Follows is the last set of interviews from the 2013 Austin Food and Wine Festival. I asked the following chefs, How do you define a food destination? How does Austin stack up?
Pichet Ong: "Austin is already on par with other food cities. There are all these new restaurants. A town that has amazing local food is a food city. Austin has always been a food city, even before the restaurant scene. Barbecue was a destination here. Every town has a unique style of food. Austin had that even before any of the new restaurant were established. And with Austin being a college town, meaning many young people come here, and they stay. It is a basic ground for innovation. “
Pichet and I trying out Ramen Tastuya.
Graham Elliot (below, picture with Andrew Zimmern) thoughts on a food city is that it needs to offer something else besides food. “Chicago has music and architecture, and it is a beautiful big metropolitan city. Austin is known for music. How do you capitalize on that and make it a real food and music experience? Like during SXSW, is every band paired with a chef? It feels like there is more of a disconnect.” I wholeheartedly agree with Graham. We do have many activities and festivals here, but they are kind of off doing their own thing. Combining forces with other industries can mean even bigger and better things for Austin as a community.
Jon and Vinny from Animal in LA say: "Food city has good food. “*And they laughed* Not any one restaurant or diversity. . ...[it has] more than one specific style of food that is good in that town So for here, like barbecue, there’s like 20 good barbecue restaurants here. People who are passionate about food people, who are enthusiastic about food....[are critical]."