'Tis the season for birth and rebirth; plus, former Bitter End chef about to step into 'Hell's Kitchen'?

Food People in the News

Congratulations to server par excellence/food writer Susan Shields and her husband, Nathan Baumann, on the birth of daughter Lux Louise Baumann (6 lbs. 6 oz., 21 inches long) on Nov. 23. Mom reports the baby already likes to sleep in her lap while she types. Now that's something to be thankful for!... Sam Dickey called to report that he's the new executive chef at the Salt Lick 360 (3801 Capital of TX Hwy., 328-4957) where he plans to develop a distinctive upscale cowboy cuisine to complement their famous barbecue. Dickey will also be designing party menus for the company's new party facility, Thurman's Mansion, which sits on a hill overlooking the original Salt Lick (18300 FM 1826, 894-3117) near Driftwood. General Manager Jay Knepp says the outfit is pleased to have Dickey on board to diversify its culinary options, and he told me about the new project that's dear to his wine-loving heart: Knepp is overseeing the planting of four acres of vineyard on the Salt Lick property, so the restaurant can eventually produce its own wines... Seems that Dickey's former 7 business partner, chef Will Packwood, is teaching at the Culinary Academy of Austin (6020-B Dillard Circle, 451-5743), where he has joined a faculty that includes such longtime favorite Austin chefs as Tim Kartiganer and Alain Braux... Chef Andy Sasser e-mailed to announce that Capitol Brasserie (310 Colorado, 472-6770, is up and running. "We just served dinner the first week, then added lunch the next, and now we'll be doing breakfast and brunches on the weekends," he explains. Former Bitter End chef Reggie Ferguson helped his old mates get the new French restaurant open while looking for jobs in the wake of the news that the Bitter End won't be rebuilt. Ferguson has also submitted a cooking video and been through two rounds of interviews for a spot in the cast of the Fox Network "reality" cooking competition show Hell's Kitchen with British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. "It would only be a six-week shooting schedule," Ferguson says. "I'm hoping they've got a spot for a Texas guy with an interesting story." We'll keep you posted.

Event Menu: December 15-22

Drop into Tom's Tabooley (2928 Guadalupe, 479-7337) tonight for the Third Thursday event featuring a visit from gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman. Do some holiday shopping and enjoy two-for-one falafel wraps; 7-9pm, Thursday, Dec. 15.

The Sunset Valley Farmers Market (Toney Burger parking lot, 280-1976) celebrates their Holiday Faire this weekend with local farmers, food producers, and artisans, cookie-decorating demonstrations, and the auction of custom-decorated gingerbread houses by the local chapter of Les Dames d'Escoffier to benefit their scholarship programs; 9:30am-1pm, Saturday, Dec. 17.

Santa makes another pre-Christmas appearance at the Holiday Brunch at the Banderas Texas Bistro in the Renaissance Hotel (9721 Arboretum Blvd., 343-2626) this weekend. Guests are encouraged to bring a toy for the children who receive services from SafePlace. Brunch is $29 for adults, $12 for kids 6-12; 11am-2pm, Sunday, Dec. 18.

Alice's Restaurant (, 512/376-2782) hosts the first annual Kerrville Christmas Bazaar in conjunction with folks from the renowned Kerrville Folk Festival. Plenty of talented artisans and musicians will be on hand. Admission is a toy or new article of children's clothing for children who receive services from Candlelighters of Austin and Any Baby Can; opens at noon, Wednesday-Friday, Dec. 21-23.

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