Live Fire: A Fiery Celebration of the Mighty (Tasty) Cow

Beef Supremacy & Flame Mastery

I can’t think of a better phrase to sum up the mutli-sensory experience that is the Austin Food and Wine Alliance Live Fire event.
Okay, so maybe that’s why it’s their tag line. Who am I to mess with a good thing?

This reverent homage to all things cowlicious debuted last year at the final Hill Country Wine and Food Festival and will act as a bridge to the new Austin Food and Wine Festival. Relocating to the Salt Lick Pavillion this year, the evening promises all the best in Texas food, drink, and chef talent. The newly minted Austin Food and Wine Alliance is the benefactor of the event’s proceeds, rounding out the many great reasons to spend a Thursday night with fellow beef aficionados.

Not Your Typical Festival Event

Live Fire is different from many food festival events because a single ingredient –  albeit a very large ingredient – takes center stage. This is a special treat for chefs and attendees both becuse it allows for a true food luxury: exploring an ingredient in ways not practical in a restaurant setting. Chefs experiment with cuts of beef they might not normally offer on their menu. Attendees experience the ingredient from a plethora of preparations and culinary points of view. All around there will be more cow cooked and consumed than would normally be considered reasonable by any, well, reasonable person.

The menu for this year’s Wild Fire was recently released and I’ll admit I drooled a little on my keyboard. I’m pretty sure no one was there to see it. And if they were I’d have only had to show them the menu and they would have understood (and possibly drooled right along). While I’m looking forward to trying every single chef’s offering, these jumped out to me almost immediately:

  • Charred brisket with blue cheese spoonbread from Chef Jason Dady who will drive in from San Antonio. Beef and blue cheese is one of my favorite combinations but this takes it to a whole new level.
  • Grilled beef shanks with Maker’s Mark sauce from Chef Adam Sappington of Portland (aka the Austin of the Pacific Northwest). Beef with Maker’s Mark, what more do I need to say?
  • Beef tongue pastrami and Maker’s Mark onion jam from Chef Ned Elliot of the acclaimed Foreign and Domestic. More Maker’s Mark. I detect a trend.

I could go on and on, but I’ll let you read the menu for yourself. In fact, why don’t you share in the comments which menu time your most excited about and why.

Looking Back at Last Year’s Live Fire

As I was looking forward to this year’s Live Fire (and planning my all vegetable diet in preparation for the beef bonanza that is to come) I revisited some of the photos I took at last year’s events. Of course they made me hungry and just a little bit more excited for this year’s event. And while we won’t see these exact dishes at this year’s event, they are a good indicator of what we have to look foraward to in less than two weeks.

What's the best way to cook a whole slew o' tenderloin? Over a long bed of hardwood of course. What's the best way to shred beef? With a mallet of course.


The one menu item from last year that will appear again this year is Franklin BBQ's famed brisket. I'll wager my own plate of brisket that the lines this year will be as long this year as they were last.


Of course beef needs some sides as partners. They help round out the plate and distract us just a bit from the sheer bulk of beef we'll happily consume.


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