Austin Food & Wine Festival finds a new home, a new restaurant moves to Manor Road, and fundraisers for ailing members of the food community

The Austin Food & Wine Festival announced last week that the April 26-28 event will relocate from Auditorium Shores to Butler Park to prevent even more wear and tear on the heavily used, drought-parched stretch of local parkland. This is welcome news to anyone who endured the unpleasant dust bowl at last year's fest, which resulted from a windy day on the park's unfortunate lunar landscape. After that, local promoters talked about making an investment in the rehabilitation of the grass at Auditorium Shores, but nothing seems to have come of that. We'll have even more fest information on our blog next week.

Ran into Karla Loeb at the recent Foodways Texas symposium and she shared preliminary information about Austin Food for Life, an insurance initiative she's working on to develop a health care program for folks in the local food community. At this point, Loeb and fellow community food activist Brian Stubbs are still putting together a board of directors and an advisory committee for Food for Life, but they're already planning events such as the summer Austin Food Quiz Bowl and a crawfish boil to help pay the medical bills for little Alice Heard. Alice is the daughter of chef couple Power and Sarah Heard and was born with desmoid fibromatosis, a rare genetic disorder that causes tumors. Even with insurance, her medical bills are already approaching $750,000. Drop by Lenoir (1807 S. First) on Sunday, April 28, between 1-6pm, and plunk down $25 to enjoy some crawfish and live music in the backyard.

Another prime example of someone else this initiative could ultimately help is Austin Slow Burn co-owner Jill Lewis. Lewis was recently diagnosed with stage III esophageal cancer and only has a major medical policy that kicks in after the patient covers the first $16,000 in medical bills. What with appointments with oncologists and surgeons, diagnostic tests, scans, and consultations, it won't take any time at all to hit that $16,000 mark, but Lewis' illness is debilitating, and she's not able to get much work done while she's weighing her treatment options (chemotherapy, radiation, eventual surgery). At this point, all Lewis asks from her legion of friends and Austin Slow Burn fans is good wishes for her speedy recovery. If and when there are plans for something to help Lewis out, like last year's Pies & Pigs for Colleen Sommers or an online fundraiser like the one for Dewberry Hills Farms co-owner Jane Levan, you'll read about it here.

There will be a new addition on Manor Road's busy Restaurant Row by early summer. Edgar and Christina Torres, formerly of Zandunga, will open the School House Pub (2207 Manor) in a cleverly renovated house just east of his family's Mi Madre's restaurant. The Torreses envision School House as a neighborhood bar with 20 Texas beers on tap, custom cocktails in the $7-8 price range, and tasty snacks. Luckily, the Torres family also owns the lot behind the bar for parking.

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Austin food news, Austin Food & Wine Festival, Slow Food Austin, Karla Loeb, Austin Food for Life, Alice Heard, Power Heard, Sarah Heard, Austin Slow Burn, Jill Lewis, Pies & Pigs, Colleen Sommers, Dewberry Hills Farms, Jane Levan, Edgar Torres, Christina Torres, Zandunga, School House Pub

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