico City

Quintonil chef Jorge Vallejo. (Contributed)

Austin Justice Coalition presents ATX Black Food Week

Black-owned restaurants in East Austin, like many other businesses, face increasingly stiff challenges to remain in operation amidst continued gentrification and rising property taxes and rents. The Austin Justice Coalition next week will shine a light on some of the pillars of the black community in East Austin with its ATX Black Food Week.

David Mays at Sam’s BBQ in 2013. (Andy Sharp/FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

The week-long series of dinners and conversations begins Sunday at Roland’s Soul Food (311 Chestnut Ave.). The restaurant will be open from noon to 4 p.m., with a Meet and Eat session slated from 1 to 4 p.m. The event continues along a similar schedule at restaurants throughout the week. Each restaurant has posted hours of operation and then a block of time during which diners and community members and hear the stories of the men and women who have nourished and enriched the East Austin community for years.

The following restaurants will participate, with dining hours followed by Meet and Eat hours: Monday, Mr. Catfish at 1144 Airport Blvd. (11.a.m to 8 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m.); Tuesday, Big Easy Bar and Grill at 1806 E. 12th St. (11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and 7 to 10 p.m.); Wednesday, Hoover’s Cooking at 2002 Manor Road (11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and 3 to 7 p.m.); Thursday, Tony’s Jamaican Food at 1200 E. 11th St. (11:45 a.m. to 11 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m.); Country Boyz Fixins at 4140 E. 12th St. (11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m.); Sam’s BBQ at 2000 E. 12th St. (10 a.m. to 1 a.m. and noon to 4 p.m.).


Sample queso from some of Austin’s top restaurants at Quesoff in August

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The cheesiest day in Austin will take place on August 25, as the eighth annual Quesoff returns to the Mohawk on Red River Street. It is actually only the seventh iteration of the event, as last year’s was rained out.

More than 30 teams will compete for the prestigious Quesoff title on August 25. Contributed by Jessica Alexander

For those not in the know: Quesoff features an astonishing amount of quesos from dozens of amateur and professional teams. And over the years, many amateurs have gone chip to chip with the pros. I’ve judged several competitions and will return to judge again this year.

How it works? You donate $2 or two canned goods, which go to the Central Texas Food Bank, and pay $5 for a bag of chips and a chance to taste all the competitors’ quesos, as they do battle in four categories — meaty, spicy, veggie and wild card. If queso and August sound like a bad fit, they’re not. Each year hundreds of people line up to get in, proving that queso really is the unofficial food of Austin.

This year’s competitors include Dai Due, Micklethawait Craft Meats, multiple winner Frank, Austin Daily Press, past winners Cheesus and many more. There are still a few spots open for competitors. Email queso@mohawkaustin.com to enter.


Texas Monthly BBQ Fest Early Bird tickets sales end Monday

If you wanna be one of the lucky meat-sweaty hundreds at the Long Center the first weekend of November, today’s your final chance to get the biggest bang for your buck. Early Bird tickets for the 9th annual Texas Monthly BBQ Fest end today. The tickets for the November 4 event that showcases many of the magazines Top 50 barbecue spots around Texas cost $80, with VIP tickets (which include a subscription to the magazine, two drink tickets and early admission to beat the crowds) currently cost $165. More details and links to purchase tickets are available online.

Brad Stockman takes a bite of Stanley’s Famous Pit BBQ pork ribs at the 2011 Texas Monthly BBQ Fest. (Laura Skelding AMERICAN-STATESMAN)