Byte of Texas Speakers

bot_logoI am so excited about the Austin Food Bloggers Alliance first ever conference called Byte of Texas. On September 27-28 here in Austin we will be hosting bloggers from far and wide to come learn, discuss and grow ourselves and our blogs. Hope to see you there!

Here’s a description of the event:

Byte of Texas is a two-day conference dedicated to celebrating, documenting, and further developing the rich food history of Texas. Its programming is focused on three tracks: Food & Culture, Digital Communications, and Photography. Attendees will hear nationally recognized keynote speakers, enjoy meals together, connect with brands, and get hands-on experience in a variety of topics. Select conference events will be open to the public, including our lead keynote and a culinary book fair. Check out the agenda and buy tickets.

Byte of Texas is presented by the Austin Food Blogger Alliance (AFBA). AFBA seeks to support a local membership of food bloggers and the community through educational initiatives, social events, philanthropic endeavors, and by upholding a commonly shared code of ethics. For more information, visit AFBA’s website.

And here are the fabulous speakers!!

Lisa Fain is a seventh-generation Texan who currently resides in New York City. When not on the hunt for chile peppers, she writes and photographs the award-winning food blog Homesick Texan. She is also the author of The Homesick Texan Cookbook, an IACP Award finalist, and The Homesick Texan’s Family Table. Fain’s writing has appeared in Saveur and Edible Austin and on the site Serious Eats, and her photographs have been exhibited worldwide, with two in the permanent collection of the Library of Congress. An active member of Foodways Texas and the Southern Foodways Alliance, Fain is also a certified barbecue judge. Visit her at

Melissa Skorpil is a commercial photographer specializing in food photography. She was the photography editor for the Austin Food Blogger Alliance Cookbook, and her clients include Austin Restaurant Week, Fleishman-Hillard, Texas Olive Oil Council, and Blue Avocado. She teaches a series of popular food photography courses through Precision Camera University in Austin. Check out her work at

Jeanine Donofrio, the voice behind Love & Lemons, loves to cook and is inspired by seasonal produce—the more colorful, the better. Since she began writing the blog in 2011, she has created all the mostly-vegetarian recipes, her husband Jack helps taste-test, and they photograph the finished products together in their South Austin kitchen. Jeanine’s goal is to inspire her readers to get creative with vegetables, whether they’re vegan, gluten-free or just love good food. In addition to writing her blog, Jeanine also writes for sites such as Food 52, Refinery29 and SELF Magazine. Love & Lemons was also named the 2014 Best Cooking Blog by Saveur Magazine.

Elizabeth Van Huffel is a self-proclaimed food geek, local food curator, advocate, and founder of With over 20 years of restaurant experience, working with some of the finest chefs in North America, a background in restaurant public relations, and owning a small catering company mixed with an extensive knowledge of food and wine, she is more than passionate about food.

Rachel Laudan is author of the prize-winning Cuisine and Empire: Cooking in World History (2013). She holds a doctorate in history and philosophy of science from University College London and lives in Austin, Texas.

Amy C. Evans is the lead oral historian for the Southern Foodways Alliance. Since 2002, she has documented the foodways of our region and manages an archive of more than 800 oral histories. Amy holds an MA in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi and a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art. She lives in Houston, appreciates a good meringue, and can never eat too many oysters.

Chris Perez is a versatile lifestyle photographer with experience shooting interiors, portraits, food and architecture for various outlets such as Apartment Therapy, The Kitchen, Refinery 29, Apartment 34, Madesmith and more. Chris is also the Founding Editor and Lead Photographer for Citygram Austin magazine – a popular mobile magazine app that connects visitors and locals to the best of Austin through its restaurant features and event guide.

Margaret Dornbusch is an Austin technical writer who, on the side, writes for two blogs and manages two more. She has blogged using WordPress since the days when blogs were called weblogs. Her current main blog is MadSweetWorld.

Amber Bracegirdle is managing editor of Food Fanatic, and also blogs at Bluebonnets & Brownies. She started B&B as a way to connect to her Texas roots and pay homage to her grandmother, Nanny. She’s traveled all over with her Brit husband, James, and now lives in NJ with him, their baby boy, Evan, and their two giant Maine Coons, Milo and Connor. Tex-Mex is a way of life, as far as she’s concerned. Favorite foods include refried beans, breakfast tacos, and migas.

Eric Hochberger has been doing SEO (Search Engine Optimization) since the beginning of the World Wide Web his high school internship in 1998, back when all it took was keyword stuffing to win over Altavista. Now his company, Mediavine, owns and operates sites that get over 10 million unique visitors a month thanks to SEO.

Corrin Foster is an Austin-based lifestyle blogger with over 10 years experience partnering with major brands such as Electrolux, GAP, Green Giant, Spotify, and Planters and working with ad networks including Clever Girls Collective, Federated Media, and Mode Media. Her spirit animal is the gummi bear and her dog has his own hashtag. She blogs at Oh Hey What’s Up.

Megan Myers is a writer, recipe developer, and photographer. Her work has been featured on Simple Bites, Food Fanatic,, Whole Foods Market – Whole Story Blog, in Edible Austin, and Hobby Farms magazine. She is currently vice-president of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance. Megan blogs at Stetted.

At the crossroads of food & conversation, people connect, and this is where, Rachelle King, the voice behind Blinded by the Bite!™ navigates her way through a gluten-free lifestyle, sharing her experiences, recipes, failures and lessons learned along the way, hoping to make the road easier traveled for those who are new or old hat to living a gluten-free lifestyle. Rachelle writes for KitchenAid, The Daily Meal, and The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, as well as working with other brands. Rachelle is one of the original founding members of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance.

is a public relations expert and food blogger based in Austin, Texas. She works on the marketing team at Whole Foods Market, and runs the @WholeFoodsPR Twitter account.

Andy Sernovitz teaches word of mouth marketing and social media and is the New York Times bestselling author of Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking. He is CEO of, the community for social media leaders at the world’s greatest brands, and, a free site that teaches word of mouth marketing.

is an Austin based food and travel writer who got her start as a blogger. Along the way, she has also worked as a cheesemonger, farmers’ market coordinator, and youth gardening instructor in New Orleans and New York City. She has written for Gastronomica, BUST, Bon Appetit, The Local Palate, Fodor’s, Serious Eats, Modern Farmer, and numerous Austin publications. Follow her on Twitter @meredithbethune or visit her website at

Veronica Meewes graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in New York, where she studied writing, art, and sociology. She works for a local non-profit by day and moonlights as a freelance writer, specializing in food, beverage, and travel. She currently writes most regularly for Forbes Travel Guide, The Today Show, Serious Eats, Austin Monthly, Austin-American Statesman, Texas Highways, CultureMap Austin, Citygram and Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @wellfedlife and visit her blog at

Robyn Metcalfe is a Visiting Scholar/Lecturer in the School of Human Ecology in the College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin. She is also the Director of The Food Lab, an innovative project that explores the future of our food system and author of Meat, Commerce and the City: The London Food Market, 1800-1855, published in 2012.

Stephanie McClenny shares her love of preserving with her small-batch jam company, Confituras. Confituras was awarded the 2011 and 2014 Local Hero Awards by the readers of Edible Austin and was also recognized nationally, winning Good Food Awards in 2011 and 2012, and 2014. Confituras offers intensive canning classes at their commercial kitchen space as well as at urban farms and shops around town and provides free demonstrations at farmers’ markets and non-profit organizations. They currently operate at 3 weekly farmers’ markets and are available at 18 locally-owned shops, farm stands, and local food delivery services across the state of Texas. Stephanie lives in beautiful South Austin with her husband and a menagerie of animals picked up along the way.

Michele Haram is a lifetime cheese enthusiast and American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professional. She is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute and has been working with cheese for over 10 years as a retailer, educator, and representative. She recently joined Vermont Creamery, a B-Corp Certified producer of fine cow’s milk and goat’s milk cheeses. She pinches herself every day because her job is to travel the country extolling the virtues of artisan cheese, the value of knowing your producer, and of course, the cuteness of baby goats.

Tiffany Cunningham is currently the Administrative Assistant to the Global Cheese Buyer and Global Wine and Beer buyer at Whole Foods Market. She has worked at Whole Foods for over 7 years and has grown her passion and knowledge for all things beer, wine and cheese. She is a Certified Cheese Professional, a Level 1 Wine Sommelier and an avid beer fan.

Rachel Chou is the Senior Manager, Consumer Communications for the Texas Beef Council. She has worked in the public relations field for more than a decade with a diverse list of public relations experience. At the Texas Beef Council, Chou manages consumer public relations efforts including online communications, media relations and event public relations.

Adam Salomone is the Associate Publisher of The Harvard Common Press, a Boston-based independent cookbook publisher. Adam oversees the company’s digital strategy across individual book/author brands, and is also involved in acquisitions, marketing and ebook development. He is a Board Member for the International Association of Culinary Professionals, a co-organizer of the first-ever conference on the present and future state of cookbook and recipe publishing, and a frequent speaker on topics of branding, marketing and cookbook development.

Kathryn Hutchison is the writer and photographer behind The Austin Gastronomist, an Austin-based food blog about home cooking and the Austin food community. The Austin Gastronomist has been featured on TasteSpotting, and the Food News Journal’s “Best of Blogs.” Since 2011, Kathryn has led “Austin Bakes” bake sales, which have raised over $25,000 for natural disaster relief. She is also the President of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance and has served on the board of that group since 2011. An advocate for sustainable food, Kathryn works in digital strategy with a focus on increasing demand and infrastructure for local food systems.

Kristin Sheppard is the owner and creative director of Giant Squid Media, where she implements digital marketing, branding, SEO, and creates content for authors, small companies, and startups. Her blog Mad Betty provides a fun take on pop culture and Austin trends. A former board member of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance, and a SXSW and WordCamp participant, Kristin is passionate about the community that celebrates food writing, culture, and tech. She was a speaker at the inaugural Greenleaf Author Summit. Her writing has appeared in Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Austin Food Magazine, The Digital Texan, SheKnows, Small Business Digest, Advanced Ocular Care, Ostomy Wound Management, and other medical journals.

Mary Helen Leonard has spent almost a third of her life blogging – both professionally and for her own enjoyment. In addition to her personal lifestyle blogs at, Mary Helen has a day job authoring the popular DIY beauty blog titled The Natural Beauty Workshop. She’s currently working on her first book, a guide to replacing commercial beauty products with simple, handmade formulations. When she’s not writing, you can find Mary Helen either in the kitchen, behind her sewing machine, or cuddling her son, Charlie.

Maggie Perkins is a writer, personal chef, and Jill-of-all-trades in support of the local culinary community. Marketing coordinator for Texas Farmers Markets and office manager for Austin Eats Food Tours, you can also find her teaching market-goers quick and healthy seasonal recipes as a monthly visiting chef at the Cedar Park and Mueller Farmers Markets in the Austin area. Maggie is a contributing writer for The Chronicle and shares her food adventures and more, with warmth and humor on her popular blog Notes From Maggie’s Farm. Stay tuned for her newest blogging adventure as she moves within, as well as beyond the food world with camera in hand, for Through the Lens of a Late Bloomer.

A native Texan, Michael Barnes came to Austin in 1984 to earn his Ph.D. from the University of Texas. Since 1989, he has written about Austin’s people, places, culture and history for the American-Stateman. He served three terms as chairman on the American Theatre Critics Association and two terms on the Pulitzer Prize jury for criticism. He co-founded the Ausitn Critics Table and, in 2013, was inducted into the Austin Arts Hall of Fame. He has conducted numerous workshops and classes at Central Texas universities and won several regional and national journalism awards, including the top writing prize from the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association. His column and blog are called Out & About and, most nights, that’s where you’ll find him.

Mike Sutter is the food journalist behind Fed Man Walking, a site featuring reviews, profiles and best-of lists covering hundreds of trailers, white-tablecoth bistros, burger joints and barbecue places in Austin. Before that, Mike was the restaurant critic for the Austin American-Statesman. His work has appeared in Austin guides for the Guardian UK, British Airways, Fiji Water and Fed Man Walking has been nominated by USA Today’s “10Best” and twice by Saveur magazine as the nation’s best food travel site. Find his work at

Natanya Anderson is the Director of Social Media and Digital Strategy at Whole Foods Market. She has been working with social and new media for over a decade with a focus on both strategy and execution, helping organizations change the way they engage with their constituents. At Whole Foods she is concentrating on how an extensive local digital footprint merges with a strong brand presence to create a unique customer experience that differentiates a brand, drives loyalty, and supports the retail experience. Additionally she is leading a team that enables more than 1500 team members working on more than 800 social channels to be empowered local stewards of that shared customer experience. She blogs about loving food, drink, and living in Austin Texas at the Austin Food Lovers’ Companion. Follow her on twitter at @natanyap.

Addie Broyles is the food writer for the Austin American-Statesman and co-founder of the Austin Food Blog Alliance. She writes about everything from cookbooks and recipes to farmers markets, food trends, business and culture in the Wednesday food section, where she has a weekly column and blog called Relish Austin. At home, when she’s not chasing after her two young sons, the Ozarks native and University of Missouri graduate writes about women and food at and served as editor for “The Austin Food Blogger Alliance Cookbook.”

Meghan McCarron is the editor of Eater Austin, and her interviews and essays have appeared on Eater National, Buzzfeed, Autostraddle and Gigantic. She has also published over a dozen short stories and received a $30,000 grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation for her novel in progress.

Spike Jones is a thought-provoking, status quo challenging communications professional specializing in word of mouth marketing. He is currently currently SVP, Managing Director for the SW Region at Edelman Digital. Spike’s background includes contributing strategic development – from insight to creative execution – of online and offline word of mouth programs for companies including: BMW, USAA, AT&T, General Motors, Chevrolet, Dagger Kayaks, Fiskars Brands, Gatorade and Best Buy.

Toni Tipton-Martin is a culinary journalist and community activist who has been invited twice by First Lady Michelle Obama to the White House for her outreach to build a healthier community. Toni is the curator of a traveling exhibit, blog and upcoming book that celebrates the important legacy of African American cooks and their cookbooks entitled, The Jemima Code.

Michelle Stinson Ross is currently the Social Marketing Manager at Not only is she the co-host of #SocialChat every Monday evening on Twitter, but Michelle is also a contributing writer for Search Engine Watch. She has been a guest blogger Social Times, aimClear, and Search Marketing Wisdom, to name a few. Her passion for social media marketing makes her a favorite conference speaker at events like Socialize Toronto, Search Marketing Expo, and Search Engine Strategies Conference. She has also been a featured guest on Webmaster Radio and several industry Hangouts on Air. In her free time she enjoys traveling, salsa dancing, and reading great books.

Hilah Johnson is the host and co-producer of the online cooking show, HilahCooking, a series which aims to teach proper technique while making cooking approachable. She has also written and self-published five cookbooks in various formats that she sells through her website and through Amazon.

Austin’s Best Desserts 2013


*UPDATE*  3/3/14  So sad to say- Cinnamon’s has closed its doors. Happy to say Philip Speer is working on a new bakery/cafe called St. Philip. Trace has a new pastry chef I have yet to check out but fortunately Janina O’Leary passed up big city offers to stay in Austin at the new brick and mortar for very popular food truck La V, opening this week! Steven Cak expands his dessert offering along with parkside’s expansions with chavez and olive and june. And finally Jodi Elliot will also be opening her own bakery very soon called Bribery. I will do a full post along with a couple of new spots once all of these open. It has been a very sweet year in desserts in Austin!

It is time once again for the AFBA city guide! I drew the difficult task of bringing you the cities best desserts. It is such a broad category, I decided to give a shout out to some of my favorite pastry cases and trailers available at any time your sweet tooth might be calling you and then focus on the high end dessert porn available at Austin’s finest restaurants.

Chef Loic Duchesne at Cinnamon’s.

One of my first jobs was as a baker at a small chain that specialized in cinnamon rolls located at the Lincoln Village shopping center. The same little store is now an independently owned bakery called Cinnamon’s run by French Chef Loic Duchesne. The cinnamon rolls are huge, buttery, and delicious, just like the ones I remember from the summer I gained 10 pounds. Chef Loic does a booming business with the soup and salad crowd as well as American favorites like chocolate chip cookies but just like a corner patisserie in Paris, there are a rainbow of pastel macarons and chocolate croissants ready to whisk you away on a virtual visit to the City of Lights.

The pastry counter at Vespaio Enoteca.

Another one of my favorite dessert cases is at Vespaio Enoteca. While Vespaio is one of the best Italian places in town and worth a long leisurely visit, more often I find myself in a rush and the case here carries a nice assortment of European style desserts and breads as well as charcuterie and antipasti perfect for a picnic on the go. Just need a bottle of Pinot and you are ready for whatever Austin adventure awaits you.

Give me one of everything! Pastry counter at Hillside Farmacy.

Hillside Farmacy  could also be known as Chef Sonya Cote’s favorite things. The walls are lined with local products, most of which have little in common except that Cote likes them. And she does have great taste. The pastry case is an assortment of local bakers and their best products, many of which are usually found only at the weekend farmer’s markets. So sleep in on Saturday and check out Hillside instead.

The Flying Pig- Fresh fried donut covered in bacon and maple icing. Just wash it down with a lipitor smoothie.




The Flying Pig, a giant fresh fried donut covered in bacon and maple icing, has long been one of my favorite indulgences courtesy of Gordough’s, one of the first trailers to start the current dining craze in Austin. I have not had the pleasure of visiting their new brick and mortar, Gordough’s Public House, which offers sandwiches and burgers made from donuts as well as craft cocktails and a fine assortment of beers but I have heard great things. Even the salads are served with a “piping hot garlic donut.”

Frozen Hot Chocolate from Holy Cacao.



My other trailer pic is Holy Cacao, which is most famous for its yummy cake balls but I am in love with the frozen hot chocolate. Most shakes I find too thick and cloyingly sweet but the folks at Holy Cacao start off with a European style super thick hot chocolate, add it to Bluebell chocolate ice cream, and top it off with enough ice to keep it slushy without watering it down. SO. FREAKING. GOOD.

Popcorn and a Movie from Swift’s Attic.



One of my favorite desserts last year was the Popcorn and a Movie by Callie Speer at the wildly popular Swift’s Attic. I was also impressed with a seasonal apple dessert I had but unfortunately the lighting is not exactly photographer friendly. The food at Swift’s is imaginative and flavorful and so are the desserts. They recently started a brunch on Sunday’s with Foie Gras PB&J Pancakes that I must try. Mmmmm, foie!

Lemon tart from Trace.
Lemon tart from Trace.



Yet another Austin chef as a semifinalist for a James Beard Award Rising Star is Janina O’Leary from Trace. O’Leary has a long list of prestigious chef’s she has worked with like Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, and Pichet Ong. But she brings her own sense of color and balance to the desserts she crafts at Trace. With all of her prestigious training, I am anxious to watch this talented hand blossom into her own super stardom.


Chocolate Parfait from Foreign and Domestic.
Chocolate Parfait from Foreign and Domestic.













Jodi Elliott is the pastry genius behind Foreign and Domestic. She has recently started a Bake Sale on Saturdays at the restaurant. The sale starts at 10am and lasts until they run out, which means, get in line by 9:30 and be happy with whatever you get. But try especially hard to get some popovers if you can.

My top 4 dessert places, well, the pictures pretty much tell the story. Fantastic, creative, blending of the savory with the sweet, gorgeous, works of art.

First up is Steven Cak at Parkside

Tropical Tart- Coconut tapioca, ginger granita, mango, mint, coconut ice cream
Goat cheese custard, macadamia soil, white chocolate cremeux, candied kumquat, hibiscus foam, basil ice cream.
Carrot cake mousse, roasted pineapple, cream cheese, licorice mint, carrot gel.
Milk chocolate soup, candied beets, rose gelee, pomegranate, milk chocolate ice cream.

Next up is Philip Speer and Andrew Lewis from Uchiko-

Chocolate mousse, red beet, toasted milk, blood orange.
Fried milk, toasted milk, chocolate milk, iced milk sherbet.

Next is the delightful Erica Waksmunski of Congress

Chocolate 7 ways- Pine nut, pomegranate, olive oil ice milk.
Chef Erica
Vietnamese Coffee Pots de Creme, hazelnuts, orange zest, condensed milk foam
Warm butterscotch pudding, tangerine, English toffee, cocoa nib sorbet.

 Finally, one of my favorite people in the pastry world, Plinio Sandalio from the Carillon.

Dark chocolate terrine, raspberries, white chocolate custard, chocolate crumbles, hazelnuts.
Almond cake, tomato jam, foie gras ice cream, marcona almonds.
Corndog- cornmeal fritters, hot dog ketchup, mustard ice cream.
Rooibos cheesecake, cucumber granita, green chartreuse meringue, lime curd.
Yogurt panna cotta, pistachio financier, pistachio custard, campari gelee, grapefruit sorbet.

Pie Safe for Safe Place

I have been working very hard with some lovely ladies (and Tequila Bob!) in the Austin Food Bloggers Alliance to help organize a fundraiser this Sunday benefitting SafePlace Austin.  We are selling tickets at $10 each for a screening of the movie Waitress at the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar at 1:00 PM on Sunday August 21.  You can also buy a slice for $10 of the award winning pecan pie from Michael Chu of Cooking for Engineers during the movie or a whole pie donated from over a dozen local businesses, which will be sold outside the theater.  So click on the flyer and buy your tickets now.  I’d love to see you there!

*****Update*****  Thanks to a lot of hard work from a lot of people, we raised over $2000 to benefit SafePlace.  Thank you for all of your support!

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