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Jan 26, 2015
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The Scoop: WildSmoke to close Jan. 10, will become EdgeWild Bar & Grill

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015



After a one-year run, smokehouse and bar WildSmoke is closing doors Jan. 10 and will reopen this spring as EdgeWild Bar & Grill. Owner Andy Kohn announced plans for the space at 12316 Olive Blvd., in Creve Coeur today, Jan. 7.

“We’ve been talking over the last couple months,” said Todd Wyatt, director of operations of EdgeWild and WildSmoke. “We added more of a bar area (to WildSmoke) because we didn’t feel we were getting the traction with the spirits and beer. It moved the needle slightly, but not to where we wanted it to be.” Wyatt said while WildSmoke succeeded with the lunch crowds, barbecue is a competitive environment and the restaurant group wanted to grow the EdgeWild brand. Edgewild Winery & Restaurant, located at 550 Chesterfield Center in Chesterfield, opened in 2011.

The new bar and grill concept will focus on traditional bar food, appetizers, sandwiches and iconic dishes from across the U.S., such as a Philly cheesesteaks and po’boys. Other potential menu items include meatloaf, pan-fried chicken and onion rings, with some menu crossover from its sister restaurant. Current EdgeWild executive chef Aaron Baggett will oversee the kitchens at both locations.

The space will also undergo a renovation that includes the addition of a large central bar, which will offer some proprietary EdgeWild wines. Wyatt said he and the restaurant team hope to unveil EdgeWild Bar & Grill by April 1.


What I Do: Cindy Higgerson of Larder & Cupboard

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015



Cindy Higgerson left a nearly 30-year career as a histotechnologist (“We’re the people who run the tests on a biopsy.”) to manage Larder & Cupboard, a new specialty food shop in Maplewood. An unexpected move? Not when you learn she’s the face behind food fanatic @MCharcuterie on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Meet the exuberant home cook who’s bringing boutique foodstuffs to The Lou.

Why did you leave your job to be the GM of Larder & Cupboard?
I had done it for so long. It’s not where my passion was anymore. This is like turning a hobby into a career.

Is there any connection between histotechnology and running a food shop?
The lab training relates a lot because we had to meet FDA standards, and a lot of the things you have to do for refrigerators and freezers and storing antibodies is very similar to the food industry.

How do you decide what products to carry?
It has to taste good. I’m drawn to unique ingredients, things you can’t find in St. Louis, things that I found when I traveled and love and I’m frustrated when I can’t get (them) here, (things that have) won a Good Food Award or a Sofi Award.

Does it have to be a small-batch item?
That’s definitely one of my criteria. I don’t want to call up a distributor and say, “Hey, back your truck up to my store and unload the Wind in the Willow dip mix that everyone is carrying.” I’m really drawn to the small-batch stuff, the small producer where I have to contact them directly and the same guy who makes it is packaging it, mailing it.

Why is that so enticing?
They’re following their passion. They’re putting their heart and soul in it. A lot of them are also using their local ingredients just like our local producers do.

What products at Larder & Cupboard are you most excited about?
The shrubs from Wine Forest, the syrups from Quince & Apple, P&H Soda syrups – those are small batch out of Brooklyn.

How do you find out about products?
A lot of the products I have here I tasted during my travels with my histology job. I always sought out ingredients I couldn’t get here. I would come home with tons of food product. One time, I packed my computer and all my paper stuff in my suitcase and I hand-carried $400 worth of foodstuff on the plane because I didn’t want the food to get lost if my luggage was lost.

You’ve also traveled to chef competitions in Memphis.
I went to the first Heritage BBQ and to Cochon 555, the one that Kevin Nashan (of Sidney Street Cafe) competed at and that chef Kelly English (of Restaurant Iris in Memphis) won.

What compels you to drive so far for a food event?
The caliber of chefs competing. Trying all the dishes because they do unique and fun things. I like to eat. I like to come home and re-create stuff. I’m very adventurous in the kitchen.

What’s your specialty dish?
Probably pulled pork. I make the marinade and rub from scratch. I’m a big fan of meat.

What’s the backstory on @MCharcuterie?
An ex-boyfriend gave me the nickname Madam Charcuterie because I always had stuff curing in the refrigerator. I was making gravlox, jerky. The refrigerator was full of meat brining.

-photo by Ashley Gieseking

The Scoop: Bistro 1130, Plush, Takaya New Asian all close doors

Monday, January 5th, 2015


{The interior of recently shuttered Plush}


A handful of area restaurants have closed with the flip of the calendar: Bistro 1130, Plush and Takaya New Asian.

Bistro 1130 owner Mikki Jones confirmed her West County eatery shuttered but did not comment as to why. Bistro 1130 opened in 2010 at 1130 Town and Country Crossing Drive. In early 2014, Jones revamped the bistro concept, expanding the menu from French to Mediterranean cuisine.

Farther east, Midtown Alley entertainment venue Plush closed its doors Jan. 3, according to its Facebook page. When Plush opened at 3224 Locust St., on New Year’s Eve in 2011, its kitchen served up from-scratch diner-style food to positive reviews, including from Sauce. However, Plush ended table service in July 2014 and tightened its menu to appetizers and small plates more conducive to its lounge and music performances. Owner Maebelle Reed did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Downtown restaurant Takaya New Asian has also called things to an end, as reported by Ian Froeb of the Post-Dispatch. Takaya is among the handful of tenants, including restaurants Pi and Snarf’s, that opened doors in the Mercantile Exchange building after that complex was renovated in 2012. Owner Eric Heckman, who also owns Tani Sushi Bistro and Area 14 Lounge in Clayton, was not immediately available for comment.

-photo by David Kovaluk

By the Book: Dana Cowin’s Steak au Poivre

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015



It takes some moxie to admit one’s own shortcomings. Imagine being the editor of a preeminent food magazine and publishing a cookbook of confessions about where you’ve gone wrong in the kitchen. That’s what Dana Cowin, editor-in-chief at Food & Wine magazine, did in her Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen.

“I am going to be honest: I am not a great cook,” begins Cowins in the introduction. “As the longtime editor-in-chief of Food & Wine magazine, I’ve learned a lot about food by eating in extraordinary restaurants, tasting recipes in our test kitchen daily and talking to chefs. Yet, despite all that, there’s one culinary area in which I am not an expert: actual hands-on cooking.” But, with help from 65 estimable chefs worldwide, Cowin learns the tricks for tackling everything from soufflé to pan-roasted lobster.

As I paged through 100 recipes and learned of Cowin’s snafus with eggs, soups, seafood and more, I thought about the single-most area of cooking in which I need to improve. Without a doubt, it is meat. I’m great at making stock, which is why I hoard ham bones and chicken carcasses like a dog. But the actual meat – that scares me. I don’t want to ruin a prime cut. I’ll gladly whip up a salad, casserole, fritatta or curry while someone else tends to the meat.

As much as I would have delighted to cook Quickest Cucumber Kimchi following tips from David Chang or Pan-roasted Lobster with Red Miso and Citrus Sauce with advice from Eric Ripert, I knew I needed to face my fear. So I opened the cookbook to the meat chapter and put myself to the test with steak au poivre.

I knew that my chances for a better-tasting end result would improve drastically if I began with high-quality beef. At Bolyard’s Meat & Provisions, owner Chris Bolyard cut me 1-inch New York strip steaks from Shire Gate Farm in Owensville. He asked if I wanted bone-in or bone-out. Bone-in would give more flavor, he said. I opted out, though, because I wanted my steak au poivre to look like the photo in Cowin’s book. This column is called By the Book, after all.




While at Bolyard’s shop, I sought as much advice as possible. How long would the steaks need to come to room temperature? Let them sit out 30 minutes, 45 tops, Bolyard said, but far more important is to let the steaks rest five to 10 minutes once cooked.




The raw meat gets salted, then rolled in a pan of cracked peppercorns. Once the oil in the saucepan is smoking hot, it’s time to add the steak. Steaks cook fast, and I didn’t want to overcook and burn them. Cowin’s instructions to “let the steaks cook until the underside is nicely browned and they don’t resist when you try to flip them” was a helpful pointer.




While the meat rested, I focused on making the steak sauce, which was fun since it involves igniting cognac. I had my mise en place in order – shallots grated to a paste, Dijon, creme fraiche, lemon juice and water – so after the fire show, the sauce came together quickly. To serve, the steak is garnished with parsley and lemon zest. You can drizzle this divine sauce on the meat, but I served it on the side. Me and my meat had nowhere to hide. I tensed as I awaited the meat critique from my dinner companions. Cut. Chew. Moan. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Winner, winner, steak dinner!




Dana Cowin’s Steak au Poivre
2 servings

1½ Tbsp. black peppercorns
2 1-inch New York strip steaks (about ½-pound each), excess fat trimmed, at room temperature
Kosher salt
2 Tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
¼ cup cognac
2 small shallots, grated to a paste (preferably on a microplane)
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
¼ cup creme fraiche
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup water
2 Tbsp. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp. grated lemon zest

• Put the peppercorns on a small rimmed baking sheet and crush them with a small heavy skillet; be sure not to bash them. Season each side of the steaks generously with salt, then mop up the crushed peppercorns with both sides of the steaks.
• Heat a large heavy stainless steel skilled over high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the skillet. When the oil is smoking hot, carefully place the steaks in the skillet, laying them down away from you (so that if any hot fat splatters, it splatters away from you). Let the steaks cook until the underside is nicely browned and they don’t resist when you try to flip them, about 4 minutes. Turn and cook on the second side until well browned, another 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the steaks onto their fat edges and brown them until the fat is nice and crisp, about 2 minutes. Transfer the steaks to a serving dish or dinner plates and let them rest while you make the sauce.
• Pour off and discard all but a very thin layer of fat from the skillet. Take the skillet off the heat and add the cognac. Carefully return the skillet to the heat – the alcohol should immediately burst into flames (not a bad thing!); if it doesn’t, ignite the cognac with a long match or lighter. Once the flames have subsided, lower the heat to medium, add the shallots and a pinch of salt and cooking, stirring, until the raw shallot aroma disappears, about a minute. Whisk in the mustard, creme fraiche, lemon juice and water. Season the sauce to taste with salt, and add more water if you prefer a looser consistency. Remove from the heat.
• Whisk half the parsley into the sauce and sprinkle the steaks with the remaining parsley. Season each steak with a pinch more salt and scatter the lemon zest evenly on top. Spoon the sauce over the steaks and serve immediately.

Reprinted with permission Harper Collins Publishing

What’s your cooking resolution? Tell us in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of Dana Cowin’s Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen.

Extra Sauce: Ligaya Figueras Predicts 2015 Trends

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

The time has come once again when we food fanatics weigh in on the edible landscape of the year ahead. But first, let’s take a quick look back to my 2014 predictions.

Illinois has, indeed, been a hotspot, especially for craft breweries. This year saw breweries launch in Belleville (4204 Main Street Brewing Co.), Edwardsville (Recess Brewing) and O’Fallon (Peel).

Last year, I also speculated we’d see more all-veg restaurants with sophisticated plates. Small Batch, Seedz Café and Lulu’s Local Eatery brick-and-mortar on S. Grand Boulevard joined the small club of places to grab a meat-free bite. So did Five Bistro chef-owner Anthony Devoti’s five-week veg-centric pop-up this summer, Root & Vine.

Among local food trends, we’ve become thoroughly versed in ancient grains, but this was farro’s breakout year, and cauliflower is still having a fine run as a faux steak. The liquid stars of 2014 have been cherry alcohol and house-made soda and tonics.

What will 2015 bring? Here’s what I read in the booze-infused tea leaves (tea cocktails – you should try one):




1. Bitter greens get big.
We’ve been won over by raw kale salads and crispy kale chips. But there are more bitter greens than the big K. At Death in the Afternoon, dandelion greens and chicory currently fill the bowl of a spicy Vietnamese grilled beef salad, and the restaurant’s Cobb salad is studded red with a blend of radicchio and its Italian cousin, Treviso. Get ready for dandelion pesto, collard chips and chicory in puntarelle salads.



{Root celery soup with sorrel sorbet at Niche}


2. Regionalism migrates to the Midwest
What Nordic chefs at places like Noma and Dill are doing in cooking with foods native to their area tundra territory has attracted attention because it’s sustainable and a reminder that food is about place. Locally, Scratch Brewing’s indigenous beers are an example of this movement, called regionalism. On the food side, Gerard Craft and his team at Niche are breaking new ground in sourcing ingredients from the Show-Me state. At that restaurant, it’s out with citrus (because it doesn’t grow here) and in with local foods that hold citrus flavors. It means sourcing Missouri-grown wheat from Richard Knapp to make bread. Craft is even on a quest to find Missouri salt, once an important industry for this state. It’s one thing to source locally. Going native takes that a step forward. Look for more chefs to help shape what Made in MO cuisine looks like.





3. Low-gravity beers keep things sessionable – and tasty.
Craft beer fans have spoken: they want to occupy bar stools for hours. However, for a drinking session to last that long, the brew’s gotta be low in alcohol. A lager with no personality won’t suffice because beer nerds want character, too. Of the two dozen craft beers on tap at The Side Project Cellar, 10 are 6-percent ABV or lower, and three of those – Side Project Grisette, Side Project Saisonnier and The Civil Life  Milk Stout – clock in at less than 5 percent.



{Chef-owner Ben Poremba at Old Standard, his new fried chicken shack}


4. The fried chicken run has just begun.
Quality options abound for Sunday fried chicken dinners, and you can even find expertly prepared fried chicken at ethnic restaurants. Chicken shack Old Standard is but two months old and another, Byrd & Barrel, is slated for early 2015. If fried chicken follows the 2014 trend of whiskey bars, we’re going to see a lot more restaurants giving us the bird.



{Bread service at Scape}

5. Better bread is rising.
Restaurants aren’t taking their bread for granted anymore. And we’re not passing up the bread course when the basket is filled with flaky buttermilk biscuits and moist cornbread accompanied by thoughtful jams and compound butters. We’ve been wowed by the bread selection at Old Standard and Juniper, as well as the complimentary rosemary focaccia at Cucina Pazzo. Scape just upped its bread service with fresh baked focaccia, lavash and pretzel sticks served with white bean puree, olive tapenade and whipped butter. Watch for more in-house baking programs to rise.

Sneak Peek: Seoul Taco and Seoul Q

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

“This city has never seen anything like this.” Seoul Taco co-owner David Choi was talking about the barbecue grills fitting inside tables at his upcoming Korean barbecue and hotpot restaurant, Seoul Q, but the statement holds true for everything Choi has done at 6665 Delmar Blvd., in University City. The space is the new home for Choi’s relocated Seoul Taco, and its sister restaurant, Seoul Q. While they share a space, Seoul Taco will open later this week, and Seoul Q is slated to open at the end of December.

Upon entering, diners encounter a host stand in front of a partition made from colorfully painted boomboxes. Step right for Korean-Mexican fusion; step left for Korean barbecue and hotpots. The decor is as much a cultural mashup as Seoul Taco’s fusion fare is. A sculpture made from a 1942 Ford Metro van is mounted on the wall next to murals of Korean martial arts fighters wearing Mexican luchador masks.

Seoul Taco is still counter service, but there’s plenty more elbowroom at 76-seat space compared to its former 18-person confines down the street at 571 Mehlville Ave. The menu at Seoul Taco remains the same, but patrons can expect daily specials like Korean barbecue tortas and nachos. And now that it has a liquor license, patrons can wash down their tacos and burritos with 4 Hands brews on tap.

On the other side of the boomboxes, full-service Seoul Q is just as boisterous, but with a more industrial feel. Eight cylindrical exhaust hoods extend over those DIY barbecue grills in the center of poured concrete tables, and a dark wood scape runs the length of one wall, a signature touch of Smartmouth Designs, the Chicago-based interior design company that worked on the space.

The Seoul Q menu is divided into appetizers, soups and hotpots and barbecue. Patrons ordering the latter choose between various cuts of beef and pork to grill at the table. The meat comes with rice, six sides, vegetables and a choice of soup. A barbecue order generally serves two to three people. Meanwhile, meat and seafood hotpots are kept warm at induction stovetops set into some tables. Beverages include bottled craft beer and cocktails featuring soju, a Korean spirit.

Here’s a look at what to expect at Seoul Taco and Seoul Q when both restaurants open:


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


-photos by Michelle Volansky


The Scoop: Andrew Jennrich departs from Butchery, joins Annie Gunn’s

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014


{From left, Butchery’s former head butcher Andrew Jennrich and Truffles executive chef Brandon Benack}


Andrew Jennrich has left his post as head butcher at Butchery, the butcher shop and food emporium at 9202 Clayton Road in Ladue. Jennrich said he is now reporting for work at Annie Gunn’s, where’s he’s doing a little bit of everything at the Chesterfield restaurant and its smokehouse next door, he said.

Aleksander “Alex” Jovanovic, general manager at Truffles (which is under the same ownership as Butchery), said he appreciated Jennrich’s contribution to the fledgling butcher shop that opened in late summer. “He helped us get our feet off the ground,” Jovanovic said. “I was hoping he would have stayed longer.” However, he noted the unexpected split was still amicable.

Jennrich said his decision to leave came down to a difference of opinion regarding Butchery’s direction. “We saw things differently,” Jennrich said. “I had a great time being with Brandon (Benack, Truffles’ executive chef) and Alex. I miss being with those guys. Other aspects – (It) just wasn’t going to work out.”

Taking the head butcher slot is Ryan McDonald, who joined the team at Truffles and Butchery as executive sous chef in late October. Jovanovic said that despite the unanticipated change, the transition has been seamless since the Jennrich and McDonald had many weeks to work together prior to his departure. McDonald’s primary role at the shop is butchering; two line cooks from Truffles are now responsible for charcuterie.

Jennrich said his move to Annie Gunn’s has been an educational one, noting the restaurant’s quality and talented staff, particularly executive chef Lou Rook. “Lou Rook, Steve Gontram, Vince Bommarito, Bill Cardwell – they laid the track for all of us. It’s cool to work with someone who set the groundwork,” Jennrich said. “They were all the guys doing farm-to-table before it was cool.” Jennrich’s official title at Annie Gunn’s is still to be determined, but he anticipates it will be settled in January after the holiday season.


-photo by Meera Nagarajan

The Scoop: Chef Matt Daughaday to leave Taste, Heather Stone will step up

Thursday, December 11th, 2014


{From left, Matt Daughaday and Heather Stone}

Editor’s Note: This Scoop has been updated to include comments from Matt Daughaday.

There’s a change in the top toque at Taste. Executive chef Matt Daughaday is leaving the cocktail bar and lounge at 4584 Laclede Ave., in the Central West End to open his own restaurant, as reported by Feast. Daughaday’s replacement is Heather Stone, who will step up from her current position as the restaurant’s sous chef.

While the news may come as a surprise to some, owner Gerard Craft and the team at Taste have had months to plan for the transition, which will officially occur Jan. 1.

“This has been a few month’s now that we’ve been working on the transition, so it’s not like a sudden departure,” said Craft, who added that he and Daughaday have been talking about his potential departure for the past year. “I said, ‘If there’s a time you want to go, tell me. I’ll help you in any way possible.’ He’s given a chunk of his life to the Craft team in multiple ways. We’re excited for him. I find it extremely exciting to have a young chef find his voice. That’s awesome. It doesn’t happen all the time.” Daughaday, a member of Sauce’s Ones to Watch class of 2013, has worked for the Craft family of restaurants for more than five years.

Daughaday said the transition to leave Taste is the first step toward opening his own restaurant in the course of a year. He is currently looking for a location, possible in the St. Louis Hills area, and considering concept options. If all goes according to plan, Daughaday said he could open doors as early as August 2015.

Daughaday said he learned valuable lessons under Craft’s guidance, including keeping both customers and employees happy. “Watching his growth and how he’s had to deal with a staff of maybe 20 people to over 100 … It’s a difficult thing, and I think he’s done a really good job with that,” he said. “It’s why I stayed with him for six-and-a-half years.”

Stone came aboard Taste two years ago, having previously worked at One Sixtyblue in Chicago. “I think Heather’s style fits into what we’re doing,” he said. “Heather is very farm-to-table and very ingredient-driven, so if nobody’s noticed a difference now, they won’t notice a difference then. Her food is phenomenal.” Craft said Stone created more than half of the dishes on the current Taste menu. “The team at Taste loves her,” Craft said. “She’s a great presence, a great leader. She brings a lot to the table, more so than just the food.”

Daughaday said he was more than confident in Stone’s ability to run Taste’s kitchen. “There’s no way I could have left taste unless I thought there was someone who could do a job equal to what I’ve been doing,” he said. “I definitely think she has that potential. In my eyes and Gerard’s, she’s more than capable of stepping up.”


-photo courtesy @chefh88 Instagram

The Scoop: Alcohol delivery service Drizly arrives in St. Louis

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014



Remember those nights you wished booze could be delivered to your doorstep like pizza or Chinese food? Dreams are about to be fulfilled when Drizly, an alcohol delivery service company, launches its smartphone app and website in St. Louis tomorrow, Dec. 11.

The Boston-based company has partnered with St. Louis liquor retailer Randall’s Wines and Spirits to bring beer, wine and liquor delivery to customers and businesses. To shop, users download the free Drizly app on their iPhone or Android device or order on Drizly’s website. Once the beverage selection is submitted and paid for online, the order is fulfilled and delivered by a Randall’s employee in 40 minutes or less. Delivery drivers authenticate and validate IDs upon arrival.

Customers can choose from a wide selection of beer, wine and spirits, as well as mixers, bitters, juice and even ice. Everything costs the same as Randall’s in-store prices with an added $5 delivery fee. Delivery hours are the same as Randall’s store hours of operation.

Drizly will be available throughout St. Louis city and the surrounding communities, including: Ballwin, Boulevard Heights, Brentwood, Clayton, Creve Coeur, Frontenac, Kirkwood, Ladue, Manchester, Maplewood, Olivette, Princeton Heights, Richmond Heights, Rock Hill, Town & Country, University City and Webster Groves. Drizly founder and CEO Nick Rellas said he hopes to add more communities in the area. “As awareness grows, we’ll bring on more new retailers in suburban areas,” he said.

Rellas said he introduced Drizly to St. Louis after studying our city’s food and drinking culture, consumer use of technology and our sports culture. “It makes for a really great market,” Rellas said. “Randall’s is a fantastic retailer. You won’t find one as sophisticated as Randall’s. An overwhelming majority of their products are online. Randall’s is so tech-savvy that we’re able to do that.”

Drizly launched in Boston in early spring 2013. This year has seen expansions into New York, Chicago, Austin, several cities in Colorado, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Seattle and Washington DC. “We went from one to 12 this year,” Rellas said. “You’ll see us in quite a few more cities by the end of next year.”



Trendwatch: A look at what’s on the plate, in the glass and atop our wish list right now – Part 2

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

Click here to read Part 1 of Trendwatch.






4. Eveything’s Better with Uni: Whether it’s Peter Gilmore at Quay in the land down under or April Bloomfield at The John Dory in NYC, top chefs around the world are diving into uni. When the sushi chefs at Baiku get their hands on the sweet, briny roe sacs from a prickly sea urchin, they get egg crazy with an uni shooter special: The creamy uni, a quail egg, masago and tobiko (capelin roe and flying fish roe, respectively) all swim in a sake-filled champagne flute. Or, try the spreadable version when Baiku runs its special of salmon with uni butter. The Libertine’s Josh Galliano proved uni has a place outside of Asian and seafood restaurants when he pureéd the raw orange lobes with sungold tomatoes for an uni sorbet to accompany tomato toast. Uni is nothing new to Vince Bommarito Jr. When the venerable Tony’s chef gets the itch to cook with the delicacy, it usually ends up on a billowy bed of house-made fettuccine. And we thought the egg-on-everything trend was nearing an end.

5. A Side of Flan: Jiggly flan always equals caramel custard, right? Wrong. Stop looking for the silky egg custard on the dessert menu and check out the entrees instead. Find carrot flan served on the side of duck confit at newly opened Avenue in Clayton, spoon up the horseradish flan served with rainbow trout at Three Flags Tavern or try Modesto’s goat cheese and salmon flan.

6. Don’t Be a Chicken … Eat the Skin: We all know the best part of fried chicken is the crispy, greasy skin. Recently, area chefs indulged us by ditching the meat altogether and taking strips of fatty chicken skin straight to the fryer. During the summer and into fall, Juniper featured fried chicken skins as a starter, and during a one-night-only event at the CWE restaurant, guest chefs Jeff Friesen of Farmhaus and Andrew Jennrich of The Butchery unveiled their ingenious idea for chicken skin: Wrap it around okra. At Franco, it wasn’t decadent enough for chef Jon Dreja to roll chicken around black truffles and pistachios; he served the roulade with a wedge of crispy chicken skin.

7. Tapping into Local Maple Syrup: Funk’s Grove was once the only local choice for sweet tree sap, but now the maple syrup market is booming, and chefs are stocking up. Just a year after its first bottling, DeSoto homestead Such & Such Farm saw its liquid amber stocked in pantries at Juniper, Dressel’s and The Libertine. New among maple syrup suppliers is Michael Gehman, the man formerly known as Veggie Boy, now the owner of Double Star Farms. Gehman peddles Raber’s Sugar Bush, a grade B maple syrup from Flat Rock, Illinois, to numerous area restaurants.







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