Food-o-File

That Other Rumor

In the very next breath after placing Stephan Pyles at the Stephen F. Austin Hotel, the other rumor circulating locally had celebrated chef Dean Fearing, from Dallas' elegant Mansion on Turtle Creek, taking over the culinary operations at the downtown Driskill Hotel (East Sixth & Brazos). While there are still official denials about the Pyles venture, there are some definite grains of truth in the second story. Fearing himself is not leaving Dallas, but new Driskill general manager Jeff Trigger, who left the five-star Dallas luxury hotel earlier this spring, has recruited more than 10 former Mansion staffers to join him in Austin. Among the imports is Fearing's former executive sous chef, David Bull, now the executive chef at our own legendary Grand Dame of Texas hotels. Trigger and his talented staff plan to elevate the Driskill into the pantheon of top national hostelries, an admirable and exciting goal we enthusiastically support.


Which Mansion Is That?

The National Chicken Council hosted the National Chicken Cooking Contest last week in Dallas, with newspaper and magazine writers and editors from around the country invited to judge the results. Perks of the judging job included sampling signature chicken dishes at many top Dallas restaurants, including the Mansion on Turtle Creek. The lucky food writers were also treated to a Saturday bus trip down to Austin for a luncheon at the Governor's Mansion, prepared by chef David Garrido of Jeffrey's and Fresh Planet Cafe.


Bubbly Party Rescheduled

Earlier this spring, the Paramount Theatre (713 Congress, 472-2901) and the Grape Escape Wine Bar (314 Congress, 236-9463) had planned a unique fundraiser in which they would offer Austinites what would probably be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sample the world's highest rated (and priced) dessert wine, Chateau d'Yquem. Unfortunately, the party had to be postponed, but it's back on and scheduled for Wednesday, May 26, 6-8pm, at the Grape Escape. That evening, up to 65 wine enthusiasts will enjoy a tasting of Chateau d' Yquem 1984 in limited edition wine glasses handmade by local artist Robert McCandless, plus samples of desserts and cheeses from the Grape Escape menu. Proceeds from the $50 tickets benefit the Paramount. Call the theatre for reservations.


Great Anticipation

Partners David Huffaker, Greg Steiner, and Tim Albright gave me a virtual tour of the new Grapevine Market (7944 Great Northern Blvd., 323-5900) recently, and they're confident their spectacular new superstore will be open Memorial Day weekend. In addition to voluminous retail space for displaying a great selectionof wines from around the world, the 10,000-sq.-ft. emporium has a wine-tasting area, an interactive learning center, a walk-in humidor, a full service kitchen, and a deli case. The market will be selling wines, spirits, beers, coffees, cigars, fresh cut flowers, imported gourmet food items, and prepared meals to take out. Huffaker, Stein, and Albright are eager to see their dream become a reality, and they look forward to working closely with vintners and local restaurants to influence more food-friendly wine lists around town. Once this outlet is successfully off the ground, the partners expect to open another Austin location before branching out to other Texas cities.

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