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SXSW 2018 Potential Panels Hint at What's on the Menu

It looks like the event will be addressing sustainability, mental health, and Texas fare

SXSW SouthBites in 2016
SXSW SouthBites in 2016
Robert J. Lerma/EATX
Erin Russell is associate editor of Eater Austin, a native Austinite, and a big fan of carbs.

South by Southwest is only six short months away, and the giant film, music, and interactive conference is in the midst of settling its content. Right now, people are encouraged to vote for preferred sessions through PanelPicker. Per usual, this year sees a host of intriguing submissions for the food track from Austin favorites and famed chefs around the country. Eater sorted through the potentials to find what attendees might end up seeing next year. The last day to vote is tomorrow, Friday, August 25.

Major trends that emerged from this year’s submissions are sustainability, technology, and booze (so, appropriate for SXSW). There were a number of panels looking at the effects of eating meat, grouped below. The restaurant industry is also slowly beginning to incorporate technology, and quite a few panels offered ideas for doing so. Alcohol panels generally draw a crowd, and the expanded selections, from cocktails to beer, will educate on how booze has evolved.

The conference takes place March 9 through March 18, with the food track occurring between March 12 and 14.

Meat and Sustainability
A popular topic this year, there are several panels that look at how our food choices are impacting the planet. Taking Mass Extinction Off the Seafood Menu discusses how 90% of seafood stocks are depleted and what can be done, with input from the James Beard Foundation. Pat Brown, founder of Impossible Foods whose famous burger is selling out at Hopdoddy, joins a panel of chefs (including Underbelly’s Chris Shepherd) to discuss how to eat mindfully in The Carnivore's Dilemma with Impossible Foods. Similarly, Food Technology Will Save The World (from The Good Food Institute and Impossible competitor Beyond Meat) takes a look at the impact of agriculture. Not Your Mother’s Meal: The Future of Food examines the sustainability of food and Re-Imagining How America Can Reduce Food Waste takes a look at what the chef community can do to respect and recover food.

The Original Celebrity Chefs & Restaurateurs
This panel from editors at The Daily Beast and Bon Appétit brings back history by providing insight on iconic celebrity chefs like Ella Brennan, Auguste Escoffier, André Soltner and James Beard, and the dishes they helped create.

Food for Thought: Mental Illness in the Kitchen
The stress and long hours of working in a kitchen can often aggravate mental health. This panel, which includes Iron Chef Marc Forgione, Michael Mina, and mental health advocate and food writer Kat Kinsman, seeks to facilitate an open dialogue about the problem and what can be done.

How Immigrants Shaped the Texas Palate
In the heart of taco and kolache country, Austinites are certainly aware of the influence (and benefits) of immigrant cultures. This panel delves into the history and cultural background of famous Texas dishes.

Women in the Food Industry
Women Who Create & Curate Culinary Careers is a female-led panel offers advice for women trying to break into a lopsided field. Hosted by four ladies who have carved their own niche (including Elle Simone Scott of SheChef Inc. and Ashley Holt of Sugar Monster Sweets), the panel will discuss harnessing the influence of social media. Kati Luedecke of Austin food truck Killa Wasi is leading a similar panel (BuildHER) to examine obstacles in the industry.

Mesopotamia to Millennials: Beer & Food Connection
Jake Maddux, founder of upcoming Austin beer haven The Brewer’s Table, joins the brewer of Brooklyn Brewery and executive director of the Museum of Food and Drink to discuss the craft beer craze and pairings with food.

Teaching Old-School Restaurants New Tech Tricks
For all the innovation and creativity in plates, restaurants as a business are fairly old-school. This panel pairs restaurant techies with hospitality companies to hash out the challenges and opportunities of evolving technology.

The Economy à la Mode
The founder of Amy’s Ice Creams teams up with High Road Craft Ice Cream and ZipRecruiter to look at the ice cream industry and its future. Important note: free samples are promised.

Finding Texas’ Signature Drink
How is it possible that with a state with such a thriving bar and alcohol scene doesn’t have a cocktail it’s known for? The Daily Beast joins Tipsy Texan David Alan and cocktail writer Dave Wondrich to find Texas a signature drink.

An Oral History of the Rebirth of the Cocktail
The cocktail industry has evolved a great deal in the last 20 years. This panel examines how drinking has been elevated to absinthe rinses and homemade shrubs.

Diners, Restaurants, & Sensors: Emerging Etiquette
Restaurant patrons can now carry sensors to measure everything from gluten content to water quality. Elizabeth Swail of downtown restaurant Forthright joins a panel to discuss how to retain an enjoyable dining experience with this new technology.