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Feb 23, 2012 07:49 AM

Austin Food and Wine Festival- worth going to?

Our daughter wants to come up for the festival next month. There's no way I'm ponying up $850pp for the VIP pass. I don't even want to bother if we're going to have to wait in long lines for everything with the regular passes. Anyone been? Is it worth it?


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  1. I went once. Personally, I felt the lines were too long for nibbles (although what I had was quite good) and it's crazy-expensive now. Way to rich for my blood.

    11 Replies
    1. re: amysuehere

      Yes, that's what I'm afraid of. I hate crowds. It's $250pp now for the regular passes.

      1. re: saeyedoc

        Then this event is absolutely not for you. Although with the price of admission being so high...nah; really think you'd end up with a luke-warm experience on a price point that should be a "super-wow". I think your money's better spent going to a nice restaurant.

        1. re: amysuehere

          Yeah, that's what I'm thinking. If I can only get my wife and daughter in line. $750 buys a couple really great meals at Uchiko.

          1. re: saeyedoc

            ...and now with Paul sooo close to winning! Go Paul!

            1. re: amysuehere

              I'm so pulling for Paul. I don't think I've hated two contestants more than that chubby girl and the blonde that were in the final two, I refuse to even remember their names. How they treated Beverly was just so bad I hope karma wise they both loose. The Uchi guys have to set Paul up with his own proper restaurant after this right? It's a license to print money.

              1. re: Rptrane

                I recently spoke with a server from Uchi who said that Paul is opening his own restaurant soon. Sounds like the kind of thing one would do with a Top Chef title, earnings, and reputation. This conversation took place weeks ago, btw.

                P.S. Earlier in the season, I inquired about anyone else attending Top Chef viewing parties, and no one responded. Well, here is your last chance. It is loads of fun, Sake Social Hour prices and tons of local support for a great chef. If you can snag a seat even three deep at the bar, it will totally be worth it next week. Go Paul!

                1. re: karma belle

                  Sake Social Hour prices? I didn't get that at the one I went to at Uchiko! It was still a blast, though.

        2. re: saeyedoc

          Unfortunately, I have thought for years that the prices would have to go up drastically, if only to get the crowd size cut back to something manageable. The last few times I went to the Hill Country Food and Wine Festival, the precursor to the Austin fest, it was something of a nightmare. The lines were so long you had to have a bottle of water to keep you hydrated while you waited to reach a sample table. And there were way too many people who obviously considered it just another drunkfest. I *wish* I didn't sound like a snob for saying things like this but at a festival that was supposed to be about high-quality food and wine, there were too many people who looked like their best speed was drinking their Bud Lite out of real glasses instead of plastic cups. The only way to reduce the mob was to raise ticket prices so high that only people who really care about quality would pay. I just hope some good comes of charging so much.

          1. re: klanch

            I agree with you on some of the crazy crowds at past events. Having a smaller crowd would be nice, but I really doubt C3 took it over to sell less tickets. My main concern on this new format is paying $250 and still not being able to get into the events I want to due to to the crowd sizes.

            The $850 ticket is the only ticket that guarantees you a seat at the events.

            1. re: Mike B

              Is it all-out class warfare now? I'm seeing too many things in Austin where one can "buy" their way in. Where does the damn $850 go?

        3. re: amysuehere

          This is a completely different event this year having been taken over by the C3 folks this past year. My initial inclination would be to say the crowds will be even worse given every other event they do around town, but the price point seems high enough to possibly keep the crowds away.

          Should be interesting to see how it plays out.

        4. Yeah, I was thinking the same things a lot of you have said. First of all, super expensive. Secondly, I'd rather go to one of those chefs' restaurants and just have a really nice meal. Granted there's some big star power there, but I'll be damned If I'm gonna pay 250 bucks for a bunch of what I imagine will be little tastes of food warmed up in chafing dishes, served on little plastic plates.

          Oh and on the Paul note, if that horrible girl beats him with her blah-ass looking Italian food, I'm never watching the show again, haha...

          1. My husband and I are definitely going to get tickets! There’s so much talent and so much to do for the $250 ticket. Most food tasting events in Austin cost $100 for just a few hours. And the talent is going to be sick at this event...we are super excited. We've been known to thrown down that much at one dinner and this way we get to try over 35 different demos and we catching up with friends we happen to run into at the event. In my opinion, it's totally worth it. See you kids there!

            6 Replies
            1. re: alagarde

              I'm still considering going, but when I looked at the schedule it seemed like most of the demos I was interested seeing are up against each other in the same time slots.

              For the $250 ticket, it looks like there are 6 time slots with demos and 3 additional tasting events.

              I wonder how ticket sales are going for this?

              1. re: alagarde

                For a first-time poster, you sure are jazzed...just sayin'

                1. re: amysuehere

                  HI, snarky. I came across the discussion and we had bought our tickets so we're pretty excited about it.

                  1. re: amysuehere

                    Was thinking the exact same thing.

                2. Worth it all depends on what you want. For some this kind of event is worth that price and more- for others, not at all.

                  These festivals are social events first and foremost- not just the Austin ones, but all of them. A very serious wine lover can get some solid tasting experience if planning far ahead- ie hitting the booths of the hotter wineries first- and pretty much drowning out all the social bit and moving around the room with great efficiency. On the food front, I do not think this is even possible. You are going to be tasting dishes selected more for ease of serving en masse, and the ability to travel and hold well. Food selections based on best available ingredients, what one does best and ideal wine pairings take a decisive back seat to the more practical aspects of a big food festival.

                  If you want the social/fun experience along with the food and wine- go for it. These things are a good time. But if you are looking to take a more serious approach, and if your daughter is eager to have a great wine/food experience first and foremost- talk to management at just about any wine shop in Austin (except the Spec's imports from Houston), and you can connect with many local figures in the business who put on special tastings, or perhaps even a few collectors who are looking to get together for a wine dinner.

                  We who really care about and understand wine are a small group in Austin- but we are very serious and a great many rare and great (cheap and expensive both) things come here that are not easily found in most other markets. It is an incredible city to really learn about wine- the festivals are fun, but not part of that scene (even though many of us will be there all the same!)

                  1. I ended up buying a pair of the "weekender" tickets for my husband and myself for our anniversary. We both enjoyed the past Hill Country Food & Wine festivals, and weren't too put off by the lines. I'm looking forward to not only the "grand tasting" events, but also the demos throughout the day, especially the wine related ones. If the lines in the grand tasting end up being too long to taste much, and the demos end up being too crowded to learn much, then we may not buy tickets again for next year. But, we're optimistic that it will be an enjoyable weekend and are looking forward to it.