◆L’Ecole Culinaire’s Academy for Culinary Development, which was introduced earlier this year, will soon have its own dedicated space. Construction is underway on a new space at 9200 Olive Blvd. to house the rapidly expanding academy curriculum. The 2,000-square-foot facility will have three main teaching areas and should be open sometime in late fall to house the 140 classes the school hopes to have available by the end of the year. L’Ecole also is hosting a wine dinner on Sept. 29, at 6:30 p.m. in The Presentation Room at the school’s Ladue campus. The dinner will feature wines from Grafton Winery. Call 587-2433 for reservations.

◆ JOHN SEARS has come on board as sommelier at West End Wines, which opened earlier this year in the Central West End. Sears was certified as a sommelier in 1994, and has worked in numerous culinary positions both locally and across the country, including as a chef at L’Auberge Bretonne in Frontenac and maitre d’ and sommelier at Chez Louis in The Seven Gables Inn in Clayton. Most recently, he was wine director for the Cafe Napoli Group in Clayton.

◆ Look for Diablitos Cantina, the latest restaurant from the folks who brought us Sanctuaria and Cafe Ventana, to open at 3761 Laclede Ave. in the near future. The menu will feature the flavors of Mexico and the bar will be heavy on house-infused tequilas and Mexican street vendor beverages like Frescas Horchates. The space formerly housed Iggy’s.

◆Congratulations are in order for ROSALIE BECKERLE, sales and marketing, Companion Bread; DANENE BEEDLE, marketing director, Missouri Wine and Grape Board; ARLENE BROWNE, co-owner, Robust; and LIZ ENGELSMANN, executive owner, Pinnacle Imports LLC. The four were inducted into the St. Louis chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International (LDEI), a worldwide philanthropic organization of professional women in the food, fine beverage and hospitality fields. The ceremony was Sept. 13 at Cardwell’s on the Plaza in Frontenac. The chapter also has announced it will host the 2012 LDEI Annual Conference next fall.

◆Chef ANGELA KOMIS of Nosh just got back from Kauai, Hawaii, where she competed in Chef Hunters, a new show from Food Network that will air this fall. Komis didn’t make it to the final round, but she more than held her own. Well done! The eventual winner will get to be executive chef at Peter Merriman’s restaurant on the island.

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