The first weekend of November is going to be a meat-filled affair along the Austin-San Antonio corridor. Texas Monthly holds its annual (sold-out) barbecue festival on Nov. 3 at the Long Center. The same day, national food writer Josh Ozersky brings his “Meatopia” event to the Pearl Brewery in San Antonio.
The inaugural San Antonio event features 32 chefs from around the state and country. Some of Austin’s biggest chefs — Paul Qui (Qui), Rene Ortiz and Laura Sawicki (formerly of La Condesa and Sway), Ned Elliot (Foreign & Domestic), Jesse Griffiths (Dai Due), Josh Watkins (the Carillon ) and Ben Runkle and Bryan Butler (Salt & Time) – will be on hand for the event that the New York Times has called “a bacchanal of pork, beef, lamb, chicken, duck, turkey and quail.”
A taste of what’s in store: Qui’s pork-centric Filipino classic “sisig”; charcoal-grilled chicken with pixie chili paste, palm sugar, black vinegar and cumin from Ortiz; and crispy grilled lamb ribs from Elliott.
The culinary stars from Austin will be joined by other top Texas chefs, including Chris Shepherd of Houston’s critically acclaimed Underbelly, Tim Byres of Dallas’ Smoke, and, of course, San Antonio chefs, such as Jessie Perez (Arcade Midtown Kitchen) and Andrew Weissman (Il Sogno).
“Meatopia was meant to be the world’s greatest meat event, a celebration of humane farming, genius cookery and the natural love of human beings for meat,” Ozersky said. “We try to cook as many parts of as many animals, from as many independent meat producers, as possible, and let the brilliance of our chefs do the rest. I’m thrilled at the chance to work with so many great Texas chefs for the first time, in what I believe to be the carnivorous capital of the world. And, as always, there will be no propane allowed.”
General admission tickets for Meatopia are $75, with VIP passes going for $125, and are available now online. The event, which will run from 1 to 5 p.m., will also include live bluegrass, South Texas jazz and Tejano music. Visit AtPearl.com for tickets and more information.
Austinite Janelle Reynolds was the latest in a line of Austin chefs to compete on the Food Network’s “Chopped.” The executive chef for chef services company @t Large won the competition, following in the footsteps of recent winner Jason Stude of Second Bar + Kitchen.
Carillon chef Josh Watkins competed on the episode with Stude, and while he exited early on that show, Watkins recently won top honors in the barbecue category at the StarChefs event in New York City.
Now open (and closed)
When El Chile moved from Manor Road to South First Street in June, owner Carlos Rivero said he had plans for the original El Chile location. Turns out those plans are to reopen El Chile.
The original El Chile will reopen its doors Oct. 23, exactly 10 years after the restaurant first opened. The menu will be updated with additions from executive chef Jeff Martinez.
Farther down the street, the Rivero-owned Flat Top Burger Shop will close Oct. 16.
Hickory Street has closed temporarily while the Congress Avenue restaurant undergoes renovations. The plan is to reopen the restaurant and use five or six local food trailers as the culinary operation, while the restaurant will handle alcohol sales. Owners said in June that they planned to move Hickory Street to Anderson Lane and Shoal Creek Boulevard in 2014, but they shifted strategies. Instead, they plan to open a different concept next year, while turning Hickory Street into something of a food court. The same group this week also opened rotisserie chicken Tex-Mex restaurant Mighty Bird at 12200 Research Blvd. They plan to open their flagship Mighty Bird at 2900 W. Anderson Lane in November.
Fun Fun Fun Fest has announced their food and drink vendor lineup for this year’s festival, which is scheduled for Nov. 8-10.
The group, curated by ornery barbecue legend John Mueller, is highlighted by Asian-influenced taco-slingers Chi’Lantro, Kebabalicious (who have a brick-and-mortar coming soon to East Austin), the underrated Austin Land and Cattle (they of the excellent happy hour) and JuiceLand (the party people who will also be supplying juice for cocktails at the bars at the fest). For the full lineup of food vendors at the festival, visit FunFunFunFest.com.
New trailer park
A new food trailer park has opened behind the University Co-Op at 23rd and San Antonio streets. The group of food trucks includes Kebabalicious, New Orleans Po’Boy and Gumbo Shop, Fullhouse BBQ, Chi’Lantro, Wright Brothers Dairy and Lucky J’s Chicken and Waffles.
Chef Tim Dornon has left his position in the kitchen at Qui and is moving to New York City. Reps for the restaurant were not surprised by the departure, thanked Dornon for his contributions to their team and wished him the best.
Janina O’Leary has left her position as executive pastry chef at Trace at the W Hotel. O’Leary was a semifinalist this year in the James Beard Award’s “Rising Star Chef of the Year” category.
Austin Restaurant Week officials have decided to move the event to a January and August-September production schedule. They will postpone this winter’s ARW to January 2014. They will be announcing the specific dates soon.