A host of top chefs are descending on San Antonio later this month for a first-ever statewide culinary fair created in partnership with the James Beard Foundation. Starting October 27, the four-day Culinaria Tasting Texas Wine + Food Festival will showcase more than 100 chefs from the United States and Mexico, take over local restaurants, feature pop-ups in the Pearl District, and even grace Hill Country wineries.
Head to the Alamo City to enjoy events and bites from Aaron Bludorn of the hit Bludorn restaurant in Houston, seven-time James Beard Award winner Rick Bayless, Alex Raij of NYC’s acclaimed Txikito, and so many more talented chefs. Admission packages range from $300 to $1,025, with tickets to individual events starting at $100.
Read on for everything you should know about this blockbuster food festival.
A Three-Day Grand Tasting Collective: The $300 Just The Collective is the most basic package for sale. The Collective will be the heart of the festival—a three-day marketplace in Travis Park with vendors and endless entertainment, where chefs both seasoned and up-and-coming will offer tastings, cocktail seminars, a class on animal deconstruction (that’s a polite way of saying “butchering”), and more.
Big-Name Chefs: Attendees can expect to see plenty of Texas stars including Hugo Ortega of Hugo’s, as well as world-renowned heavy hitters Bayless and Raij. Catch Raij at the Women Wear The Pants panel at 1:30 pm on October 28, and Ortega at the Celebrate Agave party, on October 29 at 7 pm in Travis Park, where tequila, mezcal, and other agave spirits will pair with Mexican food.
Unique Programming: While these four dreamy days will include no shortage of food festival staples—cooking demos, wine sampling—distinctive offerings set Tasting Texas apart. For example, Dine The Day Away on October 29 from 10 am to 1 pm, led by local celebrity chef Jason Dady, will be a restaurant crawl through San Antonio, featuring hidden gems favored by local chefs. What better way to get to know the city? Another interesting event will be a dinner entirely focused on eating and learning about lamb.
Family-Friendly Fun: Sure, cocktails, craft beer, and gourmet meals figure heavily into Tasting Texas, but the festival is geared toward all ages. The Collective even provides a Kid Zone with both athletic and artistic activities. Don’t miss the Hallowine 5k Run the morning of October 29: Runners and walkers will get to show off their Halloween costumes and the finish line spread will include sweet crepes and pancakes.
Unforgettable Dinners: Dinners are themed, chef-driven, and multi-coursed, and sadly you’ll only have time for one per evening. Thursday’s Ain’t Your Average Steak Night will satisfy the carnivores, but don’t expect standard meat and potatoes. Chef Jeff Balfour (of Brasserie Mon Chou Chou and others) will helm Friday’s Southern Hospitality, featuring fried chicken, enchiladas, and other Southern favorites.
For more information on the Culinaria Tasting Texas Wine + Food Festival, and to purchase tickets, visit www.CulinariaSA.org.
Diana Spechler is a novelist and essayist whose work appears in The New York Times, The Guardian, Washington Post, Harper’s, and elsewhere.