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Jan 23, 2018
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Posts Tagged ‘Cochon’

Ones to Watch 2017: Sam Witherspoon of Sardella

Sunday, January 1st, 2017



Title: Executive sous chef, Sardella
Age: 27
Why watch him: He proves good guys can get ahead.

Sam Witherspoon’s resume reads like a cutthroat careerist’s: the New York Culinary Institute of America to Danny Meyer’s Maialino to Donald Link’s Cochon, then Gerard Craft’s Niche and now Sardella. The lineup may evoke a sense of cold-bloodedness, a ruthless master plan, but that impression would be wrong for the guy Sardella executive chef Nick Blue called his “softer side.”

“I’ve never really had a plan,” Witherspoon said. “I always just kind of go where I want to go and I figure it out when I get there.” He’s gotten where he is simply by aiming high, giving it a shot. He secured the job at Niche with a cold call – an effort that would seem laughable if it hadn’t worked. “I have the attitude of start at the top,” he said. “Because it’s easier to start there than it is to start down and try to move up.”

This strategy, of course, only works if you have the skills to support it. “He has a really playful sense of food … an ability to translate comfort food into modern food,” Craft said. Take, for example, Witherspoon’s recent special at Sardella: a pastrami-spiced brisket and squash agnolotti served with pickled and butter-braised cabbage. “It doesn’t taste like it’s just a riff [on a Reuben],” Craft said. “It is its own dish – something nuanced and unique.’”

But for Witherspoon, being a chef has as much to do with how you treat people as what you serve them. “It’s almost impossible not to smile when you see Sam. He boosts everybody’s mood,” Craft said. “He’s a very positive spirit in the kitchen. That’s totally separate from cooking ability, but almost more important sometimes.”

He learned this during his externship at Maialino, where it wasn’t just the high pressure or long hours that impressed him. “These guys were very serious about what they did, but they walked in every day, they shook your hand, asked you how you were doing,” Witherspoon said. “They really invested in you, and that’s something I’ve carried with me throughout my entire career.”

A focus on hospitality in and out of the kitchen may sound peripheral, but it’s something that sets Witherspoon apart. A lot of people with serious culinary talent don’t make it past sous. “To be a great leader, there’s a certain amount of positivity that has to be there for people to want to work for you,” Craft said. He was equally impressed by Witherspoon’s ability to interact with guests. “If you’re going to do your own thing, you’ve got to have it – or you better hire somebody who does.”

There’s no doubt Witherspoon will have a lot of people working for him someday. For now, aside from having his voice heard through more dishes on Sardella’s menu, his goal is simple: “I would love to be able to give Nick Blue a day off.”

Photo by Carmen Troesser



The Scoop: Heritage BBQ by Cochon returns to St. Louis Sept. 14

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014


{From left, Blackberry Farm’s Michael Sullivan, 2013 Cochon competing chefs Fabrizio Schenardi, Gerard Craft, SPQR’s Matthew Accarrino, Kevin Willmann, Kevin Nashan and Cochon founder Brady Lowe}


Pork lovers, rejoice! Heritage BBQ by Cochon is returning to St. Louis this year. The national tour that celebrates heritage breed hogs will take place Sept. 14 at the Four Seasons Hotel-St. Louis. Cochon founder Brady Lowe brought his Heritage BBQ to town for the first time last year, and his 2014 ‘cue fest is set to be even bigger.

The main attraction at the event is a whole hog barbecue competition. Five area chefs will each cook up a 200-pound heritage breed swine to create six dishes judged by a panel of local industry professionals. The lineup of competing chefs is: Gian Nicola Colucci (executive chef, Four Seasons – St. Louis), Eric Heath (chef and co-owner, Cleveland-Heath), Patrick Connolly (executive chef, Basso), Josh Galliano (chef and co-owner, The Libertine) and Lou Rook III (executive chef, Annie Gunn’s).

But the pig-crazed can dine on more than competition barbecue. New this year is Barbecue Traditions, during which area meat moguls will serve a dish exemplifying their take on barbecue paired with wines, bbers or spirits. Look for Mike Emerson of Pappy’s Smokehouse and Chris Bolyard of soon-to-open Bolyard Meat & Provisions to be among those educating eaters on barbecue culture. Other food attractions will include a pop-up butcher shop featuring Andrew Jennrich of soon-to-open The Butchery, a tartare bar with edible delights by Creekstone Farms, a cheese spread by Rogue Creamery and ice cream from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams.

Even though there will be pound upon pound of tender, juicy meat prepared every which way, libations aren’t an afterthought. Festival-goers will can partake in top-tier bourbons, Crispin ciders, wines, mezcals and Goose Island beers, including its rare Bourbon County brews.

VIP tickets are $200 and include a 4 p.m. early admission, as well as access to reserve wines and spirits. General admission tickets are $100; tickets available online.

Sauce Magazine is a sponsor of this event.

Gear up for epic pork-fest Heritage BBQ by Cochon

Monday, August 5th, 2013



Get your piggy bib on: The Heritage BBQ by Cochon is just a few weeks away. The Scoop announced in March that Cochon, a national event series focused around heritage breed hogs, would be coming to St. Louis. Heritage BBQ, taking place Aug. 25 at the Four Seasons St. Louis, is a competition and an eating extravaganza.

For the competition, five chef teams are challenged to utilize a whole heritage breed pig. Each team will showcase the whole hog in six distinct dishes: four meats and two sides. The winner receives $1,500 to donate to a charity or farm of their choosing, a stash of Cochon specially-selected, cask-strength Four Roses Bourbon, a keg of Cochon Edition “BBQ King” from Anchor Brewing and a CVap Pod from Winston Industries. The lineup of competing chefs is: Fabrizio Schenardi (executive chef of the Four Seasons St. Louis), Kevin Nashan (chef-owner of Sidney Street Cafe), Kevin Willmann (chef-owner of Farmhaus), Gerard Craft (chef-owner of Niche, Brasserie, Taste and Pastaria) and Matthew Accarrino (executive chef, SPQR in San Francisco).

But Heritage BBQ is more than just watching chefs mess with meat. There will be 1,200 pounds of pork and loads of other edibles for an anticipated crowd of 400 to feast on, along with a slew of libations – everything from bourbon to beer to Fernet Branca. VIP tickets are priced at $200 and receive a 5 p.m. early admittance. General admission tickets are $125, with an entrance time of 5:55 p.m. Purchase tickets here.

Looking to make it a full-on pig-out weekend? Attend the Heritage BBQ kick-off dinner Aug. 24 at Cielo at Four Seasons St. Louis. Fabrizio Schenardi will prepare a four-course dinner during which guests can toast heritage breed pigs with Cochon founder Brady Lowe and chef Accarrino. Dinner, including wine pairings, is $88 per person, and seating is limited. To make a reservation, contact Cielo.




UPDATED: Cochon Tour and Celebrity Chef Tour coming to St. Louis, Four Seasons to host both events

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Food enthusiasts, mark your calendars! Cochon and the James Beard Celebrity Chef Tour are both coming to St. Louis this year. This marks the first time that the pork-tacular Cochon will hit the Gateway City, and the second time in two years that St. Louis has landed on the Celebrity Chef Tour circuit.

Founded in 2008, Cochon is a national event series focused around heritage breed hogs. Cochon brings the public in conversation with top chefs, farmers and others in the food community who support a more sustainable food system.

Cochon-St. Louis will be held Sunday, August 25, at the Four Seasons, St. Louis and hosted by Cochon founder Brady Lowe. Participating chefs include: Fabrizio Schenardi (executive chef of the Four Seasons, St. Louis), Kevin Nashan (chef-owner of Sidney Street Cafe), Kevin Willmann (chef-owner of Farmhaus), Gerard Craft (chef-owner of Niche, Brasserie, Taste and Pastaria), and a mystery guest – a celebrated chef from outside of St. Louis – whose identity will be revealed at a later date. A total of 550 tickets will be available for this event. ***Update: Tickets are now available for purchase and cost $125 for general admission and $200 for VIP. Find them here.***

Looking for a more intimate Cochon experience? On Saturday, August 24, the Four Seasons is hosting a special meet and greet dinner at the hotel’s fine dining restaurant Cielo, which will feature dishes prepared by Lowe, Schenardi and the mystery chef. The four-course, all-inclusive meal costs $85 a person. To nab one of the 100 seats available for this event, make a reservation at Cielo.

The Celebrity Chef Tour is an on-the-road version of a dinner at the James Beard House, which is the “perfomance space” in New York City for visiting chefs. Last year, the event took place at Sidney Street Cafe. This year, the Four Seasons will host the event, slated for Thursday, September 19. Although the lineup of the seven or eight participating chefs is still being finalized, the following chefs are confirmed: Fabrizio Schenardi, Kevin Nashan, Kevin Willmann, Lou Rook (chef of Annie Gunn’s), Mark Richardson (executive chef for the Four Seasons, San Francisco and former chef of the now defunct Aujourd’hui in Boston) and Jeffrey Wurtz (executive pastry chef at Le Cirque in New York City). Tickets for the all-inclusive dinner cost $160 a person and will be available for purchase here. Approximately 170 tickets, which go on sale in late April, are available for the event.

An added bonus will be a cocktail reception held Wednesday, September 18, on the terrace of the Four Seasons Hotel. Tickets are $65 a person and include an evening of cocktails, wine and appetizers while you mingle with the participating celebrity chefs. A total of 125 tickets are available for the event. Reserve yours now by calling Cielo.

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