This year’s South By Southwest Interactive and beyond featured in-depth programming on food, restaurants, and the world’s dining culture. Big name chefs, along with tech and media heavy-hitters, flocked to Austin to partake in panels, parties, and dinners. From Anthony Bourdain’s profanity-laced punk rock karaoke contest, the epic Austin takeover of Ramen Tatsu-Ya, to disappointing convention center barbecue, here are Eater’s SXSW hangover observations.
— Aaron Franklin, Jesse Griffiths, and Jason Stude cooked up dishes using vegan mayonnaise Just Mayo for Andrew Zimmern’s private party in a Westlake home. Franklin paired brisket with pimiento cheese, and Stude gave partygoers a taste of anticipated Boiler Nine Bar + Grill with the red eye oyster.
— Franklin kept himself busy during SouthBites. The pitmaster served smoked meats at a Bon Appetit party held at his restaurant, the New York Times party at Easy Tiger where attendees swarmed the table, and the aforementioned Zimmern party, while still keeping regular hours at the 11th Street shop.
— For some strange reason, the line for Franklin Barbecue was incredibly short on Sunday, March 13.
— The winner of Anthony Bourdain’s punk rock karaoke contest was Austinite Erin Walter, who blew the judges away with her captivating performances of "Where Eagles Dare" and "Bad Reputation."
— Bourdain’s coterie of chef judges included José Andrés, who over-excitedly talked up or down to each contestant; Ludo Lefebvre who delivered deadpan commentary ("I love your fucking finger" to someone flipping the bird); Laura Sawicki’s voice of reason; and surprise guest Queens of the Stone Age musician Josh Homme.
— Of the three collaborative dinners Paul Qui hosted for SouthBites, Alex Stupack created his take on nachos with queso "because it’s important to Texas," served with what a server described as "next level" Jidori chicken with an egg, chanterelle, and chorizo froth from Lefebvre.
— During the dinner, Lefebvre had a table of adoring fans, who shrieked and took photos with the chef.
— Launderette previewed its next-door market’s muffaletta with a bodega party at Mr. Mc’s.
— During SXSW’s featured session with Union Square Hospitality Group CEO Danny Meyer, moderator and Bon Appetit editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport had a bucket of Budweiser beers sent up to the stage and offered cans to Meyer and audience members.
— Vice Munchies closed SXSW with a party takeover of Ramen Tatsu-Ya on South Lamar, bringing together some of Austin’s top chefs: Michael Fojtasek and James Beard finalist Grae Nonas of Olamaie, Charles Zhou and Bradley Nicholson of Barley Swine, Alex Manley from Bufalina, and hosts Tatsu Aikawa and Takuya Matsumoto. Everyone took their place behind the ramen shop’s kitchen, cooking and serving dishes like brisket tsukemen, takoyaki, and country-fried shrimp loaf. Geraldine’s pastry chef Callie Speer took over a table for a blissful display of sweets like lychee sake marshmallows and mushroom caramel ice cream.
— Overheard while waiting in line for Bourdain’s SouthBites panel: "He just manages to make food sound so badass."
— Bryce Gilmore teamed up with comedian and food fan Max Silvestri for a Taste Talks dinner inspired by meals made by their fathers. Gilmore shared that Jack Gilmore often cooked meatloaf. Their takes included brisket meatballs (with tortilla chips instead of breadcrumbs) and cauliflower pierogi.
— Portland ice cream favorites Salt and Straw had a strong presence around SXSW. Helpers gave out free salty caramel cups to people attending Kim Malek’s panel on food halls. The truck set up shop at the SouthBites Food Trailer Park, where they previewed Chocolate Tacolates, Dilly Bars, and sundaes (made with Zhi Tea and strawberries soaked in Treaty Oak bourbon), along with a pop-up, all of which will be available at the shop's impending new concept Wiz Bang in Portland.
— Facebook’s Politics and Government happy hour included candidate-inspired drinks—the Hillarita was quite spicy.
— SXSWers’ late night dreams of Whataburger during the festival were dashed when the fast food burger chain had to call off its free food promises, alluding to SXSW and "maybe a super sponsor" (most likely McDonald's) not being happy with San Antonio nonprofit Choose SA’s choice of partnership. The French fry pedicabs still ran, though.
— Rachael Ray could be seen dancing during her Feedback event at Stubb’s this year, which included an onstage appearance during Naughty by Nature's set.
— Overhead: "This is fine, but I thought barbecue in Austin was supposed to be amazing," said by someone eating convention center barbecue.
— Someone threw a welcome taco to Scottish pop band CHVRCHES during their Spotify House set.
— Los Angeles chefs Ari Taymor and Sqirl’s Jessica Koslow cooked up a private Wednesday brunch for dFm at Whisler’s, serving cured fish, vegan loaf cakes, jam, and sorrel pesto grains.
— SXSW celebrity sightings: Danny McBride at Russian House, Elijah Wood at Otoko, and Wu Chow hosted a bunch of actors and musicians: Ludacris, Rachael Ray, Questlove, Steve Aoki and Dillon Anderson, Green Day's Mike Dirnt.