Food-o-File

A food and wine festival reboot, the best barbecue in Texas, and more in this week's food news

Austin chef/restaurateur Tyson Cole (Uchi, Uchiko) and restaurateur Jesse Herman (La Condesa, Malverde) were all over the local news last week. Not only did their eateries win multiple awards in the 2011 Austin Chronicle Restaurant Poll, but it was also announced they will join forces with Ft. Worth celebrity chef Tim Love and Austin's C3 Presents to create the Austin Wine & Food Festival. The new festival is scheduled for March 30-April 1, 2012, with presenting sponsor Food & Wine magazine, already the driving force behind several other successful culinary destination events around the country. The magazine's involvement should bring significant clout, expertise, and financial stability to the new event, which is expected to build on the 26-year reputation established by the Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Fes­tiv­al. THCWAFF will become a 501c(3) nonprofit called the Austin Food & Wine Foundation and will be the beneficiary of the new festival. Rumors about potential changes at THCWAFF swirled in the days preceding what turned out to be that entity's final event (see "Food-o-File," April 1). At the time, neither festival President Cathy Cochran-Lewis nor anyone from C3 would comment on the record about potential changes. But at last week's media party announcing the changes, Cochran-Lewis was enthusiastic about the future of the new event that she described as one that "truly captures national and international attention for Austin and our dynamic food and wine scene." My main concern is that an event called the Austin Wine & Food Festival needs to feature plenty of the vibrant indigenous food and wine culture and emerging talent that Austin and Texas have to offer rather than that of mostly visiting celebrity chefs. It should be very interesting to see how things play out next spring.

Last week's other big news: Texas Monthly announced that its second annual BBQ Festiv­al will be Oct. 30 on the City Terrace of the Long Center. Based on the enthusiastic public response to the inaugural event, featuring many of the barbecue joints included in the magazine's most recent Top 50 list, the ticket capacity this year will be increased to 3,000 guests. VIP tickets go on sale June 8, with general admission tickets to follow Aug. 10. See complete details and a regularly updated list of participating restaurants at www.texasmonthly.com/bbqfestival. See you there!

To promote the new season of Gordon Ram­say's MasterChef series, FOX 7 is holding a contest to win a private home dinner party for eight guests prepared by a personal chef to coincide with the season premiere on June 6. Here's how to enter: Submit a 150-word review of your favorite restaurant, covering important points such as parking and location, service, taste and presentation of the food, and the overall dining experience, at the contest link at www.myfoxaustin.com. Five finalists will be chosen from entries submitted by Wednesday, June 1. I'll pick the winner based on how witty, well-written, and creative the review is, and FOX will notify the lucky winner by phone on June 3. You don't have to watch to win, but get those reviews in, and good luck!

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