If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you’ve probably seen the mayhem that has been my life in the past few months. Lately  it has been particularly busy, which I suppose is what comes with having a book tour. The best part has been meeting you all along the way.

I’ve also just finished the Austin Food & Wine Festival where I did stage demos, taco competitions, and hung with some chef friends ‘o mine.

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The festival started with some kick-off parties on Thursday night, followed by a day of media interviews before the Friday evening festivities.

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I got to meet the fun folks of Food Republic for an interview in front of a live audience and talk about what I do and all…

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Then Friday night the “Taste of Texas” started where all of the wonderful Texas chefs presented their favorite bites of food. This was one of my favorites–blue corn macaron with cheddar cheese! A sweet and savory macaron was a pretty brilliant idea.

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Another pretty brilliant idea is this gal rocking out on stage with a sparkly sunflower dress on.

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Here was my pretty friend date for the night. We made sure to taste test everything… since clearly it needed our vote.

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The next morning began my contribution to the weekend. Kitchen Aid builds out some pretty rad stages for the festival and this was my demo stage.

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This was the name of my demo–Getting Your Hands Dirty.

Since that’s pretty much what I do in life and teach others to do.

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We wore these funny little head mics. Except… MINE DIDN’T WORK. Which I didn’t discover until the demo started. So that was interesting. I talked really, really loudly.

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We spent a lot of time setting up the prep. Making sure all of the fun ingredients were available.

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This is me looking verrrrry serious. I look serious when I think hard.

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I wanted the demo to be highly interactive so I had the audience come on stage with me and partake.

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I also had them partake in a butter making competition. They shook their mason jars really hard and the side of the room that made butter the fastest WON.

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They also got to taste the chocolate bread pudding we made out of stale bread.

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And one fella who was a good wood worker came up and helped me carve the watermelon keg.

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Then we started pouring and serving out of that keg STAT because, well, when there are technology difficulties all one can really do is drink.

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We poured a lot of watermelon infused vodka that morning.

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Watermelon vodka at 11am for everyone! That’s the name of the game at these Food & Wine Festivals.

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Then we did a Q&A.

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I have no idea what I was doing here… but the bell sleeves make it look dramatic.

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Then back stage in the green room I signed the coat of the student from the Cordon Bleu who helped with my prep.

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And hung with my friend Chef AZ.

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And his right hand woman, and my good friend Molly.

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Andrew did a costume change at one point… the friends I keep… sigh.

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And I did some more media interviews and made weird faces… what on earth was I saying?

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Then my little posse walked around and enjoyed some of the fun bites of food in the VIP tent and grand tasting tent. Aren’t these chioga beets beautiful?

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And bison liver mousse! I love liver mousse and had never tasted a bison version.

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Then I wandered over to my panel with some fab chefs and the editor of Tribeza mag. Our panel was called “Let’s Do the Time Warp.” Jack Gillmore tried to suggest that I was very young, and then I taught him that he was cleaning his cast iron skillet incorrectly and then told him a bunch of other things that he should know if he was so much older and suddenly he was all like, “woah.” And suddenly I wasn’t so young anymore.

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Then my awesome girl power team headed over to the park where the Rock Your Taco competition as happening. We spent a lot of time setting up the booth nicely.

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And the gals wore the prototypes for my new line of limited edition t-shirts!

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And then Scarpetta winery decided to “sponsor” my tent with a big case of sparkling rose, so we toasted ourselves quite a bit.

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And my friend Chris made sure to pour. He was the official sustenance provider for us hard working ladies.

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Here was my tent when we were all done! Filled with lights and deer antlers and cowboy hats.

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And pretty mason jar lanterns, one of the projects from my book Modern Pioneering.

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This was my taco!

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Here is a weird looking close up.

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Mine is the bottom right: A green plantain tortilla that was fried to order, covered with parsnip puree, venison tossed in a Cuban oregano vinaigrette, pickled jicama and carrot, tomatillo salsa, smoked Adobo sauce and pickled mustard seed.

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It was DELICIOUS. So many people came up and said it was their favorite of the night–so at least I had the popular vote.

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Lovely friends came out to visit and support–here is my pretty friend and her baby-to-be…

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And some friends that flew in from Arkansas.

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Then is was stage time… where all the chefs got together and the winner was announced.

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Me and Rick Bayless hung out back stage for a bit. We also laid into a chef who tried to make some pretty derogatory comments to me… I may look all sweet boys, but I can get all amazonian on you when you say insane stuff that makes you belong in the Stone Ages.

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It was a grand time and we drank our tequila and toasted the huge crowd. And then we went to a killer after party together.

Watch this video for a behind the scenes look at the competition…in which I take you through all the elements of my taco… and to see the winner…

Spoiler alert: the winning taco included octopus and lamb tongue!