Virginia B. Wood catches up on culinary news in this week's "Food-o-File."
Boy, I miss one column week around here, and the pile of news items swells like waves during a hurricane! It's still not too late to buy tickets at the door at tonight's Food for Thought 2002 benefit, Thursday, Oct. 3, 6:30-9pm, at the Omni Hotel Downtown (701 Brazos). The gala event was founded by chef David Garrido and includes tastings from 22 top Austin restaurants, fine wines, entertainment from Jane Bond, and a silent auction. Tickets are $50 and proceeds benefit Communities in Schools (462-1771, www.cisaustin.org), a nonprofit dedicated to helping at-risk kids stay in school... To kickoff Texas Wine Month in a celebratory fashion, gather in the Grape Vine Market (7938 Great Northern Blvd., 323-5900) on Saturday, Oct. 5, and hand over $20 to get on the bus for educational seminars and wine-tasting tours of Flat Creek Estates (departing 9:30am) or Spicewood Vineyards (departing 1pm). Mitch Lindsey of Texas Green & Grape Tours (365-8380, www.texaswinerytours.com) will be your host. For more information, call or check the Web site... This Sunday, Oct. 6, it's just a short drive out Hwy. 290 W. to Sunset Canyon Pottery (894-0938) near Dripping Springs for the annual Empty Bowl Project fundraiser in support of the Capital Area Food Bank. From 11am-4pm, guests can purchase handcrafted pottery bowls for $15 and fill them with soup from restaurants such as Asti, Fonda San Miguel, Granite Cafe, Lambert's, Emilia's, Wink, and more... Eddie V's Edgewater Grille (Fifth and San Jacinto, 472-1860; 9400-B Arboretum Blvd., 342-2642; www.eddiev.com) downtown location begins an exploration of the wineries represented on its list with a series of complimentary educational wine tastings every Wednesday, 5-7pm, in the V Lounge. At the end of each four-week session, the restaurant will host a wine dinner with the featured vineyard at a cost of $75 per person, tax and gratuity included. The Gallo wine dinner is scheduled for Oct. 9. The second winery series will begin Oct. 16 with Paterno Vineyards, culminating in a wine dinner on Nov. 6. Seatings for the dinners are limited, and reservations are necessary.
Local food-service folks have moved around quite a bit lately, so think of this as the pre-game lineup for fall. Chef John Maxwell has left Zoot (509 Hearn, 477-6535) to become the executive chef at a soon-to-open elegant boutique hotel at the corner of MLK and Rio Grande called The Mansion at Judges Hill. Look for the hotel to open in December with the in-house restaurant operation to follow by February... Former Zoot chef Patrick Ehemann has left the Barr Mansion (10463 Sprinkle, 926-6907) and will return to the helm of the Zoot kitchen, where he'll stay until until early 2003... Robert Proby is the new chef at the Barr... Talented pastry chef Elise Feinberg has left Emilia's (600 E. Third, 469-9722) to return to San Francisco, so chef Chris Lanier is back to making desserts in addition to his job as executive chef at the lovely downtown restaurant... Busy Kurant Events (206-0610, www.kurantevents.com) caterers Carrie Hart and Steve Konarik recently hired sous chef Richard Wheatley and event planner Suzannah Knapp just in time for the holiday rush... Suzann Garde has taken over pastry and bread production at Asti (408-C E. 43rd, 451-1218). We've lost track of chef Daniel Nemec since Coyote Grille & Margarita Bar (219 W. Fourth, 481-0219) closed for renovation... In order to spend more time at her new home in San Miguel de Allende, Castle Hill Cafe (Fifth and Baylor, 476-0728) co-owner Cathe Dailey has hired longtime Gilligan's (407 Colorado, 474-7474) manager Rina de Guzman to run the front of the house at the popular West Austin eatery... Although Si Bon closed in the late spring, there has never been any official word about what happened there. Recent word on the street is that owners Peter and Cara O'Brien and their young family have left Austin for the East Coast and that a sushi restaurant will open in the South Lamar location... After months of negotiations with the city about site plans, Russell Milner has given up on opening a second location of Russell's Bakery & Coffee Shop (3339 Hancock Dr., 419-7877) in the 2500 block of South Lamar... When the name and format change did nothing to increase business, Ella's (#1 Jefferson Sq.) closed in midsummer, and now former co-owner Kevin Williamson is talking to potential new partners about concepts they'd like to implement in the space, and property owners are also looking at proposals from several local restaurant groups, so the lovely little space on Kerbey Lane shouldn't be empty much longer... After 40 years in the same location, Luby's lost their lease on the building at 2233 W. North Loop and that North Central outlet will be replaced by another restaurant. Elderly neighbors and area police officers are said to be sorely disappointed.