Top Chef, a Savvy spirit, and birth announcements

Watching the most recent episodes of Top Chef, I'm very disappointed in the early departure of Tre Wilcox of Abacus in Dallas, as he was my early pick to win the title this year. Now I honestly do not have a favorite. The other thing that stands out this season is how totally inept all of the contestants appear to be when it comes to the production of desserts. Any well-rounded, accomplished chef should have at least a fundamental knowledge of the basics of baking and pastry and have a couple of reliable desserts in his or her repertoire. Perhaps a future challenge should address this issue... Preparing fleur de sel truffles for a Chronicle colleague recently reminded me to tell you about a chocolate-recipe contest. Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker and have launched a contest called the Chocolate Adventure Contest. Chocolate lovers are encouraged to develop exciting new recipes for any aspect of the meal – appetizers, entrées, breads, desserts, drinks – using Scharffen Berger chocolates and one or more of a list of exotic "adventure" ingredients such as ancho chile, curry, ginger, green tea, saffron, or specialty salts. The contest runs from now until Dec. 1, and the grand prize is $5,000. For complete details, go to Sweetish Hill Bakery (1120 W. Sixth, 472-7370; 98 San Jacinto, 472-2411) is joining forces with Doctor Kracker to promote a healthy diet containing whole grains during the month of September. Any Sweetish Hill customer who buys a sandwich made on whole-grain or multigrain bread or purchases a loaf of those breads gets a free bag of Doctor Kracker's snack chips. The chips come in five whole-grain flavors... The wines of Fall Creek Vineyard ( are highly regarded in Texas, and proprietors Ed and Susan Auler are rightly credited with helping to create the modern Texas wine industry. It only stands to reason that Fall Creek's established reputation for quality will attract customers to their son Chad Auler's first venture into distilled spirits. Chad has just released Savvy, a superpremium vodka made in a column still with fresh water that bubbles up from the aquifer under the Auler family's Fall Creek Ranch in rural Burnet County. Savvy only will be available in Texas and should be in stores now. Spirits distilled in Texas certainly are an emerging trend. This makes three vodkas – Tito's, Dripping Springs, and Savvy; one platinum rum – Treaty Oak; and two liqueurs – Paula's Texas Orange and Texas Lemon... Two Austin chef families have welcomed new members recently. Congratulations to Moonshine's Larry and Annabelle Perdido on the arrival of son Keegan Lee Perdido (6 pounds, 14 ounces; 18 inches long) on Aug. 15. We also send our best to the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema's John and Holly Bullington on the birth of a naturally redheaded boy, Finn Edwards Bullington (7 pounds, 19 inches) on Sept. 6.

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