Austin Food and Wine Festival Preview: 3 Fun Food Demos for the Entertaining-Inclined

One of my favorite elements of the inaugural Austin Food and Wine Festival is the 35 cooking demos that will be helmed by food, wine, and spirits experts from around the country . While tasting, sipping, and strolling at the Grand Tastings is sure to provide a lovely culinary journey — and a very full belly — it would be a serious culinary faux pas to overlook the opportunity to learn from the bevy of chefs and sommeliers who will be gathering in our lovely food town. As I peruse the weekend scheduled I find myself wishing I had a time turner or a cloning machine so I could attend each and every demo. Barring that (and the associated life changes that might come with the ability to be in multiple places at one time), I’ll have some tough choices to make. While my schedule isn’t fully set, there are three demos that are on my must-attend list as a home cook and avid party-thrower. I think all three will help me up my entertaining game and give guests at upcoming parties some great food memories.

Bring on the Flavor – Over the years I’ve learned that one of the best ways to get guests to explore a new flavor or technique is to start with something they know and love and then add an unexpected twist. Of course if the twist is a little too much this approach can go very wrong very quickly, which is why I’m interested to see what tips Michelle Bernstein has to offer for adding “exciting flavors to simple recipes”.

Global Street Food – What do great street food and great party food have in common? They are both easy to make ahead and to eat while on the go, weather it be walking down the streets of a hidden foreign town or simply around a party mingling with other guests. While I know Andrew Zimmern’s demo will be influenced by his Bizarre Foods adventures, and thus not necessarily 100% applicable to every party I might throw, I’m expecting to learn some new techniques and flavor combinations that will add some zest to my future menus.

Game Day Grilling – Let’s face it, we do a lot of grilling here in Texas. From picnics to tailgating to easy al fresco dinners in the summer when the last thing you want to do is turn on the oven, grilling is as common of a cooking practice as you’ll find around these parts. I’m pretty handy at the grill (I’ve got baby back ribs cooking low and slow even as I write this), but even so I’m always looking for ways to do  more with my grill. If an hour and 45 minutes with Tim Love won’t help me do that I’m not entirely sure what will. When I’m done with this demo I bet my Longhorn and NFL season opener party menus will be well on their way to being locked and loaded.

Up next: my top three wine picks for the avid party-thrower. Because it’s never, ever just about about the food.

What demos are you most interested in attending at the festival? Please share in the comments!

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