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Exclusive: World-class chef visiting Texas for first time and cooking at Nixta Taqueria

Matthew Odam
Austin 360
Chef Edgar Rico (left) and Sara Mardanbigi will welcome chef Iñaki Aizpitarte to their Nixta Taqueria in May.

The love for Nixta Taqueria has jumped the pond and made it to Europe. Inventive Basque chef Iñaki Aizpitarte, who is chef-owner of the restaurant Le Chateaubriand in Paris, is coming to Austin in May for the Wild World Festival and reached out to chef Edgar Rico at Nixta about cooking a collaborative dinner at the East Austin taqueria on May 13. 

Rico met Aizpitarte, whose restaurant has been celebrated by some publications as one of the best in the world, when Aizpitarte cooked a pop-up meal at Trois Mec in Los Angeles. Rico worked there with chef Ludo Lefebvre.

“He did a grilled avocado dish with a grapefruit granita, which was the craziest vegan dish I’d ever had,” Rico said. “It was like you were eating ceviche but in a really different manner. I remember watching him make it. It was one of those moments of explosion in your life: These things should not work together but they did and it was amazing. He’s like a magician.” 

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Rico says he has no idea what the menu will look like at the eight-course, wine-paired dinner, but he knows it will be seasonal and creative and he looks forward to turning the visitor from France onto some Texas ingredients. 

“'I don’t make a menu until I see everything and smell everything,' Iñaki told me, 'and then I make a menu very fast,'” Rico told the American-Statesman recently. “I’m sure he’s never cooked with a nopal. He’s also never had Gulf shrimp, which I think for him will be really cool.”

Rico said he dined at Le Chateaubriand five years ago and has always admired the chef. When he heard that Aizpitarte wanted to cook at his taqueria, Rico said he was humbled and fascinated.

“He said, 'I like your style of cooking and what you’re doing with vegetables,'” Rico said. “I guess all that French cooking I was doing with Ludo, I guess he sees some of that in my tacos.”

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Nixta will host seatings at 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. on May 13, with tickets costing $175. The 50 tickets went on sale at noon on Tuesday at nixtataqueria.com

Aizpitarte’s cuisine will also be on display at the Wild World Festival. The festival, which celebrates makers of naturally fermented wine and beer, takes place May 14 and 15 at Jester King Brewery, with tickets costing $95 for the two days. For lovers of natural wines and beers, it is one of the most exciting food and beverage events of the year. Tickets and more information at wildworldfestival.com.