March 1, 2018

SXSW – short for South by Southwest – is one of the major cultural experiences of the year. The event transcends classification in a single category by offering a variety of film, music and interactive media festivals and conferences. The diverse offerings also include other showcases for arts, performances and discussions, including food.

Many Austin culinary arts students are already well aware of the event’s reputation, but a look at the offerings from leading chefs during the 2018 edition of SXSW can be an exciting opportunity to review recent developments in the profession. It’s also a chance to find and use some new ideas for your own dishes.

Woman picking peppers from baskets.Chefs will cover a wide variety of topics at SXSW 2018.

Highlighting the food-focused events at SXSW 2018

This year’s event includes about 50 different discussions, conferences, demonstrations and presentations related to growing, eating and professionally cooking food. You can check out the schedule to see the entire list. Let’s look at a few select events on this year’s calendar:

The Restaurant of the Future

A look at the way rising costs of everything from labor to raw ingredients are already forcing restaurant owners to take new approaches to operating an eatery, and what adaptations may be needed to survive. The discussion will compare standard operating procedures from the recent past to current and possible future models, as well as the impact of factors like government food and climate policy, social and economic change, consumer preferences and developing technology. Panel participants include Arielle Johnson from the MIT Media Lab and Mitchell Davis from the James Beard Foundation.

Mesopotamia to Millennials: Beer & Food Connection

The enduring relationship between food and beer is the focus for this panel, which uses many thousands of years of human history as a backdrop to discuss a number of issues relevant to today’s chefs and culinary arts students. Areas of discussion include eliminating waste and developing new pairing menus. Plenty of industry insiders are on the panel, such as Caroline Wallace, deputy director of the Texas Craft Brewers Guild and co-author of “Trappist Beer Travels,” and Richard Martin, editor in chief of Food Republic.

The Evolution of the Eating Ecosystem

Hosted by Tyler Florence, celebrity chef and technology entrepreneur, attendees at this panel will learn about how a variety of different tools and information systems have drastically shifted the way people approach food. Online recipes, new kitchen appliances and many other topics are on the docket. Florence will introduce innovators working at the crossroads of tech and food and discuss how they’ll impact the future of eating.

Women Who Create & Curate Culinary Careers

Focused on the women chefs and head cooks who make up close to 20 percent of the total industry, this event looks at how female leaders in the restaurant world have developed and curated notable careers. The conversation includes a forward-thinking component focused on how the progress made by women chefs are making things more equal for people of diverse backgrounds interested in entering the world of professional cooking. Panelists include Santana Caress Benitez of I’ll Cook Like Your Mother and Ashley Holt, founder and owner of Sugar Monster Sweets.

The Community, Culture & Science of Barbecue

Presented in conjunction with Texas A&M, this panel looks at a favorite cooking method across America: barbecue. The discussion covers both the loving culture that has risen around barbecue and scientific tips for creating the best beef brisket possible. Panel participants include Dr. Davey Griffin, a meat science professor and meat specialist at Texas A&M’s Extension program, and Jess Pryles, an author, cook and self-proclaimed hardcore carnivore.