Two high-profile Austin food-related businesses sold in August, and now both will experience growth and expansion as a result of investor cash infusions, Cuisines Editor Virginia B. Wood writes.

Sale, Sale, No Sale

Two high-profile, food-related Austin businesses sold in August, and now both will experience growth and expansion as a result of investor cash infusions. Texas Culinary Academy (6020-B Dillard Circle, 323-2511), formerly known as Le Chef College, has been purchased by the Career Education Corporation and becomes the 40th vocational school in a system that includes the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and the Western Culinary Academy in Portland, Ore. According to TCA director Harvey Giblin, the new owners recently signed a lease on a facility that will eventually feature such upgrades as new pots, pans, and commercial equipment in the teaching kitchen, an expanded library staffed by a librarian, more chef instructors, and a full-service fine dining restaurant in which students will work and learn. The new school will offer a Le Cordon Bleu curriculum and will accept its first class in the new building on Jan. 7, 2002. Current TCA students will finish their programs in the original school facility this fall… Word of Mouth Catering (919 W. 12th, 472-9500) has been Austin's premiere upscale catering operation for nearly 20 years. Founder Rebecca Wallace and partner Leslie Moore created a company known for its innovative cuisine and consistent, professional service. They've served countless brides, local and national celebrities, and a few heads of state. This month, Austin entrepreneur Jeff Minch and the Littlefield Hospitality Group have purchased Word of Mouth in addition to Premiere Party Rentals and Austin Tents & Events. The new company will work with a variety of event facilities and can now offer clients one-stop shopping for all their catering needs. Wallace and Moore will continue to operate Word of Mouth as managing partners. Leslie Moore was very enthusiastic about the new company when we spoke last week, saying, "This sale finally gives us the resources to focus on the development of such new things as a marketing center and custom software. We're also excited about finally having health insurance and being able to offer those benefits to our staff."… Great news, taco lovers! Blaming the soft economy, corporate behemoth Trammel Crow Co. has officially pulled out of the deal to purchase the property in the 2500 block of South Lamar that is home to Taco X-press (2529-A S. Lamar, 444-0261). While the prime tract of commercial property may ultimately prove irresistible to some other developer, for the time being Taco Queen Maria Corbalan is thrilled not to have to relocate her wildly popular little business. Go by and celebrate her reprieve with a margarita and a taco!

Wine Dinner Mondays

Over the past couple of years, Monday nights have become the official date for wine dinners in Austin's upscale restaurants (it's a great way to fill up some tables on a night when most restaurant patrons are home watching football). The dinners usually include a three- or four-course meal in the $40-$60 price range with wines carefully chosen to complement each course, plus some kind of educational commentary about the varietals. On any given Monday night, you're likely to find Grapevine Market guys Chuck Huffaker and Greg Steiner doing their schtick at Ella's (#1 Jefferson Sq., 458-2148) where they'll feature Sauvignon Blancs on Sept.10 and Pinot Noirs on Sept. 24 or Truluck's (400 Colorado, 482-9000), where new Executive Chef Johnny Carino offers a new wine appreciation dinner the second Monday of every month. Reservations are a must.

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