SXSW SouthBites is when the food obsessives, from chefs to scientists to policy experts, gather in Austin to discuss the state of dining in the world. Eater highlighted the best panels of the festival previously, which covered everything barbecue in Texas, women in the culinary world, food technology, immigration the importance of breakfast, and much more. Here are the 21 best quotes from SXSW SouthBites, in no particular order.
1) Elle Simone, founder of SheChef, on representation: “One of the things that kept me from becoming a chef is that I never saw myself represented in the industry, and representation is very, very important. If you don’t see yourself in something, you just never see yourself in something.”
2) Padma Lakshmi, cookbook author and Top Chef host, on the show’s gender proportions: “The professional food world is dominated by men and we think about that when we cast our chefs every season. We blatantly practice affirmative action, because we want to make sure that we have enough women on the show and things like that. But the truth is that most of the food made in the world is made by women.”
3) José Andrés, Washington DC chef: "What is the real meaning of belonging? I think it goes beyond your passport or where you are born. You earn your sense of belonging."
4) Jesse Griffiths, chef and owner of Dai Due: “We don’t use any ingredients that we can’t get from around here, meaning that when you come to the restaurant today and order for an ice tea and ask for lemon, we’re going to have to have a conversation about why we don’t have lemons, and no, we don’t have Diet Coke.”
5) Arielle Johnson, formerly head of research at MAD/Noma and currently at MIT Media Lab, about Noma’s beginnings: “When it started out way before it was the best restaurant in the world, they were basically an insane punk rock commune.”
6) Tom Colicchio, chef of Crafted Hospitality: “The biggest threat right now to our food supply is the assault on immigration.
7) Barbecue director Matthew Salleh on local barbecue: “The Texans just do it big and delicious.”
8) Naomi Pomeroy, chef and owner of Beast, on Portland as a dining city: “You guys all know that Portland is known now as one of the best places to dine or one of the coolest places to open a restaurant. Really, don’t come and try to open a restaurant there. I promise there are too many.”
9) Jorge Luis Hernandez, consulting chef for The Brewer’s Table: If you make mochi in Japan, this guy’s hammering the crap out of this rice and tapioca starch until it’s tender enough, but with a little bit of chew. How do you do that? You do that through experience, through touching it, through sense of feel. That’s the heart of cooking to native cuisine.”
10) Christina Tosi, chef of Milk Bar, on how she came up with menu for Kellogg’s NYC: “I just started pairing the flavors of cereals with things that I thought would be complementary, but accessible, because the best foods we relate to the most is the food that we get, when we eat and we’re like, ‘This makes sense in my mouth.’”
11) Jessica Koslow chef/owner of Sqirl, on the future of breakfast: “Liquids. With restaurants, as they are a lot of times, the bar is what helps to sustain them. We have to be educated in terms of the drink menu as our food menu. Doesn’t mean we need a full machine, cold press to do a juice bar, but it means thinking about how we live our lives.”
12) Hernandez: “There are two things in life you have to do: breathe and you have to eat. We don’t have a choice. But how you eat is a choice. And that sense, food cannot just be mundane, it has to be transcendent.”
13) Rachael Ray, celebrity chef and cookbook author, on which food trends creep her out: “Any food trends that go too far and make people grumpy, like when people stopped eating all carbohydrates. I didn’t want to hang out with most of my friends anymore. They were just angry people.”
14) Griffiths: “It was hard to even find a chicken in Austin about ten years ago.”
15) Simone, on the lack of recognition of black chefs: “It’s money slash resources. Most black chefs don’t, we don’t have the support to have the dollars to hire a PR person or marketing person to do for us what our white peers are getting.”
16) June Rodil, beverage director of McGuire Moorman Hospitality: “Grapes are like the immigrants of the plant world. A purpose of a grape or a grape vine is to propagate, for a bird to eat the seed and the seed goes in the bird’s mouth and spits it out, and then it starts forming again.”
17) Pomeroy: “By the time I was 30 years old, I had 95 employees and three restaurants, and that was an accident — not intentional.”
18) Ray, on her last meal: “I wouldn’t be hungry if I knew it were my last meal. I’d be really depressed, and I’d probably try some sort of really hard drug that I’ve never tried before.”
19) Michelle Davis, co-author of Thug Kitchen, on how it started: “We just started a free Tumblr because we were super sad in our real lives, and it was a fun pretend project, where I’m like, “This is a fun escape from crying in the shower.’”
20) Debra Eschmeyer, food policy expert and former senior policy advisor for nutrition policy: We have millenials and generation C demanding authenticity and demanding more information. There is actually tremendous opportunity for businesses to be out front telling a true story.”
21) Jerry James Stone, creator and producer behind vegetarian and vegan food blog by the same name, on livestreaming cooking demonstrations “When I livestream, I’m always worried about catching on fire.”