Food-o-File: Friday Lagniappe

A little extra Austin food news

Sometimes there is too much Austin food news to squeeze into the print edition of the Chronicle. Rather than wait a week, we've decided to give our readers a little bite of something extra.

Chef Michael Fojtasek with James Beard award nominee Grae Nonas at Olamaie (photo by John Anderson)

• The James Beard Foundation Awards committee is showing Austin chefs their respect again this year. Kudos to Rising Star of the Year semi-finalists Mark Buley and Sam Hellman-Mass from Odd Duck and Grae Nonas of Olamaie, as well as Best Chef Southwest semi-finalists David Bull of Congress, Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue, and Bryce Gilmore of Barley Swine. Both Bull and Gilmore are previous nominees. Finalists will be announced on March 24 and the winners will be recognized at the annual gala on New York City's Chelsea Piers May 4. We're proud of all our Austin nominees and wish them the best.

• The Asian American Resource Center (8401 Cameron Rd.) will once again host an Asian food truck battle during their Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month celebration on May 2, and they've issued a call for entries. Food trucks need not be Asian to compete, but must offer an Asian-inspired dish as their contest entry. For example, last year the Indian-themed Chaat Shop truck took home the win with a crowd-pleasing rice dish. This year, all the competition dishes must showcase coconut. Entry forms must be submitted by Saturday, Feb. 28. For more details, call 512/974-1700 or email

• The Wine & Food Foundation of Texas is in the final 48 hours of a two-for-one flash sale for tickets to their Toast & Roast event that's coming up at Rancho Cuernavaca (1803 N. Cuernavaca Dr.). Guests at the classic sip and stroll party will toast with wines from Texas Monthly's Best Texas Wines of 2014 list chosen by certified sommelier Jessica Dupuy, while noshing on grilled pig, goat, and lamb meats prepared by chef John Bates of Noble Sandwich Co.. The popular Sour Bridges band will provide musical entertainment. General admission tickets are $100, members $80. Buy during the flash sale for a chance to win two free tickets or get a refund on the first two. The flash sale runs through Saturday, Feb. 21 and tickets can be purchased here. Toast & Roast is Sunday, March 1, 2-5pm.

Texas French Bread (2900 Rio Grande) owner Murph Wilcott has shared the exciting news that they've recently fulfilled their long-time dream of replacing old, antiquated baking equipment with new state-of-the-art deck ovens. According to the TFB newsletter, the composite stone floors of the deck ovens radiate heat upward through the loaves so that the tops split correctly, yielding a loaf that is “simply superior in every way to those we've made in recent years with our older, hybrid rack ovens.” They've also added a new proof box and a water chiller that measures both the volume and temperature of water used in their breads. And in keeping with their focus on quality sourcing for the restaurant, they're searching out flours from local and organic suppliers for the bakery. The bucolic garden dining area just north of the bakery's parking lot has already been available to brunch customers on recent sunny weekends and all it needs now is consistent warm weather and some hanging lights in order for the space to be used during dinner service.

• There are a couple of great weekend events you won't want to miss: The 2015 That Takes the Cake Sugar Art Show & Cake Competition happens this weekend in its new venue at the Round Rock Sports Center (2400 Chisholm Trail Rd, Round Rock). Event director Jennifer Bartos tells us that more than 400 cakes are entered in the competition this year, making the annual event sponsored by the Capital Confectioners cake club one of the biggest in the country. At the door, general admission is $12 per day or $20 for the weekend and entitles guests access to view the entries, shop with specialty vendors, attend informal demonstrations, participate in raffle drawings, and attend the awards show. Saturday, Feb. 21, 10am-6pm and Sunday, Feb. 22, 10am-5pm .

Fonda San Miguel (2330 W. North Loop) hosts a trunk show and sale of the works of San Antonio-based artists Veronica Prida and Omar Rodriguez this Sunday. Fonda regulars are familiar with examples of Prida's clothing, fabric, and furniture art as they are sometimes worn by Fonda staff members and represented in the restaurant's famous museum-quality folk art collection. Rodriguez' lush, colorful style and distinctive painting methods make his work popular with international public and private art collectors. Sunday, Feb. 22, 11am-2pm .

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Austin food news, James Beard Foundation, Mark Buley, Sam Hellman-Mass, Grae Nonas, Aaron Franklin, Bryce Gilmore, Asian American Resource Center, Chaat Shop, Wine and Food Foundation of Texas, Fonda San Miguel, Texas French Bread

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