Food-o-File

Concerned about your food supply? ECO-FAIR `97 is a conference and trade show to promote ecologically and economically sound farming, ranching, landscaping, building, gardening, and community practices being held this weekend, January 24 & 25, at Palmer Auditorium. The focus of this year's gathering is sustainable agriculture and will address topics concerning family farming, organic growing, urban pest control, native plants, rainwater collection, natural pet care, fire ant management, honey bees, home gardening, and holistic livestock management. Some of the expert speakers are Larry Butler and Carol Sayle of Austin's Boggy Creek Farm, Richard and Peggy Sechrist of Homestead Beef in Fredericksburg, Stockman Grass Farmer magazine editor Allan Nation, Malcolm Beck of Garden-Ville, Dr. Nancy Roe of Texas A&M, and Harley and Pamela Rose of Rainwater Collection Over Texas. Eco-Fair guests can hear expert speakers, attend panel discussions and explore the innovative and environmentally sound products displayed in the trade show. They can also feast on the healthy comestibles of local vendors Kerbey Lane Cafe, Curra's Grill, Casa de Luz, Satay, Madam Nadalini's, and Apple Annie's. Admission is only $5... Though we aren't getting a Hard Rock Cafe or a Planet Hollywood, Austin is attracting the attention of nationally prominent restaurateurs. According to Leon Cikota, president of the Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Festival, famed New York and San Francisco restaurateur Drew Nieporent heard such great things about the Austin food and wine event from last year's guest chefs Douglas Rodriguez and Mark Militello, Nieporent himself contacted Cikota about attending this year. After a star-studded whirlwind tour of Nieporent's New York hotspots Tribeca Grill, Nobu, Montrachet, and Layla, Cikota reports that the owner of the Myriad Restaurant Group and four of his chefs will be the celebrity guests at the Saturday evening dinner. The desserts that evening will be prepared by Chocolatier magazine. The Friday night event will showcase top restaurants from Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin, leaving local restaurants a precious few spots. Let's just hope that in attracting all these big-name stars the festival doesn't stray too far from the Hill Country heart that makes it so special. While Nieporent is only coming for a visit, another New York restaurateur has bought into the Austin market. Pino Luongo, owner of noted New York Italian restaurants Le Madri, Mad. 61 and the Coco Pazzo group purchased the entire Sfuzzi restaurant chain out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. All former Sfuzzis will be renovated and become Coco Pazzo (Italian for "crazy cook") restaurants in the next few months. Restaurateur Luongo will visit his new Austin outlet early this spring, according to local Sfuzzi GM Chris Zaroutsos, and the $150-200K renovation of the Sixth Street eatery should begin in April. Zaroutsos reports that Luongo doesn't refer to the Coco Pazzo restaurants as a chain and gives general managers and chefs in each outlet a fair amount of autonomy. That's good news for manager Zaroutsos and his new chef, former Dallasite Eric Kellar, who took over the Sfuzzi kitchen a few months back when longtime chef Louis Halfant left to pursue new challenges... Martin Brothers Cafe has added some top-flight restaurant talent to its staff recently. Tom Hoopingarner is the new General Manager and Robert Mayberry is their new executive chef.
Send restaurant news, chef/menu changes, food events, or intriguing rumors to: "food-o-file," The Austin Chronicle, PO Box 49066, Austin, TX 78765.

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