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Austin, Texas

Chef as a popstar

April 4th 2014

The United States are not known for their culinary finesse. Pizza, fries and soda – you know what I mean. The result waddles down the street. It is a part of the American way of life. Another feature of that is a wide range of music and movies that have much success on a global scale. Slowly but surely the American food live style is becoming just as divers.

A few years ago I was in Texas, a state that mostly reminds you of cowboys, republicans, gun ownership and not least morbidly obese inhabitants due to excessive barbecues and litres of coke.

However, not everybody in Texas is a fat, conservative cowboy. There is also space for progressive culture and food. The Independent Business Alliance has launched the slogan ‘Keep Austin Weird’, which you’ll constantly see drive by on bumper stickers.

There is no need in Austin to be afraid that the city will become less weird. Every year it hosts the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival. Actually it is three festivals in one: film, interactive technology and music, a true mecca for adventurers looking for renewal. In 2009 Foursquare, the app that lets you check in on a location, was born on SXSW.

Twitter’s success is also attributed to the SXSW visitors who were tweeting away extensively already in 2007.

This year the programme featured Edward Snowden and Lady Gaga and R&B-star Kelis also showed up at the festival; a lifestyle figurehead pre-eminently. Her music’s the right stuff; she already has a few Grammy nominations to her name. However, lifestyle is more than just music: Kelis is also a qualified saucier. For your information a saucier is a chef specialised in sautéing (western stir-fry) and sauce making. In Austin, Kelis launched her new album Food. The titles speak volumes: ‘Jerk Ribs’, ‘Friday Fish Fry’ en ‘Biscuits n’ Gravy’. She took her food truck to the festival. Apart from making music she was promoting her new sauce line called Feast. This makes a nice change from a perfume or a pair of underpants that entertainers generally tie their names to.

Tom Monday of Small Batch America is not surprised. He’s from the music industry but is now blogging about honest food. According to him people these days talk about food and drink just as they talked about music in the past. At least at SXSW it was the happening thing. There were twenty panel discussions about food with titles like ‘The New Culinary Movement’, ‘The Future Farm Is Now’ and ‘Can Robots Feed the World?’.

It’s the era of the chef as a pop star where food is a real part of your lifestyle. A bit more allure would not go amiss. Maybe we should get Kelis back to Lowlands, or DJ Hardwell, the best DJ in the world, should make pancakes there.

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