Every year the James Beard Foundation—yes, those culinary bigwigs in charge of doling out fancy awards to our country's finest chefs—travel the nation with a handful of delicious events known as Taste America. And this November 15-17, the 2018 tour de force is heading to Austin, just one of 10 lucky cities that will host a weekend of exclusive feasting, and the only one that'll do it Texas-style. 

Having attended the event twice before in New Orleans, I can personally attest that these tastings are something worth traveling for. The chefs involved are all James Beard Foundation Award winners, finalists or semi-finalists, meaning the best of the best in the state and country.

You can buy tickets individually or scoop up a $300 VIP ticket  for access to the benefit dinner, Thursday night barbecue party and a swanky gift bag. It's really not too far-fetched considering the amount of talent involved. Here's what's in store.

Smoke Session

November 15 | The Brewer's Table$75 per person 

This kick-off event brings all things barbecue, beer, and blues to The Brewer’s Table, where you can rub elbows with host Tootsie Tomanetz, the legendary pitmaster of Snow's in Lexington, or sip on a commemorative Smoke Session Lager from brewer Drew Durish.

Chefs on hand with tastings include Wayne Mueller of Louie Mueller Barbecue (in Taylor), Jesse DeLeon (Rosewood), JB Gross (Loro), Sarah Heard (Foreign & Domestic), Zach Hunter (The Brewer’s Table), Nathan Lemley (Foreign & Domestic), Evan LeRoy (LeRoy and Lewis), Fermín Nuñez (Suerte),  Matthew Peters,  and Page Pressley (Emmer & Rye). 

Taste Austin Benefit Dinner

November 16 | W Hotel | $250 per person

This Friday night fine dining bonanza (wear your finest!) will begin with a pre-dinner cocktail hour with top Austin chefs dishing up elevated snacks—Rene Ortiz (Launderette), Tatsu Aikawa (Ramen Tatsu-ya), Callie Speer (Holy Roller), Zach Hunter (The Brewer’s Table), and Manuel Rodriguez (W Austin). A sit-down dinner follows with celebrated award-winning chefs, Sara Hymanson and Sara Kramer of LA's Kismet dishing up multiple courses, along with acclaimed Austin chef Michael Fojtasek of Olamaie. 

If you can still stand to put anymore food in your mouth, a dessert reception will follow, with Austin pastry chefs Tavel Bristol-Joseph (Emmer & Rye), Ariana Quant (Uchi), Sarah Prieto (Austin), and Angel Castillo (TRACE) on hand. A portion of the proceeds benefits the the James Beard Foundation's scholarship programs

Free Demos 

November 17 | Sur La Table, Domain Northside | Free

Check out the James Beard Foundation’s latest cookbook, Waste Not: How to Get the Most from Your Food, at this Saturday pop-up event with its Zero Waste cooking demonstration by chef Zach Hunter, cooking demos by Kismet's chefs, who are both advocates for food-system change.

Where to Stay 

  • W Austin, the swanky hotel hosting the Taste America dinner. 200 Lavaca.
  • The Line Austin, a brand new, chic hotel with great in house eateries and hip locations in LA and DC too. 111 E Cesar Chavez.
  • Austin Motel, a retro and absolutely fun motel revamped by the local fave Bunkhouse Group. 1711 S. Congress Ave., Suite 300.  
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