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How to visit Chef Rena Frost during Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival’s Rise + Dine event

By Jaidyn HaysMarch 27, 2024No Comments

Visit Chef Rena Frost during the Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival’s Rise + Dine event

By Natalie Lozano Trimble
Photos by Jill Johnson

Mac’s on Main hasn’t missed a year since chef Rena Frost was invited in 2014 to participate in the festival, which means she’s seen the event evolve over the years from nine events spread over multiple locations throughout the city to its current iteration: five events over four days at the Heart of the Ranch at Clearfork.

“It’s just wonderful to see all the new restaurants that are participating,” Frost says. “I love that the festival really focuses on independent places … I think the smaller businesses really appreciate it. I did.”

When the festival started, Frost, who started with Mac’s in 1992 at its Midland location, had just bought out the original owner in 2011. Today, Frost and her husband own Mac’s on Main in Grapevine and Mac’s Bar & Grill in Arlington. Her brother, Harvey Cogdill, helps her run both locations and is the Grapevine restaurant’s general manager, which “works out well because I’ve always been his boss,’’ Frost said. The Arlington general manager, Colin Bailey, has worked for Mac’s since 1987, the year it opened. Frost attributes employee retention to the restaurant’s culture of trust and helping each other.

Initially, Frost participated in the festival’s Burgers, Brews, and Blues event before she switched to Saturday morning’s brunch event, Rise + Dine, “which actually makes more sense for me,” she says.

As one of the few restaurants coming from Grapevine, Frost appreciates the opportunity to connect with other chefs in the area. It’s “nice to meet other women,” she says. “I love the fact that there are more women now than [when] we started.”

Last year, the festival added a special section at the Ring of Fire highlighting women in local barbecue and featuring the Babes of Que podcast host, Betina Miller. “Who else does that?” Frost says. “I like the fact that we do that; I want to be a part of it.”

The foundation’s response during COVID-19 endeared Frost further. “I was never so proud to be part of it [as] when they did the relief fund,” she says. “I never had my doubts, but they really put their money where their mouth is.”

Recently, she introduced a concept called The Hidden, a pop-up dinner whose name is a play on words, given it’s hidden within a private room at Mac’s. These rare evenings, held a handful of times a year, allow her to cook outside the expected fare and pair the food with special wines. Her first event featured Italian food. “I did a riff on a dessert for that dinner — a dingdong, with chocolate ganache and a white chocolate cream — and put it in a little lunch box and did our port in a thermos.”

The theme for March is French food. In May, the theme is Korean for Asian American and Pacific Islander Month, to honor Frost’s heritage.
“I’m half-Korean, so I’m going to have my mom come in and it’ll be modern Korean cooking,” Frost says. “My mom’s still probably going to do traditional, (and) I’ll do the modern take.” To find out about tickets to The Hidden, you can sign up for emails on the Mac’s website.

Visit Chef Rena Frost during the Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival’s Rise + Dine event

When: Noon-2:30 p.m., April 6
Cost: General admission, $65. Entry sold out
What this is: Brunch-themed celebration with tasting tent, vendor activations and
pop-up experiences
Where: Heart of the Ranch at Clearfork, 5000 Clearfork Main St., Fort Worth