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Food Matters: 2 Austinites named master sommeliers; Deegan McClung headed to New York

Staff Writer
Austin 360
Devon Broglie, left, and Craig Collins of Austin join an elite group of 118 people in North America who have earned the title Master Sommelier. They head to the TexSom conference this weekend.

McClungs leave Jeffrey's for fresh start in NYC

After spending 10 years cooking in some of Austin's best kitchens, including Wink and Uchi, Deegan McClung is headed to New York.

Kate McClung, who came on as general manager at Jeffrey's not long after her husband took on the head chef job about two and a half years ago, says working at the longtime Clarksville restaurant was an honor. "To be part of something that has stood the test of time was amazing," she says. "We learned a lot and give our thanks to the owners, regulars and staff."

Kate McClung, who went to grad school in New York and was as much a part of the Austin food scene as her husband, says they decided to leave Austin after a trip to a chefs' conference in New York last year that left them feeling inspired and energized by the idea of moving up there.

McClung's last day as executive chef at Jeffrey's was last week. No word on exactly where they'll land, but Kate says they are both looking into several prospects.

Ron Weiss, who with his wife Peggy owns Jeffrey's and its sister restaurant Cipollina across West Lynn Street, says sous chef Bridget Bishop will be taking over the kitchen while they make a decision about who will fill the executive chef position. "She knows the menu well … and we're going to make some menu changes with her," Weiss says.

2 Austinites named master sommeliers

For Austinites Devon Broglie and Craig Collins, ten years of studying for and taking the Court of Master Sommeliers' exams came down to a blind taste test last month in Las Vegas.

The fourth level of the exam, a test so rigorous that only 118 sommeliers in all of North America have passed, has three parts: theory, service and a blind taste test. "We'd both passed the theory exam the first year, the service exam the second," says Collins, a sales manager for the Prestige division of Glazer's Distributors. This was their last chance to pass the blind tasting portion, which requires them to taste six wines and successfully identify the vintage, varietal and region of each of those wines in 25 minutes.

Studying two to three hours a day every day for the past three months paid off: Both Broglie, regional wine buyer at Whole Foods Market, and Collins passed. They'd finally earned the title Master Sommelier, the fifth and sixth Texans to do so.

Broglie, 37, and Collins, 35, had been working independently toward this goal since 2001, but they started studying together in 2005. "I've spent thousands of hours reading, volunteered hundreds of hours at local restaurants to perfect my service skills, and created more note cards and maps than I can count," Broglie says. "This, of course, has been such a personal goal of mine for so long, but I think this really puts Austin on the map as a wine destination, too."

This weekend, Broglie and Collins will join dozens of fellow Master Sommeliers to participate in the seventh annual TexSom wine conference in Las Colinas, which includes dozens of seminars on various aspects of the wine world, from how to manage a beverage program to how to use technology to connect with customers. (Some of the seminars and panels are open to the public. Go to TexSom.com for more information.)

Have a cultured dessert with new frozen kefir

It's been awhile since the frozen yogurt heyday, but another frozen treat with live cultures has hit local stores. Lifeway, which sells a number of products based on the yogurtlike drink called kefir, has created a line of frozen kefir that tastes a lot like frozen yogurt but has twice the probiotic content of most yogurts. Even though it is a milk-based product, kefir is easier to digest for customers who have a lactose intolerance. The frozen kefir comes in four flavors - mango, strawberry, pomegranate and original - and has about 90 calories per serving. Pints cost about $4.99 and are available at Central Market and Whole Foods Market. Lifeway also makes a single 3.6-ounce serving that costs about $1.49.

Quiz show benefits slow food nonprofits

From noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday at the Highball, 1142 S. Lamar Blvd., I'll be the emcee for a quiz bowl fundraiser event for Slow Food Austin, a nonprofit that supports the local food movement. Slow Food Austin social chair Karla Loeb and I have been coming up with hundreds of food-related trivia questions that might stump even the biggest food nerds among us, and eight teams representing local restaurants and organizations will compete for the title of official "Food Geeks" of Austin. (Want to test your food knowledge? Take a sample quiz at austin360.com/relishaustin.)

During half time of the quiz bowl, Bryan Butler of Salt & Time will break down a pig and an auctioneer will auction off the cuts of meat. Ticket sales ($15, at the door or online at slowfoodaustin.org) and money from the raffle and pork auction will go to Slow Food, but the money from the quiz bowl entrants ($150 per team) will go to the food charity of choice of the team that wins the quiz bowl.

Openings, closings and coming soon

• Open: Naan Stop, a food truck at 519 E. Seventh St. serving Indian and Pakistani specialties like kati rolls, samosas, tikka masala, saag paneer, a variety of wraps and, of course, naan from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays. 537-6226

• Open: JuiceOver, a juice and smoothie store at 1120 W. Fifth Street. 585-2263

Bubbly, sea bass and beef on menu at wine event

Fleming's Downtown, 320 E. Second Street, is hosting a champagne dinner with Rob Moshein of Austin Wine Guy at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday . Menu by chef Erick Nixon includes beef tartare, butter-poached lobster and seared Chilean sea bass. You can make reservations ($89 per person, plus tax and tip) at 457-1500.