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Bringing you the best of local Austin cuisine since 2011



A Word from the Editors The goal of Savorish is to teach and show the residents of Austin about its culturally diverse foods and restaurants. Our mission is to introduce younger people to local foods around town and explore different styles and tastes of the Austin culture. Thank you for stopping by and picking up a copy of our magazine. As the Savorish connosieurs, our goal is to spread the appreciation of the taste of diversity and locality that is so central to Austin culture. Throughout the process of piecing together this magazine, our entire group has been exposed to more local Austin foods and people. The entire group would agree that, though we’ve all encountered road-

blocks and times when we would like to just get up and move to another city, the journey that we undertook when beginning this magazine was in no sense done reluctantly or unwillingly. We hope that we can pass on the experience and appreciation that we have acquired for Austin culture to all of our readers, and we would like to thank our readers again for supporting and savoring the local delicacies of Austin with us.

Thank you, The Savorish Connosieurs



Your Savorish Connoissieurs Lily

(She is awkward) Hello. This whole magazine writing process has been quite interesting. Interesting doesn’t even cut it for the description. It’s been rather frustrating at times (thanks to a certain someone pictured on my left) while other times it’s been ... bearable. I don’t mean to sound whiny, because it actually has been pretty awesome working with these three other dorks for a whole semester. I hope you guys enjoy our magazine as much as I did when writing and designing it.

Nathan (He is hungry)

Hi, I’m Nathan. I like devouring sweet stuff and I’m extremely lazy. I had a lot of fun, both in eating desserts for the sake of our magazine, and also in making the designs and the stories. Most of the work, however, was hard and tough, though most of it was done by Lily... So I thank you for reading our magazine, and I hope that you find it entertaining and fun.

Megha (She is short.)

Hi! Most people would describe me (first and foremost) as excessively short, but I don’t see why that has to matter. I’ve actually had a lot of fun creating this magazine, (despite the group members listed above and below me). I learned a lot of amazing stuff about food in our city, and I hope that by reading this magazine, you’ll discover something new as well.


(Anything we write will be insulting.) I like food because I like to eat. I’m writing about food to share my food expertise. I’m not big on writing, but I will do my best for the sake of the magazine. I do like photoshop though, so that is mainly what I am doing for the magazine. I ran out of room...


Table of Photo credit to Stephen D.

The Pandora Paradox


The Best Pickings of Downtown Austin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Healthy Helps, Cheap Can’t . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Variety? . . . . ......................................................................

Tokyo Steakhouse and Sushi Bar. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Contents .............................................................



............................................................. .............................................................

8 14 16 18 21 05

The Food is Alive . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

26 32

. . . . . . . . . . . .......................... Tien Jin


Qwik and Easy .............................


Dessert Days . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


The Forbidden Foods. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Almost as good as Grandma’s Tiff’s Treats Cookie Delivery



The Pandora Paradox By Lily and Megha

Genetically Modified Foods [juh-net’i-kal-le mod-uh-fahy-d]: n. Abbr. “GM Foods” Foods derived from genetically modified organisms. Genetically modified organisms have had specific changes introduced into their DNA by genetic engineering, using a process of either Cisgenesis or Transgenesis. As science and culture progress with our society’s development, many issues regarding health and foods begin to appear. These controversial issues have been debated for years, and while there is no definite answer, there are surely benefits and withdrawals to both arguments. First there is the discussion of the growing population and the struggle to prepare a way to effectively feed seven billion people with the same resources we’ve had for years. Another problem that arises is that of health, and the preservation of organic, home-grown foods. The two sides of this GM food controversy have been raking together support for each of their arguments: shall we open this notorious, ill-fated box, naively searching for the Evils and Hope that lies within?


`Why do we allow for over 16,000 innocent, starving children to die from hunger-related causes each day? How can we live down the fact that a family will mourn for the loss of a child every five seconds? In 2008, nearly 3 million children died before they reached their fifth birthday due to causes related directly or indirectly to hunger and malnutrition. Though we have not yet ventured deeply into the research of genetically modified foods, this may pose a solution to our global povertyrelated issues and advance our knowledge of genetic and medicinal sciences. The global population has almost topped 7 billion and is predicted to double in the next fifty years. Ensuring adequate food supply is going to be one of the main challenges in the upcoming years. One solution to this predicament would be to implement and research into the benefits and harms of genetically engineered foods. As malnutrition is one of the results of absolute poverty in many of the third world countries, resulting from dependence on only a nutrient-lacking staple such as rice, we must find a way to produce not only more foods, but more vitamin-rich foods. Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Institute for Plant Sciences created a strain of “golden” rice containing a high content of vitamin A. The institute offers to distribute this rice to any third world country experiencing problems with malnutrition and starvation. There is a new type of sweet potatoes that have been “biofortified”-genetically modified--to contain higher contents of provitamin A. Recall that world food production must at least double-and possibly triple--over the next decades. Even if production could be increased by using conventional technology, which is doubtful, the amounts of pesticides and fertilizers and other polluting chemicals would be immense. If properly researched, developed, and used, genetically modified crops might be the best hope for our rapidly growing population. Agriculture damages the environment more than anything, but genetically engineered foods can lessen the intensity of that negative impact. Insect resistant genetically modified crops, such as those containing the Bt gene--making the plant toxic to pests--allow farmers to reduce their use of insecticides. Next-generation seeds allow farmers to maintain high crop yields while using less water and fertilizer. Potential problems with genetically modified crops, such as the creation of “super weeds” and “super pests,” can be managed and prevented.


We will not be able to stop this technology.

For example, farmers could plant genetically modified crops near each genetically modified plot to prevent Bt-resistance in the pests. However, not only farmers reap the benefits. Consumers will benefit from these products offering enhanced nutritional content, shelf-life and taste. This technology can provide widespread benefits for almost everyone and the global environment. In matters of public health, many diseases are a consequence of lifestyle changes, such as diet. Diabetes is the epidemic of the 21st century. Modified staple foods can guard against the onset of these diseases and will reduce the cost of therapeutic medicine. For example, if the starch content of wheat, rice and maize had a low glycemic index, we could reduce the severity of diabetes. Starch, proteins, fatty acids and antioxidants can be adjusted to better fit human nutrition requirements. Medicines and vaccines often are costly to produce and require special storage conditions not readily available in third world countries. Researchers are working to develop edible vaccines in tomatoes and potatoes. These vaccines will be easier to ship, store and administer than traditional injectable vaccines. Also, not all genetically modified plants are grown as crops. Soil and groundwater pollution is a current global issue. Plants such as poplar trees have been modified to clean up heavy metal pollution from contaminated soil. These advancements in pharmaceuticals and environmental problems will solve many of our pressing global concerns. “We will not be able to stop this technology,” USDA secretary Dan Glickman says. “Science will march forward.” Pandora’s box has been opened. Just as our global population is growing, the intensity of malnutrition and hunger-related issues grows as well. No amount of protesting or violence will be able to stop population growth and further progression into poverty, and we cannot inhibit our advancement into genetic research now as time is slowly trickling on.

The Pandora Paradox

Going G ene The Benefits of Genetically Modified Foods


Don’t Play God The Dangers of Genetically Modified Foods

If these products are so great, then why are there no labels?


“...You can’t fool around with nature without a chain reaction that could get out of control,” said Charles Tanguay, the head of a consumer’s rights organization in Quebec, in 2011. And he is right: despite scientists’ assurances, we honestly don’t know what might happen when we begin to play God with the genes of our food. Genetically modified foods have more negative repercussions than positive effects, including insects becoming resistant to pesticides, the introduction of new allergens to humans and a lack of proper labeling in the market.


The Pandora Paradox

In theory, the idea of growing plants with natural pesticides in every pore was absolutely brilliant. When the bugs attempt to raze our fields, they die and money does not have to be wasted on external pesticides. For example, the Bt delta endotoxin is often used as a natural pesticide, because it kills of most caterpillars. However, there is a glaring problem in the use of natural pesticides: some of the pests will inevitably survive. By the laws of natural selection, these survivors will reproduce and multiply, creating a race of pesticide-resistant nightmares for farmers. In fact, this has already happened. According to an article in the Washington Post by May Berenbaum, in the late 1900s, mosquitoes became resistant to a pesticide known as DDT which was effectively killing them off earlier. By 1972, about 19 mosquito species had developed a DDT-resistance, and it persisted in their population for years. If insects became resistant to natural pesticides in GM crops, farmers would need to use other forms of pesticides to get rid of them. So the question is: should farmers even bother to plant genetically-modified crops with natural pesticides in the first place? If there is a looming possibility of bugs becoming resistant to pesticides in the plants anyway, farmers should employ traditional (and more effective methods) to keep them at bay. A signific-ant danger of introducing new genes into plants is that of creating a new allergen. Most food allergies are caused by certain proteins. It is possible that a new, unintended protein may be created as a result of genetic modification, according to a report released by the World Health Organization. Because this protein would not be present in this food’s conventional counterpart, it is possible that people might react poorly to it. Reactions could range anywhere from rashes to breathing issues to anything really - allergies created by GM foods are uncharted territory. In addition, transgenic foods might contain allergenic components that sensitive individuals would not know to avoid. For example, if a protein from milk was spliced into the genome of a carrot, those with milk allergies would not know to avoid it, which could lead to an allergic reaction. In the United States, companies are not required to label genetically modified foods, which is outrageous. In the eyes of the FDA, genetically modified foods are more or less equivalent to their genetically intact counterparts and do not need to be labeled separately. Food corporations are afraid of labeling due to the possibility that consumer might display a

preference towards GM or non-GM foods, which would affect production. These decisions have sent consumer’s rights advocates into outrage. “I think consumers need to have info about the foods they’re consuming. ... I think that if these products are so great, then why are there no labels? Why can people not know that [genetically modified ingredients] are in their food?” says Lisa Archer, coordinator for the Safer Foods-Safer Farms campaign. She, along with other consumer’s rights advocates argue (and rightly so) that buyers have a right to know what they are purchasing. One of the major selling points of genetically modified foods is that they will help alleviate world hunger. This claim is false, according to The true causes of hunger include (but are not limited to) poverty and unequal distribution of land and food production. In fact, while genetically modified foods convenience the farmer in terms of pest resistance, they do not actually increase crop yield. By providing GM foods to people in the developing world, we would only create dependence between the poor farmers and corporations who provide for them. In the long term, this sort of relationship is unhealthy and undesirable. It would be better to teach subsistence farmers better agricultural methods, including organic farming, alternative pest management techniques (such as using natural predators like ladybugs to kill of bugs), and intercropping. These techniques are effective and are not associated with the expenses of GM foods. In Austin, we are more fortunate than most. We have alternatives to buying genetically modified foods. For example, Whole Foods Market clearly labels all foods as GMOs (genetically modified organisms) so that consumers who want to avoid them can do so. In addition, Whole Foods’ house brand, 365 Everyday Value, is made without any GMOs. Alternatively, we can shop at the various farmers’ markets around Austin. By talking to the vendors there, we can get a trustworthy confirmation that our purchases are not genetically modified. Even so, there is a long way to go. There is a startling lack of awareness about genetically modified foods and their effects. If GM foods were labeled in the market, perhaps more people would realize what exactly they are eating, and the shortcomings of this type of food. Certainly, if we know the dangers and shortcomings of genetically modified foods and have clear alternatives available to us, then we have no excuse to continue eating any other way.


1. Amy’s Ice Cream

2805 Bee Cave Road, #416 Austin, TX 78746-5640 Known around Austin for its fabulous ice cream and coffee, Amy’s Ice Cream has many locations sprinked around the city. The ice cream flavors include Mexican Vanilla, Belgian chocolate, and the classical flavors.

2. Flipnotics Coffeespace

1601 Barton Springs road Austin TX, 78704 Serving coffee and live music in Austin since 1992, Flipnotics is a lovely coffee shop with an extraordinary staff and a nice patio for lounging around and drinking coffee. It is located right next to Zilker Park, a perfect place to stop after a day of running around downtown Austin.

1. Amy’s Ice Cream

3. Whole Foods Market 525 North Lamar Boulevard

Austin, TX 78703 Located in the very heart of Austin, this Whole Foods was the first one every established. In addition to selling organic and local food, Whole Foods has a variety of multinational cuisines, perfect for a quick meal.

2. Flipnotics Coffeespace

The Best Pickings of

4. The Clay Pit 1601 Guadalupe,

Austin, TX 78701 Clay Pit is a stylish, upscale restaurant, located in downtown Austin, in the heart of the UT campus. It has an excellent ambiance and very tasty food. It attracts a very stylish and smart crowd, so a smart-casual dress code is suggested. Keep in mind that Clay Pit is a slightly expensive option which would be perfect for a special night out.

5. Tacodeli

4. The Clay Pit

5. Taco Deli 4200 North Lamar Boulevard

Austin, TX 78756 Tacodeli is perhaps one of the “hippest” Mexican restaurants in Austin. They have so many different options for tacos, and they are all sublime. They have locations in Central, South and North Austin- perfectly situtated for a leisurely brucnch, or a quick lunch.

3. Whole Foods Market 6. Freebirds World Burrito

515 South Congress Austin, TX 78704 Freebirds offers flame-broiled chicken and steak burritos, as well as many offers veggie options. One of Austin’s most popular burritos restaurants, Freebirds is a must for local Austin cuisine.

6. Freebirds World Burrito

f Downtown Austin

Healthy Helps,Cheap Can’t By: Nathan Le


Photo credit to

In the past, families would enjoy a nice home cooked meal, with many courses of different foods and with diversity of the food pyramid, which was the way people are supposed to eat and cook. Nowadays, people seemed to have lost the time and effort it takes to cook or buy healthy foods; it also appears that we do not have money either. They buy cheap foods, sometimes fast foods, because it is cheap and costs them little. They can eat it quickly, and it is easily accessible, with chain shops and fast food restaurants everywhere. Nevertheless, maybe it is better to eat a home cooked meal, because it is a lot healthier, and it is cheaper to eat a home cooked meal than to eat out. Healthy foods are better for your health and welfare, and could even be cheaper than unhealthy foods. One of the many myths about unhealthy and healthy foods is that unhealthy food is cheaper, and that the only way for a poor family to survive to buy them, but that is not always the case. In a New York Times article by Mark Bittman, it compares and contrasts the costs of the two sides, and in the end, it states that healthy foods cost roughly the same and could even be cheaper. In fact, if a person continues to eat unhealthy “cheap” foods consistently throughout their lives, and they need surgery to fix some problems caused by their eating habits. Then, it might cost much


more to eat cheap foods than eating healthy foods in the end. Eating cheap, unhealthy foods might be good for a short period of time, but if continued for a long time, then it could lead to catastrophic results, that might take more than just money. Another reason that people say they eat unhealthy foods is that it tastes better. Even I agree sometimes, I would definitely take a bowl of ice cream over a head of broccoli. Even though unhealthy foods might taste better than some stereotypical healthy foods, there are many healthy, and tasty, substitutes for the cheap unhealthy foods that you might buy. If you like French fries, baked truffle fries are healthier and could taste the same. If you use your mind and think creatively, then there are always healthy substitutes out there. Most of the time, there are different things that can replace an unhealthy snack. One of the reasons that is said about healthy vs. cheap unhealthy foods, is that cheap foods are a lot easier to find that healthy foods. This is exceedingly true, since it is nearly impossible to go anywhere in any city without finding fast food chain restaurants. However, the true problem of this matter lies deep within all humans that are the fact that we are all essentially lazy. Much like finding a tasty healthy snack, it requires some effort to actively look for healthy foods.

People really are stressed out with all that they have to do, and they don’t want to cook.

But once again, the answer to this is simple, much like there are an exceeding number of fast food restaurants, there are a large number of supermarkets too, and in every supermarket, there is at least one produce section, which is a good place start looking for healthy food. Even if you cannot find the time to thoroughly comb through supermarkets, then there are many different healthy types of shops out there, like a farmer’s market. On a graver subject, the long term effects of cheap unhealthy foods. Almost everybody knows these days that fast foods are bad for you, and that they make you fat or obese. However, most of the time, these people do not fully understand the reasons to what they are saying. According to an article in USA Today by Nancy Hellmich, around 63%

of Americans do not even know what a calorie is; they respond that calories are bad and that the make you gain weight. In fact, a calorie is an increment of energy it takes to warm up one gram of water by 1°C. Our bodies rely on calories to survive, it is the excess calories that turn into fat, since most people who eat regularly at fast food restaurants or unhealthy foods eat a lot more calories that are necessary per day. Cheap, unhealthy foods also have a high amount of saturated fats, which are much more detrimental to your health than unsaturated fats; saturated fats are the biggest dietary cause of “bad cholesterol”. This fat, when consumed in high amounts, can increase the risk of heart disease. Even though it has not been officially proven that eating, fast foods and unhealthy foods cause obesity or several other diseases, statistics show that people whose diet are largely fast food based are also obese. There are many reasons that people pick cheap unhealthy foods over healthier foods, such as cost, taste, and convenience. However, two of these reasons affect our own bodies, which we make our own decision for, and we do not pick the healthier foods because we are simply lazy. Due to the extreme health related consequences of eating unhealthy foods, healthy foods is the best type of food, even if they might cost a little more, or take a little longer to cook.

Photo credit to




wenty-four: the number of McDonald’s restaurants in Austin, Texas. You can literally throw a stone and hit a McDonalds in most major cities. This is the case for most fast food restaurants, and the increasing number of chain restaurants is the main reason for the unraveling of the small business industry. Local businesses are disappearing everywhere and are being replaced by large corporations like chain restaurants. However, it is important to save small businesses because they help maintain diversity in the community and keep jobs and money in Austin. Some might argue that shopping at national businesses and chains is less expensive and provides a similar number of jobs, but according to a recent study by the city, the monetary return to the community is about three times higher when shopping local than major businesses. This is because local businesses buy from local merchants and farmers, and often support other local organizations like school programs. Also, local businesses do not outsource jobs like large corporations. For example, in the drive-through line at a fast food restaurant, the person speaking through the microphone could be in another state, or even another country, entering the order into a computer with another screen in the kitchen. Thus, there are fewer jobs in the community. On top of that, large businesses do not give back to the community to the same extent as local businesses, which have a vested interest in the local development because they rely on the community for income. Large businesses are not as reliant on individual communities for generating revenue. Environmentally, large corporations cause lots of pollution because of transportation and the automobiles driving to and from their different branches. Local businesses are, quite simply, local: and as such you do not have to drive far to reach them. These businesses also source local products and services, wasting fewer resources on the transportation of goods manufactured in other states and

countries (which in turn do not create local jobs) putting less strain on the neighborhood environments. Furthermore, chains and large businesses often use cheaper products that have a negative effect on the local water and air quality, because they put lower prices above local interest. These decisions are not made by people in the community, who will feel the aftereffects, but by rich people who do not care about what happens as a result of their actions. Diversity is also a major factor in the local business equation. Local businesses have one or two branches, whereas chains have many branches, each of them almost exactly the same. Such anti-diversity has become the case with most shopping centers, full of the same boring restaurants that you can find in every city in the country. But local businesses are individual and stock products that often cannot be found anywhere else. This is lost in the large business model. Without local business, we lose diversity. More importantly, though, are the profits generated by local businesses. With large corporations, the city and the community receive a percentage of the tax dollars, and that is about it. However, profits from local businesses go to the owners and employees of the business. The important thing is where they spend that money—if they spend it on other local businesses, the money continues to circulate in the community, and it stays in the community until it is spent at a non-locally owned and operated business. When it stays in the community, it benefits the residents of the area: so buying local benefits you, the consumer. Thus, buying local should be considered not just supporting your community, but an investment in your community and the services of it provides. Why would you spend your money on a large corporation? It is not really cheaper, you just get less for your money, less for your tax dollars, and less benefits for you. So buy local, it is better all around.


Now serving three plavors of


Tokyo Steakhouse and Sushi Bar By Lily Xu

Photo cred

it to Parad


Photo credits to Dining512

“If you are going to do something, love it, and do your best.” Such words Mr. Charles Pan must have followed to mold and shape his Toyko Steakhouse restaurant in Round Rock into the popular teppan-yaki restaurant it is today. A popular stop for authentic Japanese cuisine and entertaining chefs, the environment created inside of the restaurant is not only welcoming, but bustling with energy. With rows and rows of fresh, high-quality seafood and dips set out on the marble counter top at the sushi bar, and the roar of the grills on which trained chefs prepare food, it is apparent that quality is all that the restaurant is about. “I hire the best workers. There are dishwashers, and then there are fast dishwashers. There are chefs, and then there are certified, authentic, skilled chefs,” Pan said. “We believe in quality. Yes, quality.” Mr. Pan had taken over the Tokyo Steakhouse and Sushi Bar just recently in 2003. He had graduated from Hai Yang college in China with a major in marine biology, which some may find suitable that he followed a career in the sushi business. “Study hard and follow your dreams. Grow well and do something you love. That way you’ll never feel like you’re working hard and you’ll only grow to love it more.” Having grown up in China and immigrated to the United States, starting a business was not on Pan’s mind when he first set foot in Texas. However, after his sister, who had a family to raise and a second job to handle, took over the restaurant from a friend, he offered to manage the restaurant in her place. As the present owner of Tokyo Steakhouse, Pan must supervise the staff during the day, greet customers and shop for fresh ingredients daily. “…There’s always something going on that you never know, on a daily basis,” Pan chuckled. “Of course we all want something different. We always want to do some changes—small and big.” With a new location opening near Westlake, the business is currently changing to expand to locations near the Austin and Round Rock area. When the first restaurant opened in Round Rock, the atmosphere of the restaurant was a very different one from the current feeling. Renovations of the building that give a modern, yet authentic, vibe and a few switches of ownership managed to bring Tokyo Steakhouse and Sushi Bar to the restaurant that it is today. “You always have a lot of great ideas, but executing them is hard,” Pan said. “Reality is not that easy.” Yet somehow, Pan managed to do it. As a first generation American Chinese, establishing and maintaining a local business is much more challenging than it already is. Pan insists that the work ethic nowadays is much more lax than it had been before—of all the things that bother him about his restaurant, mostly it’s the “[workers] that don’t want to work, they just want money.”


The chefs entertain the customers as they wait for their food to be prepared on the grill.

Photo credit to Joann Boeckmann.

Photo credit to Dining512


Photo by Amir Tajar


Tokyo Steakhouse opened in Round Rock in 2003; there will be an opening location near Westlake.

While Pan does agree that money is essential to business—“You have to make money; that’s the bottom line…Even if it’s something you love, if you don’t make money, how long can it last?”—he also acknowledges that pleasing customers is necessary to keep a business running as well. “We are very picky on the quality of our food. If the customers require it, we’ll follow.” With a sleek countertop at the sushi bar and a variety of fresh ingredients on display, it is obvious that food quality is one of Tokyo Steakhouse’s standards. Trained chefs prepare the sushi quickly as customers order off of a menu with costs ranging from $6 to $25 for a roll of sushi. Prepared with sushi meshi—rice flavored with sweet rice vinegar—and a selection of seafood that is bought fresh and shipped daily to the restaurant, the sushi bar is packed with customers during meal hours. The chefs only use two types of shrimp, mostly an organic shrimp bought from Mexico. Pan recounts a time when the restaurant experimented with a different kind of shrimp. “The customers can tell … They were leaving leftovers and not asking for take-out boxes when they finished. We immediately changed the shrimp.” One of the biggest appeals to the customers is the entertainment and performance from the skilled chefs. With a thrilling “fire show” at the grill, the customers are kept on the edge of their chairs while they wait for their food to be prepared. Consisting of a performance done with utensils, knives, pans and pots, as well as the occasional burst of flame from the grill, this show serves as a little gratification from the staff to the customers. Many customers have left positive, satisfied reviews about their chefs; some so pleased that they even lined up to shake their chef’s hand afterwards. “Our chef was funny, creative and entertaining. He never missed a beat!” A smiling lady watched as her two sons clapped their hands for the chefs. Pan also acknowledges that this entertainment is special to only their restaurant. However, he firmly insists that this little extra is essential. “You only get one chance,” Pan said. “You want to get your customers in, please them and make sure they want to come back. That way, they’ll talk well about you to others.” All of these efforts serve to build a name for the restaurant. “We don’t want to just be ‘that steakhouse in Round Rock’”, Pan said. “We want to be Tokyo Steakhouse.”




The menu at Beets Café looks normal enough a glance, but a more scrupulous examination shows otherwise. What looked like a run-ofthe-mill BLT sandwich from afar turns out to be an Eggplant-LettuceTomato instead. The Just-A-Good Burger has a patty comprised of beets and sprout sunflower seeds. You won’t find bacon or beef anywhere near this café, for Beets boasts of having “uncommonly good” raw and vegan cuisine. Sylvia Heisey, the owner (as well as a chef there) discovered the raw foods diet a few years back. Upon realizing its amazing health benefits (and delicious taste) she decided to share this diet with the Austin community. Flash forward a couple of years and you can see the result: Beet’s Living Foods Café.




Before, Heisey was working a job in the corporate sector; what some would call the polar opposite of the restaurant industry. One of the requirements of her job was frequent travel. While some thrive on the lifestyle, it stretched Heisey to the breaking point. “I decided I was done,” she said. “I quit so I could take care of myself.” It was during this recovery period that Heisey discovered the raw food diet. It is hard to believe that a passing suggestion from a friend would have such a dramatic impact on Heisey’s life. She bought a recipe book and began to prepare raw food (as the name implies, not a single ingredient is cooked) and experienced nothing short of a miracle. “The aches and pains in my knees went away, my allergies went away, I lost weight- those 10 pounds I could never lose- I was able to sleep at night, my skin cleared... there’s just so many benefits [to the raw food diet]!” she says. Upon discovering the goodness of raw foods, Heisey felt obligated to share her discovery with all the Austinites. So, in October of 2007, she decided to open a café serving raw food. “I think I took on something bigger than I thought I was going to do,” Heisey admits. After all, the food at Beets is made from scratch using organic ingredients, in addition to being raw. These high quality standards are a direct result of Heisey’s childhood. “I used to watch my mom make her meals, and everything she made was from scratch,” she reminisces. “That really influenced what I am doing today because I really like making things from scratch with good quality ingredients.” When just starting out, Heisey had so many different ideas for what she wanted to do for the restaurant-in-development. “ Taking the step to open a business is huge. The first thing to do is design a plan,” she explains, “because without a plan, there’s no way to focus on the basics of what you want.” For Heisey, opening Beets was a step-by-step process, and she overcame the challenges one at a time. First, Heisey attended Living Light Culinary Arts in California to be trained as a professional chef. Then, there was the process of negotiating the space and lease (“I think I learned more than I wanted to, really,” she says with a laugh.) There were contractors and architects to be dealt with, not to mention city regulations, health regulations and safety regulations. “It is a step-by-step process,” she reiterates, “having the vision of the entire thing, then working backwards to where you want to be.”


Sylvia Heisey opened Beets Cafe in 2009. Arguably, the most important part of a business is the name. Originally, Heisey’s idea for the café name had a slightly spiritual vibe: things like “Oasis” and “Heavenly Table”. They were rejected on the grounds that they wouldn’t be attractive to everyone. “It has to be something that appeals to anybody and everybody.” Heisey says she realized during the brainstorming process. Eventually, she drew inspiration from a restaurant she liked in New York City called “Citrus”. Heisey said she loved how simple the name was, and invoked some of the same simplicity by naming her cafe Beets. “It couldn’t be rutabaga. It couldn’t be cabbage.” she laughs. Beets Living Foods Cafe opened officially in August of 2009, a year after Heisey opened a checking account under that name. The reception to Beets was slow at first, but picked up within a year’s time. While the café was under construction, Heisey was teaching cooking classes at home. It is not surprising that her classes also served as a marketing avenue. A lot of her students were loyal customers before restaurant even opened.


“There has been so much media about the health of this country that people are beginning to get more interested in what they’re putting into their body,” Heisey explains. “We get people all the time who are interested in healthy food because the doctor said ‘If it’s out of a box or a bag, don’t eat it.’”

“It is a stepby-step process: having the vision of the entire thing, then working backards to where you want to be.”

Heisey firmly believes that food not only keeps you healthy, but that it also keeps you happy. “All the kitchen managers and preps know that whatever they make has to make me happy, otherwise it doesn’t get served,” she says. Heisey will occasionally sample a dish before it is sent out (testing for the “happiness quotient” as she calls it), but the staff is required to taste everything before they serve it anyway. Other policies at Beets include not making more than can be served and composting unused materials. It almost goes without saying that the 3 R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle) are actively pursued. “Waste is a big deal to me, to not have it,” she says. “We just have to find a balance and flow to make sure we have what we need.” Sylvia Heisey is truly a perfect fit for the restaurant industry and it is nearly impossible to imagine her working anywhere else. It’s clear just by watching her bustling about behind the counter or serving a patron their food that she wholeheartedly enjoys her job. “I’ve always been somebody who likes to serve people,” she says. “It’s just really gratifying to see people enjoying the food I’ve prepared for them.”


“When you own a restaurant you control your own destiny.”

Michael Chau owns Tien Jin, a Chinese restaurant in Austin. His restaurant opens at 5 p.m. and closes at 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The most popular item on the menu is General Tso’s chicken. Tien Jin serves Dim Sum every weekend, which requires for him to come to the restaurant and start cooking at 4 a.m., and it ends at 1 p.m. With a normal restaurant day being early mornings, long hours, and busy nights, cooking itself is not hard to Michael, it mostly requires detail work and learning new recipes, but things weren’t always this way, his cooking begins in the kitchens of Hong Kong. He was born in Hong Kong and started to work for a restaurant as a busboy when he was fourteen, while he was still in school, for money. At that time, his family owned a family business restaurant, in which they had hired a man to cook, who Michael had often watched cook and soon took an interest in cooking. He then asked the family chef to teach him how to cook, and his first dish that he cooked was spare ribs which his family praised. “From that moment, I knew that I wanted to be a chef”, Michael said, “ I first started cooking so that I could have money, but that was the first time that I wanted to cook for more than money.” When he was twenty-one, he decided to move to the United States to go to college, since college in Hong Kong was more expensive and harder to get in. In college, he majored in business in marketing, since he was planning to have his own restaurant. After he left college, he first arrived in Houston, where he opened his first restaurant in 1979, where he hired someone else to cook, and he himself was the manager of the restaurant. After a few months, it was apparent to Michael


that he would have to know more about the restaurant business, both in cooking and in managing one. Michael then moved back to Hong Kong to learn more about cooking and owning a restaurant. There he had many friends who either worked in or owned big restaurants. He asked his friends many questions about owning a restaurant, he practiced cooking many dishes with them, and he reviewed his finances and marketing with them. He also attended a cooking school in order for him to get more familiar with cooking and to polish and work on his cooking skills. “Cooking isn’t really hard, you just have to focus on every small thing to make sure that it’s right, you have to like it, to cook.” He moved back to Houston with much more knowledge and experience about owning a restaurant and cooking, he then, after eight years, moved to Louisiana, and from Louisiana to Florida, and finally Florida to Austin, since one of his friends had recently opened a restaurant and needed a chef, ever since then, Austin was Michael’s permanent residence. Eighteen years ago, Michael got a call from one of his friends, they wanted to sell him a restaurant, since they wanted to retire and knew that he wanted to have his own restaurant. “I was excited because it was a Chinese themed restaurant, which was the food and cuisine that I could cook and make the best. After we talked it over for a bit, I realized that getting enough money to buy it and refurbish it would be extreme, but with their help I was able to buy the restaurant and I remodeled the inside.” Michael also changed the food items on the menu, and the end result was Tien Jin. “It’s hard work in a restaurant business, but I have never thought about quitting, I’ve liked cooking for a long time”

Photo by Ian Britton

Photo by Michael Chau


Photo by Michael Chau

Photo by Massdistraction

Ingredients: 4 Tablespoons cake flour 4 Tablespoons sugar 2 Tablespoons cocoa 1 Egg 3 Tablespoons milk 3 Tablespoons oil Powdered Sugar

Step 1 Mix the flour, sugar and cocoa Step 2 Spoon in 1 egg Step 3 Pour in milk and oil, and mix well Step 4 Microwave for 2 minutes on maximum power Step 5 Wait until it stops rising and sets in the mug Step 6 Top with powdered sugar Step 7 Top with powdered sugar


Shortbread Layer

Chocolate Layer

1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, at room temperature 3 cups chopped milk chocolate or dark chocolate, 1 cup confectioners' sugar melted 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1 tablespoon vegetable shortening (optional) 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Caramel Layer 2 cups caramel, cut into small chunks 3 tablespoons heavy cream

1) FOR THE CRUST: Preheat your oven to 300°F. Spray a 9” x 13” pan lightly with cooking spray, or line with parchment, and set aside. 2) In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla. Add the flour. At first the mixture may seem dry, but will come together as you continue to beat at medium speed. 3) Take the dough (it will be somewhat stiff) and press it evenly into the pan. Lightly flouring your fingertips will help with any sticking. 4) Prick the crust all over with a fork. The holes will allow steam to escape and the crust will bake evenly with fewer bubbles. 5) Bake the crust until it’s lightly golden brown on top and the edges are deeper golden brown, about 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately run a knife around the edges to loosen the crust. Set it aside to cool completely.


6) FOR THE CARAMEL LAYER: Melt the caramel and cream over low heat in a small saucepan. Pour the caramel over the cooled crust and set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to chill and firm up. 7) FOR THE CHOCOLATE LAYER: Melt the milk or dark chocolate slowly in a double boiler or over very low heat. If it seems very thick, add a tablespoon of shortening to thin it. Pour evenly over the chilled caramel layer and spread to cover all of the caramel. Return to the fridge until the chocolate is well set. Cut into 2” x 2” squares to serve. It’s best to store these bars in the refrigerator. 8) These bars can also be cut and dipped in milk chocolate to resemble Twix ® bars. After the caramel layer has chilled firm, cut down the length of the pan, splitting the bars into two long, narrow bars. Then cut each long strip into “fingers”. Dip the chilled bars into melted chocolate and place on parchment paper to set for several hours. --Recipe Courtesy of King Aurther Flour

Ingredients 1 (18.25 ounce) package chocolate cake mix 1 (16 ounce) container prepared chocolate frosting 1 (3 ounce) bar chocolate flavored confectioners coating

Directions 1) Prepare the cake mix according to package directions using any of the recommended pan sizes. When cake is done, crumble while warm into a large bowl, and stir in the frosting until well blended.

2) Melt chocolate coating in a glass bowl in the microwave, or in a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.

3) Use a melon baller or small scoop to form balls of the chocolate cake mixture. Dip the balls in chocolate using a toothpick or fork to hold them. Place on waxed paper to set. --Recipe Courtesy of Allison


Ingredients 1 (19.8 ounce) package brownie mix 1 (3.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix 1/2 cup water 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk 1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed 1 (12 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed ½ bag of heath bar crumbles

Directions 1) Prepare brownie mix according to package directions and cool completely. Cut into 1 inch squares. 2) In a large bowl, combine pudding mix, water and sweetened condensed milk. Mix until smooth, then fold in 8 ounces whipped topping until no streaks remain.

3) In a trifle bowl or glass serving dish, place half of the brownies, half of the pudding mixture and half of the 12 ounce container of whipped topping. Repeat layers. Sprinkle heath crumbles onto top layer for garnish. Refrigerate 8 hours before serving. 4) Top with whatever you want and enjoy. --Recipe Courtesy of Easy Desert Recipes


Dessert Days January

The National Sweet Dates



2-Cream Puff s 5-Whipped Cream 8-English Toff ee 10-Dark Chocolate 28-Pancake Day

1-Choclate Parfait 4-Candied Orange Peel 12-Nutty Fudge 14-Buttermilk Biscuit 22-Vanilla Pudding

12-Chocolate Milkshake 16-Cinnamon Bread 19-Butterscotch Pudding 20-Juice Punch 22-White Chocolate




3-Donuts 5-Gingerbread 14-Strawberry Shortcake 16-Fudge 21-Peaches & Cream

10-Angel Food Cake 18-Chocolate Cupcake 23-Cream Pie 28-Chocolate 30-Candy Corn




2-Banana Cream Pie 6-Chocolate Cheesecake 19-Chocolate Caramel 24-Chocolate Raisins 26-Nougat

3-Chocolate Wafer 8-Milk Chocolate 9-Sugar Cookie 11-Muffi n 23-Vanilla Ice Cream

4-Hard Candy 23-Cashew bread 24-Cranberry Sauce 24-Pumpkin Pie 28-French Toast




3-Carrot Cake 8-Molasses 12-Plum Pudding 15-Gumdrop 27-Chocolate Cake

3-Choclate Mousse 6-Caramel Popcorn 13-Peach Cobbler 22-Jelly Beans 28-Blueberry Pie

2-Ice Cream Soda 4-Chcolate Chips 14-Creamsicle 25-Banana Split 30-Toasted Marshmellow

7-Cotton Candy 8-Brownie 13-Hot Chocolate 24-Egg Nog 26-Candy Canes


How one family is coping with extensive food allergies


ander Cowan and his mother, Susan, walk into a burger restaurant and sit at a table with a few friends. As the others order, Susan unpacks her food from a paper sack. She can’t eat here. She hasn’t been able to for the past four years. Zander Cowan lives in San Diego California with his parents, Ron and Susan. They maintain a healthy diet, but with a few unusual exceptions. Zander is lactose intolerant, so if he eats too many dairy products. His mother is a celiac, meaning that she cannot have any form of gluten, including wheat, barley, and wheat fillers like soy sauce and Pepsi . This makes finding food a bit more difficult.

Finding restaurants that have gluten free menus is very difficult as well. Zander’s family eats mostly at chain restaurants, because they have the same food everywhere you go. “Chains are better because they are more consistent, at local restaurants you just aren’t sure.” Also the chains prepare the food the same way no matter wherever you are, so if Susan can eat the food at home she can eat it on vacation. In short, “you know what you’re getting.” It is important to have places they know when they go on vacation, because the local food they aren’t sure. “When we go on vacation, my mom packs a large bag of rice, protein bars, and prepackaged foods that will last one or two days.” But, whenever possible, they eat at restaurants like PF Changs and Outback Steakhouse that have gluten free menus. As a general rule, they stick to Asian and Mexican restaurants because the food isn’t based around wheat products like at most burger joints. Instead, they rely on rice or corn to supply the carbohydrates, which are much healthier wheat alternatives. “Gluten free foods are generally better for you because they have less fat and calories.”

“Gluten free foods are generally better for you because they have less fat and calories.”

“We eat mostly at home— steak, salads. No croutons though, that’s a house rule.” The food is the easy part though, because most stores have a gluten free section. They generally shop at stores like Wholefoods or Randall’s and have no trouble finding gluten free alternatives. The problem is that the gluten free food cannot be in contact with gluten particles. “The food must be isolated and prepared with gluten free,” Zander says, “or she will have a violent reaction.” When Zander and his father get bagels, they generally buy a few extra to eat for breakfast the next day. However, they must put the bagels in a Ziplock Bag and store them in the bread box so that they don’t contaminate other food. If, after two or three days, not all of the bagels are gone, they must throw out the rest. If they freeze them, the particles could get into other foods.

On the downside, gluten free foods are more expensive and often don’t taste as good. Also, because of the limited availability, the family can only eat at seven or eight restaurants and they cannot try to find new ones. As Zander says, “you just aren’t sure.” But as awareness of food allergies increases, there are more available alternatives. At the moment though, there aren’t many options for gluten free people. As for Susan, “she knows what she’s missing. She used to be able to have gluten.”



A local Austin food magazine.

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