Grace's Chef Prepares For The Spotlight, And Area Restaurants Prep For Thanksgiving.

Welcome to The Spread, our weekly feature that aims to share all the area restaurant, food and beverage industry news that's fit to print. Except, this is the Internet, so space isn't a concern. Also: Good thing, because this is Dallas and this town always has breaking restaurant news going down like whoa.

It's probably safe to say we've probably all had a moment while watching some food related show, where we were overwhelmingly compelled with cravings for the dishes on the screen. But no matter how hard we try to imagine the smells and tastes, living vicariously through the rewind and pause buttons — the food, more often than not, remains an elusive fantasy. Hey, that's why they call it food porn.

Then there are those few instances where TV and reality collide, like tonight at Grace, where chef Blaine Staniford is hosting a watching party for his appearance on Food Network's Kitchen Inferno. “It's going to be weird to watch myself tonight, kind of like listening to yourself on a voice message,” says Staniford about his TV debut. “It's funny, the filming took seven days, but tonight's show is just under an hour. I'm really curious to see how things are edited.”

Grace will be serving up a featured cocktail for the evening called El Diablo, and a re-imagined version of his competition dish — something along the lines of a BLT, according to Grace representatives. For Staniford, though, the night will, admittedly, feature less pressure than his stint on reality TV.

“Cooking for a panel of judges and cooking for a full dinner service are completely different,” Staniford says. “For the show, I was asked to prepare a random, off the wall dish, in a very short time period (around 20 minutes). However, at the restaurant I might take two or three days to prepare one single menu item from scratch to finish.”

The event takes place tonight starting at 8:30 p.m. with the show airing at 9.

In opening news, Deep Ellum will add some French cuisine to the neighborhood with the opening of Cépage in the short-lived EZ Dude BBQ space. Expect a classic French menu and plenty of French onion soup. The bistro-styling of the restaurant might suggest reasonable price-points.

Over on Henderson Ave, Mesero Miguel is undergoing a temporary shutdown to reemerge as the more casual Mesero. And in Mockingbird Station, Old Chicago Pizza and Tap Room is taking over the old Vapiano space on Monday, December 8. The Colorado-based chain serves up two types of Chicago-inspired pizza crusts — thick and buttery, and hand tossed — as well as a selection of calzones, strombolis, burgers and more.

As Thanksgiving is just around the corner, area restaurants are sending out the last call to help with meal planning for those who've yet to make plans. For example, Norma's Cafe is hosting its 26th annual free Thanksgiving meal from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m at the Oak Cliff location. Expect a traditional spread of turkey and dressing with giblet gravy, sides and dessert. Also in Oak Cliff, Smoke and Chicken Scratch announced Thanksgiving meal pricing, with the option of getting the full meal, or ordering items a la carte. And the Dallas and Plano locations of Lockhart Smokehouse are offering smoked turkeys for pickup prior to Thanksgiving and Christmas.

If typical holiday meats aren't your thing, you can head to any of the Hopdoddy Burger Bar locations for their Thanksgiving burger — a turkey burger made with a creative take on all of the holiday fixings, available until November 30.

If you're covered on the food front, then you can head to LUCK in Trinity Groves for growler fills from their rotating selection of local brews. Or you can mark your calendars to visit them on Tuesday, December 2, for the Texas Ale Project release party, where you'll be able to meet the owners and try out new brews. The event runs from 6 to 10 p.m.

More in brew news: Cobra Brewing Co. is hosting a painting party on Friday, November 21. Guests can get three pints for $10, in addition to a souvenir Cobra pint glass. The event is 21 and up, and takes place from 6 to 10 p.m. Meanwhile, Rabbit Hole Brewing will be celebrating New Years with a limited edition holiday brew during its first year anniversary party on Saturday, December 13. The brew — a Belgian strong ale brewed with blackberries and raspberries called Hole Lang Syne — is the first Rabbit Hole release to be available in bottles, as well as kegs.

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