Feast Portland Eats Austin, Texas
This May, Austin, Texas is getting the Feast treatment (kind of), when the Portland food fest’s co-founder Mike Thelin unleashes Hot Luck Texas with Franklin Barbecue’s Aaron Franklin and Fun Fun Fun Fest head James Moody. The new food-by-day, music-by-night festival will take over clubs and restaurants around Austin May 18–21.
“[The three of us have long talked about creating a] food festival that really celebrates the intersection between chef culture and music culture,” says Thelin, who co-founded Feast Portland in 2012 with Carrie Welch. “Look at places with good food— New Orleans, Austin, Portland—and you find good music. They’re intertwined.”
Departing from the clunky, commonplace mode of “throwing a band in the corner and serving food,” the hybrid fest will feature a Feast Portland-like array of a la cart opportunities for Texas-style gluttony during the day and pack Austin clubs and venues with bands each night—“old MusicfestNW style.” “It’ll be a little more rock 'n' roll than Feast,” Thelin laughs. “We’re just a bunch of food dorks who get really excited about all things food.”
Austin ‘cue royalty and longtime Feast participant Franklin will woo chefs and curate the “food point of view,” while Moody will book the music shows. Thelin has enlisted the Feast Portland team to produce the food half of the fest—which may include everything from large-scale live fire cooking to taco truck takeovers and intimate Tex Mex cafe dinners with a gallery of national and international chefs.
As for Hot Luck’s nightly shows, Thelin says to look to Moody’s super eclectic Fun Fun Fun fest for a blueprint, but on smaller scale—maybe a mix of outlaw country meets cool hip-hop and great punk rock. “When I went to Fun Fun Fun in 2014, I saw 2 Chainz, Nas, Modest Mouse, Dinosaur Jr., and Judas Priest in one day,” Thelin says. "That gives you a sense of the kind of brain Moody has—the level of diversity he brings.”
Feast Portland attendees are already familiar with a handful of the Lone Star state’s best chefs. The Stumptown food fest has hosted at least 20 chefs from around Texas over the years—Launderette’s Rene Ortiz to Top Chef contestant John Tesar. Thelin sees Hot Luck as the next step for the Feast crew, which has evolved into a full year-round production company. This may be the first of other new events created by the team.
While Franklin is keen to make sure Austin’s “sense of place” is fully represented, Thelin isn’t forgetting about the Rose City: “Rest assured, there will Portland chefs involved,” he says. “There will be fist bumps to Portland throughout the festival.”
Arguably more exciting for locals is Thelin’s hint that the Austin-Portland love affair will continue at the 2017 edition of Feast Portland, slated for September 14–17. “You’ll probably see little bits of Hot Luck popping up at Feast,” he teases. Until then, relive the highbrow gluttony here.