jane sacro-chatham photo by greg rannells

Ones to Watch 2020 // Jane Sacro-Chatham

Jane Sacro-Chatham, Vicia sous chef
Age // 29
Why Watch Her // She's the spark plug in the Vicia engine. 

Love and food have taken Jane Sacro-Chatham around the world, from her childhood in the Philippines to travels in Ireland, Costa Rica and Vietnam, and now to Vicia in the Central West End. 

Sacro-Chatham’s love for cooking was first sparked at her mother’s karinderya, a roadside food stall popular in Manila. When she married and moved to St. Louis 10 years ago, she enrolled at St. Louis Community College to improve her English and perfect the culinary skills she picked up working with her mom.

While other young chefs hop from restaurant to restaurant, Sacro-Chatham has worked at just two other places, Robust and Reeds American Table, since moving to St. Louis. She has found her groove at Vicia, where she’s been since its 2017 opening. 

“She’s the spark plug of the kitchen,” said co-owner and chef Michael Gallina. “She’s got so much good, positive energy. She’s an incredible leader.” 

Sacro-Chatham worked her way from line cook to sous chef, now responsible for everything from butchering the week’s whole hog to ordering and inventory. Though she’s not one to self-aggrandize, restaurateurs she’s never worked with know of her. She’s recognized industry-wide as a singular talent. 

“She’s an extremely integral part in our restaurant and how successful we’ve been,” Gallina said. “We wouldn't be where we’re at without Jane.” 

But she’s more than just a workhorse. Sacro-Chatham and her husband are frequent flyers, taking any opportunity to explore new cultures. “Whenever I cook something [from a] different cuisine, I’m learning. I just keep soaking [up] different countries,” she said. They’ve talked about someday moving to Spain, where she could envision buying an apartment and living above her own small restaurant. 

Her creativity and proficiency have already led to some big opportunities. Sacro-Chatham sold out a 2019 pop-up at Vicia, where Gallina gave her the patio to prepare and present Filipino fare her way. She brought her own spit to roast a pig, covered the table in banana leaves and served a kamayan, or family-style, meal.

“It’s insanity – that, ‘I’m giving you half of my restaurant to cook whatever you want,’” she said. “I’m a shy person. I don’t really like attention so much, but I like to do big things.”

Catherine Klene is managing editor, digital at Sauce Magazine. 

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