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Archive for July, 2014

The Scoop: Stephan Schubert wins ACF Pastry Chef of the Year

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

It’s a big week for River City Casino executive pastry chef Stephan Schubert, who was just named the National Winner in the American Culinary Federation’s 2014 Pastry Chef of the Year Award competition, standing out among over a dozen regional competitors and three other national finalists.

Schubert, who oversees the bread and pastry program at River City, applied to compete last fall. A judging panel reviewed a pool of several dozen applications from the Central region before selecting four finalists, including Schubert. The finalists squared off in the regional competition, held in St. Louis in March. (The Central region includes Missouri and 14 other states in the Midwest and South.)

After winning their respective regional competitions, Schubert and three other chefs from around the U.S. advanced to the ACF National Convention in Kansas City from July 25 to 29.

At the convention, Pastry Chef award finals consisted of a timed exhibition-style competition, in which contestants were given two and a half hours to create a cold-plated dessert that used cherries and pistachios, a showpiece and a signature cookie. The competition’s theme changes annually – this year, it was The Wizard of Oz.

“I wanted to do something that really showed my skills, to represent myself and my style of cooking,” said Schubert. “I wanted to set myself apart.”

He started with a traditional éclair “with a modern twist,” creating his own chocolate from fresh cacao beans and topping the éclair with cherry mousse. A from-scratch pistachio ice cream, colored with Matcha green tea, was served alongside it. A cardamom-flavored meringue rounded out the dish.

Next, Schubert devised an elaborate all-chocolate showpiece in homage to Oz. His was a darker interpretation of the story, complete with a molded chocolate tornado and gnarled yellow brick road.

“I wanted to focus on the bad things: the tornado, the poppy field, the witch,” he said.

For the cookie stage, he sandwiched milk chocolate ganache between two orange cookies and topped them with passion fruit jelly.

“What he was able to produce in that two and a half hours was fantastic,” said Darrin Aoyama, chair of the judging panel for the Pastry Chef category and executive pastry chef at River Oaks Country Club in Houston, Texas. “(The showpiece) had a high degree of difficulty and high degree of artistry to it.

“We were really impressed with his work,” he added. “He was well organized, managed his apprentices really well and had great focus.”

In addition to the Pastry Chef of the Year title, Schubert was awarded $5,000 for his win.

Since age 16, Schubert has led a distinguished career as a pastry chef, having previously worked in his native Germany, Switzerland, Greece and, for a time, on a Cunard Cruise Line ship. Before moving to St. Louis, he was an assistant pastry chef at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. He then worked as the executive pastry chef at Ameristar Casino in St. Charles for seven years before taking the top job at River City.

He cited the vibrant culinary scene in St. Louis as an under-the-radar nexus of good food. “It’s a big city, but it’s also really small. And underrated.” He added that this keeps him motivated.

“I’m trying to challenge myself to be better,” he said.

-photos courtesy of the American Culinary Federation

Readers’ Choice 2014: Pappy’s Smokehouse – Favorite Barbecue

Thursday, July 31st, 2014


Just what does it take to deliver the internationally acclaimed Memphis-style (with a St. Louis twist) ribs, pulled pork and brisket to the daily throngs at Pappy’s Smokehouse? Owner Mike Emerson lays it all out, by the numbers.

5 smokers: Walter, Big Ron and LeRoy, plus two new ones, Waino and Porkey LaFarge
6 years since Pappy’s opened its doors in 2008
6 to 8 local meat producers sourced from Missouri, Illinois and Iowa
4,000 pounds of pork smoked daily
14 to 18 hours to slow smoke pork over apple or cherry wood
30 minutes average wait time in line
Nearly 60 employees keeping Pappy’s running daily
14,000 gallons of barbecue sauce produced last year
82,650 pounds of sweet potato fries made last year
Around 400 rib slabs smoked a day
27,000 bottles of Fitz’s root beer sold last year
360,000 customer hands shaken by Emerson and 10,400 pretty ladies hugged last year (He aims to beat that this year)

Find out who else you voted your favorites in St. Louis. Click here to see all our Readers’ Choice winners.

-photo by Greg Rannells

The Scoop: Chris DiMercurio to helm Ben Poremba’s Old Standard

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014



Ben Poremba’s hotly anticipated fried chicken spot now has a chef on the roster. Chris DiMercurio confirmed today via text message that he will be “running the kitchen” as chef at Poremba’s Old Standard, as first reported by St. Louis Magazine.

DiMercurio, who has worked in the kitchens at Taste, Vino Nadoz, and most recently Element, was mum about further details about his role at the new space in the Botanical Heights neighborhood, slated to open in mid-September. Poremba did not immediately return request for comment.

Old Standard is just one of many projects Poremba has his hands involved with around town. In addition to Elaia, Olio, Salume Beddu and La Patisserie Choquette, Poremba is also a partner at United Provisions, an international grocery store, on track to open Aug. 11 in The Loop on the street level of Washington University’s new student housing complex. His interest in tapping local chefs extends there, too, having recently brought Naomi Hamamura, formerly of Wasabi, to United to helm the raw bar.



The Scoop: Taste of St. Louis to bring in Food Network chefs

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014


{From left, chefs Tyler Florence and Duff Goldman}

Taste of St. Louis recently announced that Food Network chefs Tyler Florence of Food Court Wars and The Great Food Truck Race and Duff Goldman of Aces of Cakes fame, will make appearances at its 10th annual festival, as reported by Alive Magazine. Both chefs will participate in 45-minute showcases, including interactive cooking demos, at the Chesterfield Amphitheater during the three-day festival.

These events, along with the Grand Tasting on Sunday, Sept. 21, are new, ticketed additions to Taste of St. Louis, which announced its relocation from downtown St. Louis to Chesterfield in March. K Sonderegger, Taste co-director and marketing director, said the new space allowed for bigger events like this to take place. “We wanted to do something really big and go really food-centric,” she said.  “Bringing that kind of talent is so expensive, so we wanted to make sure we had a place where everyone could actually enjoy seeing it.”

Florence will be in town Friday, Sept. 19, and Goldman hits the stage Saturday, Sept. 20. In addition to the chef showcases, tickets to the Chesterfield Amphitheater events will also include local culinary talent demos, live music acts and fireworks. Sonderegger also noted that there are still many free events to enjoy, including Sauce Magazine’s Restaurant Row, the Chef Battle Royale Culinary Competition, children’s activities, a wine walk and more.

-photos courtesy of Taste of St. Louis

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

Wheatless Wednesday: Raw Zucchini ‘Pad Thai’

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014



Traditional pad Thai is one of Thailand’s national dishes and is also a mainstay in many countries outside Southeast Asia. This rice noodle dish commonly features eggs and tofu, sometimes meat, and a variety of saucy, often processed ingredients

As I mentioned in my most recent post, the last two weeks have seen me feasting on only raw, plant-based food. This could seem limiting to many people, but it’s been a great catalyst for creativity in my kitchen. I’ve swapped my toaster oven, microwave and oven for a dehydrator, and my recent Blendtec purchase has changed my perspective on smoothies, whole juices and sauces. If you’re really dedicated, you could even purchase a high-powered juicer to equip the kitchen for a variety of raw food meals and treats (think raw “ice cream”).

This recipe is my attempt to “raw-itize” a universally loved sweet-and-sour dish that could entice any street food-lover in Thailand. I used my Spiralizer to make simple zucchini noodles quickly, but if you don’t have one you can shred them with a food processor or box grater.

In place of soy sauce, I use coconut aminos, a gluten-free substitute made from the sap of a coconut tree. It is much higher in nutritional content than soy sauce, and since it’s a raw product, it contains active enzymes that aid in digestion. You can find coconut aminos at Whole Foods.

Raw Zucchini “Pad Thai”
4 servings

2 extra large zucchinis
½ cup chopped broccoli florets
1 large carrot, shredded
Half a red pepper, cut into matchsticks
3 green onions, chopped
5 basil leaves, plus more for garnish
5 Tbsp. raw almond butter
1 large garlic clove
3 Tbsp. lime juice
2 Tbsp. coconut aminos*
4 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. raw honey
½-inch piece peeled ginger
1 Tbsp. extra virgin coconut oil
½ cup sunflower sprouts (or bean sprouts), for garnish
½ cup chopped raw cashews, for garnish
Mint for garnish
4 lime wedges for garnish

• Use a Spiralizer to make zucchini noodles or shred the zucchini with box grater or food processor. If shredding, let the zucchini sit in a colander to drain excess water 1 to 2 hours.
• In a large bowl, toss together the zucchini, broccoli, carrot, red pepper and green onion. Set aside.
• In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the basil, almond butter, garlic, lime, coconut aminos, water, honey, ginger and coconut oil until it becomes a very smooth sauce. Pour it over the vegetables and toss.
• Divide the pad Thai evenly among 4 plates. Garnish each with sprouts, cashews, mint, basil and a lime wedge.

*Coconut aminos are available at Whole Foods.

Chef Grams: Behind the scenes with #STL chefs, bartenders, farmers and more

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

We could scroll through Instagram all day, ogling food pics that make our mouths water and our stomachs growl. (We’ve even been known to share what we’re eating, drinking and cooking from time to time.) Some of your favorite St. Louis chefs, brewers, baristas, bartenders, farmers and more are sharing snaps of weird ingredients, funky creations and hilarious behind-the-scenes antics; here, some of our favorite moments shared this month:



From top left, Row 1: fernandezlisa25: From here on out, I would like to be referred to as the Pie Whisperer | farmhausstl: Someone is having fun in Pensacola | dirtygirlfarms: tending to mom & the #wallsofrosemary in califormia

Row 2: sbosborn: Beginning berry lemon verbena vinegar… Can’t wait. | natehereford: #science bringing broth making to the next level… #hairo | rickjlewis1: This is what happens when the garden is left unattended…:)

Row 3: nich2001: Oh yea | obiwandevoti: tomato booty #booty #tomato #heirloom #fivebistro #garden2table #juicybooty | clevelandheath: 63•Celcius Chicken Feet: Ginger, Garlic, Green Onion, Sesame, Nuoc Maam!

Row 4: phokingqui: Pho King magic potion mix! Toasted and ready | 4handsbrewingco: Let’s do this! #beercamptour #4handsbrewery #gocards | joshgalliano: Some mother got in with my rootbeer. We’ll see what happens


Should your favorite chef be on this list? Share their behind-the-scenes Instagrams with #saucechefgrams and follow @SauceMag for delicious insider photos, too!  


The Scoop (Updated): Annie Gunn’s, Balaban’s, Truffles earn international recognition for wine lists

Monday, July 28th, 2014



UPDATE: The Scoop has learned of another St. Louis restaurant that won top honors on the World’s Best Wine List. Truffles in Ladue earned three stars from The World of Fine Wine’s panel, putting its wine list alongside icons like Tom Colicchio’s Craft Restaurant and Thomas Keller’s Per Se and The French Laundry. Judges praised Truffles’ wine list as one that celebrated wine in all its iterations, from the classic to the obscure, stating on The World of Fine Wine’s website: “It’s one of those lists where those wines that may be considered esoteric are treated with equal respect to the established classics.”

Aleks Jovanovic, Truffles’ general manager and wine director, said the international honor was particularly appreciated since it was unsolicited. He added that only 225 out of 4,000 list-makers earned three out of three stars. “What we were really proud of was that they recognized that the diversity of the list, not just the volume,” he said, noting that Truffles wine list displays more than 1,500 labels. “To be recognized for it is very satisfying and kind of proof of your good work.”

Editor’s Note: This Scoop was updated on July 29. The original post appears below.

Your choice of vino at Annie Gunn’s and Balaban’s Wine Cellar and Tapas Bar now ranks among the world’s best, according to The World of Fine Wine magazine.

The London-based publication recently released its first World’s Best Wine List. The seven judges looked at 4,000 restaurants around the world and picked 750 to award one, two or three stars, with three being the best of the best. Both Annie Gunn’s and Balaban’s received two-star ratings. Glenn Bardgett, Annie Gunn’s wine director and Sauce contributor, said he was excited to be chosen.

“It’s our first international award, and it came out of nowhere,” he said. “They picked the restaurants to be judged. It’s a tremendous honor to be a restaurant in Missouri picked out by a panel of judges in London, not only for us but for Missouri, as well.”

Balaban’s managing partner Brian Underwood believes the more than 800 available labels at the restaurant and retail shop put Balaban’s list on The World of Fine Wine’s radar. “It’s always good to be recognized, and that’s certainly one of the better known international magazines,” he said. “I know when I travel I consult lists like that when I’m selecting places to go.”




Meatless Monday: Smoked Portobello Sandwich at Sugarfire Smoke House

Monday, July 28th, 2014



Frequenting a barbecue joint and attempting to eat meatless can seem like an exercise in futility. But if there’s ever a time to start murmuring your vegetarian hosannas, it’s while tucking in to the smoked portobello sandwich at Sugarfire Smoke House. The lone meatless entree on the menu, the sandwich at first feels a little like a sheepish afterthought, something the kitchen came up after realizing how much meat it puts in everything. But take a bite and be changed.

It’s not far off the mark to call this a spiffed-up fungiform Big Mac; according to head pitmaster Casey Jovick, that’s more or less what Sugarfire is reaching for. Two balsamic-marinated, smoked portobello are layered between a double-decker bun fresh from Fazio’s Bakery on The Hill. Huge marinated onions, shredded lettuce and sliced pickles are stuffed in between, and slices of American cheese laid over the mushrooms melt and mingle with the house-made “special sauce,” Sugarfire’s knockout take on Thousand Island dressing.

A squirt of any of the house’s menu of bottled sauces would be worth your while, but the coffee barbecue sauce is your best bet. It complements the sandwich’s sharp, vinegary tones with the sweet, earthy notes of coffee. The whole affair is a hot mess – bread, mushroom and fixings toppling everywhere – but catch it all in your tray, wipe your fingers with a paper towel, and scoop up the remnants with a fork.

With a bit of luck, you’ll find crazy corn on the menu, one of several daily rotating side options displayed on butcher paper. The side usually makes a weekly appearance and slings together corn, Sugarfire’s house rub, five cheeses, green chiles, masa and other ingredients (sometimes sausage; vegetarians, keep a watchful eye out) for a piquant, Southwestern-style side. You never knew the meat-free masses could be so at home in the land of barbecue.



By the Book: Michelle Tam and Henry Fong’s Uova In Purgatorio

Saturday, July 26th, 2014


Nutritionally speaking, can the Paleo diet really save us from ourselves? You are invited to think so. I mean really invited – strongarmed even – by the vocal, rather overheated boosterism of those espousing the movement. Admittedly, the constant pro-Paleo rhetoric is getting a bit wearisome these days, despite the slick packaging and glib explanation of its premise.

That premise is this, essentially: Homo sapiens, as a species, physiologically haven’t evolved to be able to metabolize things like grain, legumes, sugar and other omnipresent sources of sustenance in our modern, industrialized foodways complex. The logic is that eating like our pre-agriculture, hunter-gatherer ancestors (read: cavemen) will help the modern, often sedentary human to be healthier, lose weight and enjoy a longer life expectancy.

It’s a gutsy claim. Never mind that anthropologists have refuted much of Paleo’s scientific underpinnings, pointing out that nearly all the things we eat – grain, beef, nuts or otherwise – were selectively bred by humans in the first place. (On a quiet night, I can sometimes hear hoots of laughter emanating from Wash. U’s anthropology building, a few blocks from my apartment.) Still more dietitians have questioned Paleo’s ability to provide enough of the nutrients found in legumes, grains and dairy, all no-nos under the rules. Yet the movement has taken hold.

But let’s decamp from the ideology battleground and consider Nom Nom Paleo, a hip, well-curated cooking tome assembled by husband-wife duo Michelle Tam and Henry Fong: Crossfitters, card-carrying Silicon Valley-ites and parents to two young boys. Turning the pages, it’s a rather nice family affair, shot through with Paleo talking points, tasteful layouts and Fong’s gorgeous photography on matte gloss pages.

Kudos to its logistics, too. The first 40 pages are devoted to Paleo ingredients and how to procure them, and the recipes are laid out in a flow chart-esque format, not unlike a comic strip.  Indeed, the book is splashed with charming cartoon renderings of the authors and their children as they quip their way around the kitchen. As a production, this cookbook outclasses most others.

Following the Tam-Fong family’s instructions, I made Uovo in Purgatorio, a classic Italian ragu co-opted by the Paleo set. The simplicity of most Paleo dishes is on full display here; the ingredients cost less than $15, there’s minimal chopping involved, and the whole ensemble’s ready in a half-hour.




The first ingredient is ghee, or clarified butter, a basic recipe laid out on a separate page. Divorcing the dairy fats from the butter makes for a high smoke-point oil that’s useful for sauteing (and is Paleo-approved). It’s easy enough to make, though lacking cheesecloth, I strained the melted butter with a coffee filter, which took a long time.




The sausage will braise in the sauce, but it’s good to brown it a little beforehand.




I regularly worship at the Church of Put an Egg on Top, so I welcomed the opportunity to crack a couple over the marinara-sausage ragu. Lacking four oven-safe cocottes, I used two 16-ounce Corningware dishes – which meant more eggs for me.

The pepper flakes are a nice touch here, offering robust heat without overwhelming the palate. After baking 17 minutes (two more than prescribed), I had to switch on the broiler to finish off the egg whites, which made the top surface crispy and extra good. This is a hearty, protein-rich dish that goes well with sauteed vegetables.




The marinara sauce is the weak link in the recipe: It’s a Catch-22 of convenience versus quality. Store-bought marinara makes this a quick, easy option for after work or feeding kids on the go. But homemade sauce always tastes better, and since it dominates the flavor profile of the dish, is essential if serving this to more discriminating company.

Uova In Purgatorio
4 servings

1 Tbsp. ghee or fat of choice
½ medium yellow onion, ¼-inch dice
¼ lb. cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. loose Italian pork sausage
2 cups marinara sauce
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
4 large eggs

• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with the rack in the upper-middle position.
• Melt the fat in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Toss in the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes or until the moisture released by the mushrooms evaporates.
• Add the sausage to the pan, breaking it up with a spatula. Cook until it’s no longer pink. Pour the sauce onto the meat and add the red pepper flakes. Stir to combine the ingredients, and cook until the sauce simmers.
• Divide the saucy mixture into 4 8-ounce ovenproof ramekins or mini cocottes. Makes a small well in the center of each, and crack an egg in it. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the eggs. Place the ramekins on a tray in the oven, and bake until the eggs are done to your desired consistency, about 10 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

What fad diet dish has made regular appearances in your kitchen after you first tried it? Tell us about it in the comments section below for a chance to win a copy of Nom Nom Paleo. We’ll announce the winner in next week’s By the Book column.

Drink This Weekend Edition: 5 can’t-miss events to kick off St. Louis Craft Beer Week

Friday, July 25th, 2014



It’s the most wonderful time of the year for local craft beer aficionados. St. Louis Craft Beer Week kicks off this Saturday, July 26 and culminates Sunday, Aug. 23. The sixth annual event celebrates the thriving beer community in St. Louis, and dozens of local breweries, beer bars, restaurants, distributors and retail shops are in on the action.

There are more than 80 events lined up for this year’s week of St. Louis beer love, including tap takeovers, beer dinners, a pop culture comedy/trivia mashup, keep-the-glass nights and even a beer-centric yoga session. There’s something for everyone, from the hardcore hophead to inquisitive beer nerd to the occasional sipper. This weekend alone features nearly a dozen events; here, your itinerary to get you in the STLCBW spirit.

1. The week starts where it does every year: 33 Wine Bar in Lafayette Square. The wine bar switches its focus to brews Saturday at 11 a.m. for B33r and Brats, with bratwurst from Mac’s Local Buys alongside a draft list we’re told will have a few must-taste surprises.

2. At noon, head to Six Row Brewing Co., for its Srawberry Braggot release. Braggot is an ancient drink that brews spices, barley malt and local honey with beer and mead. This is a limited release, so be sure to get there early.

3. Then, make your way to Three Kings Pub for dinner at 6 p.m. and sip a sour during the New Belgium Brewing Sour Saturday. Some of the best sour beers come out of this Fort Collins, Colorado brewery, and many of them will be on tap Saturday night, such as a 2014 La Folie, 2014 Transatlantique Kreik and 2013 Tart Lychee.

4. Once you’ve recovered from Saturday, get your barbecue on at Urban Chestnut Brewing Co.’s monthly UCBC Blues and Q, starting at noon at its Midtown brewery and Biergarten. This event features liter and half-liter specials, live music and barbecue from UCBC chef Andy Fair.

5. Finish your craft brew weekend at the aptly named Epic Beer Tasting at Craft Beer Cellar. Starting at 1 p.m., there will be 20 different beers to taste every two hours, including a special 4 Hands brew.  While you’re there, nosh on Strange Donuts, pretzels from Pretzel Boys and brownies from Pint Size Bakery.

And that’s is just the beginning. Click here for a full schedule of the week’s events and make  plans to enjoy some of the most creative, interesting beers in St. Louis.

Sauce contributing writer Eric Hildebrandt is also a member of the STLCBW planning committee.

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