Food-o-File

Last week's events, Virginia B. Wood writes, have made it almost impossible to focus on such mundane things as newsy tidbits, interviews, and deadlines. I finally realized the only way I'd get through a column was to look for good news and upbeat stories to fill this space.

Food-o-File


Upbeat Effort

Last week's events have made it almost impossible to focus on such mundane things as newsy tidbits, interviews, and deadlines. I finally realized the only way I'd get through a column was to look for good news and upbeat stories to fill this space. Mark Oct. 10 on your calendars now so you'll be sure to catch the segment of the Food Network's Food Finds program featuring such Austinites as Marta's Flan and Boggy Creek Farm. Segment producers visited Austin in the late spring, filming Marta Guzman's award-winning dessert operation and Boggy Creek farmer Larry Butler's process for smoke-drying tomatoes. The national television exposure should be a great pre-holiday shot in the arm for both of these popular hometown businesses. There's even more good news for the farmers at Boggy Creek. Carol Ann Sayle's book Stories From the Hen House (self-published, $8.95) is one of three finalists in the Writers' League of Texas' Teddy Book Awards for the best children's book published by a League member in 2000. Prizes will be awarded at a reception at 7pm this evening, Sept. 20, at the Barnes & Noble in West Lake Hills.

Speaking of popular homegrown outfits, Eat Out In (346-9990 or www.eatoutin.com) founder Jackie Davies celebrated 15 years of business longevity this year by adding a snazzy new online ordering system and buying out her only local competitor, Take Out Taxi. Davies' particular expertise and successful track record prompted local Take Out Taxi franchisee Leslie Callahan to sell her his operation this summer, adding another tier of good Austin restaurants to the Eat Out In menu guide. Davies acquired the specific set of skills necessary for running a restaurant delivery operation quite naturally. Her family operated both a restaurant and a pastry delivery company when she was growing up in Detroit. She's parlayed those skills into the longest-running restaurant delivery business in the country. Over the years, Davies has resisted temptations to franchise her operation or sell it to a national dot.com start-up for some cash and lots of stock options. She firmly believes Eat Out In's successful track record is based on knowledge of the local market and taking equally good care of her restaurant providers and purchasing customers. The newest innovation at Eat Out In is a Web site designed by Pryam and Sanjay Sharma of Winaix Software. Almost a year in the making, the site's software was designed specifically to anticipate any and all problems associated with online ordering. It already accounts for at least 15% of the company's orders with no promotion other than a mention on Eat Out In's menu guides and the outgoing phone message. It's worth checking out.

I reported recently on the purchase and expansion of the Texas Culinary Academy (323-2511) as well as the recent sale of a downtown Austin bistro and now those two news stories have merged. Chef Jean-Luc Salles has been hired as a chef instructor for the new Texas Culinary Academy. He'll begin work Oct. 1 at the academy's original Dillard Circle facility and will supervise the fine dining portion of the curriculum when the school moves into their new facilities (11400 Burnet, Ste. 2) in January. Fans of chef Salles' cuisine should note he'll present a cooking demonstration at the Green Corn Project fundraiser on Sunday, Oct. 14, at Boggy Creek Farm, as well as teaching occasional classes at the Central Market Cooking School (458-3068).

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