Cast a ballot for your favorite food entrepreneurs

Living Social and JP Morgan Chase have launched Mission: Small Business to support small business growth with 12 grants, each for $250,000. Three local artisan food businesses have applied for the grants, but they each need at least 250 votes in support of their applications. Tom Pedersen of Cocoa Puro would invest the grant money in a permanent production facility for his product; Nicole Patel hopes to use it to expand Delysia Chocolatier into a retail outlet; Jesse Griffiths and Tamara Mayfield would put it towards a brick-and-mortar location for the Dai Due Butcher Shop & Cafe. To support any or all of these fine local artisans, log onto using Facebook and vote before the June 30 deadline.

Another way to support local food would be to vote in the fourth annual America's Favorite Farmers Market contest sponsored by Ameri­can Farmland Trust. All of our area farmers' markets are eligible, so go to by September 3 and vote for your favorite.

Paloma Efron has added a line of 8-inch cakes to the product line at Coco Paloma Desserts. They're available in a variety of seasonal flavors and can be customized with decorations to suit any occasion. For more details, go to or call 419-1582.

And speaking of desserts, we're eager to get in to Jo's Coffee (242 W. Second) and try out their expanded pie menu that now includes Key Lime, classic apple, and chocolate cream. All pies are made in-house and will be available at Jo's original SoCo outlet as well.

Counter Culture vegan foods recently shed its wheels and settled into a brick-and-mortar outlet at 2337 E. Cesar Chavez. Operator Sue Davis reports the new spot will focus on raw, unprocessed fare, and offerings from area organic farmers, food artisans, bakers, brewers, and coffee roasters – plus gluten-free and soy-free menu options, organic and sustainable wines, and fresh juices and coconut water. Counter Culture is open Wednesday through Sunday, with AC, a pet-friendly patio, and a free jukebox with vinyl selections chosen by the former DJ herself.

In local restaurant news: Café Josie (1201-B W. Sixth) will be closed July 3-7 for chef Charlie Mayes' annual beach vacation... Andiamo Ristorante (2521 Rutland) celebrates lobster season by offering linguine al sugo di aragosta (lobster sauce) with a glass of wine for $30 throughout June and July... Botticelli's (1321 S. Congress) has added new summer items to both their food and drink menus, including several inviting custom cocktails... Also look for new summer menu items at local Z'Tejas restaurants, as well as at Corazon at Castle Hill (1101 W. Fifth) and Max's Wine Dive (207 San Jacinto)... Bistrot Mirabelle (8127 Mesa Dr. Ste. A100) has closed and will reopen after Labor Day with a new name and concept... Asti Trattoria (408-C E. 43rd) has promoted former chef de cuisine Kenzie Allen to the position of executive chef following her recent trip to Italy... And speaking of chefs' culinary travels, Foreign & Domestic chef/co-owner Ned Elliott is thrilled to be headed to Copenhagen next month for a summer stage at Noma, recently voted the best restaurant in the world for the third year in a row. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @ACFood this week.

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