Flavors On Fire
Our favorite food and design moments from Vixen’s Wedding
by Lauren Jones
Photographs by Holly Cowart
Husband-and-wife duo Todd Duplechan and Jessica Maher, the team behind French favorite Lenoir, are back at it with a taste of the exotic. Vixen’s Wedding recently opened at Arrive East Austin and is serving up dishes – Smoky Beet Dosa, Gunpowder Cauliflower – inspired by Goan-Portuguese culture. We recently sat down with the chef to hear the story behind his latest venture.
Chef Duplechan has been enamored with the southwestern Indian state of Goa for the past 15 years. Mainly known as a tropical vacation destination along the Arabian Sea, it has “a distinct history that differs from the rest of India,” according to Duplechan. A former Portuguese colony, it’s also seen as quite the unique culinary paradise, a place with both Hindu and Catholic influences, where seafood is king and dishes are boldly flavored. And it’s Duplechan’s experience running Lenoir over the past eight years that has allowed Vixen’s Wedding to exist today.
“It was from Lenoir that I developed the desire to do something with a more specific focus, to highlight and be inspired by an interesting place in the world,” Duplechan says.
Duplechan describes the dining experience at Vixen’s Wedding as relaxed and unencumbered and wants guests to fully dive into the “spicy, bold-flavored” offerings, like the Quail Cafreal, Roasted Fish Thali and Idli Pork Buns, classic Goan dishes that are reimagined to fit within the Austin landscape.
“There aren’t many places cooking like Lenoir or Vixen’s Wedding are,” Duplechan says.
When it came to designing his new space, Duplechan called on his friend Chris McCray, of McCray and Co., who also worked on Lenoir.
When establishing a design plan, McCray and his team looked to the bright colors of the food, as well as the color palette of typical Goan textiles, furniture and dishware.
“We kept returning to yellows that felt like curry, shades of orange reminiscent of both tangerines and marigolds, and deep, pigmented pinks that mimic the juice from a beet. It wasn’t a decision to match up to the food necessarily. Rather, we felt a pull to those colors once our heads were in the space,” McCray says.
The first piece of furniture he purchased is the blue tufted leather sofa, a vintage piece from Round Top that McCray describes as “a fantastic anchor for the lounge.”
The waxed-canvas pendant shades, which were designed in-house by McCray, are one of the standout items in the space, adding even more color to the restaurant’s interior and lighting up like “giant lanterns at night.” Additionally, the handcrafted glitter triptych next to the bar speaks of the fable “Vixen’s Wedding,”which inspired the name, while near the entrance, McCray further portrays the tale in a mural. In the story, a vixen (a female fox) marries a wolf and wants both rain and sun for her wedding day.
“We saw a poster that Chris Bilheimer had designed for Fantastic Fest portraying a three-eyed tiger. We immediately thought, what if we brought the wolf and the vixen together in a piece of art?” McCray says.
In combining the vibrant flavors of Goa with handmade furnishings and accessories, Vixen’s Wedding is a must-visit hot spot that transports guests to another place, one where they can sit back, relax and indulge in the tantalizing tastes of India.