Bon Appétit, Y'all

Legendary mag still eyeing Austin

Andrew Knowlton
Andrew Knowlton

Both Bon Appétit Editor-in-Chief Adam Rapoport and Restaurant Editor Andrew Knowlton are in Austin this weekend to speak on food-related panels at South by Southwest Interactive. Based on a phone interview this week, it quickly became clear that panel duty is a thinly veiled excuse to eat in one of their favorite food cities.

Austin Chronicle: It's pretty obvious to anyone who reads Bon Appétit that the magazine follows our restaurant scene pretty closely. How did Austin get on your radar?

Adam Rapoport: I first went down to Austin to visit friends in the late Nineties and then went back to South by Southwest for the first time in 2002. I loved that there was all this great live music, barbecue, Mexican food. You have to understand that for a guy who grew up in the Washington, D.C., area and has lived in New York a long time, it was remarkable to find so much great authentic regional food in the same place, because those things are just not available up here.

Andrew Knowlton: I first came to Austin for a magazine conference sometime in the late Nineties, and I made a side trip to Lockhart. I've probably been back 20 times since then. I've enjoyed watching the city grow up and the restaurant scene along with it.

AC: Grow up how?

Rapoport: Well, in the sense that it's progressive enough for a couple of Brooklyn guys to feel comfortable here [they both laugh], but also in the sense that there are now very good modern American restaurants, as well as all the authentic regional cuisine, with a customer base that really appreciates good food. You can't have lots of good restaurants without plenty of people interested in good dining experiences.

Adam Rapoport
Adam Rapoport

AC: Andrew, you created quite a stir here last year when you named an Austin food trailer, Thai-Kun, to Bon Appétit's list of the country's top 10 new restaurants for 2014. Will you be checking out some newer places this visit?

Knowlton: Yes, I'm staying a few days to try some places, but I hear Thai-Kun has moved. I want to find them again.

AC: They've just moved a few blocks east, to the parking lot of a bar called Whisler's. What are some of the other places on your list?

Knowlton: Dai Due, I've already been once and want to go again. Olamaie, of course, and Gardner. Oh, and is Launderette open yet? I really love Rene Ortiz's food.

AC: Yes, they've been open a few weeks now. So, what are your panels about?

Rapoport: My panel will be about the food festival movement. Our magazine has an interest in Feast Portland and one of the founders of that event, Mike Thelin, will be joining me.

Knowlton: I'm on a panel with Aaron Franklin and Monica Pope about chefs using social media for promotion.

AC: Well, it should be interesting to watch Bon Appétit over the next few months to discover what excited y'all this time around.

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Bon Appétit, Adam Rapoport, Andrew Knowlton, Thai-Kun, Whisler's, Dai Due, Olamaie, Gardner, Launderette, SXSW

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