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SXSW’s Food Track Explored Technology and Hip-Hop’s Impact on the Industry

There were more than 40 food sessions in this year’s festival food track

GSPhotography / Shutterstock

SXSW food sessions also explored other topics such as food waste and sustainability.

This past week, South by Southwest festivalgoers had the chance to experience not only music and film, but also learn about the latest innovations in the food world. The festival’s food track included big names in the industry, such as Christina Tosi of Milk Bar and Padma Lakshmi of Top Chef. Over the course of more than 40 food sessions, speakers were able to touch on the relationship between food, technology, and hip-hop and the comeback of cocktail culture.


Food and Technology

In the “How AI/Machine Learning Will Change the Way We Eat” panel, speakers (including Bernard Lahousse of Foodpairing, Gregory Druck of Yummly, Ankit Brahmbhatt of Innit, and Brita Rosenheim of Rosenheim Advisors) talked about how technology can help chefs create unique flavor combinations that humans might not think of intuitively, The Austin Chronicle reported.


“What we noticed,” Lahousse said in the panel, “is that chefs knew they could make certain combinations work, but they wouldn’t try them until a combination confirmed it. One chef told me he loved caviar with ketchup, but as a Michelin-starred chef would never dare to serve such a strange combination without the confirmation from the algorithm that he wasn't crazy.”


Food and Hip-Hop

In the “Stay Hungry: Increasing Diversity With Food and Hip Hop” panel, featuring Candace Queen of Meroë & Co, Darian Harvin of BuzzFeed News, Ellie Simone of SheChef, and Syreeta Gates of The Gates Preserve, speakers went in-depth on the subject of ethnic minority enrollment in culinary schools. Speakers also spoke about the strong ties hip-hop and food have in communities and how they are even more powerful when they are merged together through events and programming.


“Representation is very important. If you don’t see yourself in something, you don’t see yourself in something,” Gates said. “[The children] get to meet these chef coaches, seeing themselves represented in a plethora of ways that will get them to start thinking about their life outside the food desert.”



SXSW festivities will continue to run through March 19. To read about what to eat during the rest of the SXSW conference and festival, click here.