DO WE HAVE A STAR?
The Next Food Network Star casting call last week was pretty subdued, but still full of eager culinary wizards. Duffy Ingle from the Daily Dose pitched them on her sustainable, organic food and got a callback on Friday for a more in-depth audition. We'll have to wait until the show airs to see if Chucktown has produced the next Food Network star. —Stephanie Barna
HOTEL 'ZA AND 'STA
As far as food goes, it used to be slim pickings at the crosstown Best Western. It was $9.95 breakfast buffets or bust. Well that's soon to be over. Plans for Amalfi's Restaurant and Pizzeria are well on their way. The full-service Italian restaurant, bar, and lounge owned by soon-to-be-husband-and-wife-team Mandy Lockman and David Mazzola, is set to open around mid-November. With tons of pizzas, baked items, and pasta dishes, Lockman says that it will have one of the biggest menus in town. Stop by for a quick lunch or when they dim the lights for a relaxing dinner. It's not just for hotel guests. Lockman hopes the new restaurant will attract people from everyone around town. Mazzola, a Naples (Italy, not Florida) native, will be in the kitchen making all the home-style Italian cooking. —Alison Sher
FARMERS IN THE DELL
Apparently this whole sustainability thing isn't such a new idea. The Carolina Farm Stewardship Association will host its 23rd annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference in Anderson this weekend (Oct. 31-Nov. 2), but this year promises to be its biggest and best yet, thanks to a burgeoning interest in locavorism, sustainability, high gas prices, and the harsh realities of a recessed economy. The conference will have workshops, tours of sustainable farms, a youth program, along with speakers like Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm and Wes Jackson of the Land Institute. To register, visit www.carolinafarmstewards.org or call (919) 542-2402. —Stephanie Barna
THE LEE BROS. RETURN WITH NEW RECIPES
Matt and Ted Lee have scheduled a cooking class at Charleston Cooks! in December to demonstrate recipes from a new cookbook that they're working on, The Lee Bros. Simple Fresh Southern, scheduled to be published next fall. Ted promises it will be a fun evening as they dish up a top secret menu (to be revealed to attendees only) and talk about their cookbook-writing process. The price is $60 and the date is Dec. 4, so go ahead and register before it sells out. www.charlestoncooks.com. (843) 722-1212. —Stephanie Barna
Beer lovers rejoice. Several beer dinners are planned in the coming weeks. On Wednesday, Chef Jeremiah Bacon of Carolina's goes Bavarian, pairing five beers from the historic Weihenstephan brewery, located south of Munich, with handmade bratwurst, pan-seared scallops, grilled tuna pave, pork tenderloin, and tarte flambe. Call (843) 724-3800 for reservations. The next night, Chai's hosts an Avery Brewing Dinner featuring Adam Avery — founder, owner, and head brewer of the Boulder, Colorado brewery. This dinner offers six courses of seafood, soups pastas, and lamb (and dessert), each paired with two beers. The beer menu includes the While Rascal (a traditional Belgian white ale), Kaiser (a high-strength Oktoberfest style), Ellie's Brown (an American-style brown ale), Reverend (a sweet, super-strong Belgian ale), Old Jubilation and Ale to the Chief (two strong seasonal ales), IPA (a hoppy India Pale Ale), Salvation (a trappist-style Belgian strong ale), Hog Heaven (an American style barleywine), Out of Bounds (Irish-style stout), Samael's (an oak-aged English "old ale"), and Maharaja (a seasonal "imperial" India Pale Ale). Limited seating is available for $65 per person. Call Chai's at (843) 722-7313 for info.
On the horizon are a three-course SweetWater Brewing Co. dinner at McCrady's Restaurant with brewery founder/owner Freddy "Big Kahuna" Bensch on Sun. Nov. 9 at 7: 30 p.m. Bensch will have three highly-hopped, unpasteurized ales in hand. And finally, on Thurs. Nov. 13, Tristan will combine the best of both barley and grape, in a four-course "Beer vs. Wine" Dinner. At the end of the dinner, votes for each course will be cast by the diners, tallied, and a beer or wine winner will be announced. Call Tristan at (843) 534-2155. —T. Ballard Lesemann