Food-o-File

Saying goodbye to a home-cooking hero with some sweet news about honey and cakes

Dot Hewitt
Dot Hewitt (Photo by John Anderson)

I was gathering column information about all the new restaurants, pastry shops, and cocktail lounges set to open this month when I found out that longtime local restaurateur Dot Hewitt passed away on Nov. 20 at the age of 71. Dorothy "Dot" Nell Washington Hewitt and her husband, James, opened Dot's Place in a rambling former barbecue joint on Orchid Lane in 1980. Dot's Place was well-known and highly regarded by hungry working men and women in far North Austin. Luckily for me, savvy readers eventually turned me on to her exemplary down-home Southern comfort food in the late Nineties. I soon joined the queue of eager diners snaking through the building to the cafeteria line for whole fried catfish (my personal favorite), chicken and dumplings, chicken-fried steak, beef tips over rice, or cheesy Tex-Mex enchiladas, paired with fist-sized, pillowy yeast rolls and generous slices of pie or bowls of cobbler. Not long after I met her, James Hewitt passed away, and she continued to operate the restaurant alone. When an electrical fire burned the old building to the ground in 2004, the indefatigable Dot Hewitt served her signature dishes from a trailer, long before it was trendy, in order to finance a new spot. She reopened in a Pflugerville strip mall in 2005 and cooked five more years until poor health forced her to close earlier this year. Dot Hewitt raised children and grandchildren, was a pillar of her church community, and fed hundreds of thousands of satisfied Austin­ites during 30 years in the restaurant business. A no-nonsense kind of woman, Dot Hewitt was unfailingly gracious every time I interviewed her, and my only regret is that I never had the opportunity to tell her how much I admired her accomplishments – so I'm telling you. Dot Hewitt is one of my heroes.

Konrad Bouffard reports he sold the 1 millionth jar of Round Rock Honey to Amanda Anderson and Chad Cosper at the Downtown Farmers' Market on Saturday, Nov. 27. Turns out, Cosper was a student at one of Bouffard's beekeeping classes and is now a beekeeper himself.

Jenn Daly was in touch to let us know that the new expanded Bouldin Creek Coffeehouse at South First and Mary Street will be open in early December. Be sure to go by and check out the new digs.

Cake art and architecture are hot trends right now, what with shows such as Food Network Challenge and the Learning Channel's Cake Boss. On the new season of Cake Boss: Next Great Baker, pastry chef and bakery owner Buddy Valastro and his family host a competition reality show to choose America's next great baker from 10 contestants. The show debuts Monday, Dec. 6, at 8pm, and one of the competitors is Austin cake artist Brian Stevens, owner of Crazy Cakes. We'll keep you posted on his progress.

If your business, church group, or local nonprofit is selling tamales this holiday season, please let me know at food@austinchronicle.com, because readers are curious.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Dot Hewitt, Dot's Place, Konrad Bouffard, Round Rock Honey, Jenn Daly, Bouldin Creek Coffeehouse, Cake Boss: Next Great Baker, Brian Stevens, Crazy Cakes

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