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Trucker Party 

Chris Hodgson's latest Food Network fame prompts an extended fest at Happy Dog fests

Unless you've been living under a walk-in cooler, you are likely aware that Chris Hodgson, peripatetic chef and owner of Dim and Den Sum, participated in Season 2 of the Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. Hosted by Tyler Florence, the series features eight top food trucks competing for a $100,000 grand prize.

Over the course of seven weeks, the trucks engage in a cross-country battle, with one team being eliminated at each stop. Thanks to omnipresent social media, Hodgson fans in Cleveland know that our favorite lunch-wagon guru makes it clear to the final week with his newly christened second truck, Hodge Podge. What happens then is a well-guarded secret.

When the show kicks off on Sunday, August 14, the best place to watch it will be Happy Dog, which is hosting a viewing party each week. Hodgson will have both food trucks parked outside the Detroit Shoreway venue to feed fans, thanks to the always-supportive Eric Williams, owner of Happy Dog and Momocho. The show will be broadcast on all five of the bar's flat-screen TVs.

"It's a party," says Williams. "We'll be serving our regular menu, but you're more than welcome to go out to the trucks and bring food in. We want to celebrate and spotlight Chris. We want friends, family, and fans of the Food Network to come together to support Chris and Cleveland."

Williams also divulges that Happy Dog will be on an upcoming episode of the Food Network's Best Thing I Ever Ate, which will immediately follow either the second or third episode of Great Food Truck Race.

On the show, which has already been taped, Michael Symon will rave about his Happy Dog hot dog, topped with chunky peanut butter, "alien relish," sriracha, and fried egg.

Happy Dog is at 5801 Detroit Ave.For more info, call 216-651-9474 or check out happydogcleveland.com.

Vegetarian delight: On Tuesday, August 16, Melange will be hosting a five-course vegan tasting dinner. In addition to the courses prepared by executive chef Adam Bostwick, others will be whipped up by Scott Jones from VegiTerranean in Akron. Dessert will be designed by White Flower Cake Shoppe.

Wine pro Rob Rasmussen will be in charge of the wine pairings. Cost is $60 plus tax and tip. The dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. Call 216-378-9755 to make reservations.

Melange is at 2101 Richmond Rd. in Beachwood. Check out dinemelange.com for more information.

Silenced slicer: After 62 years in the corned beef biz, Goodman's Sandwich Inn (5164 Pearl Rd., Parma, 216-398-6885) is closing for good.

"We're going out of business," owner Dennis Goodman jovially confirms. "I'm locking the doors, and I'm going to retire. It's a wonderful thing."

Goodman has had multiple offers to buy the business, which was started by his father on the East Side of Cleveland. That is not going to happen, he promises as only he can.

"I don't want to ruin my name or reputation," he says. "We've been doing this for 62 years — why kill the business now? I'd rather have people say, 'Boy, that was a good sandwich' than have them say, 'The last time I was there, it was real crap.'" The shop's regulars may be disappointed, but he figures they'll get over it. In the words of Goodman: "As soon as I run out of beef, I'm done." That should happen this week.

Culinary artistry: The Cleveland Musueum of Art announced on Monday that chef Doug Katz will be overseeing a full-service restaurant, redesigned café, and catering services for the University Circle institution. The as-yet unnamed restaurant will be located in the museum's new atrium; plans call for a fall 2012 opening. A pioneer in Northeast Ohio's local-foods movement, Katz owns and operates Fire Food and Drink on Shaker Square.

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