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Posts Tagged ‘Ari Ellis’

Ari Jo Ellis to open The Cut inside The Fortune Teller Bar

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017



Ari Jo Ellis has worked in some of the top kitchens in town, including Quincy Street Bistro, Southern, Bolyard’s Meat & Provisions and Kitchen Kulture. Now Ellis, a member of the Ones To Watch class of 2016, is striking out on her own.

As reported by St. Louis Magazine, Ellis will open The Cut, which will replace the recently closed Little Dipper inside The Fortune Teller Bar at 2635 Cherokee St., at the end of August.

“I would be stupid to pass up this opportunity,” Ellis said. “It just all came together. The stars aligned and I had to do it.”

The Cut will focus on sausages. Ellis intends the initial menu to feature four bratwursts and sausages and a fifth vegetarian option featuring Mofu Tofu, along with a monthly special and several sides, including cole slaw, potato salad and baked beans. She also plans to carry chips from local favorite Rap Snacks.

“I feel that if I do bratwurst, I have to do a straight-up OG bratwurst with grain mustard and sauerkraut that I plan to make in house” Ellis said.

In homage to the Mexican influence on Cherokee, she plans on making chorizo. Ellis intends to break down whole pigs on site and hopes to source most of them and the rest of her ingredients from Such & Such Farms and other local purveyors.

To that end, Ellis said The Cut will be open Wednesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. to midnight. She also plans to keep The Cut a simple proposition.

“I’m determined to start small and expand, rather than start bigger than I think I can do and contract,” she said. “I’m not necessarily going to be exploring anything far from what I know. I want to make this work in this spot more than anything.”

Photo by Carmen Troesser

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine.

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Ones to Watch 2016: Ari Ellis

Sneak Peek: Southern in Midtown

Best New Restaurants: No. 3 – Southern

Ones to Watch 2016: Ari Ellis

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016



Title: Executive sous chef, Southern
Age: 27
Why Watch Her: She’s the powerhouse that makes Southern run.

Scroll through Ari Ellis’ Instagram feed, and along with selfies and snaps of her French bulldog, you’ll see countless shots of long nights in the kitchen, in-process charcuterie and even a few brightly painted pig skulls. There are timelapse videos of her breaking down pounds of produce and sorting through hundreds of chicken pieces, all with the bulldoggish tenacity that’s made her second in command at Southern.

“She’s a beast,” said Southern chef-owner Rick Lewis. “There’s a lot of things you can teach people as far as cooking, but (you can’t teach) coming in every day and having a good work ethic and good attitude and trying to bring people up around you.”

Just three years ago, an inexperienced Ellis stepped up to the fry station at Quincy Street Bistro, then a failing South City bar and grill. When Lewis took the helm, Ellis got a crash course in whole-animal cooking and house charcuterie. After becoming sous chef, she was immersed in kitchen management 101 with Lewis and chef Chris Tirone. “Everyone is different, so your approach to everyone has to be different,” Ellis said.

Those management skills were put to the test when Ellis made the jump to Southern. She serves as executive sous chef and Lewis’ right hand, prepping 95 percent of the food that hits the line and managing a crew of fast-moving cooks. “It was instantaneous respect, and you could see them thinking after a couple of weeks, ‘OK, this is why she’s here,’” Lewis said. That respect has manifested into a loyal team; there has been almost no turnover on the line since Southern opened to wide acclaim and massive crowds last year.

Ellis’ culinary education also draws from national players. She staged at Toro in New York City and roadtripped to Cochon in New Orleans to work with butcher Leighann Smith – now a friend and butchery-loving kindred spirit. Ellis spent much of her time at Quincy Street Bistro tasked with breaking down half hogs. “I was like ‘That’s great because I’m obsessed with this,’” Ellis said. “My big thing is breaking down animals. If I could do that most days of the week, I’d be happy.”

She’d be equally happy with an early morning plate of biscuits and gravy, her go-to meal at home and something she’d consider putting on her own diner-style menu one day. “I would like a place as small as Southern, something real small,” Ellis said. “I love breakfast, and I love waking up super early.”

Tearing into a fluffy biscuit smothered with house-made sausage gravy while Ellis breaks down a hog for future bacon? Add a cup of coffee (and maybe a painted pig skull on the wall) and she might just make us morning people, too.

– photo by Carmen Troesser

Sneak Peek: Southern in Midtown

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015



Fried chicken has come home to roost in St. Louis, and chef Rick Lewis is adding to the flock with Southern. As The Scoop reported in March, Lewis left his chef post at Quincy Street Bistro and joined forces with Pappy’s owner Mike Emerson to open a hot chicken spot next door to Emerson’s famed St. Louis barbecue joint. After months of recipe testing, renovations and prep work, Lewis hopes to open doors at 3108 Olive St., in Midtown the week of June 22.

Southern will serve fried chicken in the same vein as Nashville institutions like Hattie B’s and Prince’s. Golden brown pieces of fried chicken fly from the fryer and take a dip in one of three spicy oils (mild, Cluckin’ Hot or General Tso’s) before landing on an aluminum tray. Lewis will offer an assortment of hot chicken plates, serving the fried bird with a slice of white bread to soak up the spicy juices, two sides and house-made pickles. The curious (or chicken-hearted) can also order pieces a la carte.

While Southern’s hot chicken may be the hot topic of the moment, it’s not the only thing Lewis will dish up at this 45-seat, counter-service eatery. Nine hefty sandwiches feature house-made salami, ham, pepperoni, roast beef and even bacon, smoked low and slow in one of Pappy’s four famous smokers next door. Sandwiches are stacked high with cheese, dressings and house pickles between Companion bread. Some sammies, like the Cubano, are griddled to melted goodness on the large flattop.

An array of snacks is available, too, including deviled eggs filled with house pimento cheese, a spread of house-made pickled vegetables, and a butcher board of house-cured meats. Rotating daily dessert specials will include fried hand pies, banana pudding and ice cream sandwiches from Dogtown bakery Sugaree.

When doors open, the lunch-time eatery will fire up the fryers from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday. Here’s a sneak peek at what to expect when Southern opens doors.



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-photos by Michelle Volansky 

The List: 20 dishes, drinks, faces and places we love now – Part 1

Monday, April 6th, 2015

Each year, the Sauce editors compile an annual tribute to the dishes, drinks, people and places we love in The Lou: The List. Here, Part 1 of our 2015 lineup, featuring a badass kitchen crew, a farmers market fairy godmother, the best smartphone app ever, a smoky glass of comfort and the magical alchemy that is khao soi.

What’s on your list? Share with #TheSauceList on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.



{From left, Sam Gregg, Rick Lewis, Grant Twidwell, Kevin Ruck, Nick Vandas, Ari Ellis, Chris Ladley and Chris Tirone}


1. The Kitchen Crew at Quincy Street Bistro

On any given night, the music playing in the back of the house at Quincy Street Bistro ranges from “heavy metal and punk rock to Katy Perry and friggin’ classical music,” said Rick Lewis, Quincy Street’s executive chef and front man whose lineup of rock-star cooks nails every performance.

In Quincy Street’s kitchen, Nick Vandas and Paul Heinz handle the first set, with Vandas on morning prep and Heinz tackling lunch service. In the evening, you’ll find Chris Tirone expediting while Chris Ladley and Grant Twidwell tag-team on grill and saute and Dakota Kalb entertains entremets. Kevin Ruck keeps the oven and sandwiches under submission as Sam Gregg bangs out fries, and Ari Ellis plates like a drummer keeping the beat. Meanwhile, Lewis is ever moving – either on the pass or on the floor talking to QSB’s adoring fans.

Why would a bunch of folks with serious culinary cred – former exec chefs and sous from fine-dining restaurants – swap white cloths for the casual comfort of a South City bar and grill?

“Cooking is meant to be fun,” Lewis said. “The majority of these people probably got into this business because they enjoyed cooking and the camaraderie of the kitchen. We try to keep that as much as we can and play nice.”

It’s a lively kitchen playing a very nice rhythm, but a restaurant that’s churning out some of the very best food in town can’t always be just fun and games. The dinner rush brings a different tune. “We like to keep it pretty laid back until things are really popping. That’s when it gets down to business,” Lewis said. “We turn the music off.”

But now that Lewis is leaving QSB this month to team up with Mike Emerson of Pappy’s Smokehouse and open chicken spot Southern, the band will have to keep its beat without him. “They are all very accomplished, seasoned cooks and chefs. That transition there is going to be super easy,” Lewis said. “They’re just going to keep rocking and rolling.”   – L.F.




2. Smoking Mary at The Scottish Arms

When I find myself in times of trouble, Smoking Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, sip at me. No joke: This devilishly good batch o’ bloody at The Scottish Arms is concocted with a house-made mix of peat smoked tomato and celery and Benromach Peat Smoke Speyside single malt Scotch whisky. Sip slowly and take note of the spicy, smoky notes at play in this remarkably complex cocktail – before and after your hour of darkness goes away. – G.F.


3. Deborah Henderson at Midtown Farmers Market 

It’s a sunny Saturday morning in The Loop. Throngs of people stroll amiably, music drifts through the air, toddlers eat fruit popsicles in their strollers, and a farmer offers you a just-picked strawberry to sample. This sweet moment is brought to you by Deborah Henderson, the fairy godmother of farmers markets. “I get such satisfaction from the generations I interact with at the market,” she said, “from bringing in high school students as interns, to the 90-year-old patron that comes every week, to the new mother that didn’t miss her Saturday morning at the market, just days after giving birth.”

Beyond her unpaid, full-time job as manager of the Midtown Farmers Market and interacting with customers, Henderson wants to make these open-air markets successful for vendors and farmers. In 2012, she wrote and passed through legislation known as the Farmers Market Ordinance, which provides fair permitting fees and standardized food safety and sanitation codes for St. Louis County farmers markets. Then, Henderson created the Midwest Association of Farmers Markets, a nonprofit that promotes the local food movement through farmers markets and community programs. “We set a precedent in the state – so it can be a model for others if needed,” Henderson said.  – D.R.




4. Khao Soi at Fork & Stix

What is this sorcery in which otherwise unremarkable ingredients – egg noodles, cilantro, lime, yellow coconut curry, pickled mustard greens, red and green onions and your choice of protein – alchemize into perhaps the finest Thai dish in St. Louis? With khao soi’s harmonious ratio of cream, crunch, chew, sweet and savory, Fork & Stix’s northern Thai specialty demands to be ordered and reordered. Eat it with the accompanying soup spoon or slurp directly from the bowl. Table manners are no object at paranormal times like these.  – G.F.




5. The Drizly App

Never run out of alcohol at a dinner party again with the Drizly smartphone app, which is basically Amazon for booze. (We’ll pause now to let that marvelous-ness sink in.) You can order beer, wine and liquor and have it delivered to your door in less than an hour. Type in your address and this user-friendly app will pull the thousands of libations – organized categorically and alphabetically – available in your delivery area. Place your order and voilà, your party is revived without you so much as teetering from your hostess throne. Available for iPhone and Android. – J.C.

-Quincy Street photo by Ashley Gieseking, bloody mary photo by Sherrie Castellano, khao soi photo by Greg Rannells

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