The second annual Austin Food & Wine Festival has come and gone and I was again lucky enough to attend. The fest featured Fort Worth’s own celebrity Chef Tim Love, who acted as the honorary “Mayor” of the event. This year’s lineup of celebrity chefs included returning chefs Marcus Sameulsson, Andrew Zimmern, Jonathen Waxman and Tony Mantuano. New to the fest this year was Susan Feniger, Graham Elliot, Marc Murphy and Brian Malarkey. The DFW area was also well represented with local chefs Tim Byres, Chef Blaine Staniford, Tre Wilcox, and of course, Tim Love.
Last year the festival seemed a little unprepared for the thousands of foodies that showed up. This year the layout and classes seemed larger, making for a more relaxed festival. Favorite events returned including the Rock Your Taco Showdown and Chef Loves “worlds largest” grilling demos, with this year adding a third grill demo teaming Chef Love up with Bizarre Foods’ Andrew Zimmern.
I attended last year’s demos and was impressed with the 100 charcoal grill setup. This year Chef love added 4 more grills just for the bragging rights of making this year’s demos larger (I’m guessing that will be a tradition each year now).
I checked out the demos, and like last year Chef Love rocked… literally, with a rock concert atmosphere and songs like Van Halen's "Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love" playing over the speakers before the demos. There was usual wine, tequila and steaks that you come to expect from Chef Love, but there was also cauliflower and asparagus. Chef Love tried to downplay the veggies, but I have always been surprised at how many great veggies he serves at his Woodshed Smokehouse, so this seemed in line with the food I expect from Chef Love.
The thing that really took me by surprise was actually his truck. Parked next to the hands on grilling area was the most awesome truck in Texas when it comes to tailgating! We are talking a built in grill, beer tap and pop up flat screen TV. Be sure to check out the pictures in the slideshow above. Back to the demos and steaks. Chef Love had the usual Rib-Eye and New York Strip, but he also featured a cut of steak not normally found in the U.S. called Vacio (vah-SEE-oh), a cut of steak that is popular in Argentina, Mexico and Chef Love’s Queenie’s Steakhouse. From what I can gather, it is an untrimmed flank with flap meat and fat, and it was mighty tasty. Now I have to figure out were to get this cut of steak here in Fort Worth… I am sure knowing a local butcher will be involved.
Chef Love's grill tips, updated form last year.
1. Always start with a hot grill, and have a spray bottle handy to control flair ups.
2. Use peanut oil instead of olive oil when grilling meats and vegetables because, Love said, peanut oil can withstand higher temperatures whereas olive oil will break down and burn. 3. Brush your steaks with oil, then season them before grilling, using twice as much salt as you think you need. (Most people don't season meat enough.) Pat the seasoning into the steaks to help close the pores of the meat.
4. Let steaks come up to room temperature before putting on the grill. Don't just pull it out of the fridge and plop it on the grill.
5. Keep the grill cover closed and resist the urge to peek at your meat on the grill. The heat needs to stay trapped in there. 6. After pulling your steaks and letting them rest, put them back on the grill for a couple of minutes to finish the steaks. You now can serve the steaks straight off the grill with no need to rest them again.
7. Try adding a little acid like lemon juice to your steak to brighten up the flavor.
8. Don’t be afraid to grill a few veggies with your steak.
Be sure to check out the slide show above the story to see all the grilling fun and Chef love's truck!