The eagerly anticipated debut of the newest member of Reed Clemons' San Gabriel Restaurant Group takes this place this week with an opening bash at Mezzaluna Gateway (9901 Capitol of Texas Hwy, 372-8030) at 7:30pm on Saturday, April 11. Guests at the opening, which benefits SafePlace, will be the first to view the newest local restaurant from Clemons' favorite architect, Dick Clark, and interior designer Deborah Holbrook. San Gabriel executive chef Emmett Fox had significant input into the design of the new kitchen and has hired former longtime Sfuzzi chef Louis Halfant to helm the operation. The stylish eatery opens for business on Monday, April 13 for both lunch and dinner. It will be interesting to see what effect business at the new Mezzaluna has on the popular Colorado Street location. Shorter waits for a table on weekend nights, perhaps?

Another stylish event that looks interesting is an Edible Art Installation at Rhythm House (624 W. 34th, 458-4411) on Friday, April 17. Local pastry chef Louise McLaughlin, who divides her time among 34th Street Cafe, Bertram's by Miguel, and Rhythm House, is creating a series of edible art pieces which will be on display at Rhythm House from 5-8pm. From 8-10pm, the pieces will be available for the public to eat. Since relocating to Austin two years ago, pastry chef-graphic artist McLaughlin has been busy developing skills in fondant frosting, pulled sugar, and molded chocolate. Look for all those techniques and more in her edible artwork.

Former Amandine Bakery owner Alain Braux checked in before leaving for a vacation in his hometown of Nice, France, to let me know he's released two new sorbet flavors on the market. Look for the Coconut Lime Sorbet and Chocolate Raspberry Sorbet wherever you purchase Amandine products. Braux is also collaborating on some new restaurant management software with chef/owner Jean-Louis DeHoux of the Belgian Restaurant (3520 Bee Caves Rd., 328-0580) which they plan to debut at the Texas Restaurant Association convention this summer.

Both the International Association of Culinary Professionals and the James Beard Foundation have released the lists of cookbooks nominated for their annual awards. Check out the lists at these groups' respective websites: and It turns out that chef Miguel Ravago is not the only local talent with an interest in this year's awards. Two cookbooks illustrated with excellent photos by nationally recognized food photographer Laurie Smith are also nominated for the Child awards. The books are Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (Broadway Books, $40 hard), by Deborah Madison, and Olive Oil: From Tree to Table (Chronicle Books, $19.95 paper), by Peggy Knickerbocker. Both authors are scheduled to teach classes at the Central Market Cooking School (4001 N. Lamar, 458-3068) soon. Deborah Madison's classes are this coming Wednesday and Thursday, April 15 & 16, and Knickerbocker will teach on May 22. Speaking of cookbooks with local ties, look for the collaboration between former Chronicle food editor Robb Walsh and Fresh Planet and Jeffrey's chef David Garrido entitled Nuevo Tex-Mex (Chronicle Books, $19.95 paper) to be released later this month.

A press release from the Four Seasons (98 San Jacinto, 478-4500) has my favorite post-SXSW story. "The fast pace, number of patrons and duration of activities all contribute to make SXSW week the most demanding of the year. To keep our staff fresh and motivated, we set up an intensive care unit room adjacent to the Lounge and the Cafe," said GM Paul Cherret. Seems the overworked staff members took breaks and enjoyed theme meals and back, neck, and foot massages by the Four Seasons massage therapists before going back out to give their usual exemplary service. Wow.

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