Hot chefs and hot dogs heat up this week's "Food-o-File."


Had lunch the other day with some longtime Tarrytown dwellers who were still bemoaning the loss of their favorite neighborhood Chinese restaurant Formosa, which was forced out of the shopping center at Exposition and Windsor in 2001 by the radical vegetarian activist property owner. The owners of Formosa relocated to the intersection of Mesa Drive and Spicewood Springs Road, naming their new restaurant Wild Ginger (8108 Mesa, 343-8400) and from all reports were doing well in that location. No sooner had I returned to my office after lunch than I got a frantic call from a reader who had tried to have lunch at Wild Ginger only to find that it will soon be changing formats. The same owners plan to open Cathy's Steakhouse (8108 Mesa Dr., 343-8400) with new décor, a new menu, and a full, expanded bar. They hope to attract more happy-hour business plus a drinking and dancing crowd and the increased revenue that comes with more bar sales... Speaking of changes, the traditional Tex-Mex fare at Maudie's fourth location in far Southwest Austin proved to be so successful, it was necessary for owner Joe Draker to pull up stakes and move the popular outlet a few blocks to a much bigger and more comfortable space. Visit the new Maudie's Hacienda (9911 Brodie Ln., in Shady Hollow for all your old favorites... The Intercontinental Stephen F. Austin Hotel has announced the arrival of new Executive Chef David Waggoner, who has taken over direction of both Cafe Julienne, the coffee shop on the ground floor, as well as the Stephen F's Bar & Terrace, the cool cocktail venue overlooking Congress Avenue. We hear he makes some great onion rings... Pastry assistant Andrew Gonzales has been promoted to pastry chef at the Mansion at Judges' Hill (1900 Rio Grande, 495-1800) and Executive Sous Chef Paul Hieb has departed the Mansion kitchen for a position in product development at Terre Verde Farm in Fredericksburg. Hieb met farm owners Sandi and Hugh Sabel at a local farmers' market and was very impressed with their line of home-canned condiments made from their own produce. These days, he's helping them ready the fall garden and develop new products. Look for the Terre Verde Farm folks at the Westlake Farmers Market (4100 Westbank Dr., 280-1976) on Saturday mornings from 10am-1pm... The folks at KLRU have joined forces with the Texas Culinary Academy ( to produce a series of cooking segments featuring rising-star chefs from Austin. The series will be hosted by Driskill Grill chef David Bull, and each 30-minute segment will feature a different chef preparing a signature dish. Taping will be done in the state-of-the-art kitchen facilities at the TCA campus from 9am-7pm on Monday, Aug. 4, and the series will air on KLRU on Saturday, Aug. 16, from 1-6pm during the time period usually reserved for cooking programs. The chefs are David Apthorpe of Mirabelle, Shawn Cirkiel of Jean-Luc's Bistro, Lisa Fox of Asti, Andrew Bell of Wink, Marisela Godinez of El Meson, Brian Krellenstein of the Roaring Fork, Alma Alcocer-Thomas of Jeffrey's, and TCA students Molly Peck and Christina Minjares.

Charity Functions

The Central Market Cooking School (4001 N. Lamar, 458-3068) will host a charity dinner and cooking class to benefit the Austin Children's Shelter on Wednesday evening, Aug. 6, 6:30-9pm, featuring popular local chefs David Garrido, executive chef of the Jeffrey's restaurants, and Sam Dickey, of Granite Cafe. Tickets are $75 per person, and reservations are required... What if you held a hot dog eating contest, and nobody signed up to eat? That was the dilemma faced by Lucky Dog Chicago-Style Sandwich Factory & Grille (4211 Spicewood Springs Rd., 343-8619) owner Jean Zurow last week. She came up with the idea of a hot dog eating contest to celebrate the end of National Hot Dog Month on July 31 and thought it would be a fun way to generate business and raise some money for charity. Only problem was, no takers! It's still not too late for male and female hot dog lovers over the age of 18 to pay the $7 entry fee and sign up to eat as many hot dogs as possible in one 12-minute period. The contest is this afternoon, Thursday, July 31, with eating heats scheduled at 4, 5, 6, and 7pm. The awards ceremony is scheduled for 7:30pm, and a donation will be made to the winner's charity of choice. Mangia!

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