The results of the Seventh Annual Central Market Gumbo Contest, and lots of restaurant news

Gumbo Contest Winners

When we arrived to judge the Seventh Annual Central Market Gumbo Contest, the store was awash in Mardi Gras decorations and festivities. A morning panel of judges sampled the entries in the seafood, exotic, and partner categories while our nine-person afternoon team tasted the chicken/sausage and vegetarian entries. There were no entries in the restaurant division. After 73 bowls of gumbo were tasted, the following winners were chosen: Seafood, Jonathan Barton for his GJB's Gumbo; Exotic, Chris Watt for Smoked Rabbit & Venison Sausage Gumbo; Chicken/Sausage, Delaine Jechow; Vegetarian, Nabi Zarr for Hearty Vegetable Soup; and Central Market Partner Ernie Gonzales from the Deli/Cheese dept. for his El Gumbo Blanco. Grand Prize winner Rachel Lamas prepared Duck-Andouille Sausage-Shrimp & Wild Mushroom Gumbo and won a $1,000 shopping spree to spend at her leisure. Congratulations to all the winners.

Gotta Lotta Restaurant News

After several years of rumors and expectations, the celebrated Dallas and Las Vegas restaurant Star Canyon (701 Congress, 391-1550) has finally come to Austin. Located in the ground floor of the Intercontinental Stephen F. Austin Hotel at the corner of Seventh and Congress, Star Canyon features the eclectic Southwestern cuisine developed by its famous founding chef, Big Spring native Stephan Pyles. Though chef Pyles sold his interest in the restaurant company last year, many of his signature dishes remain menu mainstays. Paul Clark is chef/partner in the new Austin outlet after a tenure as chef in the Las Vegas location and contributes dishes of his own to the menu, as well. The restaurant is open for lunch during the week and dinner and full bar nightly… After a three-year hiatus, the talented husband and wife restaurateur team of Yoli and Michael Amr will soon be back in business. Creole food lovers will remember the Amrs as the original operators of Gumbo's in Pflugerville and Round Rock before selling their successful restaurant and concept to Fired Up Inc. Look for their new venture, Yoli's Mediterranean Grill (14735 Bratton Lane, 670-2788) in the same location as their original Gumbo's. The cozy, 12-seat dinner house with chef Michael in the kitchen and Yoli at the door should be open by the end of March… The homegrown Lone Star Cafe chain celebrated its 20th anniversary in February by opening its 10th local outlet in Lakeline Mall. The new Lone Star kicked off with a public preview party featuring Steve Fromholz singing the cafe theme song and many of his other hits. The design of the new outlet will be the prototype for future expansion… The newest entry in the UT-area dining scene is Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwich Shop (601 W. MLK, 478-3111), a friendly franchise imported from the Midwest. Gourmet stuffed subs and club sandwiches are prepared on fresh baked breads, and while the little shop does boast some valuable off-street parking, bicycle delivery is available in the UT area only… SoCo neighbors, here's some news to celebrate! In response to customer demand, chef Lou Lambert, owner of Liberty Catering (383-8880), Jo's Hot Coffee (1300 S. Congress, 444-3800) and the late, much-lamented Liberty Pie Company has disclosed his plans to expand the cooking facilities at Jo's to include pizza and pie preparation. This means the truly delicious pizzas and luscious cream pies once again will be available in the neighborhood. No firm date yet on when the expansion will be completed, but we'll keep you posted.

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Seventh Annual Central Market Gumbo Contest, Star Canyon, Stephan Pyles, Lone Star Café, Yoli's Mediterranean Grill, Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwich Shop

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