Austin Food & Wine: 13 tacos with Billy Gibbons

“I like the enchiladas and the teriyaki, too. I even like the chicken if the sauce is not too blue.” — Billy Gibbons, food critic and noted singer of TV dinner tribute songs
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 04.30.13
It was up to Billy Gibbons on Saturday night. His responsibility to put everything he’s learned as the leader of ZZ Top into picking a winner from the 13 tacos competing in the Austin Food & Wine Festival’s “Rock Your Taco” event at Republic Square Park. Chefs from Austin, L.A., New York, San Diego, Fort Worth and Chicago served hundreds of tacos to holders of the festival’s $850 Savor badges. When the stage lights went purple and foggy to announce the results, Uchi’s Tyson Cole won for the second straight year, this time for a taco based on his restaurant’s Machi Cure dish. The humble rockstar thanked his kitchen crew for spending days making taco shells out of yucca. And for at least that moment, a chef from Austin upstaged the guy who gave us “La Grange.”
In the photo above: Austin Food & Wine Festival stars on Saturday night’s “Rock Your Taco” stage included Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, TV chef Andrew Zimmern, Food & Wine publisher Christina Grdovic, Uchi chef and winner Tyson Cole and Chicago chef Graham Elliot.
Here’s a look at all 13 “Rock Your Taco” contenders:
Left: David Bull of Congress in Austin made a banh mi taco with a fried chipotle masa shell, chicken liver, pork belly and fish sauce. Top right: Bryce Gilmore of Austin’s Barley Swine rolled beets around masa, goat feta, spiced rice, chipotle and peanut sauce. Bottom right: Brian Malarkey — whose expanding group of restaurants will include a Searsucker location in Austin soon — put together duck cracklings, duck confit and foie gras queso for a taco he called "Duck, Duck, Goose.”
Above: Tyson Cole’s winning taco was an interpretation of Uchi’s Machi Cure dish, with smoked yellowtail, candied garlic, almonds and Asian pear in a crisp yucca shell.
From left: Chef Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia in Chicago made an Italian-style tripe taco. Fort Worth chef Tim Love of Lonesome Dove made antelope bulgogi with kimchi. Susan Feniger of Street in Los Angeles laid down potatoes rajas with smoked poblano, guacamole and pickled onion.
Top left: Marcus Samuelsson of Rooster in Harlem handed out goat tacos. Bottom left: Jonathan Waxman of Barbuto in New York loaded his taco with tripe, oxtail and shortrib. He got a little help from Austin friends Drew and Mary Catherine Curren of the Austin restaurants Arro, Easy Tiger and 24 Diner. Right: Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook of Animal and Son of a Gun in Los Angeles made hamachi sashimi and Thai slaw in a crispy shell.
The Reuben taco is apparently a thing: Pastrami-and-rye creations from Rene Ortiz of Austin’s La Condesa, Marc Murphy of New York’s Landmarc and Christina Tosi of New York’s Momofuko Milk Bar.
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)