Thursday, March 17, 2011

Refreshed Austin Restaurant Week stimulates palates and economy

Addition of brunch, wine pairings, gluten free options, first bi-annual Austin Restaurant Awards and smartphone app keeps sixth season from going stale

Austin, TX (March 16, 2011) - Soon, the city’s finest restaurants will be the center of attention during the much anticipated Austin Restaurant Week. This epic epicurean semi-annual event refuses to go stale in its sixth season with an introduction of an innovative menu of fresh options such as: brunch, wine pairings, gluten free options, the first annual Austin Restaurant Awards, a crowd sourced charity selection and an app for iPhones, iPads and Androids. March 27 -30 and April 3- 6, over 75 A-list restaurants will open their arms to curious culinary admirers, serving up stellar prix fixe three-course dinners ($25 $35), lunches ($10-$15), and a new brunch option ($15-$20). Austin Restaurant Week is quickly becoming a tradition that spurs both locals and out of town diners to revisit old favorites and, best of all, try new places that stimulate both the economy and the palate.

Restaurant week is an opportunity for eateries to provide an affordable snapshot of what they do best and attract new diners. According to data collected by OpenTable Inc., an online restaurant reservation service, nearly two-thirds of diners who participated in restaurant weeks nationwide said they were likely to return to the restaurants they visited, and more than 70 percent would recommend the restaurant to others. Austin Restaurant Week is a diversified cross-section of Austin’s vibrant and growing restaurant scene including old favorites such as historic Paggi House, Jeffrey’s, Green Pastures, Fabi and Rosi, Aquarelle, Uchiko, Perry’s and Parkside alongside and new additions such as Haddigton’s, Trace at The W and more.

To help navigate the appetizing adventure, Austin Restaurant Week commissioned graphic designer Bart Kibbe of Rival Creative and the Austin-based Big Momma Apps to create an innovative and interactive smart phone app, reflective of Austin’s early adaptive tech scene as well as with the city’s growing culinary creativity. “We wanted the event to reach its full potential by inciting more interaction from participating foodies and attendees,” said Austin Restaurant Week Executive Directory and Founder Tyler Perkins. “We looked at what we thought would activate more people with Austin Restaurant Week, and an app was a no-brainer. We are very excited to be going digital.” Many tech savvy patrons already utilize social media such as Twitter, Facebook and Food Spotting. Now, with a simple click of a button, diners will also be able to create their own profiles, invite friends via forwarded invitations, book reservations, read reviews, read menus, and map out locations for all of the participating restaurants.

To conclude this flavorful week, the city’s favorite chefs, restaurants, and restaurant owners will be honored at The First Annual Austin Restaurant Awards (April 17). The Austin Restaurant Wrap Party for restaurateurs, chefs, staff, and media will follow. At the wrap party, a local charities selected by the Austin community will receive a portion (amounting up to $5,000) of the week’s proceeds. “The underlying purpose of Austin Restaurant Week has been and always will be to strengthen the ties between the community, local restaurants and non-profits,” shared Perkins.

Chef John Besh Kicks Off the Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival & Debuts New Cooking Show on American Public Television

AUSTIN, TX (March 17, 2011)— TV Personality and chef John Besh will kick off the four-day culinary showdown at the Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival, headlining the Stars Across Texas Classic, Thursday, March 31, a supreme tasting event showcasing 25 top chefs from the Lone Star State set to the tune of fine wines and spirits—both Texan and international.Besh’s benchmark New Orleans’ fine dining restaurants extended to Texas last fall with the opening of Lüke San Antonio River Walk. His list of culinary accolades includes the James Beard Award for Best Chef of the Southeast, Top 10 Best New Chefs by Food & Wine Magazine, finalist on the Food Network’s “The Next Iron Chef” and the winner of “Iron Chef America,” besting renowned TV Chef Mario Batali.

Besh’s latest television endeavor, “Chef John Besh's New Orleans,” debuts in April on American Public Television.Besh will pay homage to the Big Easy in the new cooking series, which will begin airing nationwide this April on Public Television Stations (check local listings).

Chef Besh’s world-class, award-winning cuisine springs from roots deep in the food culture of his southern Louisiana heritage. The series, shot in high definition, is a tribute to and celebration of the food he loved as a boy growing up on the bayous, refined in his years of study in America and Europe, and brought back home where his six New Orleans based restaurants are indelible parts of Louisiana’s restaurant landscape. During the series, John offers New Orleans classics along with contemporary dishes for a rich gumbo of cooking technique, food history, and personal memories. The breakdown of the episodes and more can be found here.

Each half-hour episode, shot at the WYES New Orleans studios, will draw from Chef Besh’s cookbook, My New Orleans: 200 of My Favorite Recipes and Stories from My Hometown (McMeel), which was nominated for a 2010 James Beard Foundation Award. He will release his next cookbook, My Family Table, in November 2011.

Chef Besh has been the recipient of numerous top industry accolades, including the James Beard Award for Best Chef of the Southeast, Food & Wine magazine’s “Top 10 Best Chefs in America,” Food Arts Silver Spoon Award and the Louisiana Restaurant Association’s 'Restaurateur of the Year.’ Gourmet magazine twice rated restaurant August in its “America's Top 50 Restaurants.”

He has also represented New Orleans on several popular television series including “Iron Chef America,” “Top Chef,” “Top Chef Masters,” “The Today Show,” “The Paula Deen Show,” “CBS Early Show,” “Martha Stewart,” and the “Rachael Ray” show. Chef Besh also hosted a recent TLC series, “Inedible to Incredible.”

About John Besh
Married and father of four boys, Chef Besh, is proprietor of six award-winning restaurants in New Orleans - August; Lüke; Besh Steak; Domenica; American Sector, which is located on the campus of the National World War II Museum; and La Provence, a rural restaurant in Lacombe, Louisiana. Most recently his first restaurant opened outside of Louisiana, Lüke San Antonio. In addition to his culinary expertise, Chef Besh is a proud U.S. military veteran. After attending the Culinary Institute of America and apprenticeships in Germany and France, Besh led a squad of infantry marines in combat to liberate the Kuwait International Airport during Operation Desert Storm as a non-commissioned officer of the United States Marine Corps Reserve. He is also deeply involved in several charitable organizations in New Orleans.

About WYES
WYES was founded in 1953 on one fundamental idea: that education could be enhanced and made available to all through technology. It was the first public television station serving Louisiana and Mississippi, the 12th in the nation, and is the most utilized non-profit organization in our two states with over a half-million people using our broadcasts, outreach activities and web site each week. It charges no fees, constructs no barriers as it strives to be the most accessible educational, artistic and cultural resource in southeast Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

About APT
American Public Television (APT) has been a leading distributor of high-quality, top-rated programming to America’s public television stations since 1961. In 2009, APT distributed 56 of the top 100 highest-rated public television titles. Among its 300 new program titles per year are prominent documentaries, news and current affairs programs, dramatic series, how-to programs, children’s series and classic movies, including For Love of Liberty: The Story of America’s Black Patriots, A Ripple of Hope Rick Steves' Europe, Newsline, Globe Trekker, Simply Ming, America's Test Kitchen From Cook’s Illustrated, Lidia's Italy, P.Allen Smith's Garden Home, Murdoch Mysteries, Doc Martin, Rosemary and Thyme, Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, The Great American Songbook and John Denver: The Wildlife Concert. APT also licenses programs internationally through its APT Worldwide service. In 2006, APT launched Create® – the TV channel featuring the best of public television's lifestyle programming. APT is also a partner in the WORLD™ channel expansion project including its web presence at For more information about APT’s programs and services, visit for more information on Create, visit

Wyes Media Contact:
Aislinn Hinyup, WYES Promotion Manager, (504) 838-0364,

John Besh Contact:
Kendra Borowski, The Door, (212) 905-6196,

Lüke San AntonioContact:
Paula Biehler, Crave Communications, (512)328-3935,

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Another Great Grilling Season!

With these mild evenings, I find myself doing more and more outdoor cooking. There is nothing better than grilling hamburgers, sausages, brats, hot dogs, steaks and so many other wonderful meats. Also, I enjoy smoking briskets, chickens and pork butts.

Over the years, I have cooked up many wonderful meals on my Weber grill. There are those who will tell you can't smoke brisket with propane. I say, "Hogwash!" You can smoke using a gas grill if you know the secret.

I know I haven't been writing a lot about grilling recently and certainly haven't been posting a lot on Youtube. Well, that will change. I will be sharing a lot of my favorite recipes and talking about some serious grilling and smoking using my Weber.

The first thing is to get a your grills ready for the season. That means cleaning the grill surface, removing the grease and generally getting the grill back in shape. In Texas, it gets really warm outside and the last thing you want to do is heat up the house using the oven. Start cooking outside and enjoy the experience. Cooking outdoors is great way to help the wife with meals while enjoying the smell and sounds of sizzling meat on the grill.

During the summer, hamburgers and hot dogs are mainstays for grilling. I also enjoy grilling Italian sausages. Saute some onions and green bell peppers. Add some marinara sauce and a bun. You got a party in minutes. Also, there is nothing like adding grilled Italian sausages to a spaghetti dinner. The smokey flavor of the sausage gives the sauce a little something you can't get anywhere else. Take it from me. It is worth the time to grill.