Chef James Dumapit is out at Asian smokehouse Loro

Chef de cuisine James Dumapit and Loro, the Asian smokehouse from Hai Hospitality in collaboration with Aaron Franklin, have parted ways. Dumapit previously served as the opening co-executive chef at Old Thousand before returning to the Hai Hospitality team for which he once worked as executive sous chef at Uchiko. The departure of Dumapit leaves a vacancy that the Hai team says it is not currently considering filling. The casual restaurant opened at  2115 S. Lamar Blvd. on April 4.

Loro on South Lamar Boulevard. (Credit:

“Chef James Dumapit is a very talented chef and we are grateful for his contributions to Loro.  We wish him all the best and future success,” Hai Hospitality president John Baydale said. “We do not have plans for a replacement at this time but are happy with the amazing team we have in place “



John Mueller Black Box BBQ celebrates anniversary Sunday with free barbecue

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The Dark Prince of Texas barbecue has a soft side, it seems. John Mueller is getting nostalgic this weekend and hosting Tonto Fest, a party to celebrate his Black Box BBQ trailer’s first year in business in Georgetown (and his love for his new metal tomahawk). Following the conclusion of regular service at 2 p.m., Mueller will smoke a half cow with Jim Buchanan of Buck’s BBQ in Houston. The event takes place during the weekend-long Red Poppy Festival in downtown Georgetown.

John Mueller loading the pit at his old trailer on South First Street in 2012. (Ralph Barrera AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

The men, who will be joined by special guests like Bill Kerlin of Kerlin BBQ, John Brotherton of Black Iron Eats and some other unannounced barbecue stars from Central Texas, will hand out the smoked meat, along with St. Arnold’s Beer and Tito’s Vodka. Mueller will also be mic’d up for some color(ful) commentary and a taping of the Tales from the Pits podcast. John Mueller’s Black Box BBQ is located at 201 E. 9th St. in downtown Georgetown.


Co-founders of world’s best restaurant hosting pop-ups at SXSW and you can go

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South by Southwest is known for brand activations and pop-ups from big name chefs, but this year, the festival may have outdone itself. Chef Mads Refslund, co-founder of Noma, the Copenhagen restaurant ranked #1 in the world four times, is cooking at a pop-up in Austin during SXSW. The pop-up, a collaboration with Tigerspring Agency, will be held today through Wednesday from 8 p.m. to midnight. The meals will be served at the House of Scandinavia (340 E. Second St.) and hosted by Scandinavian Airlines. The menu is based on local Austin cuisine, as seen through the lens of Nordic cooking and sourced with organic wines and cocktails made with Nordic spirits. The two prix fixe menus range from $75 to $100 and reservations can be made by emailing

Chef Mads Refslund

Vox Table closed suddenly yesterday before Valentine’s Day dinner

We received an email this morning from a frustrated reader. They weren’t frustrated with us (yea!) but with the fact that they had received an email yesterday afternoon at 3 p.m. alerting them that Vox Table had closed suddenly due to a maintenance issue and therefore the emailer’s Valentine’s dinner reservation could not be honored. The email (which we’ve seen) actually went out, apparently, to all people who had a reservation. The restaurant responded to aggravated diners with a list of restaurants that still had reservations and with phone numbers for those restaurants.


It is unclear if the closure is permanent. We went by the restaurant this afternoon and found a sign on the door that stated the following: “Due to reoccurring maintenance issues, we will be closed this evening. We apologize for any inconvenience.”

We have reached out to Vox for more details on the closure. Their Tex-Mex offshoot, El Burro, closed last year after only six months in business. It was one of the most recent in a string of shutters at the Lamar Union.

A sign on the door at Vox Table on February 15. (Matthew Odam AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Four Austin chefs earn James Beard semifinalist nominations; one local restaurant tabbed best new restaurant contender 

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The James Beard award for Best Chef Southwest has quite a bit of Austin flavor this year. The prestigious culinary institution announced its semifinalists today and Austin took home four nominations, with chefs Michael Fojtasek (Olamaie), Kevin Fink (Emmer & Rye) and Bryce Gilmore (Barley Swine) all earning nods for Best Chef Southwest and Laura Sawicki (Launderette) earning a semifinalist nod for Best Pastry Chef in America, her third consecutive nomination and fifth total. Kemuri Tatsu-Ya, the izakaya-smokehouse from Takuya Matsumoto and Tatsu Aikawa was named a semifinalist for the honor of best new restaurant in America. In addition to the kitchen awards, Jester King Brewery’s Jeffrey Stuffing’s earned a semifinal nod for best wine, beer or spirits or professional.

Chef Michael Fojtasek at Olamaie on May 9, 2017. (TAMIR KALIFA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Gilmore was Austin’s only semifinalist last year, and the chef went on to earn his fifth consecutive finalist nod, but the city has done well in recent years. Aaron Franklin won the award in 2015, and former Austin winners include Paul Qui (2012) and Tyson Cole of Uchi (2011), Austin’s first-ever winner.

The other Texas chefs earning semifinalist nods for best chef southwest are Ross Coleman and James Haywood (Kitchen 713, Houston), Diego Galicia and Rico Torres (Mixtli, San Antonio), Anita Jaisinghani (Pondicheri, Houston), Ronnie Killen (Killen’s Steakhouse, Pearland), Steve McHugh (Cured, San Antonio), Trong Nguyen (Crawfish & Noodles, Houston), Ryan Pera (Coltivare, Houston), Regino Rojas (Revolver Taco Lounge, Dallas) and Norma Frances “Tootsie” Tomanetz (Snow’s BBQ, Lexington). For the complete list of all nominees, go to

The finalists will be announced on March 14 and the awards will be handed out on May 7 in Chicago, with the ceremony streaming live online.


Austin360 Dining Guide’s Top 25:

Olamaie (#1) | Emmer & Rye (#5) | Barley Swine (#7) | Kemuri Tatsu-Ya (#9) | Launderette (#18)

ATX Cocina serving special cocktail to honor co-owner Nick Foles and Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles

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There were a lot of happy people in Austin last night when Nick Foles led the Philadelphia Eagles to a thrilling upset of the New England Patriots. Foles is a partner in his father Larry’s latest restaurant, ATX Cocina, and to honor the Super Bowl MVP and the Eagles, the modern Mexican restaurant downtown is running a special $9 all week that honors the green-and-white of Nick and the Eagles. The drink has Bristow Gin, mint simple syurp, lime and ciders. And it glows like the city of Philadelphia did last night.

Correction: Yes, the Holy Rollers are still a Texas Roller Derby team

In my positive review of chef Callie Speer’s diner Holy Roller last week, I made the mistake of saying that the restaurant shared a name with a defunct roller derby team. The team is not defunct, and people let me know via email and Twitter (better than an elbow to the jaw).

From the archives: The Holy Rollers and Rhinestone Cowgirls do battle in 2005. (Kelly West AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

The Holy Rollers, who participate in the Texas Roller Derby league, the city’s only banked-track roller derby league, will face off against the Rhinestone Cowgirls at 7 p.m. Feb. 10 at the Travis County Expo Center. You can purchase tickets at the door or online at