Baton Rouge is establishing itself as a food destination. Every day, more and more food news is cooking in the area. A weekly feature, “Leftovers” is a roundup of the latest on the local food and restaurant scene.

Mason’s chef in top 8 of national competition

Willie Wallis is now in the elite eight when it comes to breakfast dishes, according to voters of the Thomas’ Breads Hometown Breakfast Battle Contest.

The Mason’s Grill head chef advanced to the quarterfinals of the contest this week. Wallis’ dish is a crawfish and tasso eggs Benedict. The top four dishes will advance Monday, Oct. 12.

Wallis has been in the food industry for 17 years and has worked at the Baton Rouge restaurant for two. He started at Mason’s Grill as a fry cook and worked his way up through the ranks. In March 2013, he became the head chef.

So far, he has been surprised to go this far in the competition. For him, a victory would mean national recognition for the restaurant and a cash prize. He also wants other up-and-coming chefs to look at this success as inspiration to work harder.

“I feel that it would show more cooks here that they can move up from the bottom, from the lowest spot on the line,” he said.

Season to Taste to open on Highland Road next week

A shop specializing in olive oils, balsamic vinegars and other goods will open officially on Monday.

Season to Taste is currently in its soft opening phase at its location at 17650 Highland Road, Suite A. Husband-and-wife team Chris and Ginger Musso got the idea to open the store after seeing a similar shop in Pensacola, Florida, three years ago.

“We fell in love with the concept of taste before you buy,” Chris Musso said. “We bring in fresh olive oils from all over the world.”

The store offers more than 50 varieties of olive oils, priced $5-$28, depending on the size. There are fused, infused, sesame and truffle oils as well as white and balsamic vinegars, pasta, cheeses and coffee. Musso also hinted that the shop’s next move would be possibly serving salads.

Business hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday. For more information, visit

Ninfa’s is now Tío Javi’s, rest remains the same

A popular Baton Rouge Tex-Mex restaurant has rebranded. Ninfa’s, a restaurant located at 4738 Constitution Ave., is now Tío Javi’s.

The restaurant made the change in late September. However, fans should not fret. A manager at the restaurant said “literally, everything is exactly the same.” That means, the menu and atmosphere have not changed.

The restaurant made the change to grow and expand outside the Baton Rouge market. Possible locations were not mentioned at press time. The new name refers to the restaurant’s general manager Javier Pallais and the late great T.J. Moran, who opened Ninfa’s in 1990. For more information, visit

Museum of Art’s French Culinary Series continues

Enjoy an evening of French wine and food from the Louisiana Culinary Institute Thursday, Oct. 15, at the LSU Museum of Art. The tasting is part of the museum’s French Culinary Series, which is happening in conjunction with the exhibit “Toulouse-Lautrec and La Vie Moderne: Paris 1880-1910.”

The menu features five dishes created by chef Christina Nicosia, the award-winning lead pastry instructor at the school. The menu includes a poached salmon dish, tomato consommé and chicken roulade jardinière.

Tickets are $35 for museum members and $40 for non-members. Les Amis Bake Shoppe will provide food for the final Nov. 5 dinner. For more information, call (225) 389-7210.

Alexander’s to host Fall Feast on Thursday

Alexander’s Highland Market will get in on the wine dinner fun. The store at 18111 Highland Market Drive will host a Fall Feast on Oct. 15. A reception starts at 5:45 p.m. Dinner follows at 6 p.m.

The six-course meal will feature wines from Duckhorn Vineyards, paired with dishes such as a Louisiana oyster trio, six-ounce prime filet mignon and butternut spinach ravioli.

Tickets are $75 per person. For more information, call (225) 615-7800.

Follow Matthew Sigur on Twitter, @MatthewSigur.