Food & Drink : All you can eat 

News and notes from the San Antonio food scene

Are you God’s gift to the grill? Put the why and wherefore in a 100-word essay entitled “Why I should be America’s most PAMazing Griller” and ship it off to Pam for Grilling by May 31. If your essay is among 10 finalists, you’ll compete in a grill-off at the South Texas Hispanic State Fair at Rosedale Park on July 16. From there, winners head to the national finals in New York, where, it must be said, the steaks are high: There’s a $10,000 prize for the winner. Info:

Who needs a parade when there’s drag queens? W.D. Deli, 3123 Broadway, is hosting its Fiesta Drag Brunch on Sunday, April 30. The brunch features a buffet breakfast and an ’80s-themed drag show starring nationally renowned drag professionals lipsynching and dancing on the restaurant’s center stage (OK, it’s just a really fabulous staircase). Tickets are $25 and there are seatings at 11:30 a.m and 1:30 p.m. For info and reservations, call 828-2322.

Wildfire Coffee Roasters has a new coffee blend. Owner and chief roaster Mark Sobhani says the café developed 1836 Texas Blend as a Fiesta-only offering, but the mix of beans from Sumatra, Guatamala, and Brazil has been so popular the roaster has decided to keep it on the menu all year. “It’s our darkest roast ever,” says Sobhani. While these coffees can be smooth and nutty when lightly roasted, the dark roast has “a big and rich flavor, but it also still has a little bit of that earthy flavor. We thought the really dark roast was appropriate for Fiesta.”

In other news, Mark Bliss, the golden-boy chef who first put Silo on the map, has come in from the cold. Or maybe from the heat. He’s spent the past few years cooking on movie sets for the likes of Tommy Lee Jones and consulting at restaurants in cities around the country, including Portland, Oregon.

Interviewed in his first week back at Silo, Bliss marveled that he “walked in, and a lot of the same guys were still here.” Those guys naturally include chef Gus Ortiz, who has done a bang-up job keeping things running since Bliss’s departure.

The plan is for Ortiz and Bliss to co-chef at Silo until December, when Ortiz will move to the restaurant’s second location at Blanco and 1604, which architect Davis Sprinkle is designing. Although the restaurants will share a core menu, Bliss says each chef will have the opportunity to create his own specials. “I think I’ll step away from Asian a little and concentrate more on South Texas,” he muses, adding that the stint in Portland introduced him to a simpler style of cooking focused on exceptional ingredients (“and lots of hazelnuts”).

Bliss is also working on a new mix-and-match prix-fixe menu to supplement the regular menu selections — which he’ll cook on a brand-new range and serve on brand-new tableware. The stove will be delivered just as soon as they figured out how to get the old one out. “I think we must have installed this one before we put in the windows `overlooking the bar`,” Bliss speculates, invoking images of hoisting the behemoth up and over the old railing. “Maybe we’ll have to torch it apart.” Wish we could have stayed for the show.

- Susan Pagani and Ron Bechtol



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