A Cheesy Competition Fights Food Insecurity
Nov 17, 2023

A Cheesy Competition Fights Food Insecurity

Reporting Texas TV

AUSTIN, Texas – The Central Texas Food Bank’s 12th annual Quesoff festival on Sunday at the Mohawk music hall featured unusual treats such as pink glitter queso and queso donuts.

“It’s my two favorite Austin things, waiting in line and eating queso,” said Ryan Clark, a returning attendee.

Twenty-eight chefs from across Austin competed to show off their dishes and raise money to help people suffering from food insecurity.

A queso-stuffed donut was one of the innovative creations at the Quesoff 2023 Festival in Austin, Texas, on Nov. 12, 2023. (Reporting Texas TV/Nicola Iannelli)

Food bank coordinator Brian Trinh said every $20 ticket will provide a month’s supply of groceries to two families in need.

Quesoff 2023 tickets sold out during a September presale and Trinh said it looks like they will exceed last year’s total of $18,000.

“We’re raising money so we can supply central Texans suffering from food insecurities,” Trinh said.

Mohawk event manager Houshang said H-E-B donated more than 200 bags of chips.

“Walking around with a free bag of chips, getting to sample queso, knowing it is all going to a great cause, is an amazing way to spend a Sunday,” Clark said.

Other sponsors included Tito’s Vodka and Rambler Sparkling Water.

Corner Restaurant featured spicy queso at the Quesoff 2023 Festival. (Reporting Texas TV/Nicola Iannelli)

A panel of judges sat on the venue’s outdoor stage throughout the festival, sampling and rating the quesos.

The judges were: Mama Duke, an award-winning musician & recording academy member; Trennis Jones, the vice president of community impact for Austin FC; Tania Ortega, a writer and digital creator for Austin Food Magazine; Jennifer Sinski, the executive vice president of Giant Noise; and Hayden Walker, the editor in chief for Austin Food Magazine.

The three categories judged by the panel were meaty, veggie and spicy. Oseyo Austin, a Korean restaurant, won the meaty division with its Asian-inspired queso. Eldorado Cafe ATX won the veggie division and Live Oak Brewing Company won the spicy division.

Attendees selected the recipient of the People’s Champ Award. Julia Yano and Morgan Parker of team Quesorus Rex won with 20.6% of the votes.

Quesoff judges included food writers, a musician, and a representative from Austin FC. (Nicola Iannelli/Reporting Texas TV)