Jess Pryles

Live Fire, 2014

Share this

So, if I said to you “hey, there’s this event that is held out at an iconic Texas BBQ joint that is practically a ranch, nestled between live oaks, and nearly twenty of the local area’s most esteemed chefs and pitmasters will each be creating a tasting plate just for the event, with the theme being beef and fire grilling/smoking”, I would hope your response would be “SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!”, because that’s really how I felt about it. If that description was too long for you, let me tell you how the promoters summed it up:

CHEFS. FIRE. MEAT.

I purchased a ticket nearly immediately after reading about Live Fire, which is organised by the Austin Food & Wine Alliance (not Ron Swanson as you might expect) and held out in the grounds of the Salt Lick. Though the menu and chef lineup alone was enough to get me on board, you should know that the event also involved an abundance of local breweries, vineyards and distilleries, and sampling their various fermented wares was all inclusive.

And may I just say…epic. Despite the relentless drizzle that activated BurgerMaryFro, I had a great experience and loved being able to sample the creative bites from so many renowned chefs in the one place. I wanted to share a few of my stand out favourites with you:

Let me start with the dish that was the absolute star of the evening, presented by Jesse Perez from Arcade Midtown Kitchen in San Antonio – Toasted chile and garlic skirt steak with jalapeño jelly, cherry tomato relish and toasted pumpkin seeds.

live-fire-austin2

Sorry folks, this one may not have the highest “food porn” visual appeal, but it was a superbly balanced dish. The jelly and relish both had great complexity of flavour without being overpowering, the skirt steak (which can be tougher than an old boot) was cooked to perfection and the toasted pumpkin seeds added a great pop of textural crunch. Absolutely delicious. I took a peek at their full menu and now have their Australian lamb chops with pasilla fig mole set firmly in my sights.

Honorable mentions:

This beef torchon (basically, beef that has been rolled into a very tight log and cooked thusly) with escargot, green garlic butter and asparagus from Kristine Kittrell at WeatherUp.
This beef torchon (basically, beef that has been rolled into a very tight log and cooked thusly) with escargot, green garlic butter and asparagus from Kristine Kittrell at WeatherUp.
Umami short rib with shoyu consommé, bonito flakes and shitake mushrooms from Killen’s Barbecue in Houston. The delicate but punchy Japanese flavours worked beautifully with the beef rib – loved the bonito, surf and turf!
Umami short rib with shoyu consommé, bonito flakes and shitake mushrooms from Killen’s Barbecue in Houston. The delicate but punchy Japanese flavours worked beautifully with the beef rib – loved the bonito, surf and turf!
Matt McCallister from FT33 in Dallas brought us beef morcilla, tallow fried potatoes (remember, just like McDonald’s fries used to be!?) with smoked beef fat aioli and and pickled wild onion puree. Yes, the aioli is a game changer.
Matt McCallister from FT33 in Dallas brought us beef morcilla, tallow fried potatoes (remember, just like McDonald’s fries used to be!?) with smoked beef fat aioli and and pickled wild onion puree. Yes, the aioli is a game changer.
Another “more tasty than pretty” dish came from Aaron Franklin. If you don’t know where he is from, I’m not sure how you came to be reading a BBQ blog. Nonetheless, this beef short rib with smoked pimento was wonderful. I also loved that, in a sea of fancy chef types, he proudly served on a boxed cracker and made it work.
Another “more tasty than pretty” dish came from Aaron Franklin. If you don’t know where he is from, I’m not sure how you came to be reading a BBQ blog. Nonetheless, this beef short rib with smoked pimento was wonderful. I also loved that, in a sea of fancy chef types, he proudly served on a boxed cracker and made it work.
These teeny tiny dessert bites from Kendall Melton at Contingo featured a buckwheat biscuit, charred lardo marshmallow and a fresh blackberry. A great example of few carefully thought out ingredients yielding a big result.
These teeny tiny dessert bites from Kendall Melton at Contingo featured a buckwheat biscuit, charred lardo marshmallow and a fresh blackberry. A great example of few carefully thought out ingredients yielding a big result.

So all in all – GREAT SUCCESS! I’m definitely in again for next year.

By Jess Pryles

Jess Pryles is a full fledged Hardcore Carnivore. She’s a cook, author, and TV personality specializing in the field of meat, with a particular expertise in beef. She’s also a respected authority on live fire cooking and BBQ. Born in Australia, she now resides in Austin, Texas.

Want to request a recipe?