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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Beyond Measure, Beyond Words: A peek behind the scenes of @TEDxAustin2012

I just finished an amazing 6 month long experience.  I after it was all said and done, I spent about 175 hours over the 6 months working on the experience called TEDxAustin.  I was the xLunch producer, and I produced every aspect of the food experience. I did not get to partake in the full experience, but working on the experience was just as amazing.  I can say that I'm even more rich.

Photo by John M. P. Knox @windaddict

I did hear bits and pieces of the talks.  I heard a quote from @JCourt about preemptive love, " Violence unmakes the world. Preemptive love remakes the world." I was overwhelmed with the feeling of preemptive love.  My friends who participated in the lunch concept preemptively showed me love.  They dedicated their time and their craft to something I was doing without question. Thank you, friends. Thank you for showing me that preemptive love.

I did sit down for Penny's talk. I met Penny about 4 years ago at a food blogger's pot luck at her house.  I absolutely love her, and the idea of that we should live I'm the moment.  Our lives are made up of all these small moments.  See them. Live in them. Cherish them.  I got to meet Penny's father, and I stole a hug.

Penny's talk was thoughtfully placed right before lunch.  This year's lunch showcased some of the top chefs in Austin with deep roots in the food community.  There were several goals for the lunch 1. Create an interactive food experience to drive engagements 2. Serve fantastically creative dishes 3. Highlight the leaders in our food community and 4. showcase locally sourced foods.

Paper dress. photo by John M. P. Knox @windaddict

I was told that it would be a difficult task, but nonetheless, I took it on.  I won't go into the logistics of pulling off this feat. From table settings to sourcing the food locally, this was nothing short of a miracle. I tweeted earlier that week that I was in the car with 100 chickens.  I didn't tweet that they were all being delivered to the restaurants and were already dead.

TEDxAustin cake balls by Austin Cake Ball.

I had several people say that I did the impossible.  And they are right.  I did what was impossible to do on my own. With the preemptive love, it was very possible.

I must tip my hat to Rebecca Scofield at Whole Foods for putting in so much time into this endeavor.  She is nothing short of amazing by bringing in Johnson's Backyard and Vital Farms.  My  chefs wowed me with their creativity and presented a fantastic menu.  David Norman of Easy Tiger started the day with showing people how to knead dough during breakfast, which tied into breaking bread over lunch with friends.  The Natural Epicurean  brought an A team staff to support our event.  The staff was sharper than their knives.

A big thank you to the restaurants and chefs:
And our food partners:

Photo by John M. P. Knox @windaddict.  This was a view from inside the black box.  I loved the design that Jeff Sharpe and Chris Czichos made.  I want them to do that to my house.
In case you were wondering about the menus:

BC Tavern/Wink  -  Broccoli, Bleu cheese mac / Braised chicken (cachatorrie style)/ roasted carrots and spinach
Carillon   - Chicken Roulades, Bacon, Espellete, sherry emulsion / Texmati rice,dried apricots, almonds, celery, black pepper syrup / Carrots, caraway, molasses, pork jus gastrique
Fino/Asti   - Smoked Vital Farms Chicken & Spinach Morcilla Blanca / Carrot Purée / Broccoli Slaw & Egg Yolk Bottarga
Lenoir  -  The Chicken or the Egg - Chicken pot-au-feu with egg ravoili
Swift's Attic  -  Roasted Chicken Bahn Mi / Broccoli Kimchee Spinach / Quick pickle salad
Uchi/Uchiko  - Vital farms chicken, sweet short grain rice, candied pork belly, crispy garlic / Pickled carrots, pickled broccoli /s pinach oshitaki

It must also be mentioned that just a few weeks ago, Chef Scott Kaplan of Fino was attacked and seriously injured.  While I am sad to see something like that happen, I was thrilled to see that he decided to come out to play at TEDxAustin. You can view Chef Scott's fundraiser here
The speakers and sponsors dinner.

Working as the xLunch producer, I got to meet some other incredible people, in very unexpected places.  The staff at the Austin Music Hall,  Pascal's catering, and Premiere Party were fantastic to work with.  They went over and beyond with helping with the set up and loading.  We also had group of volunteers from Accenture who were amazing. I couldn't believe how focused they were. I'd love to have them at any event.

The TEDxAustin 2012 copywriting, design, and production logistics were handled by an extraordinary team.  A big thanks goes to Kristin Bender, Leah Kaminsky, and Lisa Cogliati.  Also, Jeff Sharpe and Chris Czichos did all of the design, layout, and building to create the stunning environment at TEDxAustin 2012.  It was drop dead gorgeous.
Close up of the panels. 

And lastly, I had the experience of working closely with Shawna Butler.  I must have called or texted her at least once a day during the last few weeks of production.  This woman is insightful, efficient, focused, and I'm guessing that the final singing experience was her doing.  Craig Hella Johnson lead a choir in being.  We announced our being by singing.  We sang to announce our being.  And our being was Beyond Measure.


  1. Nice write up...and a job well done! It was a pleasure producing this event with you and our rockstar team! That was a tough one to pull off, but worth it in every way!

    Liv Sharratt
    Liv by Design

    1. Thank you so much, Liv! It was a pleasure to work with you! See ya Wednesday night!