* There’s a new chef behind the stoves at Marks Bistro in Dundee, as Jon Seymour recently took over for the departed Steve Bolen. While this is Seymour’s first executive chef gig, it’s not his first time in the kitchen: he’s spent time at V. Mertz, Spencer’s and the Grey Plume as well. Interestingly, Seymour also spent some time earlier this year working with Chef Rene Redzepi at his restaurant NOMA. That’s big news — NOMA was recently named the best restaurant in the world, and Redzepi’s doorstop of a cookbook showcasing his unique approach to molecular gastronomy, if that term even applies to his unusual cuisine, is up for a James Beard Award. What all this means for Marks’ signature mac and cheese — will it have the scent of smoked hay and a whiff of Musk Ox? — remains to be seen. * While it’s highly unlikely that you’ll get a chance to check out all the restaurants of the chefs contending for James Beard awards this year (NOMA included), it’s easier to check the cookbooks up for Beard Awards. Three contenders in each of 11 categories, ranging from reference to international to general cooking, are nominated. You can see the entire list (as well as nominees for TV shows, restaurant interior design, newspaper and magazine writing and more) at jbfawards.com. * Given the fact that Mayor Jim Suttle has floated the idea of a toilet paper tax (no pun intended) to help pay for massive sewer repairs the city’s facing, apparently any and everything’s subject to debate when it comes to taxes. Another possibility we may soon hear about is a tax on soft drinks, which the Center For Science in the Public Interest, an organization dedicated to promoting more healthful eating and lifestyles, is encouraging states to consider. Sound farfetched? Two states — Arkansas and New York — already tax sodas, bringing in millions of dollars each year. “Although taxing soft drinks will not, by itself, balance state budgets or wipe out diet-related diseases and health care costs, the revenue potential from a modest new (or extra) tax of 5 cents per 12-ounce serving is considerable. Nationally, states would see increased revenues of more than $7 billion annually, ranging from about $13 million in Wyoming to about $878 million in California,” they state on their website, cspinet.org. Soft drinks are easy targets. They contain virtually no health benefits, for starters, and it’s not a dietary requirement. Then there’s the high cost of being fat, which soda is often a part of. “Obesity alone costs $147 billion a year in medical expenditures, half of which are paid through Medicare and Medicaid,” CSPI says. You might wanna stock up on those Cokes and Mountain Dews the next time they’re on sale.