Local gelato maker Matt Lee was overwhelmed by the almost 1,000 responses to his Find a New Name for Babbo's contest, which reached its extended deadline on May 22. The name suggested most often by far was Matteo, the Italian spelling of Lee's given name. The various indignities heaped on "molto," "Mario," and "Batali" would seem to indicate that the NYC celebrity chef's heavy-handed power play has not enhanced his reputation hereabouts. After a judges' meeting last week, Lee submitted the top names to an attorney who specializes in trademark issues to make sure he can go forward with a clean slate. When the new name is chosen, it should take a couple of weeks to get changes made on everything from logos, signs, uniforms, and business cards, to ice cream containers, bank accounts, and business permits. What an enormous pain in the battali. At press time, we're told the new name is Teo's Italian Gelato & Coffee (1206 W. 38th, 451-9555).
Boy, you miss a column one week around here, and the news really piles up! Saveur Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival director Susan Duke has tendered her resignation. No word yet on her successor... Patricia Bauer-Slate e-mailed to announce the sale of her West Austin gourmet cafe and take-out shop, Portabla (1200 W. Sixth, 481-8646) to longtime employee Chase Jones. "We finish each other's culinary sentences, so I was sure he was the right person to take it over," she explained. Jones plans to maintain Portabla's focus on using the finest in fresh, organic local ingredients whenever possible. He has applied for a beer and wine license and hopes to encourage more dining in the cafe in the evenings. During the course of his research for the story on rainwater beer, our Wes Marshall discovered some upcoming changes in the local microbrewery scene. Longtime Bitter End brewmeister Tim Schwartz is leaving the downtown Austin brewpub to take over the beer-making duties at the Real Ale Brewing Company in Blanco. Brian Peters, who has been with the Bitter End for a few years now, will step up into the head brewer position. Hot on the heels of Mirabelle's (8127 Mesa Dr., 346-7900) success in the recent Austin Chronicle Restaurant Poll, owner Michael Villim has elected to spend a few months working downtown at Mirabelle's sister restaurant, Castle Hill Cafe (1101 W. Fifth, 476-0728), where he is also a partner. Chef Harvey Harris took a week off from his duties at Siena (6203 Capital of TX Hwy., 349-7667) to participate in a culinary competition in Bologna, Italy, recently, and spent several days eating and drinking his way across Tuscany after the event. This is the same cook-off that Culinary Academy of Austin (451-5743) chef/owner Steve Mannion entered last year, and he nominated Harris to attend this spring. The folks at the Sustainable Food Center (236-0742) have a new project coming up. Every Friday morning in June, they'll be presenting Food Awareness Workshops in conjunction with the Central Market Cooking School (4001 N. Lamar, 458-3068). The classes will address such issues as healthy cooking with seasonal, local produce, and nutritional cooking for kids. The price is $25 each or $85 for the four-class series. Call the cooking school for reservations.
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