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A Breakdown of the Austin Food & Wine Festival 2023’s Very Texas Chef Lineup

Alas, the Rock Your Taco competition isn’t happening this year

A woman in a bright yellow top and baseball cap grilling meat on a grill outside.
Someone grilling at the Austin Food & Wine Festival’s fire pits in 2022.
Dusana Risovic for Austin Food and Wine 2022
Nadia Chaudhury is the editor of Eater Austin covering food and pop culture, as well as a photographer, writer, and frequent panel moderator and podcast guest.

Austin Food & Wine Festival, one of the city’s biggest food events happening in the fall, announced its full chef and schedule lineup this week. The festivities take place Saturday, November 4 through Sunday, November 5 at Auditorium Shores in the Bouldin Creek neighborhood.

Surprisingly, the festival’s signature event — the Rock Your Taco competition, which usually took place outside of the main festival grounds and hours — isn’t happening this year. Replacing it is the new Made in Texas, where people will eat Texan dishes from a smaller group of chefs (presumably, there will be tacos). This event is only available to people with VIP passes.

And coming back after skipping last year is chef Tim Love’s grilling event (last year, it had been a sausage/bratwursts/pork food event dubbed Wurst Weekend Kick-Off). This one is available for a la carte add-on tickets.

The rest of the festival remains the same: There’s the main weekend event featuring fire pits, food stalls, and cooking demonstrations.

Of note, Austin chef Jo Chan, who competed in the 19th season of Top Chef, will be either showcasing or previewing food from her as-of-now forthcoming French restaurant Bureau de Poste at the Made in Texas event. The restaurant is projected to open in the summer, which would be before the festival takes place.

Likewise, Vaidas Imsha who is the chef de cuisine of Uchiba Austin, the forthcoming mini-chain expansion from the Uchi company, is cooking at the showcase. Presumably, this means previews of the downtown restaurant, which is expected to open in early fall.

A grilling event with a grill on fire with steaks and a lot of tables with food.
The Austin Food & Wine grilling event in 2019.
Charles Reagan Hackleman

Over at the main chef showcase, Austin-based first-timers to the festival include Spanish tapas restaurant El Raval’s Laila Bazahm, seafood restaurant Bill’s Oyster’s Daniel Berg, (Mexican restaurant Ma’CoCo’s Javier Equihua, Greek restaurant Yamas’s Dimitrios Kelesoglou, New Texan restaurant Elementary and wine bar Hopscotch’s Colter Peck.

Also at the main general showcase will be Lick Honest Ice Creams. Representing the ice cream shop are co-founder Anthony Sobotik and the brand’s director of culinary operations Kendall Melton, who is also a great pastry chef. Perhaps she’ll make some baked goods to pair with the ice creams.

Then, generally, really exciting not-from-Austin-but-from-Texas chefs include Adrian Abella and Camille de los Reyes of the exciting Filipino American restaurant Sari-Sari Supper Club in San Antonio. Also San Antonio pitmaster Esaul Ramos of 2M Smokehouse BBQ will post up at the fire pits, where he might preview bites from his forthcoming Castroville restaurant Blu Lacey. San Antonio chef Kristina Zhoa will be representing Sichuan restaurant Dashi Sichuan Kitchen and Bar (last year, she cooked in the fire pits and the lines were very long).

And finally, from outside of the state, there’s Ohio chef Vinnie Cimino of essential Cleveland restaurant Cordelia, New York chef Ayesha Nurdjaja of Mediterranean restaurant Shuka, and North Carolina chef Cheetie Kumar of Raleigh Mediterranean and Southwest Asian restaurant Ajja.

Since this article was originally published, two chefs are no longer participating in the chef showcase: Jeffrey Hundelt of Austin hotel restaurant Summer House on Music Lane and Mike Warnock, who was representing Austin mini-golf course and American restaurant the Dirdie Birdie. Warnock actually left Italian restaurant Juniper in late August.

As per usual for Food & Wine, there are also cooking demonstrations, where participating chefs will show how they make certain dishes (though typically audiences don’t get to eat said-foods). This year’s lineup includes celebrity chefs Anne Burrell and Graham Elliot, Austin chef Kevin Fink of Emmer & Rye/Hestia/et. al., Austin chef Fermín Núñez representing his Mexican seafood restaurant Este, San Antonio chefs Diego Galicia and Rico Torres of Mexican tasting menu restaurant Mixtli, as well as Nurdjaja and Kumar.

As of the publishing of this guide, single day tickets for Saturday and Sunday are sold out already, as well as the a la carte grilling event. Available still are the two-day Weekender and then VIP passes (which include that Made in Texas event).

Fire Pits at the main festival

Saturday and Sunday, November 4 to 5, daytime, Auditorium Shores

  • Adrian Abella and Camille de los Reyes (Filipino American restaurant Sari-Sari Supper Club; San Antonio
  • Vinnie Cimino (Southern restaurant Cordelia; Cleveland, Ohio)
  • Jason Dady (Jason Dady Restaurants; San Antonio)
  • Leo Davila (Asian-Latin restaurant Stixs & Stone; San Antonio)
  • Harold Marmulstein (American restaurant Salty Sow; Austin)
  • Esaul Ramos (barbecue restaurant 2M Smokehouse BBQ and forthcoming barbecue restaurant Blu Lacey; San Antonio and Castroville)
  • Meredith Shaffer (New American resort restaurant Tillie’s; Dripping Springs)
  • Misti Norris (New Texan restaurant Petra & the Beast; Dallas) [The restaurant recently relocated and reopened in a bigger space.]
  • Sofia Tejeda (Hotel Emma; San Antonio)
Someone putting sauces onto slabs of meat on grills.
Mopping meats at the fire pits at Austin Food & Wine Festival in 2021.
Charles Reagan for AFW Fest 2021

Chef Showcase

Saturday and Sunday, November 4 to 5, daytime, Auditorium Shores

A person holding up a raw slab of bone-in meat outside.
Andy Knudson holding up meat at the fire pits at Austin Food & Wine in 2022.
Charles Reagan for Austin Food and Wine 2022
  • Kris Hammond (Japanese restaurants Sazan Ramen and newcomer Daiboku; Austin)
  • Nico Harrison (Texan restaurant Jacoby’s; Austin)
  • Dimitrios Kelesoglou (newcomer Greek restaurant Yamas; Austin)
  • Dan Kennedy (Goan hotel restaurant Vixen’s Wedding; Austin)
  • Brian Light (Texan restaurant and farm Ronin; Bryan)
  • Enma Lopez (Austin Beerworks’s food truck ABW Can-Tina; Austin)
  • Geronimo Lopez (Chinese-Japanese-Peruvian restaurant Botika; San Antonio)
  • Justin Manzi (Southern restaurant Goodfolks; Georgetown)
  • Corey McEntryre (Southern restaurant Milo; Waco)
  • Allie McMillan (Mexican restaurant ATX Cocina; Austin)
  • Jason McVearry (Hawaiian spot Poke Poke; Austin)
  • Yovani Mejia (Mexican restaurant Cruzteca; Austin)
  • Eric Nathal (French chicken and baguette shop Austin Rotisserie; Austin)
  • Anne Ng and Jeremy Mandrell (French-ish Bakery Lorraine; San Antonio and Austin)
  • Brian Olenjack (Texas restaurant Lonesome Dove; Dallas and Austin)
  • Alan Paryzek (brewery Central Machine Works; Austin)
  • Nicole Patel (chocolate shop Delysia; Austin)
  • Colter Peck (newcomer New Texan restaurant Elementary and wine bar Hopscotch; Austin)
  • Pedro Quevedo and Alex Swenson (ice cream mini-chain Gelato Paradiso; California and Austin)
Little cardboard trays of food.
Bites at Austin Food & Wine Festival in 2022.
Alison Narro for Austin Food and Wine 2022
  • Paul Qui, Moto Utsunomiya, and Dominic Luzzo (fast-casual Asian restaurant East Side King)
  • Ryan Samson (Italian restaurant Vespaio and new Oaxacan restaurant Chapulín Cantina; Austin)
  • Jam Sanitchat (Thai restaurant Thai Fresh and vegan ice cream shop and bakery Gati; Austin)
  • Anthony Sobotik and Kendall Melton (Austin-based ice cream shop Lick; various locations)
  • Kevin Taylor (Mexican restaurant Bulevar; Austin)
  • Noah Thibault (French bistro 1417; Austin)
  • Nic Yanes and Janice Omadeke (who are representing their cannabis edible company Calibrate Wellness; Yanes is with Italian restaurant Juniper and Italian cafe Uncle Nicky’s; Austin)
  • Kristina Zhoa (Sichuan restaurant Dashi Sichuan Kitchen and Bar; San Antonio)
  • Ali Clen (Barbecue restaurant La Barbecue; Austin)
  • Kristine Kittrell (Southern hotel restaurant the Diner Bar; Austin)
  • Thomas Malz (New American hotel restaurant Carpenters Hall; Austin)
  • Ilan Hall (new-school Japanese restaurant Ramen Hood; Los Angeles)
  • Vaidas Imsha (forthcoming Japanese restaurant Uchiba Austin)

Made in Texas

Saturday, November 4, evening, Auditorium Shores

An aerial shot of a food festival in front of a city skyline with tents and people.
The Austin Food & Wine Festival in 2022.
Charles Reagan for Austin Food and Wine 2022
  • Jo Chan (Top Chef season 19 contender, chef of upcoming French restaurant Bureau de Poste; Austin)
  • Sonya Coté (New American restaurant Hillside Farmacy, Austin)
  • Jason Dady (Dady Restaurant Group; San Antonio)
  • Mike Diaz and Laura Sawicki (Korean-American restaurant Oseyo; Austin)
  • Todd Duplechan (New Texan restaurant Lenoir, Goan hotel restaurant Vixen’s Wedding, pizzeria Dovetail; Austin)
  • Graham Elliot (celebrity chef, most recently French bistro Le Margot; Fort Worth)
  • Michael Fojtasek and Amanda Rockman (who are representing the forthcoming Albert Hotel from the New Waterloo hospitality company, containing a barbecue restaurant, a deli, and a Texas Hill Country restaurant; Fojtasek is with Southern restaurant Olamaie, hotel American restaurant Maie Day, and biscuit shop Little Ola’s; Rockman is New Waterloo’s director of culinary projects; Austin and Fredericksburg)
  • CJ Jacobson (Mediterranean restaurant Aba, Chicago and Austin)
  • Cheetie Kumar (Mediterranean and Southwest Asian restaurant Ajja; Raleigh, North Carolina)
  • Steve McHugh (New American restaurant Cured, San Antonio; hotel restaurant Luminaire; San Antonio and Austin)
  • Bradley Nicholson and Susana Querejazu (luxury hotel restaurant Lutie’s; Austin)
  • Ayesha Nurdjaja (Mediterranean restaurant Shuka; New York)
  • Berty Richter (Mediterranean restaurant Ezov; Austin)
  • Fiore Tedesco (Italian restaurant L’Oco d’Oro, forthcoming pizzeria Bambino; Austin)
  • Amanda Turner (Southern restaurant Olamaie; Austin)
  • Ling Qi Wu (Chinese/Asian restaurants Lin Asian Bar, Qi, Ling Wu Asian Restaurant, and Ling Kitchen, and the forthcoming Ling Wu at the Grove; Austin)
  • Ilan Hall (new-school Japanese restaurant Ramen Hood; Los Angeles)
  • Rebecca Masson (bakery Fluff Bake Bar; Houston)

Update, September 12, 12:54 p.m.: This article, originally published on August 25, has been updated to reflect the current roster of chefs at Austin Food & Wine Festival.