As host city for international culinary conference, we're the center of the food universe for a week
In just the past two months, Austin chef Tyson Cole won a James Beard Award, and Food & Wine magazine named up-and-coming chef Bryce Gilmore, who got his start in a trailer, as one of the country's top 10 chefs to watch. The magazine also will partner with C3 Presents to produce the upcoming Austin Food & Wine Festival, which will likely become a nationally recognized food festival in the vein of the magazine's other events in Aspen, Colo., and South Beach, Fla.
"We have our own sense that we're on the culinary map," says Cathy Cochran-Lewis, past president of the group who has worked in the Austin food industry for more than 20 years. "But when you have people from all over the world coming to sample at the restaurants, meet the chefs, try the artisan products, it validates that feeling."
Starting today, the association will bring hundreds of the country's most influential food writers, magazine editors, publicists, cookbook publishers, authors, cooking instructors, chefs and TV show hosts for four days of workshops, panels, mentoring sessions and networking events. Culinary stars slated to attend include New York Times food columnist Amanda Hesser, vegetarian authority Deborah Madison, baking guru Dorie Greenspan, Food Network's Ellie Krieger and New Orleans chef John Besh. Former Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower will sit down with New York Times food writer Kim Severson for a talk about the big picture of food's impact on business, agriculture and politics.
Just as the South by Southwest festival is a harbinger of the latest innovations in technology, music and film, the IACP conference educational program reads like a list of the year's biggest food trends: blog-to-book deals, molecular gastronomy, the vegetarian/carnivore middle ground called flexitarianism, the use of bitters in cocktails, community gardens and the sweeping local food movement.
IACP asked Austin-based food writer Toni Tipton-Martin to come up with events to help attendees explore Austin outside the three-block radius of the Hilton Austin, where the conference panels and workshops will be held.
"(Conference attendees) aren't going to come into town and sit in their hotel rooms," Tipton-Martin says. "(The conference) is designed to get people out to experience the food scene," but not just the hottest food trailer.
As a culinary historian, Tipton-Martin wanted to balance the new with a little bit of old. "Knowing that we have this very provocative current scene, I wanted to ensure that the traditions of Central Texas were also put on the spotlight." She helped plan tours of Hill Country wineries, small-town barbecue gems, Austin grocery store meccas Whole Foods Market and Central Market, and even one tour of local restaurants to illustrate the difference between Tex-Mex and interior Mexican food.
The IACP Cookbook Awards, among the nation's most prestigious, will be be handed out at a gala at the Paramount Theatre on Thursday, and the conference ends Saturday night with a barbecue event at another historically significant place: Boggy Creek Farm, one of the first urban farms in the country.
Of the 33 national conferences, two others have been held in Texas: one in San Antonio in 1995 and the other in Dallas in 2005.
It's not just about showing off what Austin has to offer, Cochran-Lewis says. The conference brings people who will share what is going on in their corner of the food world, so attendees are comparing notes and learning from one another. "It's a two-way street," she says. "It elevates our awareness and our sense of where food is going."
Culinary convention events open to the public
The International Association of Culinary Professionals' annual conference starts today and runs through the weekend. You can register for the conference at the Hilton Austin, 500 E. Fourth St., starting at 6:30 a.m. today . Four-day passes cost $745 for members, $930 for nonmembers, and day passes start at $225 for members and $410 for nonmembers. (You can find the full program schedule online at www.iacp.com .)
But you don't have to attend the conference to take advantage of the culinary talent and celebrity descending upon Austin this week. IACP is hosting a handful of events open to the public (you can find details and buy tickets at iacppublicevents.eventbrite.com ). Also, there are a number of unofficial parties, dinners and book-signings.
- Addie Broyles
• The easiest - and least expensive - point of entry for everyday Austinites who love food is the culinary book fair, which takes place from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Friday. More than 60 authors, including Diana Kennedy and Ellie Krieger, will be talking with fans and signing books at the culinary book fair, which costs $10 in advance or $15 at the door.
• At 8 p.m. tonight, Uchi chef Tyson Cole will be cooking at Hotel Saint Cecilia in South Austin with fellow James Beard winner Brad Farmerie of Public in New York and Holly Smith, who owns Café Juanita in the Seattle area and competed on the Food Network's "Next Iron Chef." The "Three Hot Chefs" event costs $135; proceeds go to the Culinary Trust, which provides scholarships and grants to chefs and other members of the culinary community.
• Foodways Texas and IACP have teamed up with local chefs for Up In Smoke, an event that starts at 6 p.m. on Saturday at Boggy Creek Farm, 3414 Lyons Road, celebrating the many Texas styles of barbecue with meat from El Naranjo, John Mueller Barbecue, Hoover's Cooking, Lamberts Downtown Barbecue and Dai Due. Tickets, which include beer, cocktails and wine, cost $65, with proceeds going to the Sustainable Food Center.
• Anyone who works in the culinary industry is invited to attend a cooking demonstration at 1:30 p.m. today at the Hilton on the scientific approach to cooking called molecular gastronomy. The session, called Global Roots of Modernist Cuisine, costs $45 in advance, $50 at the door.
• Culinary professionals who aren't attending the full conference also can buy tickets to the culinary expo from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, which will feature chefs and exhibitors demonstrating and explaining the latest techniques, trends and innovations in the industry. Tickets cost $35 in advance, $40 at the door.
• A year ago, Michelle Obama launched her Chefs Move to Schools initiative with a star-studded rally at the White House. To celebrate a year of pairing chefs with schools to help fight childhood obesity, anyone with a chef's coat or an interest in the cause is invited to join Food Network star Ellie Krieger and White House pastry chef and cookbook author Bill Yosses at 5 p.m. today on the south steps of the Capitol for a rally.
• Persuading Americans to waste less food has been a passion of Boston-based author Jonathan Bloom for more than five years, and last year, he published, "American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (and what we can do about it)" (Da Capo Lifelong Books, $26). Bloom is hosting a potluck and book talk at 6:30 p.m. today at Rain Lily Farm, 914 Shady Lane. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a seat ($25 per person, BYOB).
• To celebrate the release of her new iPad application "Baking with Dorie," best-selling cookbook author Dorie Greenspan is bringing Cookie Bar, a New York pop-up cookie shop that is a joint effort with her son, to Brush Square Park at 10 a.m. on Friday. She and her team will be giving away sablés, her signature French vanilla shortbread cookies, out of an Airstream trailer until they run out.
• Five Texas chefs will be competing to see who can best pair Texas wines with Texas food in the first Edible Texas Wine Food Match at 7 p.m. Friday at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center. Judges include chefs Jacques Pépin and John Besh. Proceeds from tickets ($100 at edibleaustin.com/ediblewandf ) will benefit the Center for Wine and the Culinary Arts in Fredericksburg.
• Austin food blogger Jennie Chen is hosting her third Cupcake Smackdown from 5 to 8 p.m. at Hops and Grain Brewery, 507 Calles St. Admission is free, but proceeds from cupcake and other food and drink sales will benefit the Texas Craft Brewers Guild and Keep Austin Dog Friendly. Find more information at cupcakesmackdown.com .
• Toni Tipton-Martin, in addition to her duties as the host chairwoman for the conference, has organized a Peace Through Pie Fundraising Social at 4 p.m. on Saturday. The event, which has a suggested donation of $25, will help kick off the city's Juneteenth celebration, which marks the date (June 19) in 1865 when African American slaves in Texas learned they were free. The social will be hosted at, and is a fundraiser for, the 115-year-old Limerick-Frazier House, 810 E. 13th St., which Tipton-Martin is restoring as part of the SANDE Youth Project.
• Hank Shaw, the California-based and James Beard-nominated blogger behind Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook (honest-food.net ), has recently published his first book, "Hunt, Gather, Cook" (Rodale, $25.99). Shaw will be hosting a book-signing and dinner at 6 p.m. on Sunday at Fino, 2905 San Gabriel St., that will feature dishes inspired by the book from chef Jason Donoho. The dinner costs $50 per person; $80 with wine. Make reservations by calling 474-2905.
Find the recipe for Dorie Greenspan's buttery sablés and Mollie Katzen's walnut butter at austin360.com/relishaustin .