Austin’s Top Culinary Nonprofit Announces Statewide Expansion
Grants/virtual events support local food in four major cities
By Jessi Cape,
8:35AM, Thu. Sep. 3, 2020
After nearly ten years of supporting the local food systems, Austin Food & Wine Alliance (AFWA) announced a statewide expansion which includes more grant funding in major cities – a move aimed at supporting pandemic recovery over the next several years.
The newly formed Texas Food & Wine Alliance (TFWA) will be the umbrella organization overseeing AFWA, the San Antonio Food & Wine Alliance, the Dallas Food & Wine Alliance, and the Houston Food & Wine Alliance.
"The Austin Food and Wine Alliance's positive impact on our food community is so large that it is impossible to truly understand the scope. They are able to support a huge number of uniquely different types of businesses and charity organizations in a calendar year. From farmer to chef to cheesemaker, the AFWA is a real small business champion in our great city and state," said chef Michael Fojtasek of Austin’s award-winning Olamaie in today’s press release.
To date, AFWA has granted $336,500 for “chefs, farmers, artisan producers, wine-, beer- and spirit-makers, and food-focused nonprofits” as well as over $14,000 for immediate aid and pandemic recovery during 2020. Grant-giving will launch in Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio in 2021.
“From day one of the Austin Food & Wine Alliance, I have seen first-hand their community outreach and how it has helped keep the hospitality group together and help grow in positive and sustainable ways. I’m beyond excited to have them in San Antonio,” said Jason Dady, chef/owner of several popular San Antonio concepts and Austin’s Chispas in their press release.
“The pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges to the Texas hospitality industry and it will take many years for full recovery,” explained Mariam Parker, AFWA executive director and now TWFA executive director in the release. “There is no greater time than now to fortify, to showcase, and to support the breadth of Texas talent, culinary businesses, and nonprofits.”
While the current pandemic has postponed all of the organization’s in-person events in 2020, TWFA is launching Alliance Academy, a new online cooking experience, on September 17. Each episode will highlight “the diversity of Texas food, highlighting the wide range of influences, flavors, and cultures that define the state’s cuisine.” Additionally, viewers have the opportunity to participate in live Q&A and cook alongside the featured chefs and mixologists through local Assembly Kitchen’s kits.
The inaugural season will feature chef Edgar Rico and Sara Mardanbigi, owners of Nixta Taqueria; Jackie Letelier, chef/owner of charcuterie company Casero; chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph, executive pastry chef/partner of Emmer & Rye, Hestia, TLV, Henbit, and Kalimotxo; plus other excellent chefs from Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas. Future episodes will feature Philip Speer, chef/co-owner of Comedor; Amir Hajimaleki, chef/owner of Roya; and Anthony Sobotik and Chad Palmatier, owners of Lick Honest Ice Creams.
TFWA will also host the seventh annual Culinary Arts Career Conference, a free virtual career showcase for high school culinary students across the state October 26-30. For more information about TFWA, and the grants and virtual events, visit texasfoodandwinealliance.org and the TWFA social media channels.