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Photo by Jacob Smith

Award-winning podcast producer and New York Times bestselling author Ashley Flowers will bring her chart-topping podcast, The Deck, to San Antonio as part of The Deck Investigates tour. In her podcast, Flowers presents the details of some of the coldest cases across the country.

At this event, she'll take the audience through all of the twists and turns of the on-the-ground reporting in real time, going through the details of an unsolved and underreported case that happened in the same region where she grew up. In the summer of 1984, Darlene Hulse was brutally killed in her own home and despite the immediate manhunt, eyewitnesses, hundreds of leads, and investigative support from local, state, and federal levels, Darlene’s killer has gone undetected for nearly 40 years.

Flowers will share newly uncovered details from exclusive interviews with the victim’s family, witnesses, law enforcement, and even the suspects themselves in hopes of finally bringing justice to Darlene and her family.

Photo by Shelley Neuman

Texas Tribune co-founder presents a trail guide to 2022 festival

Everything is Political

Believe it or not, politics can be fun, even if it’s all you talk about for days. The Texas Tribune is proving that once again with incumbent CEO Evan Smith’s last Texas Tribune Festival. From September 22-24, this long-standing annual event will bring together more than 350 influential speakers for more than 100 panels, from politicians in office to journalists and cultural wave-makers.

“It's become a major part of the Tribune's brand,” says Smith. “An important person I respect said to me in 2019, looking around the festival that year — the last year we did it in person — that we used to be a news organization with a festival, and we're becoming a festival with a news organization. And I thought, I'm actually okay with that.”

Smith announced his impending departure from the Tribune in January 2022, in a simultaneously wistful and tongue-in-cheek farewell address that acknowledged his “sentimentality and nostalgia.” He will be finished with his tenure by December, but will continue through 2023 as a senior advisor to his yet-unnamed replacement.

“I will be sentimental about it being my last. Of course, I'm also nostalgic, and I'll be nostalgic about the early days of the festival,” says Smith. “But one of the great things about leaving the Tribune now is that everybody here is in the best possible position to carry the important work that we've been doing forward to the next 13 years. And so I'll be watching like everybody else, with a lot of pride.”

This year, the festival broadened its scope from 2021 and earlier to include even more interests tangential to politics, aiming for the same bullseye as the Tribune always does: the average reader. The festival is always as jargon-free as possible, this year including topics like Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner’s memoir and 50 years of cultural change, retired top tennis player Andy Roddick’s opinions on the duties of nonprofits, and singer-songwriter Lyle Lovett’s experience as a Texas legend.

To help attendees start building their itineraries (or give keen readers at home some things to research), Smith selected the following must-attend events for CultureMap readers to keep on their radar.

Thursday, September 22
Thursday is a shorter day with “a couple of sessions to get peoples’ appetites going,” according to Smith. Of the 10 events, he chose two not to miss:

A Conversation with Katy Tur
9:30 am - 10:30 am

The MSNBC anchor will discuss journalism with Smith himself, with special attention to her recent second book that stretches all the way back through her childhood, Rough Draft: A Memoir. This chat will be in-person, kicking off the festival.

One-on-One with Anthony Fauci
10:30 am - 11:30 am

This prerecorded conversation is only available virtually. Smith interviews Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to the U.S. president, about the “layered” public health emergencies of COVID-19 and monkeypox as it emerges.

Friday, September 23
This mid-size day has 43 scheduled sessions. Smith chose one from each time slot:

One-on-One with Glenn Youngkin
8:45 am - 9:45 am

The Virginia governor is, in Smith’s words, “one of the big Republican success stories of the last couple of years,” and will be interviewed by senior correspondent David Drucker of the Washington Examiner. Some speculate that Youngkin will run for president in 2024.

The Forward Presents: One-on-One with Deborah Lipstadt
10:15 am - 11:15 am

U.S. special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism Deborah Lipstadt is talking about the issue nationally and worldwide, interviewed by Forward editor-in-chief Jodi Ruth Warren. A recent report found that 2021 was a record year for antisemitism in Austin.

One-on-One with Walter Isaacson
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Pulitzer Prize finalist and Tulane University professor Walter Isaacson discusses Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, and his current work with Elon Musk. He is interviewed by Pushkin Productions CEO Jacob Weisberg, former editor-in-chief of the Slate Group.

One-on-One with Hillary Clinton
1:30 pm - 2:30 pm

Former U.S. Secretary of State and 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is interviewed by New York Times podcast host Kara Swisher about progressive values in the United States. Swisher runs the Vox Media Code Conference, and is no stranger to the stage.

One-on-One with Ben McKenzie
3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Austin-born actor and writer Ben McKenzie is one Austinite speaking out on a large scale about “the case against crypto” as the city grows more and more entangled with it. He is interviewed by Bloomberg Digital executive editor for news Joe Weisenthal.

Saturday, September 24
The longest day of the festival, Saturday hosts 68 sessions. Smith chose one for each time slot:

After Roe
8:45 am - 9:45 am

This panel addressing one of the hottest topics in recent politics is run by Ana Marie Cox of The Cut, and features Planned Parenthood CEO Alexis McGill Johnson, Texas state representative Donna Howard, and former state senator Wendy Davis, famous for her abortion filibuster.

One-on-One with Annette Gordon-Reed
9:00 am - 10:00 am

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and Harvard professor Annette Gordon Reed discusses the legacy of slavery and the morals of studying history. She is interviewed by Errin Haines, editor-at-large for The 19th, founded by former Tribune editor-in-chief Emily Ramshaw.

One-on-One with Ted Cruz
10:30 am - 11:30 am

U.S. Senator and Texan Ted Cruz is slated to talk on Saturday, although he hasn’t yet been matched with a conversation partner. He’ll talk about tension with the Biden administration, the “soul” of the Republican party, and a possible reprisal of his 2016 presidential campaign.

One-on-One with Chris Bosh
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

NBA Hall of Famer Chris Bosh is interviewed by ESPN commentator Kirk Goldsberry on sports, being retired, and voting. Bosh has spoken out about social justice, and always ties it to a message of using one’s voice to create change.

Below the Line
2:15 pm - 3:15 pm

Former U.S. Secretary of Housing and urban development Julián Castro joins former mayor of Stockton, California, Michael Tubbs and ProPublica-Texas Tribune investigative reporter Vianna Davila to discuss Texans living disproportionately below the poverty line.

One-on-One with Gavin Newsom
3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

California Governor Gavin Newsom takes a leadership role, telling MSNBC anchor Alex Wagner about what the rest of the United States can learn from his state. The Democratic governor leans toward messaging about innovation and creating precedent-setting big change.

Tickets for the Texas Tribune Festival ($269 general admission) from September 22 to 24, both virtually and in venues across Austin, are available at texastribune.org.

Photo by Patti Perret / Focus Features

Podcasting becomes cinematic in the lively and deep Vengeance

Movie Review

Over the past decade, the medium of podcasts has grown into a multibillion-dollar industry, attracting celebrities, journalists, and everyday people due to the relative freedom the platform provides. As podcasting has grown bigger, it has naturally seeped into other mediums, with the show Only Murders in the Building being the latest and greatest example.

Now, actor/writer/director B.J. Novak has made what might be the definitive movie about podcasting with Vengeance. An unrepentant serial dater, Ben Manalowitz (Novak) is a writer/aspiring podcaster in New York City who pitches his ideas to Eloise (Issa Rae), a producer at a podcasting company.

When Abilene Shaw (Lio Tipton), a girl Ben had dated casually, dies of a drug overdose, Ben’s presence on her social media leads her family to assume they were more serious than they were. Guilted into coming to her funeral in Texas, Ben soon finds himself drawn into their world, especially when Abilene’s brother Ty (Boyd Holbrook) suggests that Abilene’s death was not accidental. He starts recording everything to not only get to the bottom of the potential mystery, but to document a way of life he knows little about.

The film, the first movie written and directed by Novak, has an interesting tone. It’s not a full-on comedy, although there are a lot of comedic moments. While it has some heartfelt scenes in its relatively short 94 minutes, the inherent cynicism of Ben keeps it from becoming too sentimental. And the story introduces a degree of mystery, but it never becomes consumed by that part.

What Novak seems interested in more than anything is examining the way people from different parts of the country interact. While perhaps not the most profound investigation of the human condition ever put on screen, the film is much deeper than one might expect. Novak doesn’t eschew Texas stereotypes like religion, guns, and Whataburger, but he doles them out in small increments, focusing more on who people are than what they represent.

And so while Abilene’s sisters Paris (Isabella Amara) and Kansas City (Dove Cameron) are seemingly shallow on the surface, they also are worldly enough to know about the works of Russian playwright Anton Chekhov. Quentin Sellers (Ashton Kutcher), a small-town record producer with whom Abilene worked, gives off a creepy vibe, but he’s also among the most erudite people in the whole film.

Novak obviously knows what type of role fits him best, and he does extremely well as the jaded-but-curious Ben. Holbrook steals the film as Ty, a potentially one-note character that becomes much more in his hands. Rae makes the most of a part that has her mostly talking on the phone. And all of the actors who make up Abilene’s family provide nice color to the story.

Vengeance is much tamer than its title would suggest, and it’s all the better for it. It does what podcasts often do best, diving deep into a particular aspect of American life, providing revelations that can surprise both the podcaster and the audience.

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Vengeance opens in theaters on July 29.

Ashton Kutcher and B.J. Novak in Vengeance.

Photo by Patti Perret / Focus Features
Ashton Kutcher and B.J. Novak in Vengeance.
Courtesy photo

New true crime podcast with CultureMap ties dives deep into baffling case

A Must Listen

If you've got a true crime addiction (and don't we all?), here's another podcast to add to your list. Final Days on Earth comes from investigative journalist Claire St. Amant, a development producer for CBS News who just happens to be a former CultureMap Dallas editor.

St. Amant has produced over 20 episodes of the true-crime television show 48 Hours since she joined CBS News in 2014, along with a handful of stories for 60 Minutes. But she began researching her latest subject while at CultureMap, where Texas-based murders and mysteries were often part of her beat.

Final Days on Earth premiered on April 20 and focuses on Dammion Heard, a college wrestler who vanished after a party in 2014 in Gunnison, Colorado. After a six-month investigation, Gunnison Police ruled Heard's death a suicide, but his friends and family have always wondered if foul play was involved.

The 12-part podcast from Cold Case Productions and PodcastOne covers his baffling disappearance through police interviews with witnesses from the party and Dammion's friends in 2014, as well as original interviews conducted in real time as the podcast is being produced. It debuted at No. 30 on the true crime podcast charts, and is sure to keep climbing.

We chatted with St. Amant about her foray into podcasting, why this case has stuck with her all these years, and why she's hopeful that new witnesses will come forward to shed light on Heard's death.

CultureMap: How did you first become interested in the Dammion Heard case?

CSA: I was actually the managing editor of CultureMap Dallas when Dammion's story first came across my desk in April 2014. It was a compelling story to me because of how suddenly Dammion's life was turned upside down. One day, he's a rising star on the wrestling team, with tons of friends and close relationships with his family, and then he just disappears out of thin air.

The college freshman walked into a party and had no idea it would be the last night of his life. It's just such a tragic turn of events on a seemingly normal night that I had to know more about who Dammion was and what events led up to his disappearance and death.

I never imagined my reporting journey would last this long — seven years and counting — but believe I'm closer than ever to getting the answers that Dammion's family has been looking for ever since his death.

CM: How did the podcast come about?

CSA: I was contacted by a recruiter in 2018 about hosting a true crime podcast and she pitched me on a bunch of different cases, but none of them felt like the right fit for me. I already focus on true crime cases for CBS News, so I have a pretty high threshold of what kinds of cases that I find interesting.

There was a local newspaper poll that came out after Gunnison Police ruled Dammion's case as a suicide, and 85 percent of respondents said they did not believe that police were justified in closing the investigation. I realized it wasn't only Dammion's family who had questions about the suicide ruling, and I wanted to see if I could help find some answers.

Dammion's story had so much material — the Gunnison Police Department conducted 47 recorded interviews with witnesses in the case — and it had never been heard by the public. When I got ahold of that raw audio, it was a jaw dropping moment. I realized it was a podcast waiting to happen, and I wanted to be the one to put it together.

CM: What extra reporting have you done for the podcast?

CSA: I've conducted over 35 interviews of my own for the podcast, and in June 2020, I roadtripped to Gunnison and spent a week reporting on location. The cornerstone of my reporting was putting together a timeline of Dammion's final days on earth and the ones following his disappearance, before police found his body.

The police file on Dammion's case was 187 pages long, but it was just a listing of individual reports from three different investigators. No one had ever taken the time to go through everything and put all the events in order.

Using eyewitness statements, bank records, cellphone data, and information from Western Colorado University about Dammion's ID card usage, I constructed a timeline that paints a much clearer picture than anyone has ever seen in this case.

CM: What was the experience of putting it together like?

CSA: It was a lot harder and took a lot longer than I ever could have imagined when I started the process back in 2018. But I've learned so much about every aspect of podcast production. In the beginning, it took me a week to put together one episode, and it was so stressful handling all the technical aspects of audio editing. But around the third episode, I really hit my stride and got into a rhythm.

CM: Did you discover anything new while making it?

CSA: Absolutely. You'll have to listen to the full season to get all the details, but suffice it to say I've found new witnesses and consulted experts from all over the world, as close as McKinney and as far away as Germany, to get insight and answers that no one else has about Dammion's case.

CM: Do you think this case could benefit from increased exposure and renewed interest from the public?

CSA: Definitely. There are key witnesses in Dammion's case who have never been identified, even though there are vehicle descriptions and other pieces of identifying information available. We need the public's help to get these descriptions out there and hopefully compel someone to come forward and share what they know about Dammion's case.

CM: What are some of your favorite podcasts?

CSA: Oh man, so many! The classics for me will always be season one of Serial and season one of Up and Vanished. More recently, my favorite podcasts of 2020-2021 were season two of American Nightmare; Murder in a Safe Place with Paul Wagner; and Tom Brown's Body, the first podcast from Skip Hollandsworth at Texas Monthly.

---

New episodes of Final Days on Earth with Claire St. Amant are released every Tuesday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and all other podcast listening platforms. The 12-episode series runs through July 6.

Original CultureMap Dallas managing editor Claire St. Amant.

Courtesy photo
Original CultureMap Dallas managing editor Claire St. Amant.

New national Selena podcast offers personal look at the Texas superstar

High Notes

Selena Quintanilla, known to millions of fans as the queen of Tejano music, is one of the most celebrated Mexican-American entertainers of the late 20th century. Her immense talent and tragic death captivated millions, and now with a Netflix series and a new podcast, Selena is inspiring a new generation of fans.

On January 13, WBUR and Futuro Media launched Anything for Selena, a nine-episode podcast about the music icon’s life story, her enduring legacy, and what she means to the Latinx community. Ultimately, as host Maria Garcia describes it, “it’s a podcast about belonging.”

Using a deeply personal lens, Garcia weaves her own story as a queer, first-generation Mexican immigrant, while using cultural analysis, social justice history, and real-time politics to explore the impact of Selena. Each episode, available in both English and Spanish, unwraps another layer on Garcia's journey "to understand what it means to love, mourn and remember Selena."

That journey begins at the border where Garcia was born in Juarez, Mexico, and later grew up in El Paso. “[It was] a place where for a long time, I felt divided in two,” she says in her podcast promo.

When she started attending school in El Paso, her schoolteachers anglicized her name to Mary. “This was the early '90s when assimilation was incredibly rewarded,” she says during a phone interview. Around the age of 7, Garcia discovered the rising star on television.

“Red lips, brown skin, big hoops, [Selena] was magnetic no matter what side of the border she was on,” Garcia explains.

Selena debuted on the music scene in 1981 as the lead singer of the band Selena y Los Dinos, which included members of her family. Later, after breaking out as a solo artist, she achieved stardom with songs like "Como la Flor" and "Amor Prohibido."

In 1995, Selena's life came to an end when she was shot and killed by Yolanda Saldivar, her friend and former boutique-store manager.

Pop music fans who may be unfamiliar with Selena's Spanish-language work may remember her posthumously released 1995 hit song "Dreaming of You." Two years later, the film Selena was released starring Jennifer Lopez in the title role, catapulting Lopez into international stardom.

Only nine when Selena died and 11 when the biopic was released, both had a formative impact on the young Garcia. “This [podcast] is like my dream,” she said in a phone interview. “I’ve been thinking of her all of my life.”

And so, when creating Anything for Selena, Garcia says she needed to tell the story from her own perspective, a goal she feels she has accomplished.

“I wanted to situate it in today,” the host says. “I didn’t want to make a podcast that was just looking back. I wanted to make a podcast that was helping us make meaning of our culture today, of the moment today, of our lives today with the insight of the last quarter-century since her death.”

The podcast will likely find a very public audience in San Antonio, a city where depictions of Selena are almost as ubiquitous as the Virgin Mary. But for Garcia, it's a personal homage to the superstar who helped inspire a little girl growing up in El Paso. Even today, Garcia still listens to Selena's greatest hits whenever she feels she needs a little motivation.

“I love 'La Carcacha',” she says. “It always makes me want to party.”

How about if you’re in a pensive mood?

“'No Me Queda Más',” she replies without skipping a beat.

---

The firs two episodes of Anything for Selena are now available for download at WBUR, NPR, Apple podcasts, Spotify, and more.

Photo by Randal Ford

Brené Brown rises strong with new podcast and exclusive Spotify deal

brené on spotify

For two decades, renowned Texas thought leader writer Brené Brown has delved into the human condition, studying and exploring themes such as courage, vulnerability, empathy, and shame. Her work has made her a national figure, a five-time New York Times bestselling author, and host of one of the most popular TED Talks of all time.

Now, Brown is leaping forward with her self-help work with an exclusive new multi-year deal with Spotify. The native Texan will host a new podcast, “Dare to Lead,” which will premiere exclusively on Spotify on October 19, according to a press release. Fans can also look for her beloved “Unlocking Us” podcast to move to Spotify in January 2021.

Brown said in a statement that it was “very important to me to build a podcast home where people could continue to listen for free.”

As for the podcast, “Dare to Lead” will feature conversations with “change-catalysts, culture-shifters and more than a few troublemakers who are innovating, creating, and daring to lead,” according to a statement. It mirrors Brown’s bestselling book of the same name.

“I've partnered with Spotify because I wanted a home for both podcasts,” Brown added, “and I wanted it to be a place that felt collaborative, creative, adventurous, and full of music — like my actual house, where you’d find guitar stands in every room and framed pictures of everyone from Willie Nelson and Aretha Franklin to Freddy Fender, Mick Jagger, and Angus Young hanging on my walls.”

In an added treat for those who love Yacht Rock (and who doesn’t, frankly?), Brown is taking over Spotify’s Yacht Rock Playlist and has added her favorite tunes (look for smart picks such as Christopher Cross, Doobie Brothers, TOTO, and more).

When she’s not overseeing her multimedia brand, podcasting, writing, hosting, and programming Spotify playlists, Brown is a visiting professor in management at UT's McCombs School of Business and serves as a research professor at the University of Houston where she holds the Huffington Foundation – Brené Brown Endowed Chair at The Graduate College of Social Work.

She is also the author of four other No. 1 New York Times bestselling books, including The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, Rising Strong, and Braving the Wilderness. Her 2010 “The Power of Vulnerability” TED Talk has consistently been rated one of the top five most-watched of all time, with more than 50 million views. She is also the first researcher to have a filmed talk on Netflix; her “The Call to Courage” debuted on the streaming service in 2019.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

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.