As the Austin Food And Wine Festival wraps up their fourth year, the fest appears to have found their groove. After a serious ticket price shake-up, the entire festival sold out, and both the main festival and outside events overall ran smoothly.
Celebrity chef antics ran wild, like dressing up as Hulk Hogan wild. Fort Worth-based chef Tim Love was an even more outsized presence this year, fittingly as his Austin branch of Lonesome Dove gears up to launch. Read on for the observations, hungover.
— Friday night's Taste of Texas kick-off party yet again did a great job pulling in talent from across the state, with especially stellar showings from Houston's Oxheart, San Antonio's Hot Joy, and Taylor classic Louie Mueller Barbecue
—The longest line was for Ramen Tatsu-Ya's smoked ajitama egg, with grilled mushroom and chicken chicharon. Notable, they served up an egg-based bite last year as well. Tatsu-Ya: the masters of the egg bite.
—Overheard from passerby: "I feel like I'm in Top Chef."
—At the Sips & Sweets after party, the longest line was for LaV pastry chef Janina O'Leary, who created a decadent homage to Alice in Wonderland's tea party, complete with small, sweet bites like edible chocolate cups. Servers cut down dangling vanilla bean marshmallows stuck on forks for guests.
—Swift's Attic's Callie Speer created what was called "Zombie Wonka 2015," a fondant cake display of zombie-fied versions of tales from Willy Wonka. The sign beckoned guests to "come with me and you'll see a world of pure inhumanity." Someone stole one of the Oompa Loompas.
—When it was time to open the entrance to the general grounds, the PA played the Star Wars theme song each day.
—After a minor bout with the health inspector, Jack Gilmore's massive setup, which included the signature fire truck with pig roast, spinning chickens and goat legs, barbecue shrimp, and wood-fired oysters and breads, was good to go. They served one of the heftiest plates on Saturday
—Various sources told Eater vendors were told to prepare 1,000 bites for each day, and some brought even more. By 2 P.M. on Saturday, most of the grand tasting chefs were completely out
— Andrew Zimmern and Graham Elliot took their mystery challenges very seriously and donned a luchador and Hulk Hogan-type outfits, respectively. Zimmern even had a food bikini babe with him. At one point, Journey's "Don't Stop Believing," played and it turned into a really big singalong, interrupting Paul Qui's demo next door
—The weather was sunny, but it was also HOT. Numerous attendees reported short pours on white and rose wines, which were running low.
—Saturday's Rock Your Taco event kicked off with a line stretching all the way to 5th and Guadalupe. During the event, last year's winner Richard Blais and Antonia Lofaso racked up mega-lines.
—Uchi, which predictably drew huge lines in the past, was tucked away behind Richard Blais's line, making their delicious taco a bit easier to come by
—Tim Love won the competition, which for the first time was judged anonymously, with his wild oryx taco. The judges also singled out Jonathan Waxman and Chris Shepherd's tacos.
—On the second day, there were long lines for the Gilmores, Pass & Provisions, and Wu Chow.
—Someone passed out while waiting on the line for Wu Chow. Someone else asked, "Is it rude to go ahead for food?" and then went ahead to the table.
—Threats of thunder were so strong Sunday morning, David Bull mentioned to Eater that the Austin Food and Wine grounds were evacuated briefly at 10:30 a.m., right before the doors were set to open at 11 a.m.
—Tyson Cole mentioned at his demo that Uchi goes through about ten thousand yellowtails a year.
—La Barbecue's John Lewis gave Eater an elbow bump after he cut some brisket.
— Tim Love's grilling demos, only available for all-in passholders this year, were as popular as ever
—Paul Qui and his East Side King and Qui teams were at every event: both nighttime events, and fire pits on both days, a reflection of the amount of growth ahead for their burgeoning restaurant group
— Nadia Chaudhury and Meghan McCarron