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February 2003

>> BOSTON

Front-row eats. Steve DiFillippo has opened a new Davio’s on Arlington Street in the former home of Paine Furniture Co. The new restaurant is big, bright, and sexy in the manner of Grill 23 but with an Italian lilt. You can eat at the pizza bar and watch the open kitchen. Co-executive chefs Eric Swartz and Stephen Brown control the kitchen, but DiFillippo is everywhere at once, greeting guests and busing tables when the service takes a beat too long | Pierre Sosnitsky, who accommodated the power elite at Sans Souci in Washington, D.C., for many years, is the new maître d’ at the Café at Maison Robert. You may recognize him from his most recent stint at Locke-Ober, where he orchestrated the front of the house at the behest of his old friend Jacky Robert | The Vault owner, Brian O’Neill, now has a co-owner/chef who may be his perfect business partner, Carmen Quagliata (ex-Tra Vigne in the Napa Valley) | Stars on Huntington has undergone a makeover, with new decor and a menu featuring low-priced “comfort food favorites.”

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>> CHICAGO

TRU Breaks New Ground with Artist Series Featuring Peter Halley. Renowned Artist and Yale University Art Lecturer Joins TRU’s Culinary Team, in Partnership with Alan Koppel Gallery, for an Inspiring Dinner Exploring the Taste and Texture of Color. Executive Chef/Partner Rick Tramonto and Executive Pastry Chef/Partner Gale Gand, in partnership with acclaimed art dealer Alan Koppel, are teaming up with renowned artist and Yale University lecturer Peter Halley for the inaugural TRU Artist Dinner Series on Tuesday, March 11. The Peter Halley Dinner is based on the concept of synesthesia, a phenomenon in which one type of stimulation evokes another. As such, chefs Tramonto and Gand will create a seven-course dinner that explores their reactions to the emotions and textures of color through their medium of choice: food. For example, the yellow course may have some visual components that are yellow, but more-so it will have flavors, textures and aromas that taste, feel and smell yellow. Each of the courses will be paired with the reproduction of a Halley painting, allowing guests to see and taste for themselves how Tramonto’s and Gand’s interpretation of Halley’s work can be experienced beyond the sense of sight. In addition, wines will be paired with each course by TRU Sommelier Scott Tyree, using the synesthesia philosophy. The selected wines will also inspire the emotion of the color of each course through the flavor, aroma and “mouthfeel” of each vintage. The dinner will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a Champagne reception where guests can mingle with Peter Halley, chefs Rick Tramonto and Gale Gand and TRU Art Collection Curator and Chicago art dealer Alan Koppel. The Alan Koppel Gallery is the source of each of the pieces in TRU’s collection. Each piece is carefully selected with a keen eye towards aesthetics and historical artistic significance. During a pre-dinner tour of the art collection and the TRU kitchen, guests will enjoy “little bites of color” to whet their appetite. Following a brief discussion by Peter Halley about the concept of synesthesia and how this came together in the menu, Tramonto and Gand will unveil their culinary “masterpieces” one course at a time. Halley will actually be involved with the plate presentation of each course using a food ‘paint’ such as an intense carrot reduction for orange where he will brush stroke each plate before Tramonto and Gand finish plating their dish. The chefs will team with Halley to discuss the inspiration behind each course and provide details about the ingredients, preparation and presentation. Contact: Jamie Estes, FSA Public Relations, (502) 583-3783, jestes@hqtrs.com | Hot spot. “Everybody who eats here wants to go home and have sex,” says restaurateur Jerry Kleiner of his latest creation, Opera, in the South Loop. Maybe it’s the herbs in the upscale Chinese menu, or maybe it’s the hand-painted erotic art, velvet drapes, or sultry Chinese pin-up girls that turn people on. Kleiner (Red Light, Marche, Gioco) recommends that lovers reserve one of the restaurant’s private dining nooks, in former storage vaults. The menu was designed by Paul Wildemuth (chef/partner at Red Light) and Arun Sampanthavivat (Arun’s) | Calling her new eatery “an ode to New England cuisine,” chef/owner Sharon Cohen christened the place Glory. Located in one of Chicago’s classic old bungalows, the Bucktown restaurant offers everything from beer-battered fish ’n’ chips to a clambake of lobster, cod, clams, mussels, sausage, and potatoes. And for a sweet taste of New England, Cohen offers Boston cream pie, maple sugar tart, and pandowdy-of-the-day | Avec, a casual wine bar, is slated to open in the spring next to Blackbird restaurant on West Randolph. The principals are the Blackbird team of chef Paul Kahan, general manager Donald Madia, and wine steward Eduard Seitan. Koren Grieveson, former Blackbird sous-chef, is chef de cuisine. Her menu, developed with Kahan, will focus on traditional dishes from the wine-growing regions of France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy | Mark Mendez has replaced David Shea as chef at Twelve 12. Mendez, formerly the sous-chef, brings a more Latin influence to the menu | Southern comfort food just didn’t pan out at Creole, and the restaurant has closed | The new executive chef at Lawry’s the Prime Rib is Patrick Stewart, formerly of the Walnut Room.

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>> HOUSTON

Next spring, the catering firm A Fare Extraordinaire will open the 75-seat Cafe Extraordinaire in the Tanglewood location that was Jags. Louis Cressy (ex-Bistro Lancaster) is executive chef | Chef/owner Jonathan Jones and Matthew McLaughlin have closed Cafe Chiasso | Pei Wei Asian Diner is set to open on Buffalo Speedway at Westpark. It’s a conceptual cousin to P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, with counter service and an under-$10 menu | Tony Mandola’s plans for his new spot between Eatzi’s and Cafe Annie are nearly complete. Blue Plate Bistro should be open some time this month. Charles Clark of Ibiza is consulting chef | Executive chef Tommy Childs has left Bistro Lancaster and joined Benjy’s in the Village, replacing Stephen Milstein. Steven Murray now runs the Lancaster kitchen | Ray Brum has moved to the St. Regis Hotel | Gary Marrero has joined Landry’s Restaurants as catering director and will concentrate on Landry’s three soon-to-be-unveiled downtown ventures: Downtown Aquarium (early 2003), Inn at the Ballpark (fall 2003), and The Steakhouse (fall 2003). Marrero most recently was director of catering and convention services at the Hyatt Regency Houston | André Ledoux has taken over as executive chef at La Réserve at the Omni | Doug Pollard (ex-Damian’s, State Grille) is executive chef at the newly revamped Hotel Derek, replacing Alena Pyles. Also new to the hotel is the Maverick restaurant and its chef, Robert Hicks | The recent 18th Annual Caesar Salad Competition attracted more than 250 attendees, who voted for their favorites. The winner for the most creative (yeah, we’ll say) Caesar salad was Brazos executive chef Frederick Brown, who tossed together a salad that included sun-dried cherries, plaintain croutons, mango relish, and an ancho-honey dressing.

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>> LONDON

Couture cuisine. Sketch has finally opened on Conduit Street in Mayfair. Spread across two huge floors of a stunningly converted Christian Dior showroom off Regent Street, this new venture from Momo’s legendary owner, Mourad Mazouz, has two dining rooms, both overseen by Parisian chef Pierre Gagnaire: the beautifully decorated Lecture Room serving French cuisine at stratospheric prices (THE most expensive restaurant in London now), and the hip, music-playing Gallery offering a menu of mezze. There’s also all-day pâtisserie The Parlour and two chic bars | Also blending food and fashion is 202 in the new Nicole Farhi shop at 202 Westbourne Grove in Notting Hill, where a cafe menu of healthy American/ Modern European fare is paired with Farhi’s home furnishings for sale | The Grill Room in the opulently decorated Café Royal has reopened after a long closure | Zen Sartori has opened in Hoxton’s Asian and Oriental School of Catering | Thierry Tomasin, former head sommelier at Le Gavroche, is the new manager at Aubergine | Jean-Christophe Novelli has become chef/owner at Auberge du Lac at Brocket Hall in the country; his Maison Novelli restaurant is now closed. A new branch of Chez Max took over the Maison Novelli space | There is a new branch of Giraffe on Kensington High Street | Motcomb’s new chef is New Zealander Aaron Stott (ex-Vong), and the new menu is modern European | The classic Jermyn Street restaurant Wilton’s reopens this month after a much-needed renovation | The Japanese restaurant Saga has closed and will reopen as Khew. The kitchen will be led by ex-Nobu chef Paul Day | Creelers has closed.

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>> LOS ANGELES

Rillettes and renown. Chef/partners Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne (Lucques) have opened A.O.C. (for Appellation d’Origine Controlée) on West Hollywood’s 3rd Street with a full-service restaurant, a wine bar serving 50 wines by the glass, an in-house charcuterie menu and a huge selection of cheeses. Chef Julie Robles moved over from Lucques, where Robert Chalmers moved up to take the helm | Celestino Drago has moved into the bakery business with Celestino Bakery, the former Buona Forchetta facility in Culver City. Drago will supply his own restaurants (Drago, Celestino Italian Steakhouse, Il Pastaio) as well as wholesale and retail customers. Among the regional breads are Sicilian semolina bread with sesame seeds, paper-thin carta da musica, and his signature garlic pagnotta with glazed vinegar | Edendale Grill, housed in a landmark fire station in Silver Lake, offers Patti Peck’s (ex-Millie’s) upscale variations on comfort food. Her partner is front-of-the-house maven Melanie Tusquellas, scion of the famous Original Farmer’s Market meat, fish, and donut stand family, whose father, Bob, did the wine list | Mexico City–born restaurateur Jimmy Shaw has opened ¡Lotería! Grill in the Original Farmer’s Market, inspired by a famous Mexican game. The food is basic but authentic Mexico City street food, including spectacular mole poblano sauces | Gabriel Morales, who opened the hot steakhouse Balboa, has now created his idea of Bliss on La Cienega, which is, as you might expect, a carnivore’s delight. Notable are the veal porterhouse and the vegan-friendly fire-roasted eggplant parmesan | Noel Turner is a native Kiwi and third-generation fine-food purveyor with a fierce dedication to all-natural hormone- and antibiotic-free beef, venison, lamb, fish, and shellfish. Now Turner has opened a fine-dining restaurant, Turner New Zealand, near South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa. Chef Louie Moya is a mainstay from the site’s former occupant, Lugano Cucina | Mario Perez of the now-closed Café Mélisse in Valencia is the new chef at Zax. A “mentee” of Josiah Citrin, Perez replaces opening chef Brooke Williamson at the Brentwood establishment.

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>> NEW ORLEANS

Big Easy good-bye. James Overbaugh is leaving The Grill Room of the Windsor Court Hotel for Boston and the opportunity to open his own restaurant there. He’s just one of many chefs to have branched out from this five-star establishment. Some of the others are René Bajeux of René Bistrot, John Besh of August, and Bingo Starr of Cuvee | The Smith & Wollensky Grill, the casual half of the Smith & Wollensky steakhouse, became a casualty of September 11 fallout. It’s now been given another chance as Doc Smith’s Lounge, with drinks for the sports-minded and Cajun tapas by David Bruce, such as barbecue shrimp beignets and muffaletta pizza | New Orleans native Steve Manning has returned to the fold. Manning, who left town in the mid- ’90s to open the Creole restaurant Bayou in Harlem, is back as consulting chef at Clancy’s | John Harris is all aglow! After being featured on a recent cover of Food & Wine magazine, the demand for tables at his tiny restaurant, Lilette, was so astonishing that he closed for two weeks and added 30 seats | While Creole cuisine dominates the Big Easy, other chefs continue to influence the restaurant scene, as demonstrated by the opening of Salt ’n’ Pepper on North Peter Street. The city’s first-ever Pakistani establishment is owned by Tanvir Inam.

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>> NEW YORK

Changing of the guardia. Nuevo Latino chef Doug Rodriguez has left his post as chef of Pico and Chicama. He continues his association with Alma de Cuba in Philadelphia and Deseo at The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona | After more than a decade, Don Pintabona is no longer at Tribeca Grill. He left to pursue other projects. The new chef is Stephen Lewandowski, who had been the chef de cuisine | Michel Nischan, once the heart of Heartbeat at the W Hotel in Midtown, has also moved on | Village vegetarians have a new dining option in Gobo, recently opened by brothers Darren and David Wu. (The boys’ parents, incidentally, opened Zen Palate.) No clunky dishware or spider plants in macramé hangers at this veggie hangout—Gobo is sleek and modern. The menu goes beyond Asian fare with dishes like pappardelle in a meatless Bolognese | Remedy Restaurant and Lounge has been transformed into Anju. The name means “small plates” in Korean, and the Korean-fusion menu, created by Claude Chassagne, is comprised of small plates like sesame-glazed baby bok choy and larger ones like seaweed-crusted rack of lamb. Owner Jay Hwang has created a list of customized house sakes, like Tibet tiger sake (a blend of sake, Tibetan tiger tea, caramel, chocolate, butterscotch, and vanilla) to be enjoyed in Anju’s “sake therapy lounge” | Friulian native Emanuele Simeoni is opening Barbalùc, a restaurant specializing in the food of his home region, on the Upper East Side this month. The chef, Christian Fantoni, previously worked at Le Cirque 2000 | Peter Hoffman, chef/owner of Soho mainstay Savoy, has redecorated and, at the same time, added an all-day, moderately priced cafe menu. Larry Bogdanow, who designed the original restaurant nearly two decades ago, has added full-length windows and modern touches | Fans of Gnocco in the East Village can now find similarly lusty Italian fare a few blocks south at the new Perbacco, the latest venture from Gnocco owner Pierluigi Palazzo | East is East. East Villagers will also be feasting on the food of Michael Huynh at his chic, new Vietnamese spot, Sen. Try dishes like yam soup studded with tiger shrimp, whole red snapper, and prawns with a bouillabaisse sauce. Pastry consultant Eric Hubert, who once prepared the sweet stuff at Jean Georges, is making the desserts | Roti riche. At the new Sugarcane on the outskirts of Park Slope, Brooklyn, Charmaine Gumbs offers Caribbean fare in upscale surroundings. The restaurant serves traditional foods from the Caribbean, such as chicken stew with rum, soursop flan, and—of course—roti | Chelsea’s Markt has a new executive chef. Pierre Pluymers hails from Antwerp, where he apprenticed at the Michelin-rated t’Fornuis | The Midtown space that once held Artusi is now Acqua Pazza, an Italian seafood restaurant opened by Arturo Arpaia.

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>> PHILADELPHIA

Ah, Capella. Robert Capella (ex-Four Seasons and Westin Hotels) is now working his modern European magic at Monte Carlo Living Room, where he’s turning out creations that may look spare but that taste lush. Nunzio Patruno, the soft-spoken former chef of Monte Carlo Living Room who let his food do the talking, is opening a new restaurant across from the landmark Drake building on Spruce Street | David Boyle, former exec chef at Jake’s, has taken over the reins at Davio’s, the upscale Italian steakhouse. He replaces Shawn Sullsberger, who left to open his own restaurant | Royal Tavern and Low, bars with real food, have opened in South Philly | The Bamboo Club (eighth in a chain) has opened, serving pan-Asian food to an overflow crowd in the King of Prussia Mall | Waldorf Cafe closed, and Bella opened in the same 20th and Lombard spot, retooling the restaurant food from French to “modern Hamptons.” Debra Deaner and Lorrie Thiel, both alumnae of Striped Bass, are the chefs | Manayunk’s long-standing Sonoma has changed its menu to all-organic. Chef/owner Derek Davis says the philosophy extends to the wine list, which features organic and biodynamic wines produced by Mondavi and Arrow.

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>> PITTSBURGH

New colony. Under new ownership and after a year’s renovation, the landmark Scott steakhouse The Colony has reopened. Executive chef Michael Lee (ex-Le Mont) has kept the traditional steak-and-potatoes menu, but added Continental dishes | Two new Mexican restaurants join the scene: Ole Ole in the North Hills (with Southwestern/ Mexican standards and funky margaritas), and Cabo Mexican Grill in the Homestead Waterfront by Chicago-based Restaurant Development Group | Frescas replaces Max Planks in Wexford. Under the same ownership, the new kitchen offers “rustic European cuisine” and a wine bar | Thai-Me-Down is the first Thai restaurant on the South Side | Romantic Hyeholde in Moon Township now offers upscale takeout, including its signature sherry bisque | He’s gone. Seth Tricher (ex-Lidia’s Pittsburgh) had a short tenure at the fledgling La Strada. The Italian-born Mino Fazio now rules that kitchen | Eric Wallace is the new chef at Kaya, a Caribbean/Spanish fusion restaurant with Asian touches that specializes in tropas (small plates). Kevin Sousa is sous-chef | Steve Thompson and Neal Huchingson step up to lead the contemporary Italian Lucca. Former executive chef Douglass Dick is on a European sabbatical.

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>> SAN DIEGO

Victor Jimenez is the new chef at Gringo’s Cocina & Cantina in Pacific Beach. Jimenez, who formerly worked under Bernard Guillas at La Jolla’s Marine Room, came to his new digs from Thee Bungalow. The restaurant features modern Mexican cuisine | Jason Shaeffer, executive chef of downtown’s Laurel Restaurant & Bar, is now executive chef of the WineSellar & Brasserie in Sorrento Valley. Both restaurants are owned by local wine expert Gary Parker | Roaming chef Riko Bartolome has landed again, this time as executive chef of the new San Diego W Hotel. He is in charge of signature restaurant Rice, which serves Asian fusion cuisine, as well as a roof bar overlooking San Diego Bay that features a hot sand floor. Bartolome comes to the W from a recent stint at The Grill at Maderal Golf Club | La Jolla’s Nuevo Latino restaurant Tamarindo has reopened as Fresh, featuring seafood by new executive chef Matt Zappoli, former executive sous-chef at Aureole in Las Vegas. Owner Sami Ladeki’s other restaurants include Roppongi, Prime 10 Steakhouse, and Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza.

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>> SAN FRANCISCO

Saucy plans. Larry Mindel, a founder and director of the Il Fornaio restaurant and bakery group and a former dynamo at Spectrum Foods in its heyday, has got big plans for a restaurant in Sausalito. The restaurant will be in part of the space at 801 Bridgeway (near Bay) that once housed the Village Fair retail complex. Mindel’s planned bay-view restaurant will be leased from the Casa Madrona Hotel, which will convert its Mikayla restaurant to hotel rooms in the next year. Mindel lives in Sausalito, and this restaurant, still unnamed, is the culmination of his 30-year love affair with Italian food and culture | Jellyfish is the newish restaurant in the Sheraton Petaluma Hotel. Executive chef Barbara Hom is a longtime Sonoma restaurateur and caterer whose Santa Rosa restaurant, Fans, closed in 1993 | Local Pasta Pomodoro chain has agreed to sell 25 percent of the company to Wendy’s International Inc. for $12 million | The sudden departure of Redwood Park executive chef George Morrone is not the end of that story. Owner Charles Condy also filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy for the restaurant. Condy’s restaurants include Aqua, Charles Nob Hill, Pisces in Burlingame, and the aforementioned Redwood Park. He also has several management contracts for signature restaurants in Southern California and Las Vegas. Condy is planning a complicated and creative financial transaction to finance the rollout of more restaurants | Nick Peyton and chef Douglas Keane, who left Jardinière over a year ago to work with Peyton, are poised to open a neighborhood restaurant on Main Street (near Spring Street) in St. Helena called Market. The menu will range from five-bean chili with cheddar-cheese cornbread to home-style classics like fried chicken, double-cut pork chop, and meatloaf.

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>> SEATTLE

Double threat. Two dining ventures, one owner. Marco Casas Beaux, an Argentine, grabbed the space in popular Belltown where The Poor Italian Café had been and named it Buenos Aires Grill. He then opened Gitano in the Madison Valley space that previously housed Gypsy. Marianne Zbodysz (ex-Madison Park Café) is the executive chef of the Grill. Talented Puerto Rican chef Maritza Texeria will oversee the kitchen at Gitano. Both menus emphasize the owner’s Latin American heritage | The newly renovated Library Bistro & Bookstore, formally the Painted Table, opened with a contemporary American menu by Matt Costello and a retro interior | Managing owner Kamyar Khoshdel of Vivanda, the Mediter-ranean dining spot in the Pike Place Market, has hired Peter Levine as executive chef. Levine has 20 years of experience in restaurants such as Jean-Louis Palladin’s Jean-Louis at the Watergate in Washington, D.C., and Twenty-One Federal Restaurant on Nantucket | Sean Quinn is chef of the swanky new El Gaucho in Tacoma. Owner Paul Mackay spent $1.8 million on the project.

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>> WASHINGTON D.C.

Sensitive sweets. At last, a bakery for non-dairy types who may or may not like meat. Sticky Fingers Bakery, the area’s first bakery for vegans and those who are lactose intolerant, has opened in Dupont Circle on 18th Street. Owners Doron Petersan and Kirsten Rosenberg are vegans who are also sensitive to the allergy challenged | Duane Keller is executive chef at Potowmack Landing in Alexandria. He was most recently at Blue Point Grill, also in Alexandria | New York–based Loews Hotels has hired Jeff Tunks (DC Coast, Ten Penh) to re-energize the dining room at the Jefferson Hotel downtown | Old Hickory Grill plans to open in Potomac Woods Place on Severn Locks Road in Rockville | Meiwah, a popular West End Chinese restaurant, will open a second location in Friendship Heights in March.

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>> OTHER OUTPOSTS

Bayville, Long Island
On February 27, chef Joseph Ciminera of The Pine Island Grill is hosting the second of three Manhattan Guest Chef dinners. That evening, chef Anthony Cincola and pastry chef Luis Robledo-Richards of Le Cirque 2000 will be preparing a six-course dinner with wines, courtesy of Brown-Forman. Some of the proceeds will benefit The James Beard Foundation. For tickets, call 516.628.3000. Look for details about the final dinner in the series in our March Calendar.

Carmel, CA
Master class. This year’s Masters of Food and Wine at the Highlands Inn, the 17th annual incarnation of this eating and drinking extravaganza, is being headlined by a number of James Beard Award–winning chefs, including Gary Danko, Todd English, Bobby Flay, Gale Gand, Eric Ripert, Susan Spicer, and Sherry Yard. The Park Hyatt property will also welcome Michael Ginor and Laurent Gras, among many others. To drink there’ll be plenty of Château Margaux, Louis Jadot, Lail, Spottswood, Quintessa, and Veuve Clicquot on hand. The event runs from February 19 thru 23.

Toronto
Hitting the mark. Mark McEwan (North 44, Terra Restaurant) has opened Bymark in the Financial District. This is his first downtown venture, and has given him a booming lunch business. The two-story room, designed by James Beard Award–winning design team Yabu Pushelburg, is nestled in the basement of the Toronto-Dominion Centre skyscraper.

Celebrating Beard’s Birthplace
Whether reminiscing about the bustling markets and the chaotic Chinatown streets of Portland, or daydreaming about the tranquil forests and expansive coastline of Gearhart, James Beard was never very far from his beloved home state of Oregon. To honor his centenary we are inviting a chef from Oregon to cook dinner at the Beard House once each month this year. As in Beard’s time, Oregon has a lively food and restaurant scene. Last month we welcomed John Newman from Stephanie Inn in Cannon Beach, Oregon, as the first to cook in our Celebrating Beard’s Birthplace series. This month we’re happy to have Portland chefs Philippe Boulot from the Heathman Hotel and William King and Rene van Broekhuizen from McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants coming to cook in our kitchen (for details, see page 15). No doubt you’ll be able to spot the events in the Calendar by the huckleberries and wild mushrooms on the menus—or else you can just look for the series. We hope to see you soon at the Beard House.

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