AFWA grant deadline looms; no more Artz at Abel's Rib House; and where La Condesa's new truck will be wheeling next

The Austin Food & Wine Alliance is now taking applications for their culinary innovation grant program, which is in its second year. The grant program is open to chefs; farmers and ranchers; wine, beer, and spirit makers; food artisans; and food-focused nonprofits for innovative culinary projects that benefit the community. Last year, the AFWA distributed $20,000 in grants: $10,000 to Argus Cidery for an organic Texas apple orchard; $5,000 to Tecolote Farm to fund a heritage hog program and CSA for low-income families: and $5,000 to the John B. Connally High School Culinary Arts Program for a documentary to educate students about raising beef in Texas from pasture to plate titled True Beef. (See Anna Toon's story about True Beef director/producer David Barrow on our On the Range blog.) Because of an exceptionally successful year of fundraising, the AFWA will be awarding $25,000 in grants this year. The application process is open through Friday, Oct. 11; download applications at Winners will be announced at an event in December.

Though the Austin contingent at this year's Feast Portland was smaller than in 2012, our two most recognizable culinary ambassadors, chef Paul Qui and pitmaster Aaron Franklin, were there. Both men served food at sold-out tasting events (where Franklin's had the longest line – big surprise) and acted as celebrity judges at the Best Butcher Contest and Fishmonger Face-off competition hosted by Whole Foods Market in Portland's Director Park on Saturday. The competition featured the best butchers and fishmongers from 11 Whole Foods regions, competing in four rounds where they were judged on speed, accuracy, and quality of knife work; butchers were breaking down hog hindquarters while fishmongers were portioning fish. Whole Foods Austin butcher Reece Lagunas made it to the final round before being eliminated. The Portland competition was also an opportunity for Whole Foods to announce the new Meat Apprenticeship Program they'll begin offering in stores this fall.

Experienced a wave of nostalgia for South Point Seafood and Artz Rib House when I noticed the old restaurant building at 2330 S. Lamar had been torn down. Ellis Winstanley says his company begins work on a new structure next week and is going forward with the Abel's Rib House project at that location, though rib man Art Blondin is no longer involved. Winstanley says they would like to have the new spot open in time for South by Southwest 2014.

The newest food truck on the local festival circuit this fall, El Cubico from La Condesa, made its debut at the Sustainable Food Center's grand opening festivities earlier this week. Look for El Cubico at this year's Fun Fun Fun Fest and the local food court at the Formula One U.S. Grand Prix in November, serving such items as Mexican street corn and pork carnitas. El Cubico is also available to rent for private parties and corporate events at [email protected].

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Austin food news, True Beef, David Barrow, Feast Portland, Paul Qui, Aaron Franklin, Reece Lagunas, Ellis Winstanley, Abel's Rib House, Artz Rib House, Art Blondin, El Cubico, La Condesa

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