It's been a while since we had a whole column full of chef news, but here we go. First up, an important correction to last week's online column: I misquoted chef Bryce Gilmore about the estimated opening date of the new brick-and-mortar Odd Duck (1219 S. Lamar) being "next year." Gilmore says that, after several delays, the project is in the "final stretch and much closer to opening." Great news for Gilmore fans.
A couple of Austin chefs spent their summer vacations performing stages at European kitchens included in San Pellegrino and Acqua Panna's prestigious annual list of the world's 50 best restaurants; surely some of their new inspiration will be showing up on Austin tables. Foreign & Domestic (306 E. 53rd) chef/co-owner Ned Elliott has just returned from a trip to France where he staged for chef Iñaki Aizpitarte at Le Chateaubriand (No. 18) and worked in some dining at Alain Passard's L'Arpège (No. 16), now famous for stellar vegetable preparations. In August, Contigo (2027 Anchor Ln.) chef/co-owner Andrew Wiseheart performed a two-week stage in the kitchen of Restaurant Relae (No. 56) in Copenhagen, after several months of persistent email pursuit. Wiseheart said he chose Relae because he found the "focus on quality" of co-owners Kim Rossen and chef Christian Puglisi so inspiring. After completing his stage, Wiseheart and Contigo co-owner Ben Edgerton spent a week eating at restaurants in Sweden. By the way, Wiseheart says he and Edgerton still haven't decided on a concept for their second restaurant, which will be going into part of the post office building at 1914 E. Sixth next year, just that it definitely will not be another Contigo.
Violet Crown Management recently announced the promotion of Rick Lopez to executive chef at La Condesa (400 W. Second) and the promotion of Alexis Chong to the same position at Sway (1417 S. First). No word yet on a replacement for pastry chef Laura Sawicki.
After helping develop the Texas French Bread bistro (2900 Rio Grande) dinner concept at the family-owned bakery with his brother Murph, Ben Willcott is assuming a lower profile in the kitchen there while he pursues a degree in counseling at St. Edwards University. Mike Hamley has been promoted to the position of head chef for the TFB bistro operation.
StarChefs.com online magazine hosts their 8th Annual International Chef Congress at Pier 57 in New York City at the end of this month and several Austin chefs are participating. Chef Josh Watkins and a team from the Carillon (as well as Two Bros. BBQ Market from San Antonio and Killen's BBQ from Houston) will be competing in the first ever StarChef barbecue cook-off, while Philip Speer of the Uchi Restaurant Group will present a pastry pop-up restaurant and chefs John Bates and Brandon Martinez of Noble Sandwich Co. will create a pop-up sandwich shop.