Permanent changes at Star Canyon and an update on the Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival

All the News That Fits

The anonymous caller left a message on my voice mail here at the paper encouraging me to call the Stephen F. Austin Intercontinental Hotel (Seventh & Congress, 457-8800) or Star Canyon restaurant to inquire about the purchase of one by the other. So like any good reporter, I made the call. As you may recall, Star Canyon creator and Dallas celebrity chef Stephan Pyles sold his interest in the restaurants he'd founded to the Carlson Companies shortly before the Austin outlet opened in late 2000. Then last fall, Carlson put the block of restaurants up for sale. At press time, Stephen F. General Manager Steven Parker had not returned my call but I was able to get some information from a member of the Star Canyon management staff. According to Sherry Joseph , the Stephen F. Austin Intercontinental Hotel has purchased the local Star Canyon outlet lock, stock, and cowboy boots and takes over operation of the swanky corner restaurant the first of April. No word yet on the name, chef, or concept of the restaurant, but we do know chef Ron Brannon has moved on. The Star Canyon mystique never quite caught on here in River City, making it the second upscale southwestern brand-name restaurant to fail in the Austin market... And speaking of brand-name restaurants, the site of Texas' first modern-day brewpub will be serving beer again by late summer when Fox and Hound Smokehouse & Tavern comes to town. Although it's a restaurant and bar rather than a brewpub, the national chain has signed a long lease on the Warehouse District property that once housed the Waterloo Brewing Company. The lucrative deal should make landlord Kelly Gray plenty of money... Chef/General Manager John Randall is settling in at the Texas Chili Parlor (1409 Lavaca, 472-2828) and has no plans to make sweeping changes in the food there, although he is likely to feature some of his own signature award-winning hot sauce concoctions. Randall and new owner Scott Zublin are determined to return the longtime Capitol-area watering hole to profitable operating status and invites all current and former Chili Parlor customers to come see them.

Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival

The schedule for this year's Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival, set to take place April 3-7, is one of the most engaging offerings we can remember in recent years. The focus this year is on the foods and wines of Italy with several inviting events. Sure winners on Friday, April 5, look to be the following: the Treasures of Italy Seminar at Siena Ristorante with olive oil, balsamic vinegars, parmesan, and proscuitto with appearances by cookbook authors Joyce Goldstein (The Mediterranean Kitchen) and Colman Andrews (Saveur Cooks Authentic Italian) as well as local chefs Harvey Harris and Will Packwood; the Texas Meets Tuscany tasting in the artisan barn at the Barr Mansion, where Lucinda Hutson will assemble food and wine purveyors from around the state to present their various wares; an Organic Source Seminar at Star Canyon with local chefs preparing dishes with produce provided by Boggy Creek farmers Larry Butler and Carol Ann Sayle; and a wine seminar at the Stephen F. Austin Hotel featuring nationally known sommeliers Andrea Immer and Evan Goldstein. The Italian Cheese and Wine Primer on Saturday afternoon at the Stephen F. is another don't miss presentation, with New York wine expert Joe Bastianich and GrapeVine Market cheesemonger Ike Johnson. For last-minute information and registration, call the Festival office at 329-0770. See you there.

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