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Oct 30, 2014
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Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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The Scoop

The Scoop: Beverage director Patricia Wamhoff leaves The Restaurant at The Cheshire

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

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Patrons may notice a familiar face missing from The Restaurant at The Cheshire; beverage director Patricia Wamhoff left her position at the fine dining establishment about 10 days ago. “The best I can say is it was time to move on,” Wamhoff said.

Wamhoff had curated The Cheshire’s extensive wine lists since The Restaurant opened in November 2012. According to spokesperson Heather Strahorn, Lodging Hospitality Management president Steve O’Loughlin has no plans to replace Wamhoff at this time.

“Patricia has left to pursue other interests, and we wish her well,” O’Loughlin said in a statement. “We are thankful for her contributions and for the many awards she has earned creating the excellent wine program at The Cheshire.”

The certified advanced sommelier said while she does not yet know her next move, she has no intention to leave St. Louis. “Obviously I have a great love for the restaurant business and being on the floor, and I also have a great love for wine education,” Wamhoff said. “There’s a lot of really great creative things going on (in St. Louis), and the desire and passion to learn more about wine …  There’s lots to do here in St. Louis, and I’m really excited to be a part of that.”

 -photo by Ashley Gieseking

The Scoop: Tazé Mediterranean Street Food to open downtown

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

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{A rendering of the interior at Tazé Mediterranean Street Food}

The Mercantile Exchange building will soon welcome Tazé Mediterranean Street Food downtown at 626 Washington Ave., Ste. 103.

Calling it a “fast-style Mediterranean” concept serving wraps, salads and other Mediterranean-inspired foods, Tazé co-owner Casey Roth said the restaurant plans to open in January or February 2015. Roth is partnering with his brother, Justin Roth, and their father, Steve Roth. Though the family has no prior restaurant experience, it has tapped Matt Borchardt, former culinary director at L’Ecole Culinaire, to serve as chef consultant while the menu is being developed and to oversee the restaurant’s first few months.

“We’ve been lucky to travel the world,” said Casey Roth. “Through different relationships (we have) in Turkey, Spain and other countries … We look forward to creating something fun for the St. Louis area.”

At Tazé, the Turkish word for “fresh,” diners will file down an ordering line, selecting a bread (pita or laffa) and a filling, such as chicken shawarma, steak gyro or pork kebab, all cooked in tandoor ovens on display behind a glass partition. Next, diners choose from six flavors of hummus and around a dozen toppings, such as tabbouleh and lentil salad. Falafel and portobello mushrooms will also be available as vegetarian options.

The Roths have contracted SPACE Architecture + Design to oversee the interior construction of the space, which will seat 115. Though lunchtime customers will pay at the counter, Roth said the concept also plans to target the happy hour and dinner crowds, switching to table service in the evenings. The bar program will offer up eight beers on tap, many of them local, Roth said, and a wine list is currently in development.

Borchardt and Justin Roth left the country this week for a culinary research tour of the Mediterranean region and were unavailable for comment.

The Scoop: Ben Poremba, United Provisions terminate contract for Dining District

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

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{United Provisions raw bar chef Naomi Hamamura, Ben Poremba, executive chef Tudor Seserman, and head of development Shayn Prapaisilp on Aug. 7 just before opening}

 

Restaurateur Ben Poremba is no longer managing operations at United Provisions’ Dining District, the prepared food and restaurant component inside the new grocery store at 6241 Delmar Blvd., in The Loop.

Store owner Suchin Prapaisilp contracted Concepts in Food (an arm of Poremba’s parent company Bengelina Hospitality Group) to manage and operate the prepared food and food service at the coffee shop, sushi, deli counter and Dining District’s dinner service when United Provisions opened in August. Poremba also placed five employees in managerial positions there.

Two months later, the businessmen came to a crossroads. “Although we have a lot of respect for one another, our styles of management, expectations, the way they we do things and run our businesses is very different,” Poremba said. “It just made sense for us to separate.”

The contract officially ends Nov. 1. “Sometimes things don’t pan out,” said Shayn Prapaisilp, head of development for United Provisions. “We have a great respect for one another. With this particular move, it wasn’t working out for both of us. For business reasons, we decided to go our separate ways.”

Poremba’s managerial team, including raw bar chef Naomi Hamamura and executive chef Tudor Seserman, will also leave the Dining District. “(Seserman) will for sure stay with me (at Elaia),” Poremba said. “Hama is sort of up in the air. There’s a lot to figure out.”

Prapaisilp is currently reconcepting the Dining District’s future. “Nothing is decided as of yet. We will be keeping the sushi, but the other elements I can’t comment on,” he said.

Prapaisilp said managers from sister restaurants King and I, Oishi Sushi and Steakhouse in Chesterfield Valley and Oishi Sushi in Creve Coeur will join the team at United Provisions to run Dining District in the immediate future. “We want to make sure there is no interruption on the Dining District side.”

 

The Scoop: Athlete Eats’ Simon Lusky aims for a hat trick with second location, new concept and food truck

Monday, October 27th, 2014

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Baseball season may be almost over, but Athlete Eats owner Simon Lusky isn’t slowing down. Now that the Cardinals team chef is in the off-season, Lusky announced plans for rapid expansion of the Athlete Eats brand with a second location in Brentwood, a food truck and another restaurant concept.

Athlete Eats opened its brick-and-mortar cafe at 2837 Cherokee St. in February 2014, specializing in health-focused eats, fresh-squeezed juices, smoothies and even house-made kombucha on tap. The small cafe also provided a bigger kitchen for Lusky to expand his prepared meal delivery service. Now, less than a year after opening, Lusky said he has found a second location in Brentwood to debut in spring 2015. “We really like Cherokee, and it was a great place for us to start, but we have so many customers coming from that way,” he said. “We wanted to be more accessible.”

The new location (the address will be announced in the coming weeks) will initially offer the same menu as the flagship location, but with 1,200 square feet and a patio, the new Athlete Eats will seat 50, more than four times the capacity of the first. Lusky said he hopes to expand menu options at the Brentwood location and plans to offer daily breakfast and later nighttime hours.

But for those who can’t make it to either spot, Athlete Eats may just come to them. The Athlete Eats food truck is slated to roll out in early 2015 to add more fast-casual healthy options downtown, as well as at special events like marathons and cycling races. Athlete Eats kitchen manager Beth Ruble will helm the mobile eatery.

And if that weren’t enough, Lusky has his sights set on Clayton to debut another health-conscious restaurant concept with a fine-dining bent.  He’s particularly excited to design a bar program featuring local or organic beers and wines and cocktails made with fresh squeezed juice or kombucha. “We really want our presence to be felt in St. Louis and in other areas of the city,” Lusky said. “I’m only 26 years old, and I feel like let’s go for it now while I have the energy.”

-photo by Ashley Gieseking

 

The Scoop: Juniper chef de cuisine Ryan McDonald to join Truffles Restaurant and Butchery

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

The meat case is filled with various cuts of locally and regionally sourced beef, pork, lamb and chicken.

{The meat case at Truffles Butchery}

 

After a year as chef de cuisine at Juniper, Ryan McDonald is joining the team at Truffles and Butchery as executive sous chef.

It’s a reunion of sorts. McDonald worked briefly at Truffles before he took the position at Juniper, and he has previously worked with Truffles executive chef Brandon Benack, sous chef Israel Rodriguez and general manger and wine director, Aleksander Jovanovic at Hubert Keller’s former steakhouse Sleek.

McDonald will man Butchery two days a week, assisting head butcher Andrew Jennrich in the newly opened shop. The remainder of his time will be spent helping Benack to expand and rework menu items at Truffles. “He’s definitely going to have plenty of freedom and room to bring his own touch to the menu,” Jovanovic said. “Both Brandon and Ryan have very deep backgorunds in Southern cooking.”

“I’m excited to be able to collaborate and renovate the menu,” McDonald said. “I’m especially excited about the charcuterie and getting my hands on butchering whole cows.” Truffles’ Butchery specializes in whole-animal butchery sourcing from local and regional farms. The shop also sells house-made side dishes and condiments and offers a sandwich menu.

McDonald said his time at Juniper taught him skills essential to taking on a leadership role in the kitchen. “Juniper is the first place where I was able to take the reins and have freedom to cook the food that I wanted to cook,” he said. “(Juniper) helped me develop and mature into more of a chef than a cook.”

Juniper chef-owner John Perkins said he could not comment on who would replace McDonald at his Central West End establishment, but that his former CDC’s talents would serve him well at Truffles. “Obviously Ryan was really important to the growth of Juniper over the past year, and I expect that he’s going to do very well at Truffles and into the future, whatever that ends up looking like,” he said.

Editor’s Note: This article was updated at 5 p.m. Oct. 23 with a comment from Juniper chef-owner John Perkins.

The Scoop: Cooper’s Legendary American Pub opens in St. Charles

Friday, October 17th, 2014

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The heat is rising in St. Charles as Cooper’s Legendary American Pub settles in downtown. The new eatery opened Tuesday, Oct. 14 at 140 N. Main St., replacing Eros Eclectic Greek Taverna, which closed Aug. 18. First-time restaurant owners Bill and Jeanne Komlose and Lori Schneider took over the space and introduced a new menu that gives new meaning to the term hot wings.

“We’re bringing out the wings and setting them on fire right in front of the customer, flambé style,” Bill Komlose said. In addition to this firey dish, Cooper’s will offer other “elevated bar food,” including a white cheddar mac-n-cheese topped with fried spinach, shrimp poached in a Guiness broth and burgers topped with custom butters. Whipping up this new pub grub is 20-year-veteran chef John Nunley, who Komlose said essentially came with the building. Nunley was the chef at Eros for the last two years and agreed to man the helm at Cooper’s. Joining him as sous chef is Le Cordon Blue graduate Patrick Kelley.

A full bar features 11 beers on draft, including local favorites like Urban Chestnut and 4 Hands, as well as more options in bottle. Patrons can also choose from an evolving wine list and full liquor selection. Cooper’s can seat 50 inside and another 40 on the patio, a key factor point when they owners chose the space. “What sold me on this place was the patio,” Komlose said. “People say it’s the best patio on Main Street. It is well landscaped and has great river views.”

Cooper’s Legendary American Pub is open Monday and Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1:30 a.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The Scoop: Chef Bob Brazell launches catering business, revamps The Corner Cup menu

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

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Chef Bob Brazell, former executive chef at Athlete Eats, has recently launched Snack STL, a catering business that will also offer the occasional pop-up dinner. Brazell said he hopes to collaborate with other local chefs and food purveyors, and menus will vary widely depending on the event.  “I enjoy cooking everything from Southern to Korean to Thai to Mexican,” Brazell said.

At Athlete Eats, Brazell created clean, low-carb, high-energy foods as the restaurant’s executive chef. Before that he cooked at Entre, Monarch and Niche and worked as a personal chef to professional athletes like Sam Bradford.

Brazell also plans to consult for area restaurants, beginning with a new menu at The Corner Cup in Dogtown that focuses on specific dietary needs and lifestyles. The rotating menu has lots of vegan, vegetarian and paleo choices using only locally sourced meats. Diners can also build their own burritos, omelets and breakfast sandwiches.

“We have a really great group of regulars now, and we’re interested in driving people here from all over St. Louis who are interested in quality and locally sourced food,” said Joe Buechler, general manager at The Corner Cup.

New menu highlights include apple-cinnamon French toast topped with caramelized apples and candied walnuts and drizzled with a coconut milk-horchata glaze, paleo pumpkin pancakes topped with toasted cashews and a coconut maple glaze, and a breakfast meatloaf made from grass-fed beef and topped with an egg from Cock and Bull Farms.

The Corner Cup chef Sean Gibson phased in the new menu two weeks ago, served 7 a.m. to noon Thursday through Monday. One staple that won’t change is Buechler’s house-made granola bars, packed with nuts, dried fruit, peanut butter, honey, toasted oats and a vegan protein. The Corner Cup has also added catering, delivering “meetings to go,” with coffee and pastries, and Buechler said he will soon add hot onsite breakfasts as well.

-photo by Greg Rannells

 

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

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

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{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: Former exec chef at The Nest Chris Vomund joins culinary team at Herbie’s

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

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Herbie’s Vintage 72 is seeing changes to its kitchen crew. Chris Vomund will join the team at the CWE restaurant Oct. 14. He will initially assume the position of chef de cuisine, but Herbie’s owner Aaron Teitelbaum said the goal is for Vomund to become the restaurant’s executive chef, replacing chef Chris Ladley, who left Herbie’s in September. Teitelbaum called Vomund “a solid cook” whose style suits the classical French cuisine at Herbie’s.

Previously, Vomund was executive chef at The Nest in Frontenac. Upon its closure this summer, he took an interim position as sous chef at 1111 Mississippi. His 12 years of restaurant experience also includes working as kitchen manager at Pi in the CWE, helping to open the Pi carryout location in Chesterfield and managing the kitchen at Hard Rock Cafe at Union Station.

“I’m looking forward to taking classical French and maybe incorporating a little of the great farm-fresh stuff we have in the Midwest,” Vomund said of his new position.

As for Ladley, who ran the kitchen at Herbie’s since March 2013, he has joined chef Rick Lewis’ culinary brigade at Quincy Street Bistro. In addition, he is butchering for The Block. “I spend my Wednesdays breaking down lots of pigs and Fridays doing the same thing with beef,” Ladley said. “It’s nice to have a life again and see my fiancee.”

The Scoop: The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis names new pastry chef

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

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{Pasty chef Brielle Fratellone and “Lucy,” her life-size pastry wedding dress}

 

It’s a sweet homecoming for Brielle Fratellone, new pastry chef at The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis. The hotel recently announced that Fratellone joined executive chef Melissa Lee in August, replacing chef Nathaniel Reid who worked in the hotel’s pastry program since April 2013.

Originally from the Midwest, Fratellone became enamored with pastry while working as a cake decorator in a grocery store. After winning a James Beard scholarship in 2007, she attended the Culinary Institute of America and upon graduation began working in some notable Florida hotels and resorts, including The Breakers in Palm Beach, Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort in Amelia Island and most recently at the famed, exclusive Everglades Club in Palm Beach.

“Her creativity is helping us as a team,” Lee said. “Her leadership style is excellent, innovative and creative. When I talk about staying relevant, I talk about Brielle.”

Fratellone said she is glad to be back in the Midwest and is excited to build on current trends like deconstructing desserts and to take existing flavor combinations like sea salt and chocolate to a new level. “I want to bring modern influence to the luxury desserts we already serve,” she said.

As pastry chef, Fratellone is responsible for more than just the dessert menu. She and pastry cook Laura Cottler spent more than 96 hours planning and executing a life-size wedding dress made entirely of pastry elements for The Ritz-Carlton’s reopening of its grand ballroom. Fratellone is now hard at work creating another “out-of-the-box” holiday creation scheduled to be unveiled in the hotel lobby Nov. 28.

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