Food-o-File

No need to sugarcoat any of this news; it's already pretty sweet!

Central Texas pastry and sugar artists, both amateur and professional, will have the opportunity to strut their stuff when Capital Confectioners hosts its annual That Takes the Cake! Sugar Art Show & Cake Compe­tition at the North Austin Event Center (10601 N. Lamar) this weekend. This year's theme is Caked Crusaders, so look for elaborate show cakes featuring superheroes and villains. The two-day, all-ages event will include judged competitions from beginner through master levels, classes, demonstrations, vendors, and kids' activities. Celebrity judges and instructors will include former winners from Food Network's Challenge program, and a team of contestants from TLC's Next Great Baker will be on hand to create a superhero cake during the show on Satur­day. The highlight of the weekend will be a screening of the documentary Kings of Pastry (www.kingsofpastry.com) about the legendary French pastry Olympics, followed by a Q&A with renowned pastry chef Jacquy Pfeiffer, the main focus of the film. For complete details and schedules and to buy tickets, go to www.thattakesthecake.org. Bring a nonperishable food item to donate to the Capital Area Food Bank for $1 off tickets bought at the door. Feb. 26-27: Saturday, 10:30am-6pm, and Sunday, 9am-5pm.

As if that weren't enough pastry excitement, a casting crew from Bravo will be in town next week interviewing potential pastry chef contestants for the second season of Bravo's Top Chef: Just Desserts reality baking competition program (www.bravotv.com/casting). The interviews will take place at Olivia (2043 S. Lamar) on Wednesday, March 2, from 10am to 2pm. If the first season's cast is any indication, they'll be looking for flamboyant personalities in addition to pastry artistry.

The James Beard Foundation recently announced the nominations for best regional chefs and pastry chefs around the country. Kudos to chefs Tyson Cole and Paul Qui and pastry chef Philip Speer, all of the Uchi/Uchiko restaurant family, on their nominations. Winners will be announced by the Beard Foundation at a gala in New York City in May.

Every spring, Food & Wine magazine recognizes the 10 Best New Chefs in the country in a special issue of the publication. Previous winners from Austin include David Bull, Will Packwood, and Tyson Cole. This year, the magazine is partnering with CNN's Eatocracy to sponsor a People's Choice Best New Chef Award. Ten chef contestants have been chosen in each of 10 regions around the country, and the public is encouraged to vote for the winners from Feb. 15 through March 1. Finalists in each region will appear in the magazine. Austin nominees in the Southwest region include Andrew Curren of 24 Diner, James Holmes of Olivia, Bryce Gil­more of Odd Duck Farm to Trailer/Barley Swine, and Jesse Griffiths of Dai Due Supper Club. To vote for your favorite Austin chef, go to www.eatocracy.com/foodandwine or www.foodandwine.com. Do it now!

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

pastry, sugar artist, That Takes the Cake! Sugar Art Show & Cake Competition, Caked Crusaders, Next Great Baker, Kings of Pastry, Jacquy Pfeiffer, Top Chef: Just Desserts, James Beard Foundation, Tyson Cole, Paul Qui, Philip Speer, Uchi, Uchiko, Food & Wine, Best New Chef, Eatocracy, People's Choice Best New Chef Award, Andrew Curren, 24 Diner

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