SXSW 2015 panel: Exploring the Museum of Food and Drink

Date/time: 3:30 p.m. Monday

The panelists: Dave Arnold, founder of the Museum of Food and Drink; Eliza Barclay, NPR reporter and editor; Emma Boast, program director for the Museum of Food and Drink; and Peter Kim, executive director of the Museum of Food and Drink

A SouthBites interactive panel at SXSW took a first look at the Museum of Food and Drink, a multi-million dollar project with an anticipated opening of 2019. It would be the first major museum devoted to food in the U.S.
Photo by Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. A SouthBites interactive panel at SXSW took a first look at the Museum of Food and Drink, a multi-million dollar project with an anticipated opening of 2019. It would be the first major museum devoted to food in the world.

The gist: Museums are devoted to art, science, history, sports and so many more specialized subjects within those disciplines, but so far there isn’t one big, independent institution specifically devoted to food and drink, Barclay said in her introduction of the panel. That’s where the in-the-works Museum of Food and Drink comes in: Arnold envisions his, Boast and Kim’s project to become the first major food and drink museum in the world, an ambitious undertaking that has an anticipated opening of 2019 in New York. Currently, the trio comprise the main staff of the nonprofit that will one day become the full-blown brick-and-mortar temple to all things food.

Arnold (creator and director of the Department of Culinary Technology at the International Culinary Center and recent author of a book about the art and science of the cocktail) said he first got the idea to open the interactive museum after a visit to the American Museum of Natural History, where an exhibit on Vietnam, with a cafe serving “slip-shod Vietnamese dishes,” sparked a big idea.

“We need a museum that teaches culture through food,” he said. It was a lightning bolt moment for him because, as he told the panel audience in his fast-talking way, “Food is a lens through which we can explore so many aspects of our lives.”

He coaxed Kim and Boast on board three years ago, but they still have a rather large hurdle to overcome. “A proper food museum should be the size of the Smithsonian or the Natural History Museum, but no one is just going to hand over 600 million to do it,” Kim said. The actual price tag for their vision is $25 million — not an easily attainable number, either.

The takeaway: The passionate, witty trio has a plan in place to make New York’s next great cultural institution happen, Kim said, which includes a traveling exhibition they already funded through Kickstarter and launched for crowds in 2013.

The star of this exhibit is a large, loud machine that doesn’t look like it has anything to do with food at first glance. They acquired a 3,200 lb. grain puffing machine after brainstorming ideas for exhibits and deciding that telling the story of breakfast cereal, one of the first heavily marketed foods in this country, would also help tell the story of food in industrialized America. The machine, Barclay said, was key to the production of many cereals, from Cheerios to Cocoa Puffs. “We have this thing to think for our cereal floating in milk, or to crunch,” she said.

One day, the puffing machine will become one of the anchor exhibits of the museum; in the meantime, it’s made for a riveting show for the Museum of Food and Drink founders. They talk about the history of cereal before turning on the machine for audiences, who are treated to “a multi-sensory experience,” Arnold said. “They hear the machine, they see it produce the cereal and they can then taste the cereal.”

That fully immersive, interactive show is at the heart of Arnold’s vision for the museum. He wants to make food fun — a tall order in this country considering that many of us, he said, think that food is an encumbrance of sorts, a means of survival that should be purchased as cheaply as possible. That attitude is, thankfully, changing. As people’s curiosity about food as more than just a form of nourishment increases, so will the need for an intellectual and cultural institution about food.

“We have a greater burden than the other museums out there because we have to provide people with unbiased information about a subject matter that directly affects their health, their everyday lives,” he said.

Hashtag: #SouthBites

Crispy chicken tacos, radish salad take top prize at Taco Takedown

Just hours before Paul Qui, Sean Brock and Nathan Myhrvold threw down the fanciest dinner of South by Southwest Interactive, Austin home cooks showed off their skills at a decidedly less high-end affair, the Taco Takedown at Shangri La.

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Not even all the tacos.

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Evin Cooper's radish salad was one component of her winning dish at Sunday's Taco Takedown at Shangri-La. Photo by Addie Broyles.
Evin Cooper’s radish salad was one component of her winning dish at Sunday’s Taco Takedown at Shangri-La. Photo by Addie Broyles.

More than 15 teams competed, serving everything from gumbo and Frito pie tacos to traditional mole and pulled pork tacos. Taking the top judges’ prize (I was one of them) was Austin blogger Evin Cooper who, with the help of her assistant (and best friend) Shelley Oswald, fried crispy chicken tacos to serve with this radish corn salad that was delicious enough to eat all on its own.

I asked her for the recipe, and she was happy to share it, and if you want to know how she fried the tacos, check out the Pioneer Woman-inspired tutorial on her blog, Food Good Laundry Bad (

Cooper notes that because there is no lettuce in this salad to get soggy, you can make it up to a day in advance of serving.

Radish Corn Salad

For the salad:
2 fresh jalapeños
2 cups sliced radishes
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 onion, diced
For the dressing:
2 limes, juiced and zested
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled
Fresh cilantro, salt and pepper, to taste

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a cookie pan with oil and set the peppers on it, then spray the peppers. When the oven is hot, roast the pepper until soft and slightly charred, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove and let cool.

While the peppers cool, wash and slice enough radishes to make 2 cups. Add 1 cup frozen corn (or more! Corn is awesome) and half a diced onion. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, remove the seeds and chop finely, then add to the salad and toss.

In a blender, add the lime juice and zest, garlic cloves and cilantro. Turn on the blender and slowly stream in the oil. Taste and add more oil or lime juice as needed, and add salt and pepper to taste. Toss the dressing with the salad and serve.

— From Evin Cooper, Food Good Laundry Bad (

SXSW: Paul Qui, Questlove talk culinary inspiration, why everyone should work the dish pit

On Saturday afternoon at the Driskill Hotel, several hundred attendees packed into a large ballroom for a conversation with Questlove, the musician, producer and food fanatic behind @cook4quest on Twitter, and Austin chef Paul Qui called “Life’s a (Dinner) Party: Channeling Culinary Creativity.”

Here are some of the highlights from their chat:

Paul Qui and Questlove spoke together at a South by Southwest Interactive panel on Saturday afternoon at the Driskill. Photo by Addie Broyles.
Paul Qui and Questlove spoke together at a South by Southwest Interactive panel on Saturday afternoon at the Driskill. Photo by Addie Broyles.

On ditching the ego and asking for help: “I’m smart enough to know when I’m too close to something to be able to see it clearly,” Questlove says. “That’s why I need feedback.” At Qui, staffers are asked to leave their egos at the door, including the namesake chef. They all are there to learn from one another.  His employees all train for both front and back of house, and “everybody gets a turn in the dish pit,” he says. “People don’t come to Qui to work for me; they are here to work with me.” Also, the motivation needs to be authentic or else the project will fail.

On the importance of collaboration: Questlove says that when he first got into food, around 2006, when he invested in a fried chicken truck, he realized that he could treat the culinary world just like he did the music world, which meant collaborating with anyone and everyone. He now hosts food salons and dinner parties to bring together his friends, who are often well-known thinkers and influencers who aren’t necessarily in the food space. A synesthesia experience happens when they share how flavors make them feel.

The Austin’s food truck scene: “…is totally on fleek,” Questlove says. He also has moved on from Stubb’s to Sam’s for barbecue but said he enjoyed eating Terry Black’s Barbecue today.

On sources of inspiration: Colors, photography, travel, other chefs are all sources of inspiration for Qui, and for Questlove, it’s all about collaboration.

On hustling: Qui started his first side project, East Side King, when he was still working at Uchiko. He’d go to work on East Side King at the Liberty Bar when his shift was over at Uchiko or on his days off. He’d bike food all up and down East Sixth Street to spread the word. “During the first years of my career, I never said no.”

On running a micro-restaurant: Qui said that it doesn’t make economical sense for most restaurant to open small spaces, like the 12-seat Otoko, an omakase-style restaurant to open inside the South Congress Hotel this summer. But the fewer the seats, the more attention to detail you can give each customer, the more flexible you can be with the menu and, ultimately, the more memorable the experience.

On the lengths they’ll go to for good food: Questlove worked for seven months to score a seat at the restaurant featured in “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” for his birthday. He was so excited, he got up at 5 a.m. for an 11 a.m. reservation. “He makes 18 pieces of food and hands it to you. With five guys behind him, he stands in front of you as you eat each piece.”

Share your SXSW food discoveries through #Austin360Eats

South by Southwest 2015 is finally upon us, and that means that more breakfast tacos, brisket and cold-brew coffee will be consumed in the next 10 days than any other time of year.

If you’re a local, that means you might be sticking to restaurants in your neck of the woods, like Kin & Comfort, the fusion restaurant inside Hana World Market on Parmer Lane that is hosting a pop-up trailer downtown during SXSW and whose panang macaroni and cheese with white cheddar, curry beef and red kale @atxeats enjoyed last week.

But if you’re visiting, you might be staying closer to the action downtown with dinner at the newly opened Counter 3 Five VII, a prix fixe restaurant at 315 Congress Ave. Austinite @alekszandreeah was there last weekend, enjoying this seafood stew with saffron and ocean consommeé from chef Lawrence Kocurek.

Not sure where to go? Check out the #Austin360Eats hashtag on Instagram to find out what Austinites in the know are eating around our fair city, and add the hashtag to your photos to show off what you’ve found while you’re here. (And use Matthew Odam’s very extensive SXSW dining guide.) I’ll be posting from

Happy eating and posting!

Austin360Cooks: Brisket Banh Mi from @crawfoods

We’re seeing banh mi flavors in lots of places, from tacos and rice bowls to sliders, but I loved how Lorraine and Doyle Crawford, who Instagram as @crawfoods, took it one step further recently by adding brisket to this traditional Vietnamese sandwich.

Although most of us would end up buying a few slices of fatty ’cue from one of our favorite barbecue joints to recreate this at home, the Crawfords describe themselves as “underground meat wizards” on this social media platform, where you can find photos of their concoctions, from grilled octopus and thick-cut lamb chops to steak tartare and short rib sandwich.

You can share photos of what you’re making in the kitchen this week by adding #Austin360Cooks to your photos on social media. We feature the best ideas, recipes and images in each week’s food section. Eating out? Use #Austin360Eats.

Houston representative files bill that would require GMO labeling

Remember California’s Prop 37?

That was the 2012 ballot measure that would have required food companies to label which foods contain genetically modified organisms.

(CORRECTION: I originally posted the incorrect year that Prop 37 was on the ballot in California.)

The hotly contested proposal sparked a national dialogue about GMOs in our food, but despite millions spent lobbying on its behalf (and even more from its opponents), the proposition failed by less than three percent of the votes.

Earlier this week, Texas state representative Carol Alvarado (D-Houston) filed HB 3499, a similar mandatory labeling legislation.

According to the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, a proponent of the bill, states including Connecticut, Maine and Vermont, as well as sixty-four other countries, have already passed GMO labeling laws.

Opponents to this kind of labeling, including GMO Answers, which has organized an already controversial South by Southwest Interactive panel on Saturday called “Can Common Food Goals Find Common Ground?“, says that there is no scientific proof that GMOs cause any harm to consumers.

FDA issues advisory after listeria found in some Blue Bell products


bluebellHealth officials in Kansas have linked five cases of listeriosis to a handful of ice cream products from the Brenham-based Blue Bell Creameries.

Blue Bell ice cream (cups, pints and half gallons) is not affected, but lab tests discovered the presence of listeria monocytogenes in three products — Country Cookie, Great Divide and Scoops — from one of the production lines in Brenham, about two hours from Austin. Blue Bell has already removed these products from stores, but the products could still be in consumers’ fridges.

The FDA has issued an advisory, and here is the full release from the Texas Department of Health and Human Services about the situation.

The FDA today issued a consumer advisory about certain Blue Bell ice cream products made in Texas. The notice was issued after several confirmed cases of Listeriosis in Kansas were linked to products made on a single production line at the Blue Bell Creameries plant in Brenham.

Blue Bell has stopped production and distribution of ice cream products from that line and has removed them from stores and any other retail outlets. The advisory does not include Blue Bell cups, pints or half gallons. The affected products include the following novelty items made on the line:


  • Chocolate Chip Country Cookie
  • Great Divide Bar
  • Sour Pop Green Apple Bar
  • Cotton Candy Bar
  • Scoops
  • Vanilla Stick Slices
  • Almond Bar
  • No Sugar Added Mooo Bar (regular Mooo Bars are not included)

Consumers should not eat these items and should discard any of these products they may have in their freezers.

Recent laboratory tests of three ice cream products from the Brenham production line – Country Cookie, Great Divide and Scoops – indicated the presence of Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium that can cause severe illness. The company is calling back additional ice cream items because they were made on the same production line.

Symptoms of Listeriosis can include fever, muscle aches, diarrhea and vomiting. People with these symptoms should consult a physician. Symptoms typically occur three to 70 days after exposure. The disease affects primarily older people, pregnant women, newborns and people with weakened immune systems.

Listeriosis is required to be reported in Texas. No Texas cases have been reported in connection to any Blue Bell products. In 2014, Texas had 19 confirmed cases of Listeriosis. Texas has had two reported cases so far this year.

Blue Bell, headquartered in Brenham, has been licensed in Texas as a frozen dessert manufacturer since 1981, when the state enacted the frozen dessert licensing requirement. Texas inspects these facility types monthly. No enforcement action has been taken against the facility, and it is operating in compliance with food safety laws.

Texas continues to work closely with the FDA and with Blue Bell Creameries to gather additional information and ensure the items have been removed from stores.


Food & Tech mixer brings together innovators at SXSW

South by Southwest is all about the networking, which can be hard to do without a badge, but the folks behind Harvard Common Press and Food & Tech Connect in Boston are hosting a food and technology reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at El Naranjo, 85 Rainey St.

They’ve held this event for several years to bring together Austinites and out-of-towners who want to geek out about the latest innovations in the food world, from app development to community building. The event is free and open to anyone, and you can RSVP at

Rachael Ray’s party returns with Austin-inspired menu, including chipotle grilled corn

Rachael Ray has been hosting a Feedback party during South by Southwest Music for the past seven years. She returns this year on March 21. Photo from The Door.
Rachael Ray has been hosting a Feedback party during South by Southwest Music for the past seven years. She returns this year on March 21. Photo from The Door.

One of the highlights of all the South by Southwest festivities is Rachael Ray’s Feedback party at Stubb’s, which will return for the eighth year from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 21, at Stubb’s, 801 Red River Street.

The queen of the Food Network, who also brings her enthusiasm for music, pets, entertaining and travel to her daytime talk show, develops an Austin-inspired menu for the event, which is always free and open to the public. (Ray always says that the event is her way of saying thanks to one of her favorite cities in the world for being such a vibrant place that celebrates people being who they are.)

Her husband’s band, The Cringe, and their friend Bob Schneider, who play the party every year, will be joined by headliners Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes and Stone Temple Pilot/Velvet Revolver frontman Scott Weiland. (Click here to find the rest of the lineup.)

This year’s menu includes Blue Moon Beer-Brined Smoked BBQ Chicken, Hard Shell Taco with The Works, SXHD…in a Blanket (South by Hot Dogs), Spicy Sliders with Barbecued Onions and Grilled Corn Off the Cobb with Chipotle Cream.

If you don’t feel like heading downtown (and, let’s be honest, standing in line to get in), here’s the recipe for the grilled corn. You can find out more about the event at and RSVP at

Grilled Corn Off the Cobb with Chipotle Cream

You can make your own chipotle cream for a dish like this, but it’s also a good time to pull out a jar of Charles Mayes’ Austin Josie jarred chipotle aioli or another chipotle dip or spread.

1 cup cream
1 chipotle in adobo sauce, seeded and finely chopped, 1 teaspoon adobo sauce reserved
Zest and juice of 1 lime, divided
1/2 cup mild crumbling cheese such as queso fresco, Asadero or Cotija, for topping
1/2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
1 scallion, finely sliced
2 teaspoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
4 ears corn, husks and silk removed
Pre-heat the grill to medium-high.

In a small saucepot over a low flame, heat and reduce the cream, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce and lime zest until thick and flavors come together, about 15 minutes. Reserve and keep warm.

While the cream is reducing, mix the crumbled cheese, oregano, scallion and cilantro together in a small bowl and set aside.

Grill the corn until the kernels begin to char evenly. When the corn comes off the grill, let cool slightly and cut the corn off the cobb. Place a spoonful of corn in a bowl, drizzle with the chipotle cream sauce, sprinkle with the cheese mixture and serve with a squeeze of lime. Serves 4.

— Rachael Ray

New mostly organic meals from Michael Angelo’s in Round Rock

I’m out in sunny Southern California this week for Expo West, a big natural foods trade show that draws dozens of Austin food businesses.

Later this month, I’ll have a much bigger story about the consumer packaged good industry in Central Texas (that’s all those food and beverage products you see on grocery store shelves), but today, here’s a little info about a new line of products from Michael Angelo’s Gourmet Foods, the Round Rock-based frozen food company whose products are available from coast to coast. Michael-Angelo-s-Made-with-Organic-Image---Eggplant-Parmesan

Instead of going with a fully organic line, Michael Angelo’s is now selling frozen meals that are made with 70 percent or more organic ingredients.

This level of organic doesn’t quality for an official label from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but it’s still going to appeal to customers who are trying to eat more organics.

The Made with Organic line features nine meals: lasagna with meat sauce, eggplant Parmesan, vegetable lasagna, chicken Parmesan, baked ziti with meatballs, chicken alfredo, four cheese lasagna, manicotti and turkey sausage lasagna.

The meals cost about $5 each, and you can find out more about them at

I’ll be finding out about all kinds of new products at Expo West over the next few days, and you can follow along on Twitter or Instagram.