Austin Food & Wine Alliance Grants


By Steve Wilson

Bribing the judges with something sweet won’t get you an Austin Food & Wine Alliance grant. To impress this group, you need to get out of the kitchen and give back to the community. Since launching in 2012, the nonprofit has raised $75,000 to give Central Texas food folks a socially aware kick in the oven. “We look for ideas that are furthering innovation in our food community and that have a strong community giveback component,” says Mariam Parker, executive director of the alliance.

The alliance prides itself on never playing favorites with its awards—always careful to recognize farmers, nonprofits and artisan producers in addition to the chefs who normally get all the attention. “Last year turned out to be the year of the food artisan and this year, it seemed to be the year of the farmer,” says Parker.

In late 2014, the alliance gave out a record $30,000 to the following five recipients: $10,000 New Farm Institute at Green Gate Farms—a nonprofit teaching organic, sustainable farming to a wide population of aspiring farmers and culinary students. The grant will be used to enhance Green Gate’s farm-to-table classes and expand its volunteer program to reach more underserved groups such as the Multicultural Refugee Coalition.

$7,500 Springdale Center for Urban Agriculture—a first-time collaborative project between urban farmers and local chefs. The grant will be used to plant test plots of heirloom and heritage seeds—boosting the variety of farm-to-table foods available to Central Texas chefs.

$5,000 Fresh Chefs Society—a two-year-old nonprofit teaching hands-on cooking and healthy eating habits to 16- to 21-year-olds transitioning out of foster care. The organization also introduces these aspiring cooks to local chefs who may help them find a culinary career. The grant will be used to help the organization continue hosting interactive cooking classes that “educate and empower youth with lifetime skills.”

$5,000 Growers Alliance of Central Texas—a five-year-old cooperative supporting full-time sustainable farmers in Central Texas. The grant will be used to help the organization gain nonprofit status, renew its annual survey of “Truly Local” restaurants and establish a medical relief fund.

$2,500 Anjore—Chef Deepa Shridhar’s combination supper club, farmers market and cooking school, focused on her unique approach to Indian fare. The grant will be used to expand this “farm stand” into a pop-up restaurant, which will, in turn, support local producers and culinary students.

Honorable Mention: Delysia Chocolatier—a premium chocolate manufacturer that opened Austin’s first culinary center devoted to ethically and environmentally conscious-sourced chocolate.