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Mar 20, 2018
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The Scoop: Chef Nick Martinkovic heads to Palm Beach

Monday, December 15th, 2014



Nick Martinkovic, former executive chef of Blood & Sand and sister restaurant Death in the Afternoon is on the move again, this time headed south for a fresh start at an art gallery in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Martinkovic will join the team at Emko, a gallery that showcases all styles of art, including culinary. He said the concept combines several artists’ work into one collaborative piece. “When a print artist is showcasing his work, we plan to have him design the background of my menu, for example,” he said, “or a sculptor might sculpt a plate for me to dish on.”

As his time in St. Louis nears its end, Martinkovic said the friendships and insights gained during his time here will stick with him. “I ignorantly thought I’d come to St. Louis and run back to New York in a year,” he said. “I fell in love with St. Louis, though, and stayed as long as I could. But I have this incredible opportunity, and I just need to take it.”

Want to get a taste of Martinkovic’s work before he leaves town? He’s currently lending a hand in the Juniper kitchen through Dec. 31.

The Scoop: Chef Eric Brenner races to the finish on Food Network’s “Guy’s Grocery Games”

Monday, December 8th, 2014



St. Louis chef Eric Brenner shopped – and cooked –  ’til he dropped during his appearance last night, Dec. 7, on “Guy’s Grocery Games,” a culinary competition hosted by Food Network personality Guy Fieri. Brenner beat out a three other chefs from across the country and won an $18,000 grand prize.

Brenner, who will serve as executive chef and general manager of upcoming Lascelles Tap & Grill  in Granite City, Illinois, competed in three elimination challenges, preparing dishes such as French toast without bread (he substituted with a frozen English muffin) and a steak dinner prepared with only canned goods.

“That was tough. I had to find a meat product that I could wipe the goo off and get a nice sear,” Brenner said. “With no herbs, no aromatics, it’s hard to know where to go with that. But your creative skills as a chef kick in, and I just went to work, thinking and tasting.”

In the final round, Brenner turned to his hometown favorite, grilled cheese and tomato bisque. “When I got that challenge, I just thought about how everyone in St. Louis loves that dish, so I went for it,” he said.

As the victor, Brenner competed in the final Shopping Spree competition, during which he had to find 10 grocery store items in 2 minutes. For each item he snagged, he earned $2,000; he grabbed all but one. Brenner said he will put his winnings toward home improvement at his house in the Central West End.

Brenner joins a growing list of area chefs who emerged victorious on competitive cooking programs, including Vincent Van Doughnut’s Brian Marsden and Al Watson and Lia Weber on “The Next Great Baker.”

Forgot to set your DVR? You can catch Brenner in action when the episode airs again at 6 p.m. Dec. 15 on the Food Network.




By the Book: Ben Towill and Phil Winser’s Leek & Peekytoe Crab Gratin

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014



Full disclosure: cooking intimidates me. My culinary skills pale when compared to my family’s kitchen queens, my mother and aunts. There’s nothing better to this starving college student than visiting a relative’s house, where there are sure to be tasty, homemade dishes waiting. It’s a nice alternative to my fallback, the $6.51 large pizza around the corner. My large Italian family gathers monthly to swap stories, celebrate birthdays and cook and consume substantial amounts of food. My “honorary Nana,” Pat, has dubbed my family’s perennial favorites “that effin’ crab dip,” as in, “Why do we always have to bring that effin’ crab dip to the party?”

Even family favorites can use an update now and then; that’s why I was excited to see a new variation on this staple in The Fat Radish: Kitchen Diaries. Co-authors and chefs Ben Towill and Phil Winser showcase recipes featured at the NYC restaurant, The Fat Radish. While meat dishes do make appearances, vegetables and seafood steal the show in this new cookbook.




The recipe was simple enough for even a hesitant college cook like me. If I could simmer leeks in a pan, I could handle this. I did find the dip a bit dry for my liking, so I added more liquid to smooth everything out. I am also a huge fan of cheese, so a few extra shreds of sharp white cheddar may have found their way into the pan. After all, when has extra cream and cheese ever been a bad thing?




Overall, this dish was impeccable. The delicate crab and leeks were aromatic, and the dip was warm and filling. A drizzle of oil olive on top and a pinch of lemon were the perfect garnish – though an extra crack of black pepper on top wouldn’t hurt, either.




Nana Pat may moan when she sees I brought yet another crab dip to our next family get together, but after one bite, I think she’ll be talking about that “effin’ good crab dip” for a long time.




Leek & Peekytoe Crab Gratin
8 servings

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, washed and finely diced
½ cup sherry
1 cup heavy cream
1 lb. cleaned crab meat (use whatever type you like)
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup breadcrumbs
½ cup coarsely grated sharp white cheddar cheese
Pinch grated nutmeg
Pinch red chili flakes
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Lemon wedges for serving
Toast for serving

• Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
• Place the butter in an ovenproof skillet set over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring now and then, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the sherry, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cook until the sherry is nearly evaporated, 5 minutes. Add the cream to the pan, turn the heat to low and simmer until the cream is slightly reduced, 5 minutes. Allow the cream mixture to cool. Stir the crab into the cooled cream mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste.
• Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs, cheese, nutmeg and chili flakes. Cover the crab mixture evenly with the breadcrumb mixture and drizzle with olive oil. Place the skillet in the oven and bake until the top is golden brown and the sides are bubbling, about 10 to 15 minutes. Serve hot with lemon wedges alongside and plenty of toast.

Have you put a twist on one of your family’s classic recipes? Tell us about it in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of The Fat Radish: Kitchen Diaries.

The Scoop: Concert venue The Gramophone to become a full-time bar, expand food service

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014



A new chapter approaches for The Gramophone co-owners Andrew “Roo” Yawitz and Scott Swanston, as they transition popular Grove nightspot from a concert venue to a bar that also serves sandwiches, soups and salads. After their New Year’s Eve party, doors will temporarily close for renovation, and the reopening is scheduled for early February 2015.

The idea “has always been in our back pocket,” Yawitz said. “One factor was the increase in foot traffic in the neighborhood. As The Grove became more popular, more people are walking up and looking for a place to drink without a cover charge. We want people to be able to stop in anytime.”

The Gramophone, which began offering sandwiches in November 2013, will expand its food and drink menu with the addition of soups and sides, as well as a bloody mary menu and house-infused whiskeys. Permanent seating will soon allow for about 100 guests. However, Yawitz said The Gramophone won’t lose its touch with its music roots. “Music will still be a big part of our brand,” he said. “We’ll still have live music on the weekends mostly, and feature smaller, local bands, anything from solo acts to four-piece bands to DJs.”

After its remodel, The Gramophone will be open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m.



Meatless Monday: Taco Night, 4 Ways

Monday, November 17th, 2014


{Tofu tacos}

Tacos should never be limited to the same old “Southwest-seasoned” beef, pork or chicken. Fill a bowl with chips and guac and try one or two of these satisfying vegetarian fillings sure to lighten up taco night.


1. Break out the skillet and get ready to char all veggies in sight for a smoky, robust flavor. Get the recipe for charred zucchini tacos here.

2. These tacos take classic fall ingredients – crisp pumpkin seeds, butternut squash and kale – and drizzles it with a quick and easy cashew “crema.” Get the recipe here.

3. Jackfruit may look otherworldly, and it tastes out of this world as carnitas, too. Get the recipe here.

4. Respect the tofu. Here, it’s seasoned with with the smoky, spicy combo of cayenne and chipotle and features a tasty, homemade pico de gallo and salsa verde to boot. Get the recipe here.


-photo by Carmen Troesser


The Scoop: 801 Fish to join sister restaurant in Clayton

Monday, November 10th, 2014



Midwest-based 801 Restaurant Group has announced plans to open 801 Fish in summer 2015. As reported by George Mahe of St. Louis Magazine, the seafood restaurant will open at 172 Carondelet Plaza, which formerly housed Brazikat. 801 Fish will be located close to its sister restaurant 801 Chophouse at 137 Carondelet Plaza, which opened in December 2013. This is the second location for the 801 Fish concept.

801 Chophouse general manager Ian Rockwell said Clayton was a good fit for the two restaurants to showcase their complementary concepts. “801 Fish has all the hallmarks of the Chophouse, but it’s the inverse. In contrast to dark colors and rich hues, 801 Fish provides a fresh, clean and crisp feel,” he said.

Rockwell said Clayton diners can expect to find a menu similar to the Leawood, Kansas location with a few minor changes. 801 Fish will receive daily deliveries of fresh seafood from several vendors, including those who currently provide for 801 Chophouse’s daily fresh fish offerings. 801 Fish customers will dine on constantly changing market selections, as well as caviar, shellfish platters and a raw bar. A tailored list of wines and cocktails will also featured at the new space.


-photo courtesy of 801 Fish

Good Food mentions sweep St. Louis

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014



Your food may taste amazing, but is it good? Three national organizations recently gave nods to St. Louis-area nonprofits and artisans for their efforts to raise awareness of and produce products that are mindful of community health or the environment.

The James Beard Foundation and Food Tank recently announced their Good Food Org Guide, a national listing of nonprofits that work to educate their communities about about food and create healthier, more informed citizens. Two St. Louis nonprofits made that list: EarthDance, an organization that teaches farming and the importance of community agriculture and, Urban Harvest STL, which creates urban gardens on vacant property around St. Louis.

“The heart of Urban Harvest is to bring food systems back into where people live,” said Mary Ostafi, founding director of Urban Harvest STL.




In other “good food” news, both Kaldi’s Coffee and Kakao have been recently nominated for Good Food Awards, headed by sustainable food advocate and St. Louis native Sarah Weiner. Now in its fifth year, the Good Food Awards celebrates local food manufacturers from across the country that provide delicious, healthy food while respecting the environment. With more than 1,000 entrants in 11 categories, Kakao was named as a finalist in the confection category for its Turkish coffee truffle and gazpacho pate de fruit, while Kaldi’s received a finalist nod for its Ethiopia Dama coffee.

Kaldi’s marketing director Chris Reimer said the honor was a testament to the roasters’ talents. “They really use their senses during the entire coffee making process,” Reimer said. “They use their ears to hear the first crack of the bean and carefully smell the beans, as well. If they have a cold, we have to find a replacement for the day.”

Neither establishment are new to the Good Food Awards; Kakao won earlier this year for its lavender truffle, while Kaldi’s was a finalist three of the last five years.



The Scoop: Strange Donuts to open third St. Louis location in Central West End, Strange Trap Kitchen

Thursday, October 9th, 2014


{From left, Strange Donut co-owner Corey Smale, corporate chef Mary Boehne and co-owner Jason Bockman}

As Strange Donuts prepares to blow out the candles on its first birthday done, owners Corey Smale and Jason Bockman announced the coming of its third St. Louis location in the next few months. Strange Trap Kitchen, a pop-up kitchen concept, will open inside Brennan’s at 4659 Maryland Plaza in the Central West End, as reported by Liz Miller of Feast. The announcement comes just a few weeks before Smale and Bockman open their sophomore Kirkwood location on Oct. 22 and just days after the news that another Strange Donuts location will share storefront space with Seoul Taco in Columbia, Missouri.

Strange Trap Kitchen will feature doughnuts with new ingredients and “elevated flavors,” the handiwork of Strange Donuts corporate chef Mary Boehne, Smale said, as well as the possibility of hot chocolate, juices and Kaldi’s coffee. The CWE address aims to capture a morning commuter crowd with early hours of 7 to 11 a.m. Tuesdays through Fridays. The new shop gets its name from trap music, a subgenre of hip-hop.

Smale sees Strange Donuts’ rapid expansion – four locations, dozens of events and catering clients like the St. Louis Rams organization – as the mark of a great team. “We’re not intimidated because we know we got the right people to do this,” he said. “When you think to yourself, ‘What would I do without them?’ that’s when you know you have a great staff.”

-photo by Adrian O. Walker


The Scoop: New food truck Le Camion Bistro aims to take diners’ palates around the world

Thursday, September 25th, 2014



Truckies, get ready – another restaurant on wheels is set to drive onto the St. Louis scene. Le Camion Bistro, literally “The Bistro Truck” in French, will debut Tuesday, Sept. 30 at Washington University and will highlight a wide range of international cuisine, as reported by Feast Magazine.

Originally a certified public accountant, Brundage decided to pursue a new direction after retirement. Encouraged by friends wowed by his dinner party dishes, Brundage opened a small catering company in 2012 before deciding to take his show on the road. “A truck is smaller and less complicated than a restaurant,” he said. “Rather than jump into an overwhelming situation, I thought I’d take my lumps and start smaller in the truck.”

Despite its French name, Brundage doesn’t limit Le Camion Bistro to a particular style of cuisine. Brundage’s far-reaching menu was inspired by his exploration of different cuisines, as well as the many places he has lived around the U.S. “My food comes from a lot of different areas. I take classical dishes from all over like Argentina, France, even the Middle East, and make them my own,” he said. “I’ve been around the block …  I’ve been exposed to a whole bunch of cuisines and eaten all sorts of food.”

Look for those influences in menu items like arepas topped with pork or chicken and avocado, bourbon-braised beef brisket and paninis filled with roast beef and peppers, roast chicken and fig jam or roast chicken with tomato and mozzarella.

Le Camion is set to roam the streets of St. Louis, hitting up spots like Washington University, Wells Fargo and Citygarden. Brundage anticipates that Le Camion will reach St. Louis County once he obtains the permit.

The Scoop: St. Louis Country Club sous chef Bobby Trampier wins Taste of St. Louis Chef Battle Royale

Monday, September 22nd, 2014


{From left, Bobby Trampier, Vito Racanelli and Allyson Mace}

Editor’s Note: This post originally reported that Trampier competed against Eric Brenner in the final round. It has been updated.

All hail a new champion; Bobby Trampier, sous chef at St. Louis Country Club, emerged the victor at Taste of St. Louis’ Chef Battle Royale last weekend, Sept. 19 to 21. The battle is a live cooking competition during which eight chefs competed head-to-head over the course of three days. Trampier emerged victorious in the Battle: Seafood against Carl Hazel of The Scottish Arms. His winning dishes included seafood chowder and dessert highlighting apple through cider-poached apples and a Calvados parfait.

Trampier also competed against executive chef Josh Norris of Triumph Grill in Battle: Pork, winning with a dish of Thai pork and ramen noodles, and against D. Scott Phillips of Balaban’s Wine Bar and Restaurant in Battle: Beef.

The chef showdown was one highlight of the 10th annual Taste of St. Louis, which took place in its new Chesterfield location for the first time. In addition events like Sauce Magazine’s Restaurant Row, the Art & Wine Walk and Kid City, this year’s Taste also included ticketed events that featured Food Network chef’s Tyler Florence and Duff Goldman.

Taste co-director and marketing director K Sonderegger said an estimated 250,000 people attended the three-day event, on par with attendance rates in years past, and called it a great success. “Moving the event to Chesterfield wasn’t exactly starting over, but it was a new event in some ways,” she said. “I’m happy to say the enthusiasm we have had at our past downtown events followed us here to Chesterfield.”


Sauce Magazine is a sponsor of Taste of St. Louis.


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