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Oct 17, 2017
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Posts Tagged ‘Ben Poremba’

Chef Tello Carreón will leave Nixta after Oct. 21

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

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{ from left, Tello Carreón and Ben Poremba } 

 

Big news from Botanical Heights – executive chef Tello Carreón will leave his position as executive chef of award-winning Mexican restaurant Nixta. His last day of service will be Saturday, Oct. 21. The initial announcement came today, Oct. 4, via a post on Carreón’s Instagram account.

Nixta owner Ben Poremba confirmed the departure in a statement and thanked Carreón for his work.

“As Nixta approaches its first anniversary, chef-owner Ben Poremba, along with his team at Bengelina Hospitality Group, will continue to passionately showcase Mexican fare as among the most exciting cuisines in the world,” the statement read. “Poremba is proud of the success Nixta has attained – both in St. Louis and nationally – during Carreón’s tenure. He thanks him for his immense contribution, and wishes him continued success in his future endeavors.”

Carreón said he’s not sure what his next move will be. “I just want to finish strong in these last few weeks, the way I started,” he said. “I contributed as much as I could to Nixta, and I gained as much as I could from the experience. I think it’s time for me to move on. It’s been a wonderful journey.”

Poremba said via text message that he did not know who will replace Carreón yet. He will helm the kitchen in the interim. He declined further comment.

Nixta opened in November 2016 and was named one of Sauce’s Best New Restaurants that same year. It has garnered local and national accolades since opening, most notably as one of Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurants in America.

 

Photo by Carmen Troesser

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine.

Related Content
• Nixta earns spot on Bon Appétit’s top 10 new restaurants list

• Best New Restaurants 2016: No. 5 – Nixta

• Sneak Peek: Nixta in Botanical Heights

Good Fortune finds another home in Botanical Heights

Friday, September 29th, 2017

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Good Fortune, the long-anticipated modern Chinese-American eatery from Bob Brazell, Ryan McDonald and Hannah Chung of Byrd & Barrel and Corey Smale, former co-owner of Strange Donuts, has found a new home once again.

Smale said Good Fortune will open for business at 1641 Tower Grove Ave., in the Botanical Heights neighborhood – just across the street from its former announced location at 1654 Tower Grove Ave.

“This is the third location we’ve said it was going to be at,” said Smale. “It’s been a long road. Although I would’ve liked to have been making money awhile ago, I’m thankful for the way that it’s going. I have so much confidence in this location and in the team.”

As reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the building, which formerly served as the headquarters of Hoffmann Brothers Heating & Air Conditioning Inc., was recently purchased by restaurateur Ben Pormeba, who owns several restaurants in the area, including Elaia, Olio and Nixta.

Poremba said there eventually will be a total of three or four businesses calling the location home, though Good Fortune is the only tenant to have signed a lease so far. He said that construction is set to begin on the space next week. Poremba said as of right now, he has no plans to open another restaurant in the building.

Smale said the 1,500-square-foot space will have approximately 30 seats and should be ready to open by the end of the year.

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine. 

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Good Fortune finds a home in Botanical Heights

Nixta earns spot on Bon Appétit’s top 10 new restaurants list

Ben Poremba to open Mexican restaurant, Nixta, in former Old Standard space

Nixta earns spot on Bon Appétit’s top 10 new restaurants list

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

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{ from left, Nixta executive chef Tello Carreón and owner Ben Poremba} 

The hits just keep on coming for the St. Louis restaurant scene.

As The Scoop reported earlier this month, Nixta and Vicia earned slots on Bon Appétit’s Top 50 Best New Restaurants in America list. Today, Bon Appétit announced  Nixta had earned the No. 9 spot on its coveted Top 10 Best New Restaurants in America list.

“I’m shocked,” said Nixta owner Ben Poremba. “I did not see that one coming. In my mind I knew we were top 10 quality, I won’t deny that. I knew we were doing something unique and special.”

Poremba, who also owns Elaia, Olio and Parigi, said Nixta executive chef Tello Carreón was also excited about the accolade, but typically humble in his response.

“I called him, and in typical Tello fashion, he was excited, but he was grocery shopping, and said ‘I have a 100 people to feed tonight, so…’”

Carreón could not immediately be reached for comment.

Bon Appétit senior editor Julia Kramer lauded Nixta’s popular octopus dish, the space’s fun vibe and heralded Carreón’s knack for creative flavor combinations in his Mexican fare. “They could easily have used this fun, colorful space as home to a crowd-pleasing, money-printing taco bar,” Kramer wrote. “Instead, Carreón turns out an ambitious menu that doesn’t limit itself to any particular region of Mexico.”

Poremba said his team will put together some sort of celebratory event to commemorate the honor in the near future.

It’s the latest in a slew of national honors for St. Louis restaurants and chefs. In May, Sidney Street Cafe chef-owner Kevin Nashan brought home a James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef: Midwest, and in July, Eater listed Vicia among its top 12 best new restaurants in St. Louis.

Photo by Carmen Troesser

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine.

Related Content
Nixta, Vicia make Bon Appetit’s top 50 new restaurants list

Best New Restaurants 2016: No. 5 – Nixta

Review: Nixta 

Nixta, Vicia make Bon Appetit’s top 50 new restaurants list

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

 

 

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{ Vicia chef-owner Michael Gallina }

 

Bon Appétit has announced its list of 50 Best New Restaurants in America, and two of St. Louis’ hottest eateries, Vicia and Nixta, made the cut.

The Mole Negro de Abuelita Concepción, an homage to a recipe from chef Tello Carreon’s grandmother, was singled out as a must-try dish at Nixta, while the Goose Egg, scrambled eggs served in a “bird’s nest,” was one of the specialties highlighted on Vicia’s menu, along with the restaurant’s focus on vegetables.

“It’s been quite a week,” said Tara Gallina, Vicia co-owner and general manager. Vicia also landed on Eater’s 12 Best New Restaurants in America list, which came out last week. “It’s a lot – it’s exciting!”

 

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{ from left, Nixta chef Tello Carreón and owner Ben Poremba } 

 

Nixta owner Ben Poremba, whose other eateries Elaia and Olio made the same list in 2013, said the news came as a complete surprise. “It’s nice to see the recognition on a national scale like that, especially coming back from the bittersweet moment of closing Old Standard and redoing the space,” he said.

Nixta landed on Sauce’s Best New Restaurants of 2016 shortly after opening in November last year.

Bon Appétit’s list of 50 will be whittled down to the Hot 10 on Aug. 15, which are featured in the September issue.

“That list has some pretty heavy hitters on it,” said Poremba. “But you never know.”

Gallina agreed that landing a top 10 spot would be remarkable. “There’s a lot of incredible competition this year,” she said. “A lot of amazing places have opened, so just to be on the list, as cheesy as that sounds, is quite an honor.”

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
Eater names Vicia one of the country’s Best New Restaurants

• Review: Vicia

Review: Nixta

Best New Restaurants: No. 5 – Nixta

The Scoop: Local restaurants participate, support A Day Without Immigrants protest

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

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{ from left, Nixta executive chef Tello Carreón and owner Ben Poremba } 

 

Across the country today, Feb. 16, people stayed home from work and school or did not shop or eat out in support of A Day Without Immigrants, a protest against current U.S. immigration policy. Participants meant to illustrate the importance of immigrants in American society.

Chefs around the country donated a portion of their revenues to support immigration organizations or closed their eateries entirely, like José Andrés in Washington D.C. and Rick Bayless in Chicago. Locally, a handful of area restaurants did the same.

Chef and restaurateur Ben Poremba decided to close Nixta, his new Mexican eatery, as reported by the Riverfront Times. Poremba said many of his staff had expressed a desire to take the day off to participate.

“I’m not trying to be a pioneer,” he said. “I just respected that some of the guys wanted a day to be heard without worrying about losing their job or having some consequences. I didn’t want to be on the fence.”

Cherokee Station Special Business District liaison Anne McCullough said most of the immigrant-owned businesses on Cherokee closed today. “More than 20 percent of the businesses and properties on Cherokee Street are immigrant-owned,” she said.

 

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{ Local Chef Kitchen chef-owner Rob Uyemura } 

 

Local Chef Kitchen chef-owner Rob Uyemura also shut the doors at his Ballwin Restaurant for the day. “In 25 years in the restaurant business, I’ve worked with a lot of immigrants,” said Uyemura, whose family immigrated to the U.S. “They get labeled as criminals and illegals, and that’s wrong.”

Other restaurants remain open, but are donating a portion of their proceeds to nonprofits. Demun Oyster Bar general manager Tom Halaska said his bar, as well as sister restaurants Sasha’s Wine Bars and Scarlett’s Wine Bar, will donate 50 percent of the day’s proceeds to the International Institute St. Louis.

Halaska said it was important to recognize the many immigrants who participate in the restaurant industry and in society. With immigration policy currently in the national spotlight, he said this was a good opportunity to celebrate immigrants.

“This is a way for us as a restaurant group to show respect and compassion for what’s going on in the country,” Halaska said.

 

Catherine Klene contributed to this report.

Nixta photo by Carmen Troesser

 

Extra Sauce: Top 10 Scoops of 2016

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

From big chef changes at Niche Food Group to new taco restaurants in Kirkwood and steakhouses in Sunset Hills, here’s the dining news you were most excited about this year.

Don’t miss out! Follow Sauce Magazine on Facebook and Twitter to get The Scoop on the latest St. Louis-area restaurant news.

 

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1. The Scoop: Kirkwood to see new taco restaurant

2. The Scoop: Owners of Sugarfire Smoke House to open burger joint this fall

3. The Scoop: Catrinas opens in Edwardsville

 

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4. The Scoop: Jimmy’s on the Park closes after more than two decades

5. The Scoop: Joey B’s fourth location to open in April

6. The Scoop: Twisted Tree to open in Sunset Hills

 

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7. The Scoop: Nate Hereford to exit Niche, Brasserie’s Nick Blue to take the helm

8. The Scoop: Old Standard Fried Chicken to close

9. The Scoop: Two Plumbers Brewery & Arcade to open in St. Charles

 

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10. The Scoop: Firecracker Pizza and Beer to open in The Grove

 

Related Content
10 Best New Restaurants of 2016

Extra Sauce: Top 5 Dishes of 2016

Extra Sauce: Top 10 Sneak Peeks of 2016

Best New Restaurants: No. 5 – Nixta

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

To be the best, everything matters – atmosphere, service and food. Here, the places that dazzled us from the moment they opened: St. Louis’ 10 Best New Restaurants of 2016.

 

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{ from left, chef Tello Carreón and owner Ben Poremba}

Surrounded by hip Latin music and tropical plants at Nixta’s recent soft opening, we kept spontaneously exhaling and saying, “This feels like vacation.” Along with the bright, beachy colors and dim, candlelit atmosphere of Ben Poremba’s newest restaurant, the menu is strewn with flowers and fruit: ceviche served with a fragrant, viscid sphere of rose water espuma; pork belly al pastor topped with caramelized pineapple pico de gallo; a sea scallop in a pool of green, bergamot-infused aguachile sprinkled with tiny whole blooms.

This pretty chiaroscuro of rich meats and delicate seafoods, deep dark mole and bright vegetal spice, is thanks to executive chef Tello Carreón. He’s the reason Poremba wanted to open a Mexican restaurant.

They got to know each other in the kitchen of Poremba’s fine-dining restaurant Elaia, just down the street. “I like his cooking a lot and thought a modern take on Mexican food – his kind of food – would make a great restaurant,” Poremba said. Why look outside – why go to New York to research new ideas – when you have such talent inside your own St. Louis kitchens?

Carreón’s passion for creativity is reflected in unexpected dishes, like the tuna tostada with lime-white shoyu glaze, and in more traditional offerings he grew up eating. “What I’m trying to say is you don’t have to be stuck with the same ingredients,” Carreón said. Which is why he paired his grandma’s classic mole recipe with braised beef cheeks instead of the expected chicken.

“I like to have dishes fresh and more alive than you typically find them. I want to elevate them a little more – bring them to life,” Carreón said. “I think I have the taste, the cuisine that people want to try.”

We think so too, jefe.

 

More about Nixta

• Sneak Peek: Nixta in Botanical Heights

• The Scoop: Ben Poremba to open Mexican restaurant, Nixta, in former Old Standard space

The Scoop: Old Standard Fried Chicken to close

Photo by Carmen Troesser

Sneak Peek: Nixta in Botanical Heights

Friday, November 11th, 2016

Editor’s note: This post contains an image that may be NSFW.  

 

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Restaurateur Ben Poremba has added another establishment to his fold in Botanical Heights. Nixta hosts a soft opening tonight, Nov. 11, at 1621 Tower Grove Ave., under the direction of executive chef Tello Carreon.

As The Scoop reported in October, Poremba’s Bengelina Hospitality has turned the building that once housed its fried chicken restaurant into this Mexican-inspired eatery. Former patrons of Old Standard will hardly recognize the 42-seat space, which Poremba designed himself. Walls are painted in bright blue and coral; Mexican rugs drape windows and cover floors. Succulents rest on shelves and light fixtures dangle from climbing rope.

Carreon’s menu is inspired by his Mexican heritage with an emphasis on intense flavors, like the al pastor, featuring a thick-cut piece of pork belly topped with caramelized pineapple and a pineapple pico de gallo. The rotating menu is a mix of smaller and larger plates meant to be shared; look for Carreon’s mole negro with braised beef cheeks inspired by his grandmother’s recipe or a seafood cocktail filled with octopus, scallops, mussels, oysters and shrimp.

Bengelina Hospitality head bartender Drew Lucido oversaw development of the bar program in consultation with Layla Linehan, previously at Brasserie, Demun Oyster Bar and Monarch. The bar features a handful of house cocktails, a large selection of tequila, rum and mezcal, as well as fresh juices and a forthcoming list of house-made aguas frescas. A selection of mostly Mexican bottled and canned beers and 14 wines by the glass are also available.

Poremba said the space will function as Nixta until 10 p.m., when it will become a more relaxed, late-night spot called Bar Limón. A selection of dishes will be available on Bar Limón’s late-night menu, as well as scaled down $6 cocktails.

After this weekend’s soft opening, Nixta and Bar Limón will be open Tuesday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to midnight and Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Here’s a sneak peek at what to expect from Poremba and Carreon:

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

-photos by Michelle Volansky

Extra Sauce: In case you missed it…

Monday, October 31st, 2016

From Ben Poremba’s newest restaurant to a fire at Waterloo’s newest brewery, here’s what went down in the St. Louis restaurant scene last week, in case you missed it…

 

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1. Three months after closing Old Standard Fried Chicken, Ben Poremba has a new concept ready to debut: Nixta, a Mexican restaurant at 1621 Tower Grove Ave. A soft opening is slated for Nov. 11.

2. After nearly three years in business, Nathalie’s is closing doors at 4365 Lindell Blvd., in the Central West End. Owner Nathalie Pettus said the restaurant’s last day will be Saturday, Nov. 5.

 

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3. Cherokee Street has a new spot for cheap, late-night eats and just one more round. The B-Side hosted a soft opening on Friday, Oct. 21 at 2709 Cherokee St.

4. The former catering arm of Local Harvest Grocery is under new ownership, emerging as Seed Sprout Spoon. Erin Wiles and The Civil Life’s former chef Brendan Kirby quietly purchased the business in August, finishing up existing catering contracts before making the transition.

 

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5. Two months after closing doors at his Spanish tapas restaurant, owner Brendan Marsden opened doors at Mona’s, an American-Italian joint, on Oct. 19.

6. Just one month after opening, a fire broke out at Hopskeller Brewing Co. on Oct. 23. Owner Matt Schweizer said the cause of the fire has not yet been determined, and no one was injured.

 

 

 

The Scoop: Ben Poremba to open Mexican restaurant, Nixta, in former Old Standard space

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

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Three months after closing Old Standard Fried Chicken, Ben Poremba has a new concept ready to debut: Nixta, a Mexican restaurant at 1621 Tower Grove Ave. A soft opening is slated for Nov. 11. “I’ve opened many restaurants in the past five years,” Poremba said. “This one is as exciting as Olio.”

Don’t expect endless bowls of chips and salsa or a long list of tacos. Nixta’s menu will focus on the complex styles and techniques found in traditional Mexican cooking. “It’s a Mexican restaurant, but not in the traditional American sense of the word,” Poremba said. “It’s mostly inspired by street food, but it’s also inspired by my partner chef Tello Carreon’s grandmother’s cooking.”

Carreon spent the past two years as chef de cuisine at Elaia, and the previous year and a half between Elaia and Olio’s kitchens. “Tello appeals to me. I’ve been working side by side with him. We’ve been toying with ideas to showcase his cuisine,” Poremba said.

Dishes will also see some South American and Spanish influences, which Poremba said run parallel to the Mediterranean and North African influences he’s known for at Olio. Dishes include pepita guacamole, grilled octopus with mole, roasted pork shoulder, braised beef cheek mole and more. The bar program will focus on pisco drinks.

 

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{Bengelina Hospitality Group owner Ben Poremba}

 

The Mexican restaurant is only one project in the works for Bengelina Hospitality Group, which has had an eventful year. In June, Poremba passed the top toque of Elaia and Olio to chef Ben Grupe, shifting his focus to that of restaurateur for the group’s Botanical Heights establishments and newest restaurant, Parigi in Clayton.

Now more details have emerged about Poremba’s Jewish deli project, which The Scoop reported in June 2015. AO&CO is slated to open next year, in a location yet to be determined (Clayton, the Central West End and University City are all contenders, Poremba said.), but customers can get a sneak peek of what’s to come at brunch popups beginning next month at Parigi.

Poremba said he wants to bring a contemporary Jewish deli to the St. Louis area in the vein of Russ & Daughters Cafe. To that end, menu items for the first popup include house-made bagels, cured fish, chicken soup, beef tongue tartine and other traditional deli items with a Poremba twist. “I want to make it feel sort of traditional and true to the spirit of a Jewish deli,” he said.

Though the first popup on Nov. 20 has already sold out, Poremba said there will be some walk-in seating available, and he hopes to host the next at the beginning of December.

 

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