The Kimmel Effect on Austin Food

Late night host becomes culinary ambassador for city

Photo by Angela George/ Wikimedia Commons

Austin food lover Jimmy Kimmel and his late night crew are back on stage at the Long Center this week, surrounded by iconic Austin neon signs and pom-pom twirling UT cheerleaders. Before his monologue last night, Kimmel declared “no brisket will go unsmoked, no queso will go undipped, and no horns will go unhooked” while he's here.

When the show debuted on Monday night, Kimmel explained that he and his team had arrived on Friday and he'd already eaten at Perla's, Jeffrey's, Olamaie, Fresa's Chicken al Carbon, and Launderette, gotten a 3am pizza at Home Slice, a cheeseburger from Wholly Cow, and a Chez Zee banana cream pie. Kimmel is embracing the Austin food scene with a dining itinerary that even visiting chefs and professional restaurant critics would envy, and it looks as though he plans to talk about it every night this week and query his guests on their local dining preferences as well.

After Kimmel's first visit, Chez Zee owner Sharon Watkins decided she'd make sure he knew about her restaurant even though the Northwest Hills mainstay isn't part of Downtown Austin's hip dining scene. “We heard him talking about all the different things he'd eaten and realized what he really needed was some of Chez Zee's desserts,” Watkins told us. Somehow, she managed to discover one of the comedian's favorite pie flavors, so the Chez Zee bakers whipped up a “Slap Yo' Mama” banana cream pie for Kimmel and a mocha chocolate torte for Guillermo, and sent them to the Long Center yesterday. The result was a news story on KVUE's Nightbeat and a shout out from Kimmel himself during the monologue, followed by a tweet to his millions of followers.

Another Austin independent business that will benefit from the Kimmel effect is Urban Roots, a local non-profit that provides high school kids the opportunity to experience all aspects of working on an urban farm from soil preparation, to planting and harvest, to selling at local farmers' markets and preparing their harvest with local chefs. During the inaugural program Monday night, Kimmel showed video of weighing his sidekick Guillermo Rodriguez as soon as they stepped off the plane in Austin and then promised to donate $2,000 to Urban Roots for every pound Guillermo gains during their week here. When we asked Urban Roots director Max Elliott how the connection came about, he said he'd been told that Kimmel had reached out to friends in Austin to find a deserving non-profit that he could benefit while the show is in town this week, and Zane Wilmon of CTC International recommended Urban Roots. Considering the dining schedule Kimmel and Guillermo have already followed, this could be an extremely profitable week for the very deserving local group. We'll have more news as the week progresses.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Jimmy Kimmel
<i>Guillermo Makes a Taco</i> on <i>Kimmel</i>
Guillermo Makes a Taco on Kimmel
Robert Rodriguez debuts short film and new taco

Virginia B. Wood, March 18, 2015

More by Virginia B. Wood
Top 10 Savory Bites
Top 10 Savory Bites

Jan. 1, 2016

Open Secret
Open Secret
The not-so-hidden pleasures of dine

Dec. 25, 2015


Jimmy Kimmel, Chez Zee, Wholly Cow Burgers, Sharon Watkins, Urban Roots, Perla's, Olamaie, Jeffrey's, Launderette, Fresa's Chicken al Carbon, Home Slice Pizza, Max Elliott, Guillermo Rodriguez

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle