New food ventures temper a fond farewell to the folks behind Mama Roux

The Austin chapter of Les Dames d'Escof­fier is taking applications for the three $1,000 scholarships it awards annually to women pursuing professional culinary education, based on academic accomplishments, references, financial needs, goals, aspirations, initiative, and culinary-related experience. For details and downloadable application forms, go to For more info, contact Scholarship Chair Kitty Crider at Applications must be postmarked by March 15 to be considered.

The International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Austin (101 W. Louis Henna Blvd.) recently debuted its new student-run restaurant, -ology, serving cuisine prepared by student chefs every Tuesday and Wednesday, 11am-1pm, through March 23. The schedule will change often to correspond with class sessions and is updated at For reservations, call 691-4941.

Some friends joined me for an opening dinner at the newest outlet of Mandola's Italian Market in the Arbor Trails shopping center (4301 W. William Cannon, Bldg. E-1). Proud papa Damian Mandola worked the crowd and made everyone feel like part of the family while sons Dominic and Damian Jr. kept food coming out of the busy open kitchen. If the crowd on the night of our visit is any indication, the third Mandola's location will be as big a hit as its two siblings. When the elder Mandola visited our table, he was excited about the prospect of having a new Whole Foods Market as a neighbor in the shopping center within the next year.

A few weeks back, Chronicle contributor MM Pack was lucky enough to attend one of the inaugural food tours hosted by a new local company, Austin Eats Food Tours, and she reports being very impressed. Transplanted Tennesseans Andy and Lindsey Potter, the brains behind this great idea, have turned their hobby of sharing favorite local eateries with friends into a hot new business. They're booking three-hour walking tours, 10am-1pm on weekends, where guests experience six to eight eateries in the South Congress, Downtown, or Barton Springs neighborhoods. For details and to book a tour, visit www.austineatsfoodtours.

The Whole Foods Market flagship store is getting in on the current trend of showcasing the products of small, artisanal wineries and craft breweries. The new Bar Lamar, now open on the ground floor, offers small-batch, hand-crafted wines and craft brews on tap in a comfortable bistro setting – plus more than 20 wines by the glass, wine flights with cheese pairings, and a wide selection of bottled beers.

During a busy week of preparing our story about the wealth of good Cajun and Creole restaurants currently available in the Austin metro area, we received the sad news of the untimely deaths of restaurateurs Yoli and Michael Amr. The pair made a great restaurant team, with Yoli's gift for warm hospitality and Michael's marvelous cooking, and I was a big fan of theirs from the original Gumbo's to the more recent Mama Roux. The Amrs' contributions to the local culinary scene will be missed.

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