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Austin Food Lovers’ Guide to the Texas Book Festival 2019

Get ready to glean some tips about everything from Texas seafood to how to bake some brilliant bread

Hannah Hart wearing a yellow top, holding a microphone at a media event.
My Drunk Kitchen creator Hannah Hart, who will showcase her new book on Saturday afternoon
Manny Carabel/Getty Images

The Texas Book Festival, which is free and open to the public, has grown to become one of the largest and most reputable literary festivals in the United States, since First Lady Laura Bush founded the event in 1995. A boon to bibliophiles, the annual family-friendly festival now features celebrated authors (including prolific chefs and food writers) local food trucks, activities, and more.

This weekend — October 26 and 27 — the festival returns, stretching across the west and south sides of the Texas State Capitol grounds, and down Congress Avenue, welcoming notable names throughout the food world, from top local icons like Aaron Franklin to the creator of My Drunk Kitchen, Hannah Hart.

Cooking Demos and Talks

The Central Market Cooking Tent showcases cookbook authors — including bloggers, restaurateurs, and noted chefs — to discuss and demonstrate recipes from their latest cookbooks. Find the tent in front of the Texas State Capitol at Congress and 11th Street. Book signings follow each demonstration in the Texas Monthly TBF Book Signing Tent on Congress between 10th and 11th. In chronological order, food events include:

Aaron Franklin’s Take On Steak
What: Top Austin pitmaster Aaron Franklin puts the smoker aside to talk steak, one of his preferred meals when he’s cooking for himself. Franklin will cover plenty of ground from how to cook those hunks of beef, through to dry-aging, and cattle breeds. (note that this is a talk, not a cooking demonstration).
When: Saturday, October 26, 11 to 11:45 a.m.

We Are La Cocina: Recipes in Pursuit of the American Dream
What: San Francisco kitchen incubator La Cocina aims to give opportunities to women of color in the food world — now the center has released its first cookbook, with recipes drawing on the cuisines of Vietnam, Mexico, Japan, Senegal, and more. Venezuelan-American chef Emiliana Puyana and Oakland-based Palestinian-Syrian chef Reem Assil will discuss the book and demo one recipe from it.
When: Saturday, October 26, 12 to 12:45 p.m.

Shuk: The Heart of Israeli Home Cooking
What: A cooking demo from New York chef Einat Admony, known for top-notch falafel spot Taim, and homey restaurants like Balaboosta. She’s promoting her new book, Shuk, focused on Israeli home-cooking.
When: Saturday, October 26, 1:15 to 2 p.m.

My Drunk Kitchen Holidays with Hannah Hart
What: Alcohol connoisseur and YouTuber-turned-Food Network star Hannah Hart has a new holiday-centric cookbook — possibly drunk, certainly humorous, she’ll discuss it with moderator Megan Creydt and show off a recipe or two.
When: Saturday, October 26, 4 to 4:45 p.m.

Cook Like a Local with Houston Chef Chris Shepherd
What: James Beard Award-winning Houston chef Chris Shepherd will demonstrate a recipe from his cookbook Cook Like a Local, with an eye to showing the audience how to incorporate ingredients from different cuisines that make up Houston’s eclectic dining scene, resulting in a formidably fusiony end product.
When: Sunday, October 27, 12:15 to 1 p.m.

The Peached Tortilla: Modern Asian Comfort Food From Tokyo to Texas
What: Eric Silverstein of renowned Austin restaurant The Peached Tortilla will talk about and demo from his book (by the same name) filled with recipes that mix cuisines of east Asia, Texas, and the South into eminently comforting new dishes; the event is moderated by Eater Austin’s own Nadia Chaudhury.
When: Sunday, October 27, 1:15 to 2 p.m.

Texas Seafood: Savoring the Best of the Gulf
What: Fish-favoring power couple PJ Stoops and Benchalak Srimart Stoops will show off their new cookbook, a celebration of the finest seafood that the Gulf Coast has to offer.
When: Sunday, October 27, 2:30 to 3:15 p.m.

Putting Bread On the Table with Easy Tiger’s David Norman
What: Want to learn how to get that bread? Pro baker David Norman from Austin’s Easy Tiger will help, as he shares his bread-baking expertise with this demo.
When: Sunday, October 27, 3:30 to 4:15 p.m.

Food Vendors

All those panel discussions, demos, and book signings can really build up an appetite. Fear not, the festival also features hometown food and beverage vendors including Amy’s Ice Creams, Tacobaby, Four Brothers Venezuelan Food, Saigon Le Vendeur, Mighty Cone, and others. The vendors will be operating Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Otherwise, check out Eater’s downtown dining guide and great lunch options downtown.

The Texas Book Festival runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. All session are free and open to the public, but get there early to ensure a seat.