The April food event and festival calendar offers a serious spring foodie marathon. This weekend alone, there's the Foodways Texas Symposium, Texas VegFest, the new Texas Olive Festival, the Children's Picnic and Real Food Fair, and the kickoff of Austin Restaurant Week. Mid-month is packed with the East Austin Urban Farm Tour, the CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, wildflower trails, and garden parties that segue right into Central Market's fortnight of Passaporte Brasil, the Austin Food & Wine Alliance's Live Fire!, and the Austin Food & Wine Festival. Tickets for all of these events are on sale now; see you at the finish line.
The prestigious James Beard Foundation has shined very well-deserved recognition on two local chefs. Bryce Gilmore, chef/owner of Barley Swine, is one of five finalists in the Best Chef: Southwest category, and chef Jesse Griffiths' Afield: A Chef's Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish (Welcome Books) is one of three nominees in the single-subject book category. Winners of the awards will be announced at galas in New York City the first week of May. Additionally, Food & Wine has tapped four Austin pastry chefs for the People's Best New Pastry Chef Award. Nominees include Jodi Elliott (Foreign & Domestic), Kyle McKinney (Barley Swine), Callie Speer (Swift's Attic), and Erica Waksmunski (Congress). Support the home team and cast your vote at www.foodandwine.com/the-peoples-pastry-central.
Mayor Lee Leffingwell and the City Council have designated Saturday, April 6, as Paul Qui Day in Austin. Look for the East Side King Liberty and Hole in the Wall outlets to be giving away "Poor Qui's Buns" in celebration that day, until supplies run out.
A couple of high-profile restaurant properties just south of Lady Bird Lake have undergone transformation recently. The owners of Hugo's did away with everything but chef Tony Clevenger and have reimagined the eatery as the high-concept Flour and Vine (300 S. Lamar). The new spot features a locally sourced, comfort food menu, as well as staff members who perform in vintage Roaring Twenties attire. Just around the corner, Austin restaurant veterans Rick Engel, Mark Turner, and Adam Weisberg expect to debut in early May their new pizza concept in the former Romeo's location. Chef George Thomas will helm the kitchen at Umami Mia Pizzeria (1500 Barton Springs Rd.), where the pizzas, pastas, sandwiches, and salads will focus on ingredients that naturally contain the fifth savory taste, umami. Both of Umami's indoor and patio bars will be stocked with eight local craft beers on tap, signature cocktails, and a selection of Italian wines... Crossing back over the river: Downtown ramen lovers will want to check out the April 4 soft opening of Daruma Ramen (612-B E. Sixth), a sibling restaurant created by Také and Kayo Asazu, proprietors of the wildly popular Komé.
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