Austin360Cooks and SXSW: Will home cooking lose to takeout, delivery?

If I’ve learned anything from this year’s SXSW, it is that it’s easier than ever to *not* cook.

I had a panel on Monday with Phil Lempert, the Supermarket Guru, Anna Tauzin Rice of the Texas Restaurant Association and Jag Bath, CEO of Favor, where we talked for an hour about all the new ways that consumers are getting food today: In a box or bag delivered to their front door, in every state of production, from a CSA box with produce fresh from the field to an online grocery delivery from Instacart to a hot meal from Favor to a meal kit from Blue Apron.

And that’s just how we’re getting food at home, which is the cooking (or not-cooking) space I occupy with this beat at the newspaper.

How, where and why we buy food has changed at every meal — and every minute of snacking in between. Earlier in the conference, I heard a conversation led by Epicurious editor David Tamarkin about the state of cooking and what we can or should do about it.

The panelists all had interesting answers. Go to Facebook to watch our livestreams, said the Food Network producer. Buy our meal kits, said the meal kit founder. The rep from 365 by Whole Foods Market on the panel: Come to our grocery store to buy fresh ingredients to cook, a meal kit or a fully prepared meal that requires no cooking at all.

I’m not sure how cooking at home — and therefore my everyday work in this field — will evolve as these revolutionary changes come down the pipeline, but it was good to go over so many aspects of the food system in some very good panels at this year’s SXSW.

One last SXSW observation before I take off for spring break: A number of attendees I talked with were perturbed by the panels in the food track and beyond that were led by people from the same company, which always feel like thinly veiled commercials that provide no real benefit for the audience.

Prospective panelists for next year should read this story I wrote about the four D’s of a great SXSW panel, but in general, the programming was pretty good this year.

This coconut rice and Thai beef uses the lighter, drinkable coconut milk, not the thicker coconut milk available in cans. Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

To get you back into your kitchen if you haven’t been in awhile, check out this coconut rice and Thai beef dish that was our recipe of the week on Sunday. I’m starting to gather readers’ favorite at-home takeout replacement recipes through #Austin360Cooks, so if you have any dishes you love to make that other people might order for take-out, post a pic of it on Instagram with that hashtag. I’ll be publishing them in print in the next few weeks!

Coconut Rice and Thai Beef

Coconut milk is more common in American households than ever before, thanks to wider availability of both the thicker, canned coconut milk and the lighter drinkable coconut milk that is sold near the soy and almond milks.

This recipe from “Posh Rice: Over 70 Recipes for All Things Rice” by Emily Kydd (Quadrille, $19.99) wisely uses the thinner coconut milk as the liquid in which to cook a flavorful bed of rice for seared, thinly sliced beef. Both components are infused with Thai flavors, from the bird’s-eye chili to the Thai basil, fish sauce and rice vinegar.

It’s a great way to use up any pickled red onions you might already have in a jar in the fridge, and instead of the sirloin tip steak, you could use a flank steak or a London broil. This dish serves two, so double if you’re feeding more than that or would like leftovers.

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon jasmine or white long-grain rice
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
7 ounces coconut milk (from a refrigerated carton, not full-fat from a can)
3 tablespoons plain rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/4 medium red onion or 1/2 small red onion
1 (7-ounce) piece flap meat/sirloin tip, about 3/4-inch thick
Sunflower oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Thai (bird’s-eye) chili pepper
1 clove garlic
1/2 lime
Pinch sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 small bunch Thai basil (may substitute green/Genovese basil)
Leaves from 4 to 6 cilantro stems

For the dish: Combine the rice, a pinch of salt and the coconut milk in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until tender and the liquid has been absorbed. Turn off the heat, cover and let the pot sit for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, stir together the vinegar, sugar, the 1/4 teaspoon of salt and the water in a medium bowl. Cut the onion into very thin slices, then add to the bowl, making sure they’re submerged.

Heat a cast-iron skillet or grill pan over high heat. Rub the steak with a little oil, then season lightly with salt and pepper. Add to the pan and cook for about 2 minutes on each side, so the steak is pink at the center (medium-rare; 145 degrees on an instant-read thermometer). Transfer to a cutting board to rest.

Uncover the rice and fluff with a fork. Drain the onion slices and discard all their liquid except for 2 tablespoons, which you’ll place in a large liquid measuring cup for the dressing.

Stem and seed the chili pepper, then cut crosswise into very thin slices; add to the cup. Crush and mince the garlic and add to the cup. Squeeze a tablespoon of juice from the lime half, then add the sugar and fish sauce, stirring to incorporate.

Coarsely chop the Thai basil and cilantro leaves. Uncover the rice; add those herbs to the rice, then pour the dressing over and toss gently to incorporate.

Cut the meat into thin slices or bite-size chunks, as you like. Divide the dressed rice and meat between individual bowls. Top each portion with some of the quick-pickled onion. Serve warm, or at room temperature. Serves 2.

— Adapted from “Posh Rice: Over 70 Recipes for All Things Rice” by Emily Kydd (Quadrille, $19.99)

SXSW Food: Taste-testing a meatless burger, s’mores yogurt bar

I’ve been in the thick of SXSW for the past few days, soaking up lots of interesting stuff in the panels and trying a few cool new foodstuffs.

To be honest, there aren’t quite as many food activations at South by Southwest this year, even though the food programming itself has grown into a healthy track over at the Driskill Hotel. (The panels filling up early without a one in/one out policy, however, isn’t going over so well with attendees, which is another story for another day.)

At the Create & Cultivate day party over on East Cesar Chavez today, I had two fun food experiences. The first was trying a meatless burger from Impossible Foods, a San Francisco-based company that sells a hamburger-like product that you can shape and cook into anything you’d make with ground beef. Impossible was giving away sliders with caramelized onions that tasted surprisingly like the real thing, but with that signature fake meat aftertaste. That hazy meat analog taste is common in all of these products, and the Impossible meat substitute had less of it than others I’ve tried.

The Colorado-based Noosa had a s’mores bar at the Create & Cultivate event on East Cesar Chavez today. I made this one with their Mexican chocolate yogurt. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

The other fun experience was a yogurt s’mores bar from Noosa, whose founder Koel Thomae was on site to answer alllllll of my questions about how they developed a sweet/spicy yogurt that I tried recently on my livestream taste test and why they’ll never go into the weird world of low- and no-fat yogurt. (Yes, I have a bias against them. Reduced fat yogurt, like most reduced fat products, aren’t filling, the texture is off and the amount of added sugar to make up for the lack of flavor with the fat makes the yogurt taste way too sweet.)

But I do like overly sweet yogurt when it’s served like dessert, and this s’mores-inspired yogurt creation — with the roasted marshmallow and little pieces of chocolate on a cup of Noosa’s Mexican chocolate yogurt — made me feel like we were having dessert at a high-end restaurant.

Follow along on my SXSW adventures on Twitter or Instagram, where I’ve been posting.


Weezer, queso on the cob to headline 10th annual Rachael Ray Feedback party

It’s been 10 years since a little ol’ Food Network host named Rachael Ray decided she loved our weird little city enough to host a big SXSW party in its honor.

That’s a decade of crazy lines to get in, but free (and surprisingly delicious) food and stellar music once you get there.

Rachael Ray and husband John Cusimano have hosted the Rachael Ray Feedback party during South by Southwest for 10 years. Suzanne Cordeiro/For American-Statesman

This year, Ray and husband John Cusimano have put together another Rachael Ray Feedback party that will draw thousands to Stubb’s, 801 Red River St., on Saturday, March 18 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Ray just tweeted out the poster for this year’s Feedback party with the band lineup: Weezer, De La Soul, Action Bronson, Margo Price, The Districts, Benjamin Booker, Bob Schneider, The Drums, The Cringe, Caitlyn Smith, Gutxi Bibang, Big Thief, Radkey, Lolo

The menu at this year’s Rachael Ray Feedback party includes lots of queso and two kinds of nachos. Contributed by Rachael Ray

Her promotion team also gave me the list of food that will be served at next week’s party:

  • TexMex TOTchos (Tater Tot Nachos)
  • Panchos con Queso (Hot Dogs with Queso)
  • Queso on the Cobb (Corn with Queso)
  • Nachos con Chorizo & Queso Suprema (Nachos with Chorizo and Queso)

This feels like the first year we haven’t seen a barbecue item on the menu, but with all that queso, I don’t think you’ll hear many complaints.

PHOTOS: A-list: Rachael Ray’s Feedback party, SXSW 2016, 03.19.16 

The food at the Rachael Ray party is always free, and it’s almost always hot and good, a feat considering how many people they serve. The event started on Sixth Street in 2008, but moved to Stubb’s about six years ago. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Last year, Ray hosted her first Feedback event outside of Austin, but no word yet on if the Chicago Feedback event will take place this summer or not.



Rachael Ray officially joins SXSW, but why did it take so long?

Rachael Ray, seen here with Jimmy Kimmel and Billy Gibbons at one of her unofficial SXSW parties, will be a featured speaker at the 2017 event. Photo by Addie Broyles.
Rachael Ray, seen here with Jimmy Kimmel and Billy Gibbons at one of her unofficial SXSW parties, will be a featured speaker at the 2017 event. Photo by Addie Broyles.

After hosting unofficial South by Southwest parties for the past nine years, Rachael Ray is now officially on the schedule.

Ray, the Food Network and daytime TV host, is one of a number of featured speakers that SXSW announced today. The organization didn’t give any hints about what Ray would talk about at the March event, but with her Instagram-inspired cookbook, countless Rachael Ray kitchen products, a widely distributed print magazine and daytime television show and some serious SXSW cred with all those Feedback parties, she has plenty to talk about.

South by Southwest tends to skew male, but it’s pretty crazy to me that Ray hasn’t been a featured speaker until now. It’s possible that she has declined offers from SXSW to participate in a more official capacity, but I doubt it.

I also doubt that Anthony Bourdain, who has given several keynote speeches at SXSW in recent years, could hold a candle to Ray when it comes to building a brand and a business empire, which are two of the main topics covered at the annual conference. I’ve heard some people speculate that it’s because she doesn’t have quite the personality of Bourdain, but I suspect that those people haven’t actually watched her on TV, where speaks to an audience of millions as if they are sitting in her own kitchen.

Another food person on the list of featured speakers is Kimbal Musk, Elon Musk’s brother who is on the board of Chipotle and is a co-founder of a number of restaurants.

‘Top Chef’ host Tom Colicchio added to SXSW Eco conference

Tom Colicchio is one of the slated speakers for this year's South by Southwest Eco Conference.
Tom Colicchio is one of the slated speakers for this year’s South by Southwest Eco Conference.

South by Southwest Eco, the little sister conference to the big SXSW festivals in March, is coming up in October, and last week, ‘Top Chef’ host and food activist Tom Colicchio was added to the list of speakers.

SXSW Eco always has a number of agriculture and food policy panels, but it has lacked the big name food celebrities that usually come to the March conference.

This fall, Colicchio, whose role as a food advocate has grown as his own celebrity has, will join Raj Patel, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Bill Nye and Civil Eats’ Naomi Starkman for the conference at the Austin Convention Center October. 10-12.

Free breakfast tacos, anyone? Whole Foods at the Domain hosting kid-friendly SXSW event Saturday

sxlospadresIf you think it’s been a busy week with South by Southwest, try juggling kids who are on spring break, too.

There are lots of fun ways to enjoy SXSW with kids, and if you’re trying to avoid downtown, there’s another option this year.

Whole Foods at the Domain, Hat Creek Provisions and Hat Creek Burgers are teaming up for a kid-friendly SX Los Padres event from 8 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday morning that will feature live music from Raina Rose and free breakfast tacos and Cuvee coffee.

The event is free and open to the public.

From 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the rooftop of its flagship store, Whole Foods downtown will host the final day of a Southwest Invasion music showcase.


WATCH: Barbecue at South by Southwest, in all its slow motion glory

I stopped by the 7th annual BBQ Crash Course at Brush Square Park earlier today and decided to honor the fatty, glistening brisket, ribs and sausage with a slow motion video.

Try not to drool on your phone, OK?


Twizoo searches tweets for restaurant advice

twizoowebEven with so many review sites such as Yelp, many of us are more likely to post our opinions about a restaurant on social media instead of submitting an official review.

The London-based Twizoo, one of a handful of local apps we’re featuring in next week’s food section, pulls in tweets from Twitter and analyzes them for sentiment, context, credibility and influence. You can then use your location or type of food you’re looking for to search tweets to find both recommendations and places to avoid.

The service is available in a number of cities, both as an app and at

Overwhelmed by delivery options? Harvest helps sort out services

harvestdeliveryOf the many apps that have launched since last year’s SXSW, Harvest Delivery could be one of the most useful.

It’s an Austin-based app, this one “the Kayak of food delivery.”

That’s a reference to the website that aggregates travel sites, but instead of buying plane tickets, Harvest helps you sort out all the food and beverage delivery options based on where you live (or want the goods delivered) and what you want to order. You can also compare delivery times and fees.

Harvest doesn’t charge a fee on top of the ones charged by the delivery company that fulfills the order, but you can order and check out through the app.

Right now, it only works in Austin, but as countless delivery services pop up, the demand for a site to sort them all out will grow, too. Visit to use the browser version or download the app.

Austin-based Dindr wants you to swipe right for food you like

The storm of exciting new apps debuting at South by Southwest is thundering through Austin. On the food desk, it’s been hard to keep up with all of them, in fact. Here is the first of several apps we’re writing about for next week’s food section that might be handy as you’re sorting through the SXSW food options, or trying to avoid the madness.

dindrDindr is like Tinder for dinner.

This Austin-based app allows you to look at food photos from restaurants in any U.S. city and, like the popular dating site, swipe left for food you’re not interested in and right for dishes that are right up your alley.

As you swipe photos, Dindr can help recommend restaurants and dishes based on your preferences. You can also filter what kind of photos you’re browsing by meal type, cuisine, price, popularity or neighborhood. The app does offer in-app photo editing and user profiles, making it almost a food-exclusive Instagram of sorts.

Dindr is only available through the app store, but you can go to to find out more.