What's cooking in the Central Texas food scene.
There is plenty of newsworthy activity among people and businesses involved in the Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival this weekend. The Driskill Hotel management announced last week that they've promoted longtime chef de cuisine Josh Watkins to the position of executive chef replacing David Bull, who resigned March 21 to become executive chef with La Corsha Hospitality Group. According to a hotel spokesperson, Watkins takes command of the Driskill kitchens immediately and will represent the hotel at this weekend's events. Chef Bull, a recent nominee for Best Chef of the Southwest by the James Beard Foundation, will be on hand representing himself Esteemed Panhandle winemaker Kim McPherson has left Cap-Rock Winery (806/863-2704; www.caprockwinery.com) to concentrate his energies on making wine even closer to home. McPherson is now making wines at La Diosa Cellars (806/744-3600; www.ladiosacellars.com), the downtown Lubbock winery/restaurant owned by Sylvana McPherson and Catherine Traxler, the goddesses of the title. In the opinion of Chronicle wine writer Wes Marshall, McPherson's best La Diosa wines are a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Sparkling Chenin Blanc, a Viogioner, and a Sangria Cafe 909 (909 Second, 830/693-2126, Marble Falls) chef/owner Mark Schmidt won't be participating in the festival this weekend, because he and his crew have just returned from New York City, where they presented a dinner paired with Texas wines at the James Beard House. Schmidt was joined by chef Jason Gould of Gravitas in Houston and pastry chef Monica Rios of Abacus in Dallas. Cafe 909 sous chef Bryce Gilmore will participate in the festival, however, joining forces with dad Jack Gilmore, executive chef of the Z'Tejas chain, to present a sold-out winemaker luncheon at Flat Creek Estates (267-6310; www.flatcreekestate.com) tonight, Thursday If you happen to run into local tamale maven Leonor Baños at tonight's Latin Sizzles event at the Texas Disposal Systems' Exotic Game Ranch, ask her about the new location of her restaurant, Oaxacan Tamaleo (1634 Hwy. 71 E.), near the new Hyatt Resort outside Bastrop. The large new place sits on 5 wooded acres and will have a big new kitchen, a stage for live music, and an outdoor dining area. Though Baños closed up shop on Anderson Lane this week, she will maintain a presence in Austin, supplying devoted customers at the weekly farmers' markets and local events. Look for an announcement about the grand-opening celebration of her new restaurant sometime later in April Three Texas artisan-food producers participating in this week's festival are among the finalists for the Gallo Family Vineyards Gold Medal Awards 2007 to be announced in April. Best of luck to Royers Pies of Austin and Round Top, the Mozzarella Co. of Dallas, and Thunder Heart Bison of San Antonio Congratulations to new Austinite and cowgirl chef Paula Disbrowe on the release of her new cookbook, Cowgirl Cuisine. Disbrowe will be demonstrating Texas beef recipes from her book at the Sunday Fair along with chef Rebecca Rather, owner of Rather Sweet Bakery and Cafe in Fredericksburg.
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