Making it a little bit easier for the Big Easy; plus, an Event Menu filled to burstin'


Every time I sit down to write about what has happened to New Orleans, I'm so overwhelmed by the magnitude of the tragedy, I don't know where to start. I've watched hours of newscasts and scoured the Web for stories, hoping to catch a glimpse of some place I recognize just to have some sense that maybe some things survived. New Orleans friends in the Southern Foodways Alliance ( are gladly all accounted for, and you can check the SFA Web site and for news about job banks and national fundraisers. My spirits have been lifted by phone calls from Austin chefs and food people who are always eager to help in time of need (see Event Menu, below). More than once during these past two weeks, I've found comfort rereading a book that came out early in the summer. Eating New Orleans: From French Quarter Creole Dining to the Perfect Poboy (Countryman Press, $16.95) by former Chronicle contributor Pableaux Johnson is an eminently readable culinary guidebook to one of the world's greatest food cities, written with frank love and affection by a thoroughly knowledgeable insider. I bet the book becomes a collector's item, considering how perfectly it captures pre-Katrina New Orleans. Anyway, it's making me feel better.

Various news reports I've seen say that while some restaurants in the Central Business District and Bucktown were flooded, many places in the Garden District and the French Quarter escaped relatively intact, though no one can say when the tourist trade that is their life blood will return. Louisiana native chef Frank Brigtsen is said to be moving his whole operation to Shreveport, but restaurant matriarchs Ella and Dottie Brennan have decreed that their family stable of restaurants will return. The Brennan family are major players in a restaurant industry that is the largest private employer in the state of Louisiana and, as such, they've created the following fund to benefit displaced employees. Everybody from the chefs to the oyster shuckers, the maître d's and sommeliers to the busboys to the folks who run your favorite food booth at Jazzfest, are out of work for no one knows how long. If you have fond food memories of New Orleans, you can donate here:

New Orleans Hospitality Workers Disaster Relief Fund

Greater Houston Community Foundation

4550 Post Oak Place #100

Houston, TX 77027


Event Menu :: Sept. 16-22

The Austin Asian American Chamber of Commerce presents Discover Asia 2005's Korea: Heart and Seoul with a series of events celebrating Korean culture and cuisine. The Texas Culinary Academy (11400 Burnet Rd. #2100, 837-2665) will host an Iron Chef-style Asian cooking competition, Cook Austin Weird, between teams of local restaurateurs. Judges for the event will be chefs Jeff Blank and Tyson Cole, City Manager Toby Futrell, Council Member Jennifer Kim, and Chronicle contributor Mick Vann. Tickets are $10 for competition only and $40 for competition with lunch and entertainment, and can be purchased at www.austin Fifty percent of the proceeds from this event will go toward hurricane relief; 9am-3pm, Saturday, Sept. 17.

To spotlight their monthlong Green Chile Bash special menu promotion, which runs through Sept. 25, Z'Tejas Grill (9400 Arboretum Blvd., 346-3506) issued a Fire Recipe Challenge. Austin firefighters Tim LaFuente, Josh Anderson, and Arthur Padilla answered the call! The three chefs will fire up their favorite green chile recipes in this fun charity cook-off, and the winner will see his creation become a menu item for the remainder of the day. During the entire Green Chile Bash, $1 of every special menu item sold will be donated to the Austin Fire Department's "Freddy Finger" Smoke Alarm campaign and Mobile Loaves & Fishes Katrina relief. Big Chile Saturday, 3-4:30pm, Sept. 17.

Chef/owner Stewart Scruggs of Wink and Zoot and Jerry Reid of Central Market are organizing Night Out for New Orleans, a fundraiser in which local restaurants will donate 50% of the proceeds from one evening to the Red Cross for hurricane relief. Restaurants willing to participate can sign up at or call Scruggs at 791-2077. Austin diners who want to support the event can check the same Web page to see which local restaurants will be participating; Thursday, Sept. 22.

The Red Cross Central Texas Chapter (2218 Pershing, 928-4271) is building a list of restaurants and caterers who can provide lunches for 80-100 volunteers during the next week. Contact Elizabeth Campbell at [email protected] if you can help.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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More Food-o-File
Finding community

Virginia B. Wood, Sept. 18, 2015

Town and country

Virginia B. Wood, Sept. 4, 2015


Eating New Orleans, Z'Tejas Green Chile Bash, Stewart Scruggs, Zoot, Night Out for New Orleans, Fire Recipe Challenge, Asia 2005:Korean Heart and Soul

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