> The Alsace Tourism Agency and the Union Alsacienne will be here for this weekend’s Taste of St. Louis. For the first time, the regional associations are bringing their oh-so-French goodies to town. Check out their booth, where you can sample the famous Alsatian specialty, tarte flambe, and meet VIPs Gerard Staedel (president of the Union Internationale des Alsaciens), Jim Mauze (honorary consul) and Olivier Muller (executive chef at NYC’s db Bistro Moderne).

> When author and former New York Times food reviewer Ruth Reichl comes to town next week for a book signing, you can have lunch with her! That’s right, Monarch is hosting a lunch with the dining diva Friday, Oct. 9. For $100 you get a four-course meal prepared by local chefs Gerard Craft (Niche), Josh Galliano (Monarch), Kevin Nashan (Sidney St. Cafe) and Michael Roberts (Atlas) and a signed copy of Gourmet Today, a new Gourmet magazine cookbook. Reichl is the editor in chief of the magazine.

> Farm Meets Fork: A Benefit for Farm Aid is happening today (Oct.2). Top chefs and local farmers are coming together for a first-class culinary dining event at Overlook Farm in the City (the old Savor location on Lindell). It includes about a dozen farmer and chef stations, with a VIP concert following the event. The attractive space has been turned into a special events venue.

> Look for the second location of Hanley’s Grille & Tap to open mid-October at West County Center. Occupying the space that used to house J.Bucks, Hanley’s is a full-service restaurant and bar offering moderately priced ‘comfort food.’ The focus is on the grill, with hand-cut steaks and chops aged in-house.

> Anheuser-Busch has a new product, Bud Light Golden Wheat, available to sample during brewery tours and at the visitor’s center in St. Louis and three other U.S. cities. The new brew is a premium light, unfiltered wheat beer made with wheat malt, coriander and citrus peels.

> Lumière Place announced Mark French as the new executive chef at HoteLumière. French comes to St. Louis from Puerto Rico, where he and his wife owned Mark’s at the Melia and Mark’s on the Paseo. He holds gold and silver medals from the American Culinary Foundation (ACF), which named him ‘Chef of the Year’ in 1998 and ‘Chef of the Caribbean’ in 2000.

> Mark your calendars for two events at L’éCole Culinaire. Saturday, Oct. 10, from noon to 2 p.m. the cooking school offers “Beyond the Jar: Making Baby Food at Home.” And on Oct. 17 from noon to 2 p.m., chefs teach hands-on pumpkin carving techniques. $25 for parent and child.

> Gourmet to Go is now open downtown. Located at the corner of Broadway and Olive in St. Louis Place, it opens at 7a.m. each weekday morning with breakfast items and coffees.  At lunch, sandwiches are made to order, and there are salads, soups and desserts. There is also a large selection of ‘grab and go’ items made fresh each day.

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