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Photo by Tyler Adams/Netflix

While the idea of systemic racism is a generally accepted fact in American society, a more indefinable concept is the cultural biases that people hold. It can be easy to spot someone who wears their racism on their sleeves, but sometimes a prejudice only reveals itself when someone is confronted with a world that is not their own.

This idea is attempted to be played for laughs in the new Netflix comedy You People. Ezra (Jonah Hill) is a 35-year-old stockbroker/aspiring podcaster who has yet to meet the right woman, much to the chagrin of his mother, Shelley (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). He has a meet-cute with Amira (Lauren London), a graphic designer, when he mistakes her car for an Uber.

While Ezra and Amira bond quickly over a number of shared likes, it’s the ingrained beliefs of their parents that threaten to stand in their way. Shelley and dad Arnold (David Duchovny) are a Jewish couple who either rely on Black stereotypes or go overboard in their attempts to relate to Amira. Meanwhile, Amira’s parents, Akbar (Eddie Murphy) and Fatima (Nia Long), want her to stay true to her Black Muslim roots, and do all they can to discourage the relationship.

Directed by Kenya Barris and written by Barris and Hill, the goal of the film – to shed a funny light on how awkward it can be when people of different races spend time in each other’s spaces – is clear, but the execution is sorely lacking.

The first mistake they make is that the film is almost exclusively focused on Ezra; while Amira gets a small introduction prior to meeting Ezra, there’s never a true exploration of who she is or what she wants outside of her relationship with him. Consequently, their bond is never believable; there appears to be little chemistry existing between the two, and any moments that might endear them to the audience are yada-yadaed for the sake of expediency.

The second is the strange way in which the film’s biggest star – Murphy – is withheld until 20-30 minutes into the movie, introduced in a lackadaisical way, and then given precious few opportunities to showcase his comic skills. Barris and Hill can never seem to find a great way to use the legendary comedian, giving him tepid scenarios that don’t come close to eliciting the big laughs for which he is known.

Ultimately, the film feels more like a series of barely-connected situations than a cohesive story. Any incisiveness that might come from putting the two racially- and religiously-disparate families together is lost because the filmmakers constantly jump from scene to scene in search of laughs. You’d think that Barris, who knows the value of establishing characters from sitcoms like Black-ish, would have figured out how to do that by now, but the film flails its way through its nearly two-hour running time.

Hill, as star, co-writer, and co-producer, is obviously the driving force behind the film, and he is given plenty of time to dole out his brand of comedy. London is likable enough, but we never get to know her character well enough to fully judge her performance. The wealth of talent on the supporting side – including Murphy, Louis-Dreyfus, Long, Duchovny, Sam Jay, Rhea Perlman, Molly Gordon, Deon Cole, Andrea Savage, Elliott Gould, and Mike Epps – is mostly wasted.

Finding comedy in race relations has been done many times in movies and on TV, and can be a winner if done properly. The story of You People can never find its footing, opting for a haphazard approach that doesn’t make good use of its greatest assets.

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You People debuts on Netflix on January 27.

Photo by Tyler Adams/Netflix

Jonah Hill and Eddie Murphy in You People.

Photo courtesy of A24

CultureMap film critic’s guide to the 10 Best Picture Oscar nominees of 2023

Oscar analysis

The nominations for the 2023 Academy Awards have been announced, with 10 films vying for Best Picture. Everything Everywhere All at Once led the way with 11 total nominations, with The Banshees of Inisherin and All Quiet on the Western Front close behind with 9 nominations each.

Take a look back at what CultureMap’s film critic, Alex Bentley, had to say about each of the nominees (listed below in alphabetical order) when they were originally released. This year's Oscars ceremony will take place on Sunday, March 12.

All Quiet on the Western Front (not reviewed)
The epic anti-war German film, available to stream on Netflix, has been gaining steam on the awards circuit in recent weeks, also earning 14 nominations for the British Academy film awards, the most among films nominated there. With nine nominations at the Oscars, it's a serious contender to win not just International Feature Film, but Best Picture as well, a la Parasite.

Avatar: The Way of Water
There’s no denying that everything in the long-awaited Avatar looks spectacular, from the Na’vi to the different animals of the world to the abundant water. But writer/director James Cameron has also employed the high frame rate of 48 frames-per-second, giving everything a hyper-real look that, at least for this critic, does not make for a great viewing experience. Also, for a film that’s 3 hours and 12 minutes long, you’d think there would be plenty of time to devote to all aspects of the story, but somehow that isn’t the case. Though it's nominated for Best Picture, its best chances of winning lie in the three other technical nominations.

The Banshees of Inisherin
Written and directed by Martin McDonagh, this film reunited him with his In Bruges stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson for one of the funniest movies of the year, and also one of the saddest. The film is spectacular in its ordinary nature, with the story centering around Gleeson's character ending his longtime friendship with Farrell's character for seemingly no reason. All four main actors - Farrell (Best Actor), Gleeson (Best Supporting Actor), Barry Keoghan (Best Supporting Actor), and Kerry Condon (Best Supporting Actress) - earned nominations, and McDonagh was nominated for both directing and writing, making this film one of the favorites.

Elvis
One of those love-it-or-hate-it type movies, the latest from writer/director Baz Luhrmann didn't hit the sweet spot for this critic, mostly because its focus was more on Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks), and not Elvis (Austin Butler) himself. That meant much more time for Hanks to deliver one of the worst performances of the year. Butler earned his Best Actor nomination, as there are times when he is absolutely electric. But there's a reason that six of its eight nominations are in technical categories - the story doesn't live up to Butler's performance.

Everything Everywhere All at Once
On the other end of the spectrum from Elvis is Everything Everywhere All at Once, a film that knew how to use its flashiness in much better ways. Featuring a breathtaking lead performance by Michelle Yeoh (who earned her first-ever nomination), the return of '80s kid star Ke Huy Quan (favored to win for Best Supporting Actor), and polar opposite performances by Jamie Lee Curtis and Stephanie Hsu (both nominated for Best Supporting Actress), the film was as wild and weird as it was emotional. With a couple of surprise nominations, including Best Musical Score and Best Song, it seems destined for a lot of wins.

The Fabelmans
The most personal movie ever from writer/director Steven Spielberg (nominated in both categories), The Fabelmans is a lightly-fictionalized chronicle of Spielberg's childhood, where he caught the bug of filmmaking and endured his parents' disintegrating marriage. With seven overall nominations, including Best Actress for Michelle Williams, a surprise Best Supporting Actor nomination for Judd Hirsch (who's in the film for less than 10 minutes), and another nomination for Best Score for the iconic John Williams (who now has 52 - !! - lifetime nominations), it would be unwise to discount this film's chances at taking home the top prize.

Tár
If ever a film was defined by its lead actor, it's Tár, featuring a towering - and now, Oscar-nominated - performance by Cate Blanchett as world-renowned - but fictional - conductor Lydia Tár. The first film in 16 years from writer/director Todd Field (nominated in both categories), it is notable for how much time it devotes to setting up Tár as a character. Though the story is set in the rarefied world of classical music, it has a grounded nature that keeps it balanced. The film is nominated for seven total Oscars, but its best chance at a win lies with Blanchett, who's the heavy favorite.

Top Gun: Maverick
My personal No. 1 movie of the year, the long-gestating sequel to 1984's Top Gun delivered everything you could want out of a summer blockbuster and more. Even though it it essentially offers up the greatest hits from the original in a slightly repackaged manner, it does so in a spectacular manner. Even though you'd expect its five nominations aside from Best Picture (which gives star Tom Cruise, who also served as a producer, his first Oscar nomination in 24 years) to be technical ones, it was also nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, an indication that its story was equal to its visuals.

Triangle of Sadness (not reviewed)
A black comedy that takes aim at the obliviousness of wealthy people, Triangle of Sadness is only nominated in three categories, but they're three big ones - Best Picture, Best Director (Ruben Östlund), and Best Original Screenplay (Östlund). Unlike some of the other films in this category, it was not among the best-reviewed movies of the year, but it's clear that Östlund has his supporters in the writer and director wings of the Academy, so one or two wins are not out of the realm of possibility.

Women Talking
Although it was one of my top 10 movies of the year, Women Talking is perhaps the least likely film among the 10 nominated to be in this category, as it only has one other nomination, Best Adapted Screenplay for writer/director Sarah Polley. Set almost entirely in a barn loft on a Mennonite compound as a group of women decide how to fight back against abusive men, it is a true ensemble film, with no actor truly standing out among the others. Still, with award-winning actors like Rooney Mara, Jessie Buckley, and Claire Foy leading the way, it deserves to be recognized among the year's best.

Photo courtesy of Lionsgate

Anna Kendrick stretches her dramatic chops in Alice, Darling

Movie Review

From the outside, it can be hard to understand how someone would choose to stay in a toxic relationship. When dealt with in movies, the situation is typically highly dramatized, often with a man getting his comeuppance in a thriller-type story. The new film Alice, Darling takes a different approach while still keeping the drama high.

Right from the first frame, Alice (Anna Kendrick) has a nervous energy about her, wrapping her hair tightly around her finger and constantly checking her text messages while out for drinks with her friends Sophie (Wunmi Mosaku) and Tess (Kaniehtiio Horn). The source of her tension is soon revealed to be her boyfriend Simon (Charlie Carrick), a gallery artist who seems to have a hold on her that’s less like love and more like possession.

She agrees to go on a weeklong trip with her friends, but she’s so afraid of Charlie’s reaction that she lies to him, saying she’s going on a work trip instead. But getting away from him seems to cause even more stress than being with him, with the idea of possibly displeasing Simon on her mind almost every minute of the day.

Directed by Mary Nighy, making her feature film debut, and written by Alanna Francis and story editor Mark Van de Ven, the film does an excellent job of imparting the pressure that Alice feels she is under. Although the scenes featuring Alice and Charlie together are limited, they sprinkle dialogue of Charlie manipulating Alice in subtle and overt ways throughout the film, showing the power he has over her.

Alice’s frazzled state of mind also reveals itself in her treatment of her friends, who she’s known virtually her entire life. She’s standoffish in general with both, and especially testy with Tess, but she’s even afraid to tell them exactly what’s going on. Despite being on vacation at a lake, Alice never lets herself let loose, always worried about what Simon would think.

If there’s a qualm to be had with the film, it’s that it seems to be setting up a thriller-type story that never comes. Instead, the drama stays mostly interior as Alice struggles with her overbearing thoughts. Consequently, it’s tough to get a full read on how deep the troubles with Simon actually go as the film only hints at the details of their relationship.

Kendrick has not had many great showcases in recent years, so this film gives her the chance to stretch her dramatic chops a bit. She does well, even if the role is a bit hard to read. Mosaku and Horn are not as well-known, but both put in effective performances, especially Mosaku. Carrick feels generic in a role that’s only designed to show the character’s bad traits.

Alice, Darling takes a different route toward exploring the abuser/victim dynamic, with that relationship taking a backseat to the one Alice has with her friends. It still contains plenty of dramatic moments; they just aren’t the ones that might be expected from this type of film.

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Alice, Darling opens in select AMC theaters on January 20.

Photo courtesy of Lionsgate

Anna Kendrick in Alice, Darling

Photo courtesy of Screen Gems

Teen's tech savvy makes 'Missing' a tense and enjoyable mystery

Movie Review

Making a movie where none of the characters is (seemingly) filmed using a traditional movie camera might seem like a bad idea, but in the hands of the producers behind Unfriended and 2018’s Searching, it can be a masterclass in how to tell a riveting story. The latest to use this technique to great success is the new film Missing.

Just as with the previous films, the story of Missing is told entirely through a computer screen, detailing the lives of June (Storm Reid) and her mom, Grace (Nia Long). Grace is about to go on a trip to Colombia with her boyfriend, Kevin (Ken Leung), putting a little extra stress on her somewhat-strained relationship with June.

But when Grace and Kevin don’t show up on their return flight, June does the best she can to find out what happened to them using her phone and computer. Her search, encompassing a litany of websites and apps, includes multiple other people, including her mom’s lawyer, Heather (Amy Landecker); Javi (Joaquim de Almeida), a gig worker in Colombia; and her best friend, Veena (Megan Suri).

Written and directed by Nicholas D. Johnson and Will Merrick, the film is amazingly kinetic considering everything is being filtered through one type of screen or another. Much more so than in Searching, which had a 40-something father looking for his daughter, the internet savvy of June plays a huge part in the entertainment factor of the film. Even when June is at her most frazzled, her ingrained ability to navigate to the most useful site or app is a blast to watch.

One of the most fun parts of the film is that it invites the audience to try to figure out the mystery before June does. June uses a notes app to keep track of information throughout the film, leaving her screen looking like a digital version of a detective’s bulletin board. Just like in any mystery, there are plenty of red herrings, but if you pay close enough attention, you can anticipate what’s going to happen before it actually transpires.

Of course, viewers have to suspend their disbelief more than a bit to get into the story, which features some legitimately great twists and turns. The biggest hurdle to get over is the idea that June’s computer would be recording her even when she’s not using a video app. This is a slight cheat so that the filmmakers can keep June’s face on screen at almost all times, but the film doesn’t work without her reactions, so it’s best to just go with it.

As with Searching, the film’s use of actual sites and apps gives it legitimacy. Instead of using names that sound real but aren’t, the filmmakers actually use Facetime, Instagram, Ring, Google Translate, and more. One of the cleverer inclusions is Netflix, with June watching a fake show called Unfiction that allows the filmmakers to reference the events of Searching without actually showing scenes from it.

Although the film doesn’t necessarily require it, each member of the main cast turns in a good acting performance. Reid, known from A Wrinkle in Time and Euphoria, is an ideal lead, giving just the right levels of emotion to the different aspects of her role. Long, Leung, and Landecker have smaller roles, but they each make the most of their time. De Almeida steals the film in his brief appearances, which is tough to do as he is almost always looking into a phone camera.

Due to the innovative ways in which the filmmakers use computer technology, Missing is as effective as a mystery as any traditional film. As long as they continue to put as much effort into the storytelling as they do the visuals of the film, it’s easy to see the method working for multiple more movies.

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Missing opens in theaters on January 20.

Photo courtesy of Screen Gems

Storm Reid in Missing.

Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures and eOne

San Antonio actress stars in SXSW opening film, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Critical Success

The adaptability of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D or dnd, colloquially) has brought it well into the 21st century and even into its diametric opposite: a scripted, finite creative work. This isn’t the first time the tabletop role playing game has been adapted into a feature film format, but it’s certainly the highest profile with an ensemble cast including Chris Pine and Hugh Grant. It’s only fitting that its release should open the festival where strange things go on to become the gold standard, South by Southwest.

The festival announced on January 11 that Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves has clinched the prestigious spot previously occupied by the wacky but heartfelt 2022 standout Everything Everywhere All At Once (now making rounds on social media again thanks to wins and moving speeches at the Golden Globes). This highly anticipated world premiere has what the A24 film did not before its meteoric success: a staunch fan base nearly 50 years in the making.

For the suddenly-decreasing population of uninitiated onlookers — thanks to TV shows like Stranger Things, Freaks and Geeks, and Community, and actual-play streams like Critical Role and Dimension 20 Dungeons & Dragons is essentially structured make-believe. A staggering collection of official rulebooks applies a dice-based system of logic and possibilities that players navigate verbally. Say one player is a Legolas-like elf ranger; she may decide to jump over a chasm, rolling a 20-sided die to dictate how successful she is as the narrative pushes on.

“A charming thief and a band of unlikely adventurers embark on an epic quest to retrieve a lost relic, but things go dangerously awry when they run afoul of the wrong people,” describes a press release. “The movie brings the rich world and playful spirit of the legendary roleplaying game to the big screen in a hilarious and action-packed adventure.”

Because these hyper-dramatic fantasy games tend to be played by friends in marathon sessions at home, the resulting narratives often take on a campy, scrappy tone that a trailer for the new film immediately reflects. It is borderline nonsensical that a group of underprepared, randomly assembled heroes would need to save the day via a buckshot plot (it’s unclear so far what actually happens in this film besides watching fun tropes play out), and that describes the overwhelming majority of real D&D campaigns.

The rest of the cast is not quite as mainstream as Pine and Grant, but they’re getting close. The appropriately motley crew includes San Antonian Michelle Rodriguez, who played a supporting role with Pine in the Fast & Furious franchise; Bridgerton heartthrob Regé-Jean Page; Jurassic World park technician Justice Smith; It protagonist Sophia Lillis; Guilt star Daisy Head; and athletic Avatar actress Chloe Coleman, only 14 years old.

Conspicuously missing from the official list of directors (Game Nights Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley) is actor and Dungeons & Dragons writer Joe Manganiello (True Blood, Magic Mike), known for his especially committed devotion to the tabletop game. Manganiello is the highest-profile Hollywood D&D player aside from Stephen Colbert, who has only recently dipped his toes back into a childhood obsession. Reports in October excitedly anchored the film to Manganiello as a co-director with Kyle Newman, but the initial script seems to have been scrapped.

Beyond the effects of cast, crew, and plot, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves represents something oddly universal to players, yet almost completely unique in film: What would happen if anyone in the theater wrote the script?

More information about SXSW’s film programming is available at sxsw.com.

Photo by Geoffrey Short/Universal Pictures

AI doll is both creepy and hilarious in horror film M3GAN

Movie review

There are some horror movies where fans go in wanting and expecting to be scared out of their minds. The new film M3GAN is not one of those. From the moment the trailer dropped, the star of the film – a child-sized AI-enabled doll – was turned into a meme, mostly because of a scene where M3GAN dances creepily in a hallway.

Viewing the film as a comedy is the only way to properly enjoy it, as nothing it contains can be taken seriously. Not that there aren’t some serious undertones to the story, as Gemma (Allison Williams) is given custody of her niece Cady (Violet McGraw) after Cady’s parents die in a car accident. While willing to take her in, Gemma is not exactly equipped to be a parental figure, as she’s obsessed with her work at a tech toy company.

Her latest invention is M3GAN (played by Amie Donald, voiced by Jenna Davis), a doll designed to become a kid’s best friend, able to react spontaneously to any and all conversations. Gemma unknowingly unlocks a more sinister side of M3GAN when she tells the doll to protect Cady from all physical and emotional harm. That becomes a job that M3GAN takes super-seriously, to the detriment of anyone or anything that dares look at Cady sideways.

Directed by Gerard Johnstone and written by Akela Cooper, the film is only scary if you’ve never watched a Chucky or an Annabelle movie before. To be sure, M3GAN is creepy as hell, with wide, unblinking eyes and a ramrod-still posture most of the time. But none of the scenes are set up to elicit screams; instead, it’s all about anticipating what kind of havoc the doll will wreak, and then laughing at what the filmmakers have put on the screen.

It’s also best not to think too hard about the victims of M3GAN’s murderous spree, as they include ones like kids and dogs that most films typically avoid. However, most of the violent scenes are stunted; the film is rated PG-13, which means that there is relatively little blood to be seen and almost nothing graphic. That’s a double-edged sword; a friendlier rating will bring in more viewers, but it leaves many of scenes of horror unsatisfying.

The filmmakers are not subtle about artificial intelligence being something that people should fear, also including an Alexa-like home smart device as part of the story. The film is seemingly set in the near future, where technology has advanced a little – but not too far – beyond what is currently available. This possible warning about where the world may be headed is overshadowed by the insanity put forth by M3GAN, though.

You don’t go to a film like M3GAN for the acting, but Williams and McGraw acquit themselves well anyway. With Donald providing the movements and Davis the voice, M3GAN becomes a wholly believable character, one that no one would want anywhere near them. The funny Ronny Chieng is mostly wasted as the CEO of the toy company.

Will M3GAN remain a part of pop culture past the end of January? It’s not likely, especially since it won’t go down as a memorable horror film. But for the first major movie release of the year, it provides more than enough entertainment to justify its existence.

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M3GAN is now playing in theaters.

Photo by Geoffrey Short/Universal Pictures
M3GAN in M3GAN
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San Antonio suburb among the richest places in Texas for 2023, plus more top stories

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. Here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. San Antonio suburb cashes in among the richest places in Texas for 2023. Alamo Heights has been renamed the third richest place in Texas for 2023 in a recent study.

2. San Antonio home sales slowed in December 2022, report finds. San Antonio sold 36,477 homes all year, a 10 percent decrease from 2021.

3. Here are the top 5 things to do in San Antonio this weekend. Nina Simone, Pink Floyd, the Beatles and more music-centered events made our roundup of the best things to do in Alamo City this weekend.

4. San Antonio Home & Garden Show returns with HGTV star. Ati Williams will headline the San Antonio Spring Home & Garden Show, which takes place February 24-26.

5. H-E-B opens first location in growing San Antonio suburb. The state-of-the-art facility offers 110,000 square feet of floor space, providing everything from cat food to charcuterie.


Popular Pearl brunch spot remixes with new weekend DJ nights

OONCE OONCE OONCE

Though Full Goods Diner has barely been open for half a year, it has already become a San Antonio staple for working weekday lunches and lingering Sunday Fundays. Now the Pearl eatery is looking to be a hot spot after dark.

Via release, the popular local haunt just announced a new limited-time music series, Full Goods at Night. Starting on February 2, Full Goods Diner will open select evenings throughout the month.

The Full Goods at Night series will feature popular local San Antonio DJs, including El West Side Sound, Hector Gallego, DJ Plata, Steven Lee Moya, and Cami Gee. Guests can enjoy live sets while indulging in a specially curated food and drink offerings.

The menu will include some of Full Goods Diner's best—selling items, such as French toast sticks, barbacoa waffle fries, and jumbo cheesy tots. Libations like the Attaboy Negroni, Royal Bermuda Daiquiri, Pink G&T, and more will fuel the festivities.

In addition to enjoying moonlight brunch, guests can relish some prime people-watching. And, of course, the restaurant is just a hop from other nightlife destinations like Pink Hill, 3 Star Bar, and Summer Camp Bar, making it the perfect party starter.

The series runs every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from February 2-25, 6-10 pm. The complete DJ schedule is listed below.

February 2 — El West Side Sound·
February 3 — Hector Gallego
February 4— DJ Plata
February 9 — El West Side Sound
February 10 — Steven Lee Moya
February 11 — Cami Gee
February 16 — El West Side Sound
February 17 — Steven Lee Moya
February 18 — Hector Gallego
February 23 — El West Side Sound
February 24— Steven Lee Moya
February 25 — DJ Plata

4 San Antonio culinary pioneers win $21K from the Texas Food & Wine Alliance

CULINARY INNOVATION

Texas’ skyrocketing culinary scene is about to get a huge boost. The Texas Food & Wine Alliance’s grant program has awarded $107,500 to 19 culinary innovators around the state. This marks the Alliance’s 11th year providing funding to support culinary projects contributing to local communities.

The award winners were announced in a ceremony at Austin's Holdsworth Center on January 21. A private panel of distinguished culinary experts chose the winners out of 40 grant applications this year. Nine winners hail from Austin, three from Dallas-Fort Worth, three from Houston, and four from San Antonio. The awards range from $1,500 to $10,000, with a special $25,000 grant investment from Austin favorite Tito’s Handmade Vodka in honor of the company’s 25th anniversary. Grant funding will support chefs, farms, and culinary education groups, among others.

Out of the four San Antonio area winners, Talking Tree Farm received the most from the grant program, $6,250 to purchase shipping containers for storage and to buy a solar-powered cold room for their harvests. John Marshall High School’s culinary arts program will use their $5,000 grant to establish a morning café. Agricultural project Habitable Spaces and pasture-raised chicken farm Cielito Lindo Farm also won $5,000 each to purchase equipment or build infrastructure to further their endeavors in the culinary space.

Austin-area winners received the most funding from the grant program, totalling $53,750, while San Antonio winners received $21,250 in total. Dallas/Fort Worth winners were awarded $19,750, and the three Houston recipients won $12,750. All of the 2022 winners reflect just how diverse the state's trailblazing culinary scene continues to expand.

“All of this year’s funded projects will further enrich the state through innovation and giveback,” said Erika White, executive director of the Alliance. “We’re extremely grateful to each of the Texas communities, our sponsors and their support in allowing us to reward these mold-breaking projects.”

In Austin, organic farm Trosi Farms was awarded the most funding ($10,000), which will help construct a germination shed for more stable plant start production. Locavore pioneer Boggy Creek Farm won $7,500 in grants to provide ADA-compliant accessibility to their new climate-controlled Tomato House, while Texas’ first organic feed mill, Coyote Creek Organic Feed Mill & Farm, received $6,250 to help purchase a building to be used as a store for the local community.

The six other Austin area grant recipients, each winning $5,000, include Vista Farms at Vista Brewing, Jamaican family business Tierra Todun ATX, coffee roasters Rising Tide Roast Collaborative, culinary educator Chef Pascal Simon from Bake Austin, East Austin food truck Community Vegan, and Latinx pastry project Comadre Panaderia (who also just earned a James Beard nomination). All winners will be able to use their grants to improve efficiency and expand their businesses, or in Chef Pascal's case, further research and development for her upcoming cookbook for Gen-Z young adults.

After starting the program in Austin, grant co-chair and TFWA past president Cathy Cochran-Lewis says it was the Alliance’s dream to expand the grant statewide.

“We’re so humbled and thrilled to now not only support worthwhile projects across Texas but also to give more than a half million dollars in funding over the last decade to help dreams come true,” she says. “This is a tribute to the culinary talent and the community mindset we are lucky to have in our state.”

The winners in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas include:

For this year's Honorable Mention, the Alliance chose San Antonio eatery Tacos Cucuy, who will soon open a brick-and-mortar space with an expanded menu. Tacos Cucuy are currently looking for support to develop a Tex-Mex charcuterie program called La Cura Carnes Especiales.

More information about the 2022 grants and its recipients can be found on texasfoodandwinealliance.org.