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Food-o-File

Culinary stars align for SXSW

By Virginia B. Wood, Fri., March 7, 2014

Tom Perini at Perini Ranch Steakhouse
Tom Perini at Perini Ranch Steakhouse

With South by Southwest starting this weekend, Downtown Austin will be awash with visitors, including film, music, television, and culinary celebrities. We know Jimmy Kimmel Live will broadcast a few shows from Austin featuring pre-taped segments the comedian and his sidekick Guillermo shot on a recent eating tour of East Austin's artisan barbecue joints. Late Night With Seth Meyers will be joined by a pop-up food truck operated by New York's Shake Shack, promoting the famous brand's arrival at the Lamar Union development later this year and a second outlet at the Domain in 2015. Los Angeles chef Roy Choi will be in town as part of the cast of Jon Favreau's film Chef, the festival's opening night film. And former Gourmet magazine editor Ruth Reichl has been soliciting Austin dining suggestions from her Twitter followers; she's coming to town for the screening of her son Nick Singer's feature, Other Months, during SXSW Film. Rumor has it some big-name barbecue chefs will be checking out our smokin' hot barbecue scene during the fortnight, as well. We'll keep you posted.

When the James Beard Foundation announces the finalists for the chef awards every spring, they also reveal the names of the restaurants around the country that have been designated as "America's Classics." These awards are mostly given to family-owned regional restaurants that are "treasured for their quality food, local character, and lasting appeal." This year, the 31-year-old Perini Ranch Steakhouse in tiny Buffalo Gap, just outside of Abilene, has received this recognition. Austin foodies will know rancher, famed chuckwagon cook, and restaurateur Tom Perini as a founding member and former board president of Foodways Texas and the host of the annual Buffalo Gap Wine & Food Summit that sells out at the restaurant every April. Congratulations to Tom and Lisa Perini on the well-deserved accolade.

I was a judge during the second round of this year's Citywide 86'd competition held at the Escoffier School of Culinary Arts last Saturday, where employees from Barley Swine, Odd Duck, Olive & June, and Sway competed in the Chopped-like cook-off for a space in the finals in June. Barley Swine's Bradley Nicholson emerged as the winner of this second contest, sealing the deal with a quince ice cream served over a funnel cake created from a particularly difficult mystery bag of ingredients in the dessert round. For a more complete recap of the competition, go to austinchronicle.com/daily.

Farmers, gardeners, and anyone who cares about a sustainable food system will be interested in the documentary film Seeds of Time, which is playing during SXSW Film. The film is about Cary Fowler, who served as executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust from 2005 to 2012. The trust's mandate is to "ensure the conservation and availability of crop diversity for food security worldwide" and Fowler was instrumental in creating the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which now contains seeds from more than 783,000 distinct crop varietals. The first screening of Seeds of Time takes place Monday, March 10, at Violet Crown Cinema.

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