Chefs in transit in this week's Food-o-File.
Chefs in Transit
Siena Ristorante Toscana (6203 Capital of Texas Hwy. N., 349-7667) chef Harvey Harris and sous chef Phillip Williams return this weekend from a sojourn in Italy, where they sought inspiration for late spring and early summer menu specials. They checked out seafood along the Tuscan coast and dropped in at the family restaurant in San Gimignano where Harris worked as part of his externship from the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners (ICIF) a few years back. Harris also touched base with the ICIF in Asti where he ran into fellow Austinite Glenn Mack of the Culinary Academy of Austin and FoodWorks Inc. Mack was making arrangements for his Austin business ventures to represent the ICIF to potential students in the American southwest East Side Cafe (2113 Manor, 476-5858) chef/co-owner Elaine Martin e-mailed to rave about the food in Spain after her return from a recent vacation. The seafood, especially shrimp, mussels, and langostine at the El Pescador restaurant in Cadaques were "unparalleled in anything I've ever eaten." She tasted sea bream "with thinly sliced potatoes baked together in wine, garlic, and a rich fish stock. Simple and perfect!" Elaine reports she encountered fresh-squeezed Valencia orange juice and excellent, deeply flavored coffee everywhere, even at the European version of Subway, called Bocatto Pastry chef Steve Mannion, of both Private Affairs Catering and the Culinary Academy of Austin, is taking time out from his busy local teaching and catering schedules to present a weeklong pastry course in Porto Allegre, Brazil Green Pastures (811 W. Live Oak, 444-4747) has hired Charles Bloemsma as executive chef. A CIA grad with extensive training in desserts and pastry, Bloemsma comes to the grand dame of Austin restaurants after stints at the Omni Southpark and the Cafe at the Four Seasons The San Gabriel Restaurant Group announces that Executive Chef Jose Allem is now supervising the kitchens at both Mezzaluna Gateway (9901 Capital of Texas Hwy. N., 372-8030) and the original Mezzaluna (310 Colorado, 472-6770) downtown. Allem, formerly chef at the highly regarded Damian's in Houston, will now focus his talents on updating the menu at the recently refurbished downtown Mezzaluna outlet Steven Konarik and Carrie Hart of Kurant Events purchased Max's Catering (6519 Burnet Lane, 206-0610) from longtime caterer Max Thomas before his departure for Hawaii. Konarik and Harris will operate the business under both names for the time being.
Jean Gilbert will sign copies of The Well-Read Cook's Book (self-published, $30, paper) at the Texas French Bread at 29th and Rio Grande this Saturday, May 5, 10am-noon. Austinites will remember the globetrotting Gilbert from her stint as culinary director at the Heritage Society's 1886 Room In the tradition of Mexico City street markets, Fonda San Miguel (2330 W. North Loop, 459-4121) will celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Bazaar Sabado, a warehouse sale and art market this Saturday, May 5, from 10am-4pm. A light breakfast and lunch menu will be served inside the restaurant from 10am-2pm while folk art, tableware, glassware, decorations, and new works by a selected group of Austin artisans will be for sale under tents outdoors Siena (349-7667) welcomes the Fess Parker Winery on Tuesday, May 8. Chef Harvey Harris will return from Italy just in time to prepare a four-course dinner to compliment Parker's Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and White Riesling