Don't leave the table till you clean your plate of local food news; while you're at it, Eat, Drink, Watch Movies
Chefs Francois Vatel and Roger Mollett
Some tall tales about the histrionics of French chefs are based on the life and career of an actual person: 17th-century chef Francois Vatel. His extraordinary talent is depicted in one of the most elegant foodie movies we've found Vatel starring Gérard Depardieu, Uma Thurman, and Tim Roth. Discover the true story about the royal intrigues that swirled around this genius chef at a special Rolling Roadshow presentation of our Eat, Drink, Watch Movies series on Sunday evening, Sept. 19, at the Barr Mansion (10463 Sprinkle, 926-6907). The event will feature an elegant French banquet and silent auction to benefit ailing local chef Roger Mollett, followed by an alfresco screening of the movie Vatel. The banquet ($50) starts at 6pm, and the screening (movie only $10) at 8pm. For reservations, go to www.drafthouse.com, click on Rolling Roadshow, then Sept. 19 Vatel benefit. Between the banquet, the auction, the good deed, and the great movie, this will be the foodie event of the year, and you don't want to miss it!
There are plenty of hot little news bites this week. Though there's been no official closing notice at the Paggi House (200 Lee Barton Dr., 478-1121), the phone number no longer works, and the former employees are pounding the pavement. Also, we've noticed construction at both 311 W. Sixth (formerly Sardine Rouge and DemiEpicurious), as well as at 612 W. Sixth (formerly Coyote Cafe and Ninfa's). Some folks just can't resist a downtown restaurant location... Chef John Maxwell left the Mansion at Judges' Hill (MLK & Rio Grande, 495-1800) in August and is moving his young family to upstate New York, where he will become executive chef at the Emerson Inn & Spa near Woodstock. TCA grad and sous chef Phil Ringelstetter has been promoted at the Mansion... Rave reviews from readers prompted me to check out the new chef at Asti Trattoria (43rd & Duval Street, 451-1218). After cooking for several years in the San Francisco area, native Texan Bruce Enloe returned to Austin and signed on at Asti, where everyone is very impressed with his work... The success of her backyard cooking school has encouraged Gina Burchenal to expand. Gina's Kitchen (917 W. 12th, 236-0705) has recently remodeled the space that formerly housed Amandine Bakery and TapRoot Breads. The new space will make it possible for Burchenal to teach larger classes, do more catering herself, and rent the inspected commercial kitchen to other caterers and food manufacturers. Her fall schedule begins Sept. 7 with a UT Informal class... Amy's Ice Creams is celebrating 20 years of business success in Austin with a big expansion project. They've begun work on a new production facility, ice cream shop, and restaurant near the intersection of Burnet Road and Northland Drive, which should be completed some time in 2005... A big thanks to Suzanne Santos of the Downtown Farmers' Market (Fourth & Guadalupe) for bringing me the delicious peanut brittle made by Cathy Itz of McCall Creek Farms Market near Blanco. The candy is for sale on Saturdays at the downtown market, or go to www.mccallcreekfarms.com for directions to the Itz roadside farmstand.
A word to the wise: Biff and Buffy are back in school and they are driving tanks! Last Monday, a newly minted college student slammed into my van with a gigantic Toyota Tundra. This is the second vehicle I've lost to an SUV-wielding college kid. Be afraid. Be very afraid.