I’ve always loved the intensity of the Texas Book Festival, which typically takes place over two days at the Capitol, but if I’m honest, it can be a little stressful.
The back-to-back and overlapping sessions take place mostly inside the Capitol, but there are also author interviews in tents set up along 11th Street on the south side of the building. It can take 15 minutes to walk from one room to another, and I’ve learned to plan my day around which sessions are taking place where.
For food lovers, all of the cooking sessions take place in the Central Market cooking tent, but there are usually always a few food-related conversations elsewhere, and I often find myself missing conversations that I want to attend because they overlap with competing sessions.
But this year’s book festival is a different ballgame, with virtual conversations spread out over an entire week, and I think that’s good news for book lovers who want to hear a variety of sessions that they might not otherwise get to hear in person.
There are one or two food sessions each day, starting Nov. 4 and wrapping up on Nov. 15. These sessions are free to attend, and you can RSVP to each one to get the link on texasbookfestival.org.
Here’s an overview of the food schedule, starting with some early morning broadcasts that will be available to watch after they’ve debuted.
Children’s book author Raúl the Third will talk about his latest book, "¡Vamos! Let's Go Eat," at 6 a.m. on Nov. 2 in a session that will be available for rebroadcasting after it airs live.
Another children’s book, "Love Sugar Magic: A Mixture of Mischief" by Anna Meriano, will be featured at 6 a.m. on Nov. 4, and Gianna Ruggiero, who illustrated "Every Night Is Pizza Night," a new book written by food expert J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, will present in a broadcast at 6 a.m. on Nov. 5.
Me and the Bees founder Mikaila Ulmer also has a 30-minute talk at 8 a.m. on Thursday about her new memoir and business guide, "Bee Fearless," that will be available to watch after it debuts.
All of the remaining sessions will be livestreamed and presented in real time but won’t be available to rewatch after the session is over.
The food live sessions start at 10 a.m. on Saturday with Melissa M. Martin, author of "Mosquito Supper Club: Cajun Recipes From a Disappearing Bayou," who will host a cooking demonstration of a dish from her hometown of Chauvin, which is near part of Louisiana that is rapidly losing ground to the Gulf of Mexico.
At 2 p.m. Saturday, journalist Jessica Elizarraras will moderate a conversation with Texas Monthly taco editor José R. Ralat, author of "American Tacos: A History and Guide," and Augustine Sedgewick, "Coffeeland: One Man's Dark Empire and the Making of Our Favorite Drug," about what the histories of both coffee and tacos can teach us about culture, immigration, power and capitalism.
At 2 p.m. Monday, the Austin-based food journalist Tom Philpott, author of the new book "Food, Farming, and the Future: Agriculture's Unseen Present and Uncertain Path Forward," will join "American Harvest" author Marie Mutsuki Mockett to talk about the future of American agriculture. Texas Monthly editor Pat Sharpe will moderate.
Thai Fresh owner Jam Sanitchat will host a culinary demonstration at 10 a.m. Nov. 11 to showcase a dish from her new book, "Thai Fresh: Beloved Recipes From a South Austin Icon," a community-funded project that covers Sanitchat’s journey to the Bouldin neighborhood restaurant, where she has taught countless students in her cooking classes.
Esteban Castillo, author of "Chicano Eats: Recipes From My Mexican-American Kitchen," will host a cooking demonstration at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 12 that celebrates the blend of Mexican and American culinary influences he grew up around in Santa Ana, Calif.
At 10 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 13, David Chang, the Momofuku founder, host of Netflix’s "Ugly Delicious" and author of a new memoir called "Eat a Peach," will join pastry chef Lisa Donovan, who recently wrote a memoir called "Our Lady of Perpetual Hunger," to talk about the hurdles they faced in building their careers in the food industry.
In a bit of a twist on the traditional food panel, Austinite S. Kirk Walsh will moderate a panel at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 14 with novelist Agustina Bazterrica, author of "Tender Is the Flesh," and "Barn 8" author Deb Olin Unferth about the "not-so-clear line between human and animal, and other lessons that lurk behind the barn doors."
Whole Foods co-founder John Mackey will talk about leadership in the age of the coronavirus, as well as Whole Foods’ 40-year history, long-term thinking, organizational evolution and navigating teams through strange times at 4 p.m. Nov. 15.