Austin Food + Wine Fest 2022

Our Most Delicious Moments from Austin Food + Wine Festival 2022

Thanks to world-renowned culinary stars and beloved Austin chefs, the annual fest yet again brought memorable dishes to the masses

Story and photos by Holly Cowart

Last weekend, a sea of white tents and hungry patrons descended upon Auditorium Shores for the annual Austin Food + Wine Festival. A dazzling, sometimes overwhelming scene, it was my first time taking part in the two-day fest (sadly, Friday’s Bavarian-themed kick-off had to be canceled due to weather), which was jam-packed with memorable dishes and drinks from celebrity culinary giants and well-loved local restaurants.

The gathering lets you experience a variety of dishes that drive conversation as you interact with a top-notch group of chefs that are actively pushing the envelope in the culinary world. Aside from the general showcase, cooking demos featured a respectable lineup of talent, including Tiffany Derry, Fermín Nuñez, Jo Chan, Kevin Fink and more, while the Meet the Maker tent welcomed high-profile spirit brands that shared insights and sips of their products.

One of these was Dos Hombres Mezcal, helmed by Breaking Bad co-stars and business partners Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul. Guests were lined up for more than an hour in advance to grab a seat for the charismatic duo’s presentation. After taking the stage to share the brand’s story, they headed over to the Dos Hombres pop-up trailer to pour cocktails for eager fans. It was a festival (and life) highlight for sure, which reminded me that by sheer proximity, the fest brings opportunities for serendipitous moments at every turn.

The Fire Pit station was another fan favorite. The showcase of chefs churned out flavorful plate after plate, while giving curious visitors a first-hand look at their techniques. While lines were consistently and understandably long at each tent, you could stand across from the pit stations and, every now and then, grill masters would directly hand you a fresh bite of smokey perfection.

On Saturday, I got to check out the more exclusive Rock Your Taco competition. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from eating roughly 14 tacos back-to-back, it’s that tortillas are a defining factor in the taco hierarchy. While the flavor profiles of each competitor were generally delicious, the textures and sizes of the mighty tortilla took certain entries to the next level.

One of the best moments was when, standing among a lineup of talented and fiercely competitive chefs, Austin’s own Amanda Turner, of Olamaie, was announced as the winner of the People’s Choice award. With roaring cheers and a jubilant bear hug from her team, she was presented with the prize of an electric guitar and bragging rights for her unforgettable “Southern Phoenix” taco — one of the most craveable plates of the weekend (more on that later).

Each day closed out with a legitimate dance party led by Austin’s own DJ Mel and emceed by Chef Tim Love. At this point of the day, camaraderie (and libations) had thoroughly worked its way through the crowd to create a fun shared experience between food lovers.

As for what I ate, the selection made me proud all over again to live in a city represented by such extraordinary culinary talent — and excited to be introduced to nationally recognized restaurateurs I had long heard of but never tried. However, before I get into all of the juicy details, it should be mentioned that I wasn’t able to make it to every single tent. It was a pretty monumental task attempting to visit each chef and eat every morsel, and a particularly large crowd on Sunday saw a handful of buzzy stops running out of food early. That being said, I didn’t go hungry. Take a look at some of my favorite bites from the fest below:

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