Fried chicken throwdown: When longtime Central Texas chefs and restaurateurs Bud Royer and Jack Gilmore finally met and became friends in the fall of 2014, if was a safe bet that good food and philanthropy were likely to follow. Royer invited chef Gilmore to Round Top, Texas, for a booksigning on an early November Sunday, and after Gilmore had sold out of copies of Jack Allen's Kitchen: Celebrating the Tastes of Texas (UT Press, 300 pp., $39.95), they chatted over plates of fried chicken, always the Sunday special at Royers Round Top Cafe. Gilmore himself is famous for his willingness to chicken-fry anything, so the conversation eventually turned to a fried-chicken throwdown between restaurants from Austin and Houston. A few weeks later, the Gilmore family hosted the Royers for Thanksgiving, and the plans for the fried-chicken event really began to take shape. They chose Sunday, June 14, on Main Street in Round Top and opted to keep the inaugural outing a small, invitational event with restaurant teams from each city: Jack Allen's Kitchen and Hoover's Cooking from Austin; Royers from Round Top; Max's Wine Dive, Punk's Simple Southern Food, and Killen's Barbeque from Houston. There will be craft beer and live music, plus beverages, pie, and ice cream from the Cafe. Each restaurant will serve fried chicken and a side dish to the crowd. There will be a People's Choice award as well as a winner chosen based on the appearance, crust, and flavor of each entry. The esteemed panel of judges includes Addie Broyles of the Austin American-Statesman, Marla Camp of Edible Austin, Tom Koch of KTRK TV in Houston, Greg Morago of the Houston Chronicle, Pat Sharpe of Texas Monthly, and fried-chicken blogger Jay Francis. Tickets are $20, and proceeds from the event will benefit Meals on Wheels of Austin and Houston. Sunday, June 14, 2-4:30pm.
Viticulture Club: When consumers enjoy a glass of wine, it's easy to forget the end product is the result of an always-challenging agricultural endeavor. However, as the Texas wine industry continues to grow and flourish, the need for people trained in the particulars of planting, tending, and pruning grapevines grows right along with it. Taking their cue from California where viticulture courses are firmly established in high school Future Farmers of America programs, a visionary group of Central Texans has created the state's first high school viticulture program. Vineyard owner Dan McLaughlin proposed the idea to Mason ISD counselor Melany Canfield, who guided the proposal through the necessary administrative channels. The curriculum is being developed by Dr. Justin Scheiner of Texas A&M in collaboration with Mason ag. science instructor Lance Rasch, who will teach the course that covers all agricultural aspects of growing grapes. McLaughlin will make a fenced plot of land he owns near the high school available for the student vineyard and provide water and trellis materials. Texas A&M is donating the vines. Fifteen students have already registered for the fall semester.
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