The father-son chef duo of Jack Gilmore and Bryce Gilmore have each helmed their own Austin restaurants (Jack Allen's Kitchen and Barley Swine, respectively), but their contribution to this year's Austin Food and Wine Festival presents a whole different challenge. Whole, as in "whole animals," roasted over a fire pit.
Checking in with Eater Austin for some festival sneak peeks, the Gilmore guys say they're eagerly anticipating mingling with the out-of-town talent, showing off Austin's first-rate culinary offerings, and, in true Austin style, drinking some cold beers next to that aforementioned fire.
What do you two have planned for the festival?
Jack Gilmore: We're doing a Sunday afternoon event, which I think is kind of the winding down portion of the festival. So Bryce and I are in the pits, literally, showcasing a bunch of whole animals.
Bryce Gilmore: We were inspired by one of the chefs last year, who was cooking a whole pig over a fire. I think it's supposed to be kind of casual, people can walk up and see us cooking over fire, or talk to us if they want to. At some point, I think it's like at one o'clock on Sunday, we're actually going to start feeding some people. We're going to do a couple of whole goats over a rotisserie. And dad, I think you have a pizza oven coming on a trailer?
JG: Yeah, do you still want to do rabbits, Bryce?
BG: Yeah, I can probably get some rabbits, and we'll do that, too.
JG: We'll do some head-on shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico. A really good friend of mine also has a wood-burning pizza oven on a trailer, and we'll be doing some pizzas or breads; you never know. Maybe shrimp. You never know. Whatever we get at the farmer's market on Saturday.
Rene Ortiz told Eater he's nervous about cooking alongside y'all in the pits!
JG: There's no competition!
BG: I don't look at it as a competition. It's more like, let's just be out there, having fun, drinking beers while we're cooking.
JG: Bryce? it's a wine festival, not a beer festival, okay?
BG: We'll be drinking wine and basting the goats with beer.
Do you guys get to cook together very often?
JG: Not too often. But when Bryce was growing up, we used to do this stuff all the time. But lately, he's so busy, I'm so busy, when we do have the chance to do something, we just blow it up and we just want to have fun.
Are you both doing the Rock Your Taco event?
BG: Just me. Pop is going to be one of the guys who's eating tacos but not judging.
JG: I'm not good enough to be in that taco contest. There are so many great chefs in this town, that I kind of handed the baton off about 10 years ago. People like Bryce, and everybody that's doing the cook-off. They're the real deals nowadays; I'm just old school, laying back, seeing what the new kids are doing.
Jack, how does it feel to have raised a son who's turned out to be one of the most recognizable and respected chefs in Austin?
JG: Honestly, I'm so proud and honored to be his dad. He's really good at what he does, and he takes what he does very seriously, and you can tell. To tell you the truth, one of the things I taught him early on was to surround yourself with the best people you can, and that's what he did. I mean, he's got some incredible talent right behind him, that are actually learning straight from him, and it's showing up in what he does with the food. So, I'm really proud that he took on the tradition of developing people behind him, and next to him, and in front of him. It means a lot to me.
I'm so proud of him, but not just Bryce, it's really the whole culinary scene that's happening in Austin. People like Bryce and Tyson [Cole] and Paul [Qui] and Shawn [Cirkiel]: they've really embraced the whole idea of bringing up the next chefs. It's a killer scene to be in, and Bryce is just in there with the whole mix, and I'm proud of that.
Are you blushing, Bryce?
BG: No, I'm proud of him, too. I'm just doing my thing, and I'm happy to be here.
JG: He's humble. Most chefs are humble, but he's very humble.
Jack, how have you seen the Austin culinary scene, and its larger national profile, change over the years?
JG: That's a very good question, because I was very fortunate enough to travel, when I was a corporate chef, all over the country, and see what other cities were doing; everywhere from Seattle to Arizona to San Francisco to Orange County, California, and the Washington, DC area. Austin had pretty much every element that you could want to throw a really good bash, with a wine festival, or really, any kind of festival. In the last 10 years, when you start talking about SXSW, Austin City Limits, and these other things, it's like, why not do a killer wine festival in Austin? Not just worldwide wines and United States wines coming in here, but Texas wine itself will embrace this whole situation. Then you throw in the music aspect of what we're doing, and the culinary talent that's in here – not to mention the artisans of farmers and cheese-makers and wine-makers and beer-makers.
I don't know if you want to call it the perfect storm, but this has got to be one of the hottest things going on. I think last year, I'm really sure they learned a lot. It's just like with the first Austin City Limits: they learned a lot. So I think they're going to make the tents a little bit bigger, spread out a little bit more; more ice, less stuff on the ground, things like that. But to make Austin proud, I think this whole festival is going to be incredible. I've been to about every wine festival you can imagine, but to me, this is just one of those things where you can't not have a killer festival, because of where we're at. Especially this time of year.
BG: It's great to have a mixture of chefs coming in from other parts of the country, who are nationally known. That's cool, especially since it only happens once a year.
JG: Everybody who's coming in is? well, we're the envy. They want to be here. They absolutely want to be here, I promise you that; but they get to come here once or twice a year, do their thing. Some of the stay a few extra days; some of them leave. But we're the envy of the whole culinary population, I promise you that.
BG: I'm sure they have a good time with us down here, yeah.
Do y'all have any tips for first-time festival attendees?
BG: Have a driver. That way, you don't have to drive yourself. Also, just try as many things as you can.
JG: So here's what's going to happen. I think there's probably four or five tastings in the three days. There's one in the afternoon, one in the late afternoon I believe. I would try to hit every tent you can the first day. On top of that, definitely go to any cooking demonstration that you can. On the second day, concentrate a little more maybe on one tent for tastings. There's going to be a lot of food – not just wine, but a lot of food. Definitely eat, try a little bit. The lines are going to be long; just find a shorter line, and then come back to the longer line. By the end of the first day, you're going to have a favorite. By the end of the second day, you're going to have a different favorite. And by the third day, you're going to say, man, I don't want it to be over, I want it to keep going. That's when you come to check out what we're doing on Sunday afternoon.
You should literally taste everything you can, when it comes to food, and then you'll probably have a favorite wine without telling anybody.
We're especially looking forward to upping our wine knowledge at the fest.
JG: Just so you know, every wine that's there is going to be represented by someone who knows what they're pouring. They're going to be the gurus of their wine. You'll meet a lot of winemakers. Yu'll meet people who own the wineries. But, at the end of the day, whatever you like is what you like. It doesn't matter what they say, sometimes. Try a little bit of everything.
BG: That's a good point, dad. These wines and spirits are represented either by the people who work for company, or they're very familiar with it so they can tell you everything you want to know. You don't always get that too often.
JG: At the same time, it's kind of overwhelming, but you'll see the passion behind the table that's pouring you that wine. Like I said, you will have a favorite within a couple hours, you'll have a favorite the next day, and so on and so forth. But the bottom line is, take it easy. It's going to be a blur to you by the end of the day, just because you saw so much food and saw so much wine. By the second day, you'll have a better opinion and appetite about what you really want to do. By the third day, you're going to be a pro.
—Emma Kat Richardson
· Austin Food & Wine Festival [Official]
· All Bryce Gilmore Coverage on Eater Austin [-EATX-]
· All Jack Gilmore Coverage on Eater Austin [-EATX-]
· All Austin Food & Wine Festival Coverage on Eater Austin [-EATX-]
Bryce Gilmore and Jack Gilmore. [Photo: Austin Food & Wine Festival/Official]