The Austin Chronicle


Where there's 'Smoke' ...

By Virginia B. Wood, April 11, 2014, Food

The once-happy business partnership between Damian and Trina Mandola and Drs. Stan and Lisa Duchman that brought Trattoria Lisina and Duchman Family Winery to the Driftwood area a few years back has certainly soured. Last week, restaurateur Damian Mandola was arrested for burglary at the winery (he allegedly broke in and stole a bottle of wine). He allegedly returned to Duchman Family Winery two days later brandishing a hammer; he was then arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon and criminal mischief. Though calls to Mandola's restaurants were met with responses ranging from polite befuddlement to a curt "No comment," Duchman general manager Jeff Ogle would only say that the winery appreciated the swift response to the break-ins by the Hays County Sheriff's Office.

Local food photographer Jody Horton is staying busy on the cookbook front. Smoke: New Firewood Cooking (Rizzoli), Horton's project with Dallas chef Tim Byres, has just been nominated for a James Beard Cookbook Award, and three other cookbooks he's photographed are scheduled for release.

Sharp Entertainment will be in town April 15 holding open auditions for a new reality food competition show called Frankenfood, which is slated for Spike TV. They are looking for food lovers willing to create extreme versions of all-American culinary classics "made up of contrasting parts that would not normally be paired but somehow once stitched together make sense and taste great." To schedule an audition, email your name, city/state, and phone number to

Shortly after opening their second Sap's Fine Thai Cuisine outlet, Kay and Sap Apisaksiri welcomed twin sons into their household. The boys, named Austin and Texas, arrived on March 28, weighing in at 7 pounds each. Our congratulations to Mom and Dad.

The Asian American Resource Center will present Rice: A Celebration of Asian American Culinary Pursuits on May 17 in honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, but this month, they would like the public to nominate its favorite Asian-themed food trucks. The winning trucks will then compete to create their best rice-based dish. Community nominations are open until April 13 at

In addition to the debut of a new spring menu, the Paggi House (200 Lee Barton Dr.) is using their craft cocktail program to benefit A Glimmer of Hope Austin for an entire month. The nonprofit agency that provides summer camp scholarships for disadvantaged Austin youth will receive one dollar for every craft cocktail sold at the historic Paggi House in April.

Hate that I missed Sunday's Vaca y Vino benefit for Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, but that means I'll have to make an extra effort to attend Austin's other favorite beef-centric cooking event, Live Fire! at the Salt Lick Pavilion on April 17. Tickets are still available at

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