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Benefit aids Dai Due sous chef in wake of tragedy

By Virginia B. Wood, Fri., July 20, 2012

I broke one of my own rules of reviewing last weekend, and the whole experience was an object lesson in why I made the rule in the first place. It really isn't a good idea to check out new eateries on the day they open. I'd read about this place on social media and also received a very inviting menu via email. We arrived to discover the place had opened late, was understaffed, and was unable to execute some of the advertised menu; also, they were handing out warm canned beer instead of tapping a promised free keg. Although what food we saw looked and smelled good, the kitchen wasn't taking orders, because the cook had to catch up on prep work. We left disappointed. Any small business owner who promotes an opening they aren't prepared for creates a very bad first impression that will be difficult to overcome. I'm deliberately not mentioning the name of the place because the operator already has enough problems and I should never have been there in the first place, but this is the reason successful restaurateurs work out kinks at soft openings with friends and family.

Dai Due sous chef Tabatha Stephens and her husband, Bobby, are overwhelmed with medical bills after the death of their infant son. A benefit dinner at Fino this weekend is sold out, but you can still donate to the medical fund at www.winefoodfoundation.org.

Austin Food Blog­ger Alliance hosts their first benefit for the Bake a Wish Foundation, a nonprofit that provides birthday cakes and other baked treats for kids in shelters and foster homes, as well as the elderly and disabled. Cupcake & Cock­tails will feature an invitational taste-off of cocktail-themed cupcakes, plus a silent auction of food experiences, products, and services, 6-9pm Wed­nes­day, July 25, in the ballroom of the AT&T Confer­ence Center (1900 Uni­ver­si­ty Ave). Tickets are $35 at www.afba.ticketbud.com/cupcakes-cocktails. To donate auction items, contact nelly.ramirez@me.com.

Longtime Austin chef and natural food expert Janet Chaykin has left Whole Foods Market and formed her own natural foods consulting firm, Chay­kin Consulting, to help would-be culinary entrepreneurs develop and market new products. She's currently working with Kim Stan­ford on a line of gluten-free baked goods. If the samples I tasted recently are any indication, Kim should be very successful. Next to the stellar gluten-free version of Miles of Chocolate, these excellent cupcakes, tea breads, and muffins are the only gluten-free baked things I've ever really liked or wanted to eat again. I'll keep you posted.

Go Texan Restaurant Roundup is coming up; the Texas Department of Agriculture encourages everyone to seek out special presentations of Texas meats, dairy products, vegetables, fruits, beers, wines, and spirits. For example, Opal Divine's outlets have over 50 Texas beers on tap and will spotlight a different local brewery at each store during the week of July 23-29; 5% of beer sales will benefit the Capital Area Food Bank. Follow them on Twitter @OpalDivines for daily news about special tappings and more ... And follow me @ACFood to see where I'm eating out this week.

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