Lots to chew on at the Texas Book Festival

The culinary aspects of the Texas Book Festival evolve from year to year, with Texas chefs and cookbook authors sharing their passions some years while national names take precedence in others. This year, for instance, Chronicle wine writer Wes Marshall is the lone Texas author in the Cooking Tent. He and fellow wine expert Mark Oldman are part of a national lineup that includes New York Times culinary columnists Amanda Hesser and Melissa Clark, Food Network personalities Alton Brown and Claire Robinson, Brooklyn bakery owners Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, and nationally respected cookbook authors Deborah Madison and Diana Kennedy. Each has something worthwhile to share with Texas cookbook lovers.

Central Market cooking school staffers will be on hand to assist Lewis and Poliafito (Baked Explorations), Clark (In the Kitchen With a Good Appetite), and Robinson (5 Ingredient Fix) with demonstrations of recipes from their books. Hesser will talk to Corby Kummer of The Atlantic Monthly about the process of selecting the recipes for the new century that appear in The Essential New York Times Cookbook. Marshall (What's a Wine Lover To Do?) and Oldman (Oldman's Brave New World of Wine) will explain making wine more accessible to the average consumer in a discussion with award-winning Four Seasons sommelier Mark Sayre. Madison will be joined by a group of Texas organic fruit growers to talk about her Seasonal Fruit Desserts, and Texas Monthly Food Editor Pat Sharpe will interview the legendary Diana Kennedy about Oaxaca al Gusto: An Infinite Gastronomy, the crowning glory of her literary career. Both Hesser and Brown will be feted at special events around the city on Saturday evening after the festival (see "Saturday Night Fest Enrichment Activities").

Perhaps the most interesting food-related appearance not taking place in the Cooking Tent will be Stephen Fried, author of Appetite for America: How Visionary Businessman Fred Harvey Created a Railroad Hospitality Empire That Civilized the Wild West, who will speak in the new Lone Star Tent. Our MM Pack reviewed the fascinating and informative biography of America's first restaurant tycoon when it came out (see "Complete Summer Reading," May 28), and Fried's presentation about the history of the American West is one we'll be sure to attend.

After considering this year's schedule of authors, Claudia Alarcón, MM Pack, and I each chose a "can't miss" book for review. See a complete schedule of authors and events at

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