Far-Flung Foodie Fun

The last two weeks of April are packed with back-to-back food-related travel options. By the time you read this, the group of Austin food writers, chefs, and restaurateurs who attended the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) convention in Portland, Oregon will be back in River City. Chef/cookbook author Miguel Ravago of Bertram's by Miguel made a quick trip to Portland for the Julia ChildCookbook Awards ceremony to see if Cocina de la Familia (Simon & Shuster, $30 hard), the book which he co-authored with Marilyn Tausend, won the award in the American regional category. The good news is, it won! Congratulations to them both.

Former Chronicle food editor Robb Walsh was there signing copies of the new book he co-authored with Austin chef David Garrido, Nuevo Tex-Mex (Chronicle Books, $19.95 paper; see sidebar for a review). Schlotzsky's Marketplace/Bread Alone executive pastry chef Rebecca Rather spoke to representatives of several publishers about a dessert cookbook she's planning with illustrations by local artist Sarah Higdon. A more complete report on the convention will follow next week.

While a handful of locals went to Portland, a much larger group headed south and east for the New Orleans Jazz Festival. While Jazzfest is primarily about music, who in their right mind goes to the Crescent City without thinking about the food? Chronicle food writer Pableaux Johnson made a pilgrimage to his native land and will share his gastronomic review of Jazzfest when he returns.

As if those two events weren't enough, two more are taking place this weekend. Female food professionals from around the country will be in New York City for the annual convention of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, a national organization that provides information, education, and networking opportunities to women in various food service professions. A group of local women has been considering the formation of an Austin chapter of WCR, but there's no word on whether any Austinites will attend this convention. A new event that sparks my interest is the first annual Southern Foodways Symposium: The Evolution of Southern Cuisine to be held this weekend, May 1-3, in Oxford, Mississippi. The event is a joint venture of the University of Mississippi's Center for the Study of Southern Culture (601/232-5993) and Institute for Continuing Studies (601/232-1243) with the American Institute of Food and Wine as an advisory sponsor. The panel of speakers and presenters is made up of culinary historians, folklorists, chefs, and food writers, and experts on regional foods. It looks fascinating. This event definitely goes on the calendar for next year!

Cookbook Competition

The McIlhenny Company, sponsors of the annual TABASCO™ Community Cookbook Awards competition, have announced the entry period for cookbooks published for fundraising purposes by nonprofit organizations in 1997 or 1998. Deadline for entries is September 30, 1998. Texas nonprofits fare particularly well in the Tabasco competition, having brought home the $2,500 first place money for each of the past three years. Those winners were The Artful Table (Dallas Museum of Art, $40 hard), Stop and Smell the Rosemary (Junior League of Houston, $40 hard) and the most recent winner, Mesquite Country: Tastes and Traditions From the Tip of Texas ($19.95, hard) by the Hidalgo County Historical Museum of Edinburg. To obtain an entry form, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to TABASCO™ Community Cookbook Awards, c/o McIlhenny Company, Attn: Sheryl Dartez, General Delivery, Avery Island, Louisiana, 70513. Information on the awards and winners is available at

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