Sushi film nets award, food trailer troubles, chefs scramble, and a mysterious hiatus in this week's food news
As hot as our local food truck trend is, there are some neighborhoods where food trailer parks aren't exactly welcomed by everyone. This spring, St. Martin's Evangelical Lutheran Church (606 W. 15th) invested time, money, and energy creating an attractive food trailer park on a lovely, tree-shaded property the church owns overlooking Downtown. Feed the Soul (1508 Rio Grande) opened in May to rave reviews, with seven trailers serving foods as varied as hot dogs, tapas, and Cajun/Creole specialties. However, a complaint from a nearby neighbor prompted the city of Austin's Code Compliance Department to issue a ruling closing the food court because it did not fit the tract's office-use zoning. At press time, church member Bill Grosskopf told us there are still four trailers operating at Feed the Soul, and the church is working with the city on a possible zoning change that could allow the food court to continue operation. "We created the space for the community and to support the food trucks. We should know whether or not we can work out the zoning issue or have to close by the end of this week," Grosskopf reports. We'll keep you posted.
Don't worry about street construction delays at Snack Bar (1224 S. Congress), where new chef Thomas Reeh's summer menu of eclectic small plates is in full swing and the bar is offering craft beer flights featuring local selections from Jester King Craft Brewery, Thirsty Planet Brewing, (512) Brewing Company, and Real Ale Brewing Company. Be sure to check out songwriter Ethan Azarian's new mural while you're there.
The kitchens at both Bess Bistro (500 W. Sixth) and Walton's Fancy and Staple (609 W. Sixth) are under new direction since chef Camden Sturzenberger departed for South Congress Cafe. Sandi Reinlie is the new executive pastry chef at Walton's, while across the street, Executive Chef Janelle Reynolds has taken over the kitchen at Bess. We have it on good authority that these ladies are turning out some remarkable food.
In other interesting chef news, colleagues who attended Uchiko's mind-blowing monthly Food + Wine dinner in June report that Executive Chef Paul Qui told them the series would be on hiatus until September because he was "going away for six weeks." The cryptic announcement prompted questions about whether or not he might be a contestant on the upcoming season of Bravo TV's Top Chef reality cooking competition show, but Qui wouldn't say more. We do know that producers from Top Chef and Top Chef Just Desserts conducted auditions in Austin in the early spring, so it's certainly not beyond the realm of possibility that a chef of Qui's caliber would have been chosen. It would be great to see a representative of Austin rock Top Chef. You'll know when we do.