Hello Stranger | Login | Create Account
 
 
 
 
 
  SAUCE MAGAZINE
|
Jan 23, 2018
|
Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
|
SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
Email | Text-size: A | A | A

Posts Tagged ‘Annie Gunn’s’

Ones to Watch 2017: Alex Pille of Annie Gunn’s

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

OTW_Alex_Blog_Jan17

 

Title: Sous chef, Annie Gunn’s
Age: 28
Why watch him: His gardening exploits are likely to land on your plate.

Annie Gunn’s sous chef Alex Pille grows the usual slate of Midwestern fruits and vegetables like tomatoes and peppers, but that’s where the similarities to your grandmother’s garden end.

“I love to try new things,” Pille said. “Amaranth is an ancient grain crop. It has a giant flowering head that can be dried and is kind of like quinoa.” He’s also grown sorghum, rice, saffron and zucca – one of the world’s largest gourds that can weigh up to 100 pounds.

He grows produce his boss, executive chef Lou Rook III, never knew existed and some stuff he has a hard time finding. “I’ve been working with farmers since 1989 and had never heard of these [lemon drop] chiles,” Rook said. “I was so excited about them and Alex goes, ‘Oh yeah, I grew those last year. They’re great.’”

“I research online, but with the more obscure things, it only goes so far,” said Pille. “That’s where the chef part comes in. I found out a lot of people use zucca as a filler in jams. I decided to make applesauce with it. It worked out great.”

The current beneficiaries of Pille’s harvest are his family, friends and sometimes diners at Annie Gunn’s. But that may change.

“Last year I had a variety of around 60 plants growing,” Pille said. “I kept expanding my garden and before I knew it, it was a quarter of an acre.” This spring he plans to plant at least one of the five acres he recently bought in De Soto. “Hopefully by the end of the year, I can have a greenhouse out there, too.”

For Pille, farm-to-table is not a marketing gimmick; being a better farmer makes him a better chef. “He’s farming the food to bring to the table,” Rook said. “He understands food, how to prepare different things, because of his farming background.”

Eventually, he’d like to have his own produce business, selling to area restaurants. “I could be in both realms. I can grow unique things and also offer methods and applications for these obscure ingredients.”

Photo by Carmen Troesser

 

Eat This: Wow Board at Annie Gunn’s

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

063016_eatthis

We don’t know who named the Wow Board at Annie Gunn’s – the staff or the customers presented with a plank piled high with house-made charcuterie, rich cheeses and pickled vegetables, seasonal chutney and ubiquitous Irish soda bread. The dozen or so offerings change daily according to chef Lou Rook III and butcher Andrew Jennrich’s whim, from blood sausage terrine to dry-aged Kobe-style beef. Don’t pester your server for details. You’ll ruin a wow-worthy surprise

-photo by Carmen Troesser

Drink This Weekend Edition: Luca Wine Dinner at Annie Gunn’s

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

050516_dtwe

 

There aren’t many resumes as complete as Laura Catena’s. She’s a fourth-generation winemaker, holds degrees from Harvard and Stanford universities and has (literally) written the book on Argentine wine, Vino Argentino: An Insider’s Guide to the Wines and Wine Country of Argentina.

Catena, who will host her only U.S. wine dinner at Annie Gunn’s this Monday, May 9, is both owner-vintner of Luca Wines and managing director of her family’s Botega Catena Zapata vineyard. Here, she shares her thoughts on the growth of Argentine wine and the growing international market for malbec.

You have a family history in wine, but you pursued other careers before this one. Why did you return to the wine industry?
When I was deciding what to study, my vision was to do a profession that could help people. At that time I thought, “How can you possibly help people by making wine?” I’ve changed my mind (since then). This wine revolution has brought about great prosperity to Argentina and the region. It’s helped people have better schools and roads. I’ve gone full circle from wanting to leave the nest to making something as beautiful as wine and knowing it is an important contribution.

To what do you attribute the increased popularity of Argentine malbec?
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Argentina had this huge wave of immigration that multiplied the population by four or five times. Most immigrants were Spanish or from the Marche region in Italy. They were used to drinking European style, having wine with lunch and dinner.

My father, in the 1980s and 1990s, was a visiting scholar and saw what was going on in Napa, with people making wine as good as the French. He said, “I want to make great wine in Argentina that can compete with the best in the world.”

What is the most common misconception about Argentine wines?
For one thing, many people think that malbec just showed up. Not only is it an ancient grape, it’s the principle grape in Argentina. It’s not some kind of brand-new thing. We’ve been making since 1800s. The second thing is that malbec can be very diverse. It can be aged or blended and can taste totally different depending on where it comes from.

How do different malbecs taste?
If it’s from cool climate, it will taste more mineral with more violet-black fruit aroma. They’re more elegant than jammy (when grown in a) high, cool climate. Grown in warmer climates, malbec is syrupy with more ripe fruit aroma. They’re equally delicious but in a different way … but all malbec is aromatic and smooth.

How do you describe your Luca Wines?
I work really hard to make wines that have exuberance but are not too syrupy. I want it to be exuberant and elegant at the same time, and (I want it to) go well with a lot of different kinds of food. I’m not big on picking ideal food and wine pairings. You should go with drinking what you feel like drinking that day.

Where do you see the wine industry as a whole ,and specifically the Argentine wine industry, going in the next five to 10 years?
People will learn more about malbec and be able to taste from different regions. It’s like cheese. Once you get into cheese, you want to try different kinds of cheese. People will get into different regions of malbec. … If drinkers start asking for and buying these other varieties, places will carry them.

 

 

 

 

Sneak Peek: Olive & Oak in Webster Groves

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

OliveAndOak_07

 

Webster Groves welcomes its newest restaurant when Olive & Oak fires up the burners tonight, Jan. 26, at 102 W. Lockwood Ave. Having spent the past six months preparing, co-owners Mark Hinkle and Greg Ortyl, along with executive chef Jesse Mendica, are eager to share their food with the community at a grand opening this weekend.

As The Scoop reported in May 2015, Hinkle formerly worked in front-of-house management at Annie Gunn’s in Chesterfield. Inspired by that experience, the Olive & Oak wine list boasts more than 120 bottles with 20 available by the glass, while bar manager Chelsea Little’s cocktail menu offers light and bubbly options, as well as boozy libations and eight rotating local beer taps.

Executive chef Jesse Mendica also hails from Annie Gunn’s, where she served as executive sous chef for eight years. Her menu offerings include oysters and other pre-dinner seafood options, five appetizers and half a dozen soup and salad options. The entrees are almost evenly split between surf and turf dishes, including chicken options and two sharable dishes – a salt-roasted red snapper and a rib-eye. Meat-free options appear as entrees like a potpie filled with local mushrooms and cauliflower and a grilled pear and cheese sandwiches featuring Tulip Tree Trillium.

Here’s what to expect when you step inside Webster Groves’ newest eatery:

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

-photos by Michelle Volansky 

The Scoop: Farmtruk food truck to hit the streets this fall

Monday, October 19th, 2015

101915_thescoop

 

Former Annie Gunn’s sous chef Samantha Mitchell is striking out on her own with a new mobile eatery, Farmtruk, as reported by Feast. She hopes to roll out in November but “definitely by the end of the year.”

Mitchell, a 13-year kitchen veteran, declined to classify her food as farm-to-table or regional cuisine, saying she wants the flexibility to create different kinds of dishes. “Everything I do has a twist or a fusion to it,” she said. “I cook based on what I feel, what I can get locally. Seasonality will always be important. I don’t want to feel limited.”

One of those local ingredients will be the Swabian Hall hog from Such and Such Farm. Mitchell described the fatty pig as the Kobe beef of pork, and she plans to use every bit from nose to tail. Expect to see headcheese and pork belly, as well as offal bits offered up as charcuterie and sausage, including sausage-stuffed beignets.

Mitchell said she enjoyed her time at Annie Gunn’s, but she was ready to run her own business with a more family-friendly schedule. “I’ve loved working for Lou (Rook), and I’ve learned a lot and got to do so many cool things,” she said. “Now it’s time to grow up and move on.”

 

 

The Scoop: Pappy’s Mike Emerson spearheads national barbecue festival in St. Louis

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

062215_Qinthelou

 

 

Naysayers may claim the barbecue craze is on its way out, but Mike Emerson, co-owner of Pappy’s Smokehouse, begs to differ. Emerson recently announced the debut of Q in the Lou, a national barbecue festival Sept. 25 to 27 at Soldiers’ Memorial. The free event, which celebrates St. Louis’ role in what Emerson called the “barbecue triangle” of St. Louis, Kansas City and Memphis, will feature food available for purchase and demonstrations by a number of national barbecue gurus.

“I’m extremely excited. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” Emerson said. “I have some of the best barbecuers in the world coming in.”

Event spokesperson Mack Bradley said the goal of Q in the Lou is to bring together barbecue pros from across the nation. The festival will see barbecue luminaries from states as far flung as Texas, Tennessee and New York. Participants hailing from the St. Louis area include Emerson, Mike Johnson of Sugarfire Smoke House and Tom Schmidt of Salt & Smoke. Holding up Tennessee’s end will be Memphis in May festival grand champions John David Wheeler of Memphis BBQ Co. and Brad and Brooke Orrison of The Shed Barbeque and Blues Joint. Bradley said the full roster of participating chefs and vendors is still being finalized, though 10 chefs are already on the schedule.

“There’s been a rising tide of great barbecue places in St. Louis for several years now,” Bradley said. “There are good barbecue events around town, but they’re all pretty local. We have yet to do something on a national scale and take our place in Mike Emerson’s barbecue triangle.”

Bradley said he hoped high foot traffic downtown in September – in the midst of the Cardinals and Rams seasons – will result in a good turnout. “I’ve never been involved with something that people were so instantly excited about,” he said. “The line we got from everybody was, ‘Why didn’t we do this before?’”

Emerson is a busy man these days. Last month, he quietly unveiled a truncated Pappy’s menu at Head’s Store in St. Albans with Annie Gunn’s proprietor Thom Sehnert. The partnership crystallized earlier this year. “I had stopped by Annie Gunn’s one day, and Thom and I just started talking,” Emerson said. “It was really a simple handshake agreement to give it a try, and it’s worked out well.”

A smoker onsite at Head’s Store is manned by a Pappy’s pit boss Friday to Sunday and servers a smaller selection of barbecue dishes, including ribs, pulled pork sandwiches and three side options. Emerson said he expects the lineup to expand soon. Unlike Pappy’s, beer and wine is served. Taking inspiration from Annie Gunn’s, Sehnert added a list of sandwiches and burgers to the menu, too. “He is a St. Louis icon, and I consider it an honor to collaborate with him,” Emerson said.

 

 

The Scoop: New American eatery Olive & Oak to open in Webster Groves historic building

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

052215_oakolive

 

 

 

Olive & Oak, founded by Annie Gunn’s veteran Mark Hinkle and business partner Greg Ortyl, will soon open in a century-old former boutique at 102 W. Lockwood Ave in Webster Groves.

Hinkle, who confirmed the opening tentatively for September 2015, will depart his management role at Annie Gunn’s in Chesterfield in June to focus on construction of the restaurant. Before moving to St. Louis, Hinkle worked in Chicago in both restaurant and beverage management for several companies, including Gibsons Restaurant Group. He said his pending departure from Annie Gunn’s would be bittersweet.

“I’ve learned a lot with this institution. It’s a hard place to leave, with Tom (Sehnert) and Lou (Rook III) and Glenn (Bardgett),” he said. “It’s one of those handful of places across the country that’s just lightning in a bottle.”

Olive & Oak’s menu is still under development, and Hinkle and Ortyl are also still in the process of choosing a chef. “Food-wise, we’re going to be American, very ingredient focused,” Hinkle said. “(We’ll) bring the best ingredients in and treat them the way they should be treated.” Current candidates for the menu include stout fare like oysters, steaks and pork.

Hinkle added that he’ll handle the initial beverage direction himself, arraying a selection of local beer, cocktails and “a good solid wine list, from affordable options to the big dogs.”

The restaurant will initially offer dinner only, opening for lunch and brunch service after the eatery finds its footing. The 2,600-square-foot space is being remodeled into an open concept with high ceilings and a rustic, exposed aesthetic.

Olive & Oak’s name has personal resonance for the owners, too. Hinkle and Ortyl both had sons who died at young ages of congenital heart conditions, and both have founded charitable organizations named for their children to fund further medical research. The restaurant, named in homage to Oliver Hinkle and Oakes Ortyl, is a continuation of this.

“Both of our families have gotten involved in charitable causes, that’s how (Greg and I) met,” Hinkle said. “We’re having a tribute to the boys and at the same time doing what we want to do, which is run a great restaurant … St. Louis has become a hell of a food town, and I’m happy to be a part of it.”

 

 

 

 

The Scoop: Gerard Craft named JBFA finalist for Best Chef: Midwest

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

050214_gerard

 

Finalists for the 2015 James Beard Foundation Awards were announced today, March 24, and one St. Louis-area chef remains in the running. Gerard Craft, chef-owner of the Niche family of restaurants, made the short list in the Best Chef: Midwest category. Craft was also among last year’s finalists in that category. “I think it’s a great testament to our team, that 10 years in, we are still part of the conversation,” Craft said. “To be included with that group of people is such an honor.”

St. Louis chefs who did not get past the semifinal round in the Best Chef: Midwest category are Kevin Willmann, chef-owner of Farmhaus; Ben Poremba, chef-owner of Elaia, Olio and Old Standard Fried Chicken; and Kevin Nashan, chef-owner of Sidney Street Cafe and Peacemaker. Ed Heath, chef and co-owner of Cleveland-Heath, was also in contention for the title of Best Chef: Great Lakes. Heath was a first-time JBFA semifinalist.

Among national awards, Annie Gunn’s was one of 20 restaurants named semifinalists in the Outstanding Wine Program category. The estimable fine-dining institution did not advance to the final round.

Winners of the chef and restaurant awards will be announced at a ceremony in Chicago May 4. A full list of nominees is available here.

 

Editor’s Note: This post was updated March 24 at 10:15 a.m. to include a quote from Gerard Craft.

The Scoop: 5 St. Louis-area chefs, Annie Gunn’s wine program named 2015 JBFA semifinalists

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

 

021815_jamesbeardnominees

{Clockwise from top left, James Beard Foundation Awards 2015 semifinalists chefs Gerard Craft, Kevin Nashan, Annie Gunn’s wine director Glenn Bardgett, chefs Ben Poremba, Ed Heath and Kevin Willmann}

 

The James Beard Foundation has announced its 2015 restaurant and chef award semifinalists. St. Louis is again represented among this year’s nominees for the organization’s annual esteemed culinary awards.

In a national category, Anne Gunn’s Smokehouse was nominated for Outstanding Wine Program. “It’s just an honor that someone’s recognizing us on a national level,” said Glenn Bardgett, Annie Gunn’s wine director. “We’re not a flyover city anymore. What an honor. The first time this happened for me in 2011. It was the only time in Missouri that anybody was nominated for wine. Lightning struck twice.” Bardgett, who is also a Sauce wine columnist, was a semifinalist in the Outstanding Wine Service category in 2011.

In the category of Best Chef: Midwest, four area chefs made the list: Gerard Craft, chef-owner of the Niche family of restaurants; Kevin Nashan, chef-owner of Sidney Street Cafe and Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co.; Kevin Willmann, chef-owner of Farmhaus; and Ben Poremba, chef-owner of Elaia, Olio and Old Standard Fried Chicken. “I’m so grateful to be on the bus,” Nashan said. “It’s so cool. Yeah for The Lou!”

Ed Heath of Cleveland-Heath was nominated for Best Chef: Great Lakes. This is Heath’s first time on the semifinalist list. He found out about his nomination when The Scoop called for comment: “Holy shit!” he said. “(Co-owner Jenny Cleveland) and I were certain we’d close in six months after we opened. Everything has been an awesome surprise … Everyone that has (worked here) has helped shape it.”

Nashan, Craft, Willmann and Poremba have all previously garnered James Beard Foundation award nominations. Last year, St. Louis saw five chefs (Gerard Craft, Josh Galliano, Kevin Nashan, Ben Poremba and Kevin Willmann) on the semifinalist list, with Craft and Nashan moving on as finalists. “I’m super humbled to be on a pretty amazing list,” Craft said. “(It’s) an honor to be included with all those guys … St. Louis’ dining scene, especially in the past few years, is amazingly strong. I’m excited to be a part of it.”

Willmann said the list reflected St. Louis’ diverse dining scene. “It’s definitely exciting,” he said. “There’s so many new and talented people in this town.”

Poremba also found out about his nomination from The Scoop. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” Poremba said. “That’s just awesome!”

Finalists for the 2015 awards will be announced March 24, with the winners announced at a gala ceremony in Chicago May 4.

See a full list of restaurant and chef semifinalists here.

Ligaya Figueras, Catherine Klene, Garrett Faulkner and Meera Nagarajan contributed to this report.

The Scoop: Andrew Jennrich departs from Butchery, joins Annie Gunn’s

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

091114_butchery_andrew

{From left, Butchery’s former head butcher Andrew Jennrich and Truffles executive chef Brandon Benack}

 

Andrew Jennrich has left his post as head butcher at Butchery, the butcher shop and food emporium at 9202 Clayton Road in Ladue. Jennrich said he is now reporting for work at Annie Gunn’s, where’s he’s doing a little bit of everything at the Chesterfield restaurant and its smokehouse next door, he said.

Aleksander “Alex” Jovanovic, general manager at Truffles (which is under the same ownership as Butchery), said he appreciated Jennrich’s contribution to the fledgling butcher shop that opened in late summer. “He helped us get our feet off the ground,” Jovanovic said. “I was hoping he would have stayed longer.” However, he noted the unexpected split was still amicable.

Jennrich said his decision to leave came down to a difference of opinion regarding Butchery’s direction. “We saw things differently,” Jennrich said. “I had a great time being with Brandon (Benack, Truffles’ executive chef) and Alex. I miss being with those guys. Other aspects – (It) just wasn’t going to work out.”

Taking the head butcher slot is Ryan McDonald, who joined the team at Truffles and Butchery as executive sous chef in late October. Jovanovic said that despite the unanticipated change, the transition has been seamless since the Jennrich and McDonald had many weeks to work together prior to his departure. McDonald’s primary role at the shop is butchering; two line cooks from Truffles are now responsible for charcuterie.

Jennrich said his move to Annie Gunn’s has been an educational one, noting the restaurant’s quality and talented staff, particularly executive chef Lou Rook. “Lou Rook, Steve Gontram, Vince Bommarito, Bill Cardwell – they laid the track for all of us. It’s cool to work with someone who set the groundwork,” Jennrich said. “They were all the guys doing farm-to-table before it was cool.” Jennrich’s official title at Annie Gunn’s is still to be determined, but he anticipates it will be settled in January after the holiday season.

 

-photo by Meera Nagarajan

RSS FEEDS
Keep up with one or all of your favorite Sauce Magazine columns
Conceived and created by Bent Mind Creative Group, LLC 1999-2018, Bent Mind Creative Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Sauce Magazine 1820 Chouteau Ave. St. Louis, Missouri 63103.
PH: 314-772-8004 FAX: 314-241-8004