A foodie weekend (with pictures!)

Dallas’ social season really gets rolling in the fall, with tons on foodie events especially ramping up already. Burgers & Burgundy is this Friday, followed soon by Chefs for Farmers, the Caesar Salad Competition, the Beaujolais Festival and more. Heck, if you add in all the fried foods at the State Fair, it’s virtually nonstop.

But it all got moving this weekend especially, starting with the James Beard Taste America Dinner at the Hilton Anatole’s Wedgwood Room on Friday; Abacus, the Uptown eatery, celebrating its 15th anniversary on Saturday; and Les Dames d’Escoffier Dallas hosting its Raiser Grazer on Sunday. (I wasn’t able to make it out to the latter, but Les Dames always do it up right.)

lobster Gnocchi

Gnocchi lobster

The James Beard event, a first of its kind in Dallas, featured five local chefs designing signature apps served during a reception, followed by superchefs Patrick O’Connell of The Inn at Little Washington and Dallas’ own Stephan Pyles taking on two courses apiece at the sit-down dinner. O’Connell’s lobster-gnocchi and Pyles antelope entree were heaven, and Janice Provost’s (Parigi) crab cake with lemony aioli the most heavenly single bite.

Abacus chefs

Abacus chefs

The fun at Abacus the next night was the uniqueness of the menu: The four-course dinner offered your choice of one of three items per course — one from Abacus executive sous chef Chris Patrick, one from former exec Omar Flores and another from Tre Wilcox, also a former exec. The winning chef on my menu? Flores, who delivered two of the four, with Patrick and Wilcox one each. But it’s quite possible the best single item was Wilcox’s duck three ways, especially the lobe of foie gras which started out the evening right. Congratulations to Kent Rathbun for a decade-and-a-half of setting the bar high.

See a slideshow of photos from the two events below.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Exactly what do you SERVE for that celebration?

I got word from Abacus, Kent Rathbun’s Uptown resto, that this morning they have received several calls from diners who want to book “celebratory” dinners tonight. What’s the occasion? Why, the assassination of Osama bin Laden, of course!

I suppose people celebrate lots of odd holidays with a meal out, but I can’t help wonder: What does one serve for such an event? Roast pig? Deviled eggs? Falafal? Some kind of seafood (in honor of his ocean burial)?

Any ideas, guys? What would you serve? Or do you find the idea, ummm, distasteful?

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘Top Chef’ going gay and Texan in December

On last night’s reunion episode of “Top Chef: D.C.,” Bravo revealed that the next season will feature “all-stars” from each of the seasons past, and not only are several of them gay, some are from right here.

Among those in the eighth season (and first all-star), set to begin airing Dec. 1, are first-season runner-up Tiffani Faison, right, fifth season’s Jaime Lauren, both lesbians, and third season runner-up Dale Levitski, center, who lost to bisexual chef Hung Huynh.

Levitski bested third-placer Casey Thompson, left, who at the time was at Shinsei but now has her own restaurant, Brownstone, in Fort Worth. Thompson will also be on the all-star season, as will fellow third-season alum Tre Wilcox (formerly of Abacus) and the immediate past season’s Tiffany Derry of Go Fish near the Galleria. That’s a lot of Texas — and a lot of gay — to keep us entertained.

Of course, until then, the new installment of “Top Chef: Just Desserts” has plenty of gay guys and even Morgan Wilson of the Dallas Ritz-Carlton. Bon appetit.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones