Crowds will flock to Vic Mathias Shores and Fair Market this weekend to sample food from some of the top chefs in the country, sip wines from a variety of producers and learn tricks of the trade from their favorite culinary stars at the eighth annual Austin Food & Wine Festival.
The events give attendees a chance to get a little closer to some big names in food, and we reached out to five participating chefs to find out a little more about their culinary predilections.
Olamaie chef and James Beard award finalist Michael Fojtasek and former “Top Chef” champion Kristen Kish (Arlo Grey) will be serving at the unofficial kick-off event, "Feast Under the Stars,” Thursday night; while Beard winner and Houston empire builder Chris Shepherd (Georgia James, One Fifth), celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern (Lucky Cricket) and Callie Speer (Holy Roller) will be competing in Saturday night’s centerpiece Rock Your Taco event.
1. Three staples every home cook should have in their pantry (besides olive oil)?
Fojtasek: Frozen field peas. Keep 'em until you need 'em. Also, in the freezer, chicken broth. I make it at home in the Instant Pot. We like to eat it with rice and whatever veggies are in the fridge. An oil with a high smoke point. I've been buying Thrive (an algae oil). It's flavorless and can get mega hot.
Kish: White sesame seeds (toasted), sherry vinegar and hot sauce.
Shepherd: Fish sauce, sambal and Japanese curry.
Speer: Kosher salt, apple cider vinegar and unsalted butter.
Zimmern: Mustards, good soy sauce and great vinegars.
2. What is your favorite meal to cook for a loved one?
Fojtasek: My wife loves a bowl of pasta. I love a steak. So, a bowl of pasta and a steak. Cause we love each other.
Kish: Super herby and lemony roasted chicken and homemade pasta with a simple butter sauce and Parmesan.
Speer: It's actually a running joke that I don't cook anything for anyone, outside of the restaurant. So, I'll go ahead and say "cereal for dinner."
Zimmern: Perfect roasted chicken and pan gravy, frisee salad with mustard vinaigrette and espresso ice cream with hot fudge sauce.
3. One night in Austin, where is dinner?
Fojtasek: Olamaie, of course.
Kish: Joann’s or Olamaie … they are so different; it depends on my mood.
Shepherd: Suerte or anywhere with Aaron Franklin.
Speer: Kemuri Tatsu-ya. I love the food, and creativity. But the space just feels so perfect. It has so much soul. They really nailed it there.
Zimmern: I ask Kevin Fink, Bryce Gilmore, Jesse Griffiths, Tyson Cole, Rene Ortiz, Laura Sawicki, Miguel Vidal, Aaron Franklin, Philip Speer, Nic Yanes, Iliana de la Vega, and Fermin Nunez and invite them to a pot luck dinner at my room at the Hotel Saint Cecilia.
4. Brisket, pork ribs, beef ribs or pulled pork?
Fojtasek: Brisket AND pork ribs. They are like Ponch and John, or Hall and Oates. One without the other doesn't feel right.
Kish: Pork ribs but they MUST be dry rub, nothing else.
Speer: Pork ribs all day!
Zimmern: Brisket, with a pork rib kicker.
5. You have to open a taco truck serving only one taco, what is it?
Fojtasek: A straight ripoff of Mia's Tex-Mex (Dallas) brisket tacos.
Kish: Beef barbacoa.
Shepherd: Al pastor.
Speer: A really killer, giant, cheap breakfast taco, with extra tortillas. Something along the lines of the Don Juan at Juan in a Million, where you can make a bunch of tacos out of one taco.
Zimmern: Tacos al pastor.
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