Kudos to area chefs, a hot new sweet shop to cool Austinites down, and new ownership at Ararat

Congratulations, Chefs!

Kudos to two area chefs this week. Christopher Stonesifer, executive chef at the Blair House Inn and Cooking School in Wimberley and an instructor at the Texas Culinary Academy-San Antonio, was recently named San Antonio Chef of the Year by the Alamo City chapter of the Texas Chefs Association. Glenn Mack, director of education at the Culinary Academy of Austin, has been awarded the designation of Certified Culinary Professional by the International Association of Culinary Professionals. The CCP designation requires considerable community service in the culinary field as well as rigorous testing.

Cool Treats

Another way-cool new business is setting up shop in the 78704 ZIP code. Gerardo Alvarez is the proud owner of Indie-Pop Cool Treats (2310 S. Lamar). The hip new store will offer Mexican aguas frescas, paletas, fruit cups, and a full dipping cabinet of gelatos and sorbettos made fresh locally by Dolce Vita. Gelato maker Concetta Mastroianni tells us she's concentrating on tropical and Latin flavors for some of the products she's creating for the new store, so look for flavors such as tamarindo and cajeta. The grand opening is this Saturday, June 26, so go by and check them out.

New Owners

Ararat (111 North Loop, 419-1692) has been one of Austin's favorite Middle Eastern dining spots since it opened several years ago. The Turkish-influenced cuisine always places well in our annual Restaurant Poll. We got word last week that three longtime waitresses have purchased the restaurant from Hassan Tunc and his out-of-town partners. The new owners are Kelly Abshire, Lynne Kirby, and Mary McIlravy, and they're very excited about the changes they've been making over the past several months, such as cleaning up the back yard to add an outdoor seating and party area and adding a vegetarian night on Mondays. The new owners intend to maintain the quality of the food and made sure before they completed the purchase that the Tunc-trained Tibetan and Nepalese chefs would remain in the kitchen.

"We'd all worked here together for about four years, and we really wanted to keep our little restaurant family together," Mary McIlravy explained to me last week, adding that she and her partners are planning a "Goddess Night" fundraiser with music, poetry, and dancing in the near future to raise money for more improvements on the property.

Event Menu: June 24-July 1

Saturday, June 26: In Fredericksburg, the Gillespie County Historical Society invites you to their American Music in the Texas Hill Country series for a Cajun zydeco concert at Pioneer Museum (309 W. Main, 830/997-2835, Featured bands will include Zydeco Outlaws, Lost Bayou Ramblers, and Miss Neesie & the Ear Food Orchestra. Steve Howard of Buffalo River Cuisine and Bonterra will prepare a Taste of Creole Cuisine menu. Music starts at 3pm, there will be a dance floor, and guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs. Tickets are $10, available by phone, online, or at the door, and children under 11 get in free.

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Charles Stonesifer, Glenn Mack, Gerardo Alvarez, Concetta Mastroianni, Indie-Pop Cool Treats, Kelly Abshire, Lynne Kirby, Mary McIlravy, Hassan Tunc, Ararat

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