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Food Matters: Wurtzels bring whimsy to the table

Staff Writer
Austin 360

Bill and Claire Wurtzel want you to put down the fork and spoon and play with your breakfast.

The Wurtzels recently released a kids' book called "Funny Food: 365 Fun, Healthy, Silly, Creative Breakfasts" (Welcome Books, $19.95) that is a collection of playful images made out of everyday foods such as pancakes, oatmeal, fruit and eggs.

Bill Wurtzel has been making these personality-filled creations since he and Claire were newlyweds. "Six years ago, she said, ‘Why don't you take pictures of them?'" he says. Bill, who is also a professional jazz musician, started snapping quick pictures with his digital camera, and those images landed in the inbox of a friend at The New York Times, who then published them in the paper.

The book grew out of that article, and now the Wurtzels have found themselves in the role of healthy food advocates, creating workshops for students (and parents) to help kids learn about the various food groups and getting them to be more involved with what's on their plates.

"My stuff ... isn't going to hang in a museum," Bill Wurtzel says. "You're going to eat it. No one is going to judge you for what you make. You're starting your day off by focusing on what you're eating. It's a great way to start the day."

Today marks the last day of school for many students in the area, which means that starting Thursday, lots of kids will have a little more time in the morning to see what kind of characters they can make with their breakfast. From the Wurtzels' site (funnyfood.us), a few tips to get you started:

¦ Set out a variety of healthy foods with different colors, textures, shapes and sizes. Include children in shopping trips.

¦ Talk about the food groups and ask children to help sort the foods by each group.

¦ Demonstrate how to assemble an animal, form of transportation, face or scene, and ask kids to do their own.

¦ Before digging into the food, have kids show off what they made. Snap a photo and show off the artwork to friends and family. (The Wurtzels love getting emails with photos of kids' creations: welcomeBooks FunnyFood@gmail.com.)

At this kitchen, it's BYOT (bring your own toque)

With all the food businesses and food trailers popping up these days, commercial kitchen space to rent can be hard to come by. Cynthia Wilson and Trish Bales, who are both caterers and personal chefs, are trying to fill that niche with their new 3,600 square-foot commercial kitchen space called Capital Kitchens, 1606 W. Stassney Lane. "We saw that the Austin food industry and consumer packaged food industry were booming," Bales says. Another person was running a kitchen rental business out of the space, but he was looking to get out of the business, so they took it over, fixed it up and added equipment, as well as a 25-person events space that can be rented for supper clubs, dinners or even meetings. Several clients, including GoodSeed Burgers and Michi Ramen, work in the space on a regular basis, but you can rent it out by the hour, too, with fees ranging from $14 to $24 and hour, Bales says. 512-686-4456, capital-kitchens.com.

Black garlic adds tang to line of dressings

Black garlic has been on top of the food trends list for a couple of years now, and Austin chef Judd Servidio has created a line of dressings that incorporate the sweet, salty, tangy ingredient first popularized in Korea. Black garlic, which is simply regular garlic that has been carefully fermented, is now used in many restaurants, but not nearly as many home kitchens, which is what led Servidio to create a Miso and Black Garlic Dressing and a Truffle, Balsamic and Black Garlic Dressing. Servidio, who is the personal chef for Austinites John Paul and Eloise DeJoria, has teamed with Faraday's Kitchen Store in Lakeway for a launch party from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the store at 1501 RM 620 North. You can try the products and watch him prepare a few dishes that incorporate the products, which retail for about $8.99 at Faraday's Kitchen Store, The Meat House, Wheatsville Co-op and 263 Provisions as well as online at cookonyourfeet.com. (Servidio also posts recipes at cookonyourfeet.blogspot.com.)

Franklin lends his palate to barbecue program

¦ Tonight is your chance to catch Austin pitmaster Aaron Franklin's debut as a judge on the new season of "BBQ Pitmasters," which debuts at 9 p.m. on the Destination America channel. Franklin joins fellow judges Myron Mixon and Tuffy Stone in all of the six episodes in the series, which continues through the month of June at its regular time, 8 p.m. on Sundays. destinationamerica.com.

¦ Jester King Craft Brewery has received certified organic producer status from the Texas Department of Agriculture, which makes them the only Texas beer brewery to have organic certification (Texas Sake Company was the first "brewery" to be certified organic in Texas. Beer and sake are both brewed.) The first certified organic beer to be released will be the Drink'in the Sunbelt Hoppy Wheat Beer.

The rest of their beers, with the exception of the Black Metal Farmhouse, will also be released with the certified organic label as soon as the current stock of labels depletes.

The Black Metal Farmhouse Imperial Stout will be labeled "Made with Organic Ingredients" because the brew uses a small amount of nonorganic specialty malt, making it 70 percent organic.