On April 12, San Antonio foodies and glamorous glitterati descended on Fair Market in Austin for CultureMap's marquee event, the Tastemaker Awards. Presented by Woodford Reserve and benefiting the Austin Food & Wine Alliance, the evening showcased the very best in Austin's bar and restaurant community.
The perfect weather outdoors echoed what would be a perfect evening indoors, complete with sips and snacks stationed throughout the lofty event space, which took on a cozy garden party vibe for the occasion thanks to the work of sponsors like Catalyxe Experiential and Miller Digital Imaging & Design Solutions.
More than 750 attendees sampled bites from San Antonio restaurants and Tastemaker nominees, including Dee Dee, Cured, and Restaurant Gwendolyn. Also serving bites were Austin's Aviary Wine + Kitchen, Eldorado Cafe ATX, El Chipirón, Yuyo, Foreign & Domestic, Garbo's Lobster Truck, District Kitchen + Bar, Intero, Juniper, Le Politique, LeRoy and Lewis, Nightcap, Paperboy, Olive & June, Puli-Ra, Colleen's Kitchen, and Phoebe's Diner.
Meanwhile, three 2018 Bartender of the Year nominees, Caer Ferguson of The Roosevelt Room, Jayson Black of Garage, and Brett Esler of Whisler's, were stirring up their own creative cocktails which guests sipped and sampled throughout the event. (Erin Ashford of Olamaie ended up taking home the crown.)
And not to be upstaged were boozy premade cocktails like Woodford Reserve Old Fashioneds and tasty margaritas. Those looking to add a little sparkle to their night were treated to flutes of Korbel or brews from Deep Ellum Brewing Co. and Alaskan Brewing Co.
With champagne in hand, guests gathered to watch Central Texas TV personality Taylor Ellison emcee the evening's capstone event — the Tastemaker Awards ceremony. San Antonio's Pieter Sypesteyn was awarded Chef of the Year; Battalion took home Restaurant of the Year. "[An award like this] means all the work and all the bullshit has paid off, and somehow you're the best. If I had given up, I wouldn't be here right now — and I really appreciate it," said chef Stefon Bowers of Battalion.
Austin's big winners included Restaurant of the Year L'Oco d'Oro and Chef of the Year Kevin Fink of Henbit and Emmer & Rye. (In addition to being named Best Pastry Chef, fellow Emmer & Rye-er Tavel Bristol-Joseph took home the unofficial award for best entrance when he bypassed the stairs and instead climbed up the side of the stage.)
Clenching his own award for Rising Star Chef and looking out over the packed house, chef Zach Hunter of the soon-to-open Brewer's Table mused about the star-studded success of Austin's culinary scene. "We have a bunch of cooks just cooking their hearts out in Austin right now," said Hunter. "We can't wait for Brewer's Table to be a part of that."
The evening's ceremony also concluded the anticipated Best New Restaurant contest, sponsored by Whole Foods Market. The award, which was voted on by the public, went to Tenko Ramen in San Antonio and Be More Pacific in Austin.
Throughout the evening, guests floated around Fair Market's garden area, playing lawn games, listening to live music, and enjoying the perfect spring weather. Among the notables in attendance were Xavier Schipani, Kathy Blackwell, Tim Taliaferro, Lesley Taylor, Alicynn Fink, Mariam Parker, David Gow, Veronica Meewes, Better Half's Matthew Bollick, Hayden Walker, Ankur Sansanwal, Christine Lee, Sofia Sokolove, Ashley Baker, Kate Williams, Mary Daniels, and Kristen Kistler.