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Aug 22, 2014
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The Scoop

The Scoop: SugarfirePie to open in Olivette

Thursday, August 21st, 2014


{Carolyn Downs of soon-to-open Sugarfire Pie}

Desserts are taking center stage at Sugarfire Smoke House’s latest venture set to open this October in Olivette – a sweets-centric storefront showcasing the pies and treats of co-owner and long-time pastry chef Carolyn Downs. As initially reported by Feast Magazine, Sugarfire Pie will be located in the former space of L’Ecole Culinare Academy at 9200 Olive Blvd., which happens to be a mere two doors down from the original Sugarfire Smoke House.

Sugarfire co-owner Mike Johnson said Sugarfire Pie is a solution to the cramped conditions and growing demands Downs has faced while baking in the Olivette kitchen. “We have such little space, and we’re cooking there 24 hours a day,” said Johnson, who estimates that Downs bakes roughly 500 pies a week and a few hundred cookies each day.

Downs, who also owns and bakes at the dessert-driven Cyrano’s in Webster Groves, plans to capitalize on the new space by adding to her repertoire of decadent creations. Alongside her infamous crack pie (a pie we love so much that it made our list of 10 Pies to Try) and chocolate chip cookies studded with flakes of smoked sea salt, Downs plans to churn out soft serve chocolate and vanilla custard that will be topped with everything from crumbled slices of pie and cake to Sugarfire’s own house-made bacon dipped in chocolate.

Downs’ lineup of pies will come in all shapes and sizes, including pop tarts, hand pies, gooey butter pies and whoopie pies. She also plans to offer Cyrano’s bread pudding, a cake of the week and a variety of cookies.

Inside Sugarfire Pie, an open kitchen will allow guests to watch as Downs and her team mix, roll and bake their creations. Johnson estimates about 16 seats and said the shop will be decked out in a 1950s motif with an eclectic spirit similar to Sugarfire Smoke House. Expect to see retro TV sets, tile mosaics and plenty of vintage mid-century décor.

Sugarfire Pie will be open daily for dine-in or carryout service and will offer online ordering. Specific hours have yet to be determined.

The Scoop: St. Louis pastry chefs win TLC’s ‘Next Great Baker’

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014



Al Watson and Lia Weber are finally able to announce their big news: They have earned the title “Next Great Baker” from season four of TLC’s reality show of the same name. The finale episode aired last night, Aug. 19, when they beat nine other teams and emerged victorious with their final cake design — a 4-foot-tall red Japanese pagoda with a cherry tree branch covered in blossoms.

Weber said her emotions were running high during the taping of the final episode in April. “Every emotion you can image was going through my mind at the moment,” she said. “I was already crying and when I realized I had won, I fell to the ground. When I opened my eyes and my entire family was there, whom I hadn’t seen in two months.”

Watson and Weber met while working at Wedding Wonderland in Florissant. Weber is now the pastry chef at Hendel’s Market Café and has launched her own specialty dessert company, Made. by Lia. Watson, who is general manager and wedding cake decorator at Wedding Wonderland, said the whole experience was an amazing surprise. “The ride was remarkable, and to actually win the entire thing was beyond what I could have ever expected,” he said.

Weber and Watson will split the $100,000 award. As for the other prize, a potential opportunity to bake at Buddy Valastro’s new bakery at The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, they are still waiting on final details before they make a decision.

If you missed the Next Great Baker” finale, the show will be rebroadcast at 8 and 10 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 26.

The Scoop: Riverbend to move to former Harvest space in Richmond Heights

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014


Riverbend Restaurant & Bar is taking it New Orleans fare to Richmond Heights. Owner Sam Kogos has signed the lease for 1059 Big Bend Blvd., the former location of Harvest Restaurant. He hopes to make the move in early October.

Kogos has kept his eyes open for another location for about a year, citing logistical issues with a tiny kitchen in his 95-year-old building at 701 Utah St., in Soulard. “My building has a lot of issues,” Kogos explained. “My kitchen is so small that I’m really having trouble getting out the food that we have right now.”

The new location has a full industrial kitchen including a range, hood, fryer and walk-in cooler that will allow Riverbend’s executive chef Steve Daney and Kogos to expand the menu. “I’m going to be able to do so much more stuff I can’t do now,” said Kogos, who hopes to add a fresh fish option, charbroiled oysters, fried fish and more to his menu.

Kogos said the Richmond Heights location, which will add about 20 extra seats to his current capacity, will also have more exposure than the Soulard location, currently dwarfed behind the massive expanse of the Anheuser-Busch brewery. With increased traffic, Kogos said he will be able to accept reservations and open on Sundays with the possibility of a jazz brunch. He also wants to accept Bear Bucks from Washington University students and add a late-night menu to lure the hungry college crowd.

Riverbend, which opened in 2010, is the second restaurant for Kogos; he ran another spot in New Orleans for years before Hurricane Katrina. He hopes his Soulard-based patrons will head to Big Bend for a bite to eat, but he added that 60 to 70 percent of his business currently comes from St. Louis County. “There’s a lot of people in the Soulard area already serving my type of food,” he said. “Where I’m going, nobody is serving my type of food.”

-photo by Wesley Law

The Scoop: The Libertine’s Josh Galliano to cook at James Beard House

Thursday, August 14th, 2014


Heads up, New York: Josh Galliano is headed to the James Beard House. The executive chef and co-owner of The Libertine will prepare a five-course menu in this hallowed kitchen on Oct. 17, an honor granted to only a few St. Louis area chefs over the years.

The theme of Galliano’s dinner, Along the Mighty Mississippi, will highlight the unique food cultures that developed, merged and evolved for centuries along the Mississippi River’s banks. “(Beard House) asks you to come up with a dinner that reflects you and (that) you’re going to be proud of,” Galliano said. “We live in St. Louis, and we have our feet still in New Orleans. That connection to the Mississippi is more than just the drive. You see it in the community and culture, and you see it a lot in food tradition.”

The New Orleans native has written a menu that includes dishes like Southern vegetables with guanciale powder, green goddess dressing and crab-stuffed zucchini flowers; hay-roasted coppa with pickled collards, field beans, and sprouted wheat berries; and whole-roasted lamb with fried cauliflower purée, piquillo peppers and coffee-infused olive oil. Many of his dishes and hors d’oeuvres will be paired with St. Louis-area wines, beers such as Schalfly and Perennial and Kaldi’s coffee.

“Those are the people who have been supporting me and what I’ve done and what The Libertine has done for a long time,” Galliano said. “It’s also a way of showing the heritage of the food and showcasing what’s going in St. Louis, in our region, and (that’s) very much a part of the theme, too.”

Want to catch Galliano in action? If you can’t book that flight to New York, just head to The Libertine on the big night. A webcam installed in the Beard House kitchen will live-stream the chef in action at a special happy hour event at the Clayton restaurant. Galliano said he hopes to host the same meal here at home after the event for loyal customers and friends to get a taste, too.


The Scoop: Bissinger’s The Caramel Room nabs Nick Miller as chef

Thursday, August 14th, 2014



Nick Miller, former chef-owner of the recently shuttered Harvest has been hired as executive chef for The Caramel Room at Bissinger’s. The Caramel Room is a private event space situated on the top floor of the chocolate company’s new downtown location at 1600 N. Broadway, scheduled to open Sept. 29.

“The day I found out Harvest was closing, I called him (Miller),” said Amanda Little, director of events for 23 City Blocks, management company for The Caramel Room and Lumen event space, which it acquired in late July. After an interview and a seven-course tasting, the chef was offered the position. “We want a chef that can have our guests feeling as if they were at a culinary restaurant,” she said.

The Caramel Room will be used for weddings, corporate events and other private parties. The 13,000-square-foot space features large, warehouse-style windows that give way to a flood of natural light and sights of the downtown skyline, plus an outdoor terrace that offers views of the Mississippi River. “It’s modern but not over the top,” Little said.

While menus will be tailor-made for guests, chocolate-inspired offerings will be a focus at The Caramel Room. “We’re a working chocolate factory,” she said. “We want to infuse chocolate in our menu.”

As the 23 City Blocks team prepares to open, the rest of the four-story building is bustling with activity as Bissinger’s relocates its headquarters and local manufacturing operations from 3983 Gratiot St.

“We’re in the throes of moving the operation now,” said Dave Owens, Bissinger’s vice president of taste and chief chocolatier. Owens said the company would vacate the building by the end of August and production will commence at the new location as early as next week.



The Scoop: Urban Eats opens second location downtown at St. Louis Public Library

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014


Devour more than books when you visit St. Louis Public Library downtown. Urban Eats Café Central celebrates its grand opening today, Aug. 12, in the west wing of the SLPL’s central branch at 1301 Olive St.

The cafe is the second Urban Eats location. Its sister spot sits at 3301 Meramec St., in the Dutchtown neighborhood. Urban Eats is known for fresh, healthy food and beverage options. The menu at the new location will be similar, but more limited in scope to that in Dutchtown, according to Caya Aufiero, who opened Urban Eats in 2008 with husband, John Chen. Look for salads, sandwiches, a couple flatbreads (bacon and pepperoni or sweet-spicy goat cheese), hummus and sweet treats like scones, muffins and a gluten-free/vegan lemon bar. Smoothies, teas, espresso and coffee drinks are all in the beverage lineup.

Urban Eats Café Central is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Scoop: Heritage BBQ by Cochon returns to St. Louis Sept. 14

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014


{From left, Blackberry Farm’s Michael Sullivan, 2013 Cochon competing chefs Fabrizio Schenardi, Gerard Craft, SPQR’s Matthew Accarrino, Kevin Willmann, Kevin Nashan and Cochon founder Brady Lowe}


Pork lovers, rejoice! Heritage BBQ by Cochon is returning to St. Louis this year. The national tour that celebrates heritage breed hogs will take place Sept. 14 at the Four Seasons Hotel-St. Louis. Cochon founder Brady Lowe brought his Heritage BBQ to town for the first time last year, and his 2014 ‘cue fest is set to be even bigger.

The main attraction at the event is a whole hog barbecue competition. Five area chefs will each cook up a 200-pound heritage breed swine to create six dishes judged by a panel of local industry professionals. The lineup of competing chefs is: Gian Nicola Colucci (executive chef, Four Seasons – St. Louis), Eric Heath (chef and co-owner, Cleveland-Heath), Patrick Connolly (executive chef, Basso), Josh Galliano (chef and co-owner, The Libertine) and Lou Rook III (executive chef, Annie Gunn’s).

But the pig-crazed can dine on more than competition barbecue. New this year is Barbecue Traditions, during which area meat moguls will serve a dish exemplifying their take on barbecue paired with wines, bbers or spirits. Look for Mike Emerson of Pappy’s Smokehouse and Chris Bolyard of soon-to-open Bolyard Meat & Provisions to be among those educating eaters on barbecue culture. Other food attractions will include a pop-up butcher shop featuring Andrew Jennrich of soon-to-open The Butchery, a tartare bar with edible delights by Creekstone Farms, a cheese spread by Rogue Creamery and ice cream from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams.

Even though there will be pound upon pound of tender, juicy meat prepared every which way, libations aren’t an afterthought. Festival-goers will can partake in top-tier bourbons, Crispin ciders, wines, mezcals and Goose Island beers, including its rare Bourbon County brews.

VIP tickets are $200 and include a 4 p.m. early admission, as well as access to reserve wines and spirits. General admission tickets are $100; tickets available online.

Sauce Magazine is a sponsor of this event.

The Scoop: Former Riddles owner KT Ayers now executive chef at Purple Martin

Friday, August 8th, 2014



KT Ayers is back at what she was born to do. Three weeks ago, she joined The Purple Martin as executive chef, and she’s set to launch a new menu Thursday, Aug. 14, which will double the restaurant’s offerings.

Food at The Purple Martin, which opened in this spring at 2800 S. Shenandoah Ave., is inspired by flavors from the northern and southern Mediterranean. Ayers said she and owner Brooke Roseberry, a long-time Fox Park resident, wanted to serve interesting but accessible food that appeals to destination diners as well as neighborhood families.

New dishes to debut on the menu include:

• Mischa Fish Stew, a hearty, Moroccan-inspired curry with three types of onions, carrots, tuna, white fish, lemon and orange served over Israeli couscous.
• Hindia’s Plate: Roasted potatoes tossed in berberé paste (an Ethiopian spice blend), braised green lentils, gomen (sauteed cabbage and greens) and a fresh tomato salad topped with a chopped hard-boiled egg.
• Roasted chicken: boneless, skinless chicken breast rubbed with thyme, roasted and served over wilted spinach, drizzled with pomegranate molasses and served with a goat cheese fritter coated in pistachios and pine nuts.

Ayers was previously the chef-owner of Riddle’s Penultimate Cafe & Wine Bar in The Loop, which her parents opened in 1985. She took over in 2007, but the restaurant didn’t weather the recession and closed in 2010. After Riddles, Ayers worked for two years as a line cook for a high-end steak and chop house in Chesterfield Valley.

Ayers said her background at Riddles taught her the value of sourcing locally and thinking on her feet. It’s this dedication that sparks ideas like making an abundance of dill and creating dressings, paste, sauces and compound butter and a quick bread with Schlafly Pale Ale for The Purple Martin.



The Scoop: Social Gastropub to open in Edwardsville, Friar Tuck Beverage and HotShots break ground

Thursday, August 7th, 2014




Another month, yet another new restaurant coming to Edwardsville, this one in the former Shenanigans Bar and Grill space on Route 157. Social Gastropub will join Edwardsville newbies Cunetto’s, Unkle Munkey’s, Stur and soon-to-open Gulf Shores, alongside town staples like Cleveland-Heath and Peel.

Co-owner Mike Graber said the restaurant’s second location is set to open Sept. 17 at 2 157 Center. Graber, who is originally from Fairview Heights, Illinois, now lives in Perrysburg, Ohio, where he owns the flagship Social Gastropub with Bruce Gradkowski, backup quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Steelers wide receiver Lance Moore.

Why Edwardsville? Graber said it’s an up-and-coming foodie town. “People are coming to Edwardsville from St. Louis to eat,” he said. Thirty craft beers will be on tap, and other beverage offerings include 30 wines and bourbon flights (with 100 choices). Like the Perrysburg location, Social Gastropub’s menu will change every two months. “We change 75 percent of the menu,” he said, describing the fare as “comfort food with a twist.”

Dishes include a fried bologna sandwich (bologna, aged white cheddar, a medium egg and pickled red onion on a brioche bun), egg salad sandwiches made with avocado, and a one of Graber’s personal favorites, Baja fish tacos made with a salmon fillet, smoked jalapeno-cilantro cream, avocado, sweet-and-sour coleslaw, sea salt and parsley fries.

Social Gastopub also offers a signature build-your-own mac-n-cheese dish that begins with cavatappi noodles doused in a base of 25-year aged white cheddar and eight other cheeses. Forty toppings are offered, including lobster, shrimp, pork belly, Sriracha, pesto and fried plantains. Graber’s 10-year-old son Harrison invented one of the most popular topping combos – buffalo sauce and chorizo. Another favorite is lobster and truffle oil topped with herb breadcrumbs.

Chef Jeff Dinnebeil, who most recently served as sous chef at Spiaggia in Chicago, will helm the kitchen, and Graber said food will be sourced from Sunfarm Foods in St. Louis, Behrmann Meats in Alberts, Illinois, and Companion in St. Louis.

In other Edwardsville food news, HotShots Sports Bar and Grill has broken ground for its 14th location on Route 157 near Edison’s Entertainment Complex. Jason Durnett, director of franchise development, said the Edwardsville location is slated to open in October or November.

Friar Tuck Beverage is also building a store on Goshen Road next to Target in Edwardsville. The liquor store has eight other locations, including Crestwood, Fenton and O’Fallon, Missouri. General manager Mark Maskey said its wide selection of beer, wine and liquor will be the same as other locations, and it is slated to open sometime next year.



The Scoop: Neapolitan pizzeria Pizzeoli set to open in Soulard

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014



Neapolitan pizza fans can soon get their fix in Soulard when pizza enthusiast Scott Sandler opens Pizzeoli in early to mid-November. Located at 1928 S. 12th St., Pizzeoli will specialize in traditional Neapolitan pies cooked in the restaurant’s 800-degree wood-burning oven. “It’s sort of an art,” he said. “It’s my favorite type of pizza. It’s the original pizza.”

Sandler will also serve as the head chef. Pizzeoli is his first foray into the restaurant industry, but he said he has cooked pizzas at home for more than 10 years. Next week, he flies to Los Angeles to train at Accademia della Pizza Napoletana run by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, an international nonprofit dedicated to teaching the art of traditional Neapolitan pizza-making.

Pizzeoli’s small menu will reflect the simple, traditional offerings at pizzerias in Naples, including a classic Margherita with house-made mozzarella, basil and tomato sauce. Sandler also hopes to carry one or two vegan-friendly options and is currently on the hunt for a vegan mozzarella substitute. To cap off the dining experience, Italian wines and local craft beers and Budweiser will be served.

The new space, formerly Arcelia’s Mexican, will seat approximately 25 people inside and 30 people outside. He believes Pizzeoli will fill a void in St. Louis city for high quality pizza. “It just happened to be the location that clicked and just everything worked,” he said. “And I’m really happy to be there because it’s such a strong community and really supportive, even already.”



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