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Mar 17, 2018
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The Scoop: The Cheshire continues to poach The Big Apple

December 4th 12:12pm, 2012

The Cheshire’s gorgeously rehabbed soon-to-open basement restaurant and bar Basso now has an executive chef. Patrick Connolly, a St. Louis native, has returned from New York City to helm the Italian-themed casual counterpart to recently opened The Restaurant, which sits above Basso at 7036 Clayton Ave.

Connolly first gained national attention while at the restaurant Radius in Boston, where he served as executive chef. In 2007, he was nominated for the James Beard Rising Star award, and in 2008, he won the James Beard Best Chef Northeast award. From Radius, he moved to Bobo in New York City, where he again assumed the role of executive chef. Since leaving Bobo a year ago, Connolly was acting as exec-chef for The Kitchen, a food media company and private event space in Manhattan.

Just five weeks ago, when Connolly came across the post for Basso, he and his wife hadn’t been considering a move to St. Louis, but they had been toying with the idea of leaving New York. A day after speaking with Todd Rushing, a partner for Concentrics Restaurants (the company designing The Cheshire’s new eateries), Connolly was on a plane to St. Louis. Connolly was so impressed with Basso and the surrounding facilities that he quickly took the job, but the part he’s most excited about on a day-to-day basis is his new wood-burning oven. While working at Bobo and The Kitchen, Connolly said, “I did a series called ‘Plate to Gate’ where I went to the farms I sourced from. I would go there and produce dinners and cook with wood off the property. It was always a treat. Now I’ll get to cook with it every day.”

Connolly is currently in the last stages of tweaking the menu for Basso before it opens on December 17. He plans to feature about 10 to 12 small plates, six or seven options for both house-made pastas and pizzas, a few a la carte items from the grill, five sides and five desserts.

Connolly is also looking forward to working with Wil and Lisa Fernandez-Cruz, the husband-wife team who are the executive chef and executive pastry chef, respectively, at The Restaurant upstairs. Connolly was friends with the two while living in New York, and he and Wil already have plans to share whole animals between The Restaurant and Basso. “New York and New England have great farms, but the Midwest is the heartland,” Connolly said. “There’s so much. I’m learning new products every day.”

By Julie Cohen

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