According to Cajun Boils, no party is complete without crawfish. Its staff, led by a New Orleanian specializing in crawfish boils, boil hundreds of pounds of the delectable crustaceans for all sorts of events, from weddings to weekend nights out.
Its Austin-based boils complement the crawfish with potatoes, corn, and garlic, emulating classic New Orleans?style meals right down to painting a fleur-de-lis on each crawfish shell. The cooks also host the occasional crab boil, and cook up seasonal specialties such as jambalaya, roast pig, and frog legs.
Nicole Butler grew up cooking two different kinds of food. Her mother preferred cuisine using French-inspired flavors and techniques, and her father adhered to recipes for down-home comfort foods. Being from southwestern Louisiana, Nicole didn't find these two styles to be that disparate, and she recognized the influences that each had in creating the region's iconic Cajun cuisine.
Nicole brought memories of those flavors to Austin, where she received her formal culinary training from Le Cordon Bleu. This education introduced her to the benefits of cooking with local and sustainable ingredients, which encouraged her to rethink the recipes she'd cooked throughout her childhood. At Beau Cherie Cajun Cooking, she combines homespun cooking tips with those she learned at culinary school, teaching students how to prepare relatively healthy Cajun staples without sacrificing the bold flavors.
Each hands-on lesson addresses a different theme, spending more then three hours on Cajun classics, Louisiana comfort foods, or French dishes. Recipes such as red beans and rice and beef bourguignon represent the cultural extremes, but dishes such as creamy bisque with crawfish tails and brandy demonstrate how the various styles work together in Cajun cuisine. After preparing a four-course meal, students sample the food before taking the leftovers home to practice for any upcoming food fights.
Cowden Ward III grew up with a spatula in hand, helping his mother whip up French Louisiana and Texas coastal dishes for their large family. After stints at culinary school, far-flung Holland kitchens, and rollicking Alaskan crab boats, he helms the steady kitchen floor of Trey’s Cuisine with a menu moored by a long tradition of international street food. Ingredients from Bat Creek Farms and Countryside Family Farms help flavor kebabs of focaccia and vegetables or meat doused in chimichurri, vinaigrettes, and other piquant sauces. Homemade molasses potato bread envelops sliders inspired by American and Greek flavors, and the buttery dough of pierogis embraces hearty bites of cheese and prosciutto. Trey’s Cuisine’s Twitter page reveals daily specials and appearances at fairs and local happenings, and the eatery also caters its handheld helpings at special events and birthday parties for the Addams Family hand.
27 years ago, El Mercado came into being as a small operation selling breakfast tacos from a front porch on South First Street. Although the Mexican market they were once part of has disappeared, El Mercado has grown to three locations, with breakfast tacos remaining a staple of their menu. In the kitchen, cooks sauté onions for barbecue chicken enchiladas and rub beef with a secret spice mix before adding it to brisket tacos. Beans and sauces made without meat products can satisfy the cravings of vegetarians and giant carnivorous plants trying to change their ways.
Serving central Texas for more than 25 years, Bridal Extravaganza simplifies shopping for brides and grooms by collecting more than 200 vendors under one roof. The booths of experienced wedding professionals lure in couples to sample their wares, from planners showing off their color-coded to-do lists to caterers doling out tastes of cakes, dinner dishes, and champagne. Fashion shows give onlookers a taste of the latest dress fashions for brides and bridesmaids and the latest developments in the world of cummerbunds for grooms. By the day's end, lucky ticket holders win prizes for a free wedding gown, bridal pictures, and cash. Each bride who attends the Bridal Extravaganza will receive $500 in free Bridal Bucks to spend on select exhibitors or a fairy godmother.
Old Fashioned Photo Booth is more mobile than you might think. In fact, it can travel up to 150 miles in order to attend parties, weddings, and other special events. When it arrives, the booth doesn't waste time mingling or sipping punch: it gets right down to business, spitting out color or black-and-white pictures. The booth is multi-talented, too, since it's capable of producing both traditional photo strips and postcard-style prints emblazoned with personalized labels. After the booth says its goodbyes, hosts receive a CD loaded with all the photos from the party, which they can use to post shots on social media or toss into a crowd of potential new friends.