A Lookback At The 2014 Austin Food & Wine Festival

Covering the Austin Food & Wine Festival for the Daily Meal put a pip in my step for at least six weeks. It was like being Lois Lane on the scene of Superman saving Metropolis. Being a first time attendee of the Austin Food & Wine Festival meant morphing into a writing soldier was the only option.

After spending most of Friday attending the 3rd Annual Food Republic Interview Lounge, it was finally time to head over to the Taste of Texas Kickoff at Republic Square Park, which truly was a first-class tasting event. Chefs created signature dishes for guests to devour under live oak trees with a breeze. Almost as exciting as the food was listening to a live performance by Escort, which is a 17-piece award-winning disco orchestra.

Saturday and Sunday's Grand Tasting lasted from 12 – 4pm at Butler Park. As guests entered the H-E-B Grand Tasting Pavilion, they were welcomed by a talented deejay who even had sassy flashing lights surrounding his area. This is the exact moment the Tito's Vodka girls informed everyone they were giving away sunglasses and shots. This particular tent housed a variety of different wine vendors, as well as incredible food from highly respected chefs.

The grilling area seemed to make everyone stop in their tracks. Chef Tim Love stood on stage demonstrating how to grill exactly like... Tim Love. Please, feel excited. The lucky audience members each had their very own grill and a gigantic smile could be seen on each and every person's face. Other high profile chefs and television personalities in attendance were Ming Tsai, Georgia Pellegrini, Andrew Zimmern, Rick Bayless, Mark Oldman, Graham Elliot, and many more. Book signings were also available during different times throughout Saturday and Sunday.

Just when it seemed like a regular day, there was a fenced in mini-area with a pink ping pong table beside fluffy couches and chairs. This particular place even had ball boys wearing Keds with the shortest shorts ever. Girls in charge of drink happiness were wearing white tennis dresses while parading around in none other than ball-socks. Ball-socks are best for people who do not like their short socks sliding down into their shoes while playing tennis. Ball-socks have to be one of the most underrated inventions of all time.

While Saturday and Sunday were both incredibly wonderful, Saturday night's Rock Your Taco Showdown stole the show. There's nothing better than a park filled with chefs duking it out to beat reigning taco champion Tyson Cole of Uchi and Uchiko. While so many tacos possessed creative ingredients and impressive flavors, it was chef Richard Blais who took home the winning taco title with an octopus and lamb picadilo taco.

This year's Austin Food & Wine Festival was a glorious weekend filled with outstanding food and wine. The hard work of some of the country's most talented chefs made the Austin Food & Wine Festival an event to remember.