Food editor Virginia B. Wood tells you how to eat for charity in the upcoming week.

Grief Relief

In the days since the September 11 disaster, the media has carried stories about how the ripple effects of the tragedy have wreaked havoc on the Broadway theatre season, the hotel industry, and the New York restaurant community. Right alongside those stories, however, have come reports of New York's top chefs and restaurateurs rising to the occasion despite business reverses. It seems they're pitching in to feed firemen and other rescue crew members as well as those displaced by the devastation in the neighborhood of the World Trade Center. The same spirit of giving to benefit the rescue workers and families of the victims of the disaster is alive in the Austin restaurant community as well. Just on the heels of a miserably slow summer, individual restaurants such as Fonda San Miguel, Manuel's, and Taj Palace have staged their own benefits and a large group of local eateries has scheduled a fundraiser for Wednesday, Oct. 3. That night, participating restaurants have agreed to donate as much as 25% of their sales revenue to the United Way of New York's September 11th Fund that was established to directly assist the immediate needs of the families of the victims of the World Trade Center disaster. At press time, these restaurants had confirmed their participation in the Oct. 3 Fork It Over benefit: Aquarelle, Asti, Bitter End, Dolce Vita, Cafe 290, Emilia's, Granite Cafe, Güero's, Hudson's on the Bend, Hyde Park Bar & Grill, Mezzaluna Downtown, Mezzaluna Gateway, Ranch 616, Ella's, Si Bon, Starlite, Wink, Zoot, Hoover's, Curra's, and Ruby's BBQ. Restaurateurs who would like to participate in this benefit are encouraged to call organizers Emmett and Lisa Fox at Asti (451-1218). Dining in one of these restaurants on the evening of Oct. 3 will be a great way to show our compassion for the victims in New York as well as our appreciation for the overwhelming generosity for our neighbors in the restaurant business. Doing something for a community as a community is a potent grief reliever.

Several years ago, Jeffrey's executive chef David Garrido founded a charity event to benefit Communities in Schools, an organization involved in drop-out prevention in Texas public schools. The fall event has grown to become one of Austin's most popular and successful charity soirees, filling the Omni Hotel's (701 Brazos) lovely atrium lobby with great food from 20 of our city's top restaurants and caterers, distinctive area wines and craft-brewed beers, and toe-tapping live music. This year's aptly titled Food for Thought gala takes place on Thursday, Oct. 4, from 6-9pm at the Omni. Advance tickets ($50) can be purchased by calling the Communities in Schools office at 462-1771.

Another area benefit that sounds much less formal is this weekend's Old Fayette County Jail Men Who Cook Gala on Saturday, Sept. 29, at 6:30pm at the old jail in downtown LaGrange. This event will showcase the diverse culinary talents of Fayette County bankers, lawyers, cowboys, artists, salesmen, politicians, public officials, and private citizens who are working together to raise money for an indoor fire sprinkler system for the renovated old jail. Tickets for the Men Who Cook "gala" are $25 per person or $45 per couple and can be purchased at the LaGrange Chamber of Commerce, 171 S. Main or at Cookbooks featuring biographies and recipes from each participating chef are included in the ticket price or can be purchased separately from the Chamber. This event is a must for anyone interested in Central Texas ethnic foodways.

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