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Food-o-File

Big changes at Olivia – and the Chronicle

By Virginia B. Wood, Fri., July 25, 2014

After 21 years at The Austin Chronicle, 17 of those years as Food Editor, I am changing jobs. Austin's food and restaurant scene has evolved dramatically during my tenure and covering that culinary emergence and growth in ethnic diversity has been the best job I could imagine. I'm proud of our Food section and grateful to all the contributing writers who shared my vision over the years and helped me realize it. I'll continue to write about food for this paper as a staff writer, providing my institutional memory of the local scene as a resource and covering news in the city's first restaurant news column. I'll review restaurants on occasion, attend some food events, and contribute features to both our weekly print and daily online editions. I'm also hoping to devote time to two long-languished book projects. I'm turning over the reins of the Food section to my young colleague Brandon Watson, a reporter with an engaging writing style, a keen interest in food, and plenty of social media savvy. Brandon will handle all aspects of the job: fielding story pitches and event invitations, making restaurant-review and event-coverage assignments for both the print and daily online editions, writing and editing copy, reviewing restaurants, and taking responsibility for our online presence and social media interaction. Brandon can be reached at both bwatson@austinchronicle.com and food@austinchronicle.com. This is a fast-paced and demanding job in the Internet age, and I wish Brandon all the best with it. I encourage everyone to get to know Brandon and enjoy his voice and direction as the Food section moves into another exciting era in our city's continued culinary evolution.

Food-o-File

Speaking of changes, Olivia (2043 S. Lamar) chef/owner James Holmes says that young chef Max Petty has left the restaurant and the position has been filled by New Orleans native Chris Ball. Look for Ball and his team to return to the more rustic, farm-to-table cooking style that was Olivia's hallmark in its early days. Holmes also said Olivia is adding a full bar in the fall with a craft cocktail program. And perhaps his biggest news was that he and wife Christina welcomed Layla Holmes (7 pounds, 7 ounces) into their family July 8. Can't help but wonder if she'll eventually have a restaurant named after her like her older sisters Olivia and Lucy.

Terra Madre is a biannual conference of world slow food communities in Turin, Italy, that offers seminars, taste workshops, and classes addressing issues facing global food systems. It happens concurrently with Salone del Gusto, the world's largest food and wine fair. Chef Josh Jones of Salt & Time Butcher Shop & Salumeria (1912 E. Seventh) has been chosen as a delegate to represent the United States in Turin. He needs help funding his trip to Italy and would like to stay a few extra days in order to take advantage of as many learning opportunities as possible. If you'd like to help fund Josh's trip and reap the culinary rewards of his learning experience, go to www.indiegogo.com and search "send Josh Jones to Italy."

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