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Jan 21, 2018
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Posts Tagged ‘competition’

The Scoop: Sugarfire’s Mike Johnson takes third in Bacon World Championship

Monday, November 9th, 2015



Sugarfire Smoke House chef and co-owner Mike Johnson took third place in the bacon category at the World Food Championships in Kissimmee, Florida on Saturday, Nov. 7.

Johnson competed against 50 chefs hailing from around the world in a three-round bacon-off. Johnson’s first entry was a bacon taco featuring a shell fashioned from smoked bacon and filled with bacon fat-poached lobster and corn relish. Next up was a dumpling dish with pork belly in a bacon consommé with dumplings made from dehydrated and powdered bacon mixed with flour. Finally, Johnson served a bacon-encrusted red snapper smoked on a cedar plank.

Johnson won $1,500 for his creative bacon dishes. He came in fifth place at the same event in 2014 and plans to return next year and bring home the top prize. “It’s about street cred at this point,” said Johnson. “I’m working for the title of Bacon World Champion.”



The Scoop: Blood & Sand bartender wins regional competition

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015



Gin and sauerkraut juice were among the ingredients in A Norwegian Abroad, the cocktail that won Blood & Sand’s Matt Osmoe top honors at Bombay Sapphire’s World’s Most Imaginative Bartender regional competition in Nashville on Monday, Aug. 11. It was his first competition outside of St. Louis.

“I was shocked, honestly,” he said. “I had confidence in the cocktail, but it’s a very different ballgame than being behind your home bar talking to guests and getting them what they’d like.”

Osmoe represented St. Louis against five qualifying bartenders from four other Midwest cities: Kansas City, Nashville, Louisville, Kentucky and Birmingham, Alabama. His gin-based creation included egg white, sauerkraut and lemon juices and was served with a side of smoked trout on a bed of dill. “The idea was to compliment the cocktail, which is bright and has a sour umami,” he said. “The side of fish had fat, oil and smoke. The two things combined together really well.”

Osmoe will head to Las Vegas at the end of August to compete in the finals. The format of the four-day mix-off hasn’t been announced, but Osmoe will head to Sin City prepared to do his town proud. “I’m excited to go and hoping to represent St. Louis well,” he said.

-photo by Ed Allen  


The Scoop: Pinckney Bend Distillery wins gold at 2015 San Francisco World Spirits Competition

Thursday, April 9th, 2015



The results of the 2015 San Francisco World Spirits Competition were recently announced, and a handful of area distilleries were honored with medals. New Haven-based Pinckney Bend was awarded gold medals both for its sherry cask corn whiskey and its cask-finished gin. Bronze medals were awarded to: Defiant Spirits for its Defiance High Rye bourbon whiskey; Rebel Yell, a honey whiskey locally blended by Luxco; and local dandelion liqueur Lion’s Tooth. Defiance High Rye and Lion’s Tooth were both released in 2014.

This is the fourth time in as many years that Pinckney Bend has earned recognition at the esteemed spirits competition. In 2014, Pinckney Bend took home a coveted double gold medal for its American Rested Whiskey. In 2013, its un-aged corn whiskey received a gold medal; in 2012, its gin also took home a gold.

The number of submissions for this year’s competition totaled nearly 1,600 entries and hailed from 41 states and 66 countries in 90 classifications. The entries were evaluated by a judging panel that consisted of journalists, distillers, beverage directors, mixologists, restaurateurs, Master Sommeliers, hoteliers, consultants and educators from the beverage community. Click here for a complete results of 2015 medal winners.

Editor’s Note: This post originally reported that Pinckney Bend won for its corn whiskey and that Lion’s Tooth is a collaboration between Water Street Cafe and Crown Valley. It has been updated with the correct information. 


The Scoop: Grbic family wins ‘Guy’s Grocery Games,’ announce plans to open new Lemmons

Thursday, January 15th, 2015


{From left, Erna, Ermin and Senada Grbic}


Three South St. Louis siblings cooked up a recipe for success during their Jan. 11 appearance on The Food Network. Senada, Erna and Ermin Grbic of Grbic Restaurant won Guy’s Grocery Games, a culinary competition hosted by network personality Guy Fieri. The Grbic clan bested three other families from around the country to win a $10,000 cash prize. They also advanced to an additional round for a chance to win a final $20,000 shopping spree.

According to Ermin Grbic, Grbic’s restaurant manager, the family was recommended for the show and went through rounds of interviews before making it onto the program, which he described as an “unreal” experience.

“After you get in the zone you don’t even notice the lights or camera people,” he said. “It’s just like being in the kitchen with my siblings, just working together like we always do.”

The siblings will use their winnings to send their parents on vacation and to reinvest the money back into their South City restaurant, which taps the family’s Bosnian roots to create its popular Eastern European cuisine.

The Grbics are also in the process of opening a new restaurant concept; they recently purchased the building that once housed Lemmons, which they plan on reopening in the summer as a sports bar. Senada Grbic said the new space will honor its former  in both name and menu; they plan to call the space Lemmons or Lemmons by Grbic. “I’m hoping to do the menu sort of like the original Lemmons with more of a modern fusion,” Senada Grbic said. “We don’t want to mess with the history of the place.”


Extra Sauce: Sauce One-up Potluck Instagram Contest

Monday, November 3rd, 2014



This year, our annual Guide to the Holidays is all about gift giving, goodwill … and destroying the competition at your holiday potluck. We asked six area chefs to share their go-to potluck dishes guaranteed to keep everyone talking until next year’s get together.

Now Sauce wants to know, what’s you’re one-up potluck recipe? Share a photo and description of your dish during our Sauce One-up Potluck Instagram Contest. Here’s how it works:

1. Follow @SauceMag on Instagram.

2. Snap a photo of your successful one-up potluck dish and share it on Instagram, along with a description of your creation. Be sure to tag @SauceMag and use the hashtag #SaucePotluck so we know you entered. (And yes, you can submit more than one dish if you’re really that good!)

3. Post your dish by Friday, Nov. 21 at noon. Then, we’ll choose our favorite and announce the winner, who will receive a $150 gift certificate to Dierbergs, as well as a stunning floral arrangement to decorate your Thanksgiving table.

Now start cooking and remember: humility is highly overrated!

-photo by Johnathan Gayman

Extra Sauce: Companion’s Josh Allen enters bread battle to compete in World Cup of Baking

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Every four years, the world goes wild for international competition. Participants train endlessly, all vying for the chance to represent their countries on the grandest of stages. No, we’re not talking about the Olympics or the World Cup. We’re talking about a more delicious and mouthwatering sport: the World Cup of Baking, or the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie.

The top three bakers from each country’s team will gather in Paris in March 2016 to be judged on bread, Viennese pastries, a savory sandwich presentation and an artistic piece. But before they go head-to-head in international competition, they have to make their national team. St. Louis’ own Josh Allen, owner of Companion, is one of 15 bakers fighting for a coveted spot tomorrow and Friday, Oct. 23 and 24, at the next round of competition in Providence, Rhode Island. If selected, Allen will be the first St. Louis baker to compete in the World Cup.

Since August, Allen has spent nearly every Friday at the Ladue Companion Cafe from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., elbow-deep in dough, testing new recipes and learning along the way. We popped by one of his final practice sessions to get the inside look at how a baker prepares for the tryout of a lifetime.

Allen is required to present five types of bread: a traditional and decorative baguette, a sourdough-based option, a nutritional loaf, and two freestyle breads of his creation. All five must be completed in eight hours and match precise weight and shape requirements.




Since the judges will taste the bread straight from the oven, Allen has changed his usual methods, which focus on preparing bread consumed 12 hours later. “(I) found that the amount of thyme or rosemary has to be cut way back because it’s so floral initially,” Allen said.

Allen wanted to create breads that stand alone, almost as a meal. Each bite should be a sensory overload, he explained.




The nutritional bread (pictured below), which contains more than 50 percent whole-grain flour, has the comforting aroma of chamomile dust. Mixed throughout the dough are quinoa and wild rice, as well as sweet-tart, crunchy pomegranate seeds.




The classic baguette (below) is Allen’s favorite.




Allen elevated the average sourdough (below) by using semolina flour studded with fennel and sesame seeds and brown butter to gild the lily.




The first freestyle bread (below, left) is an ode to fall: chunks of apple and toasted walnut are folded into a thyme- and apple cider-infused rye dough topped with barley for crunch. He kicks up the heat with his second freestyle bread (below, right): an airy polenta bread with briny green olives, aromatic rosemary, bright orange zest, and a zip of red pepper.




Allen expects to hear the results of this round in two weeks or so. If he succeeds, he will move to the final round of competition in March 2015, when the top three compete again to earn the coveted bread baker slot on the three-person team. “I’m as ready to go as I can be,” Allen said the day before competition. “There’s no telling what will resonate with the judges … I’m very excited about it. It’s been a great experience, but it’s been enough work that you want to do well.”

Spencer Pernikoff blogs at Whiskey and Soba

-story and photos by Spencer Pernikoff

Raise your voice: Nominations open for James Beard Awards

Friday, October 17th, 2014



Calling all opinionated St. Louis foodies! The prestigious James Beard Foundation has put out a call to the public, requesting nominations for its annual awards. Here’s your chance to call out your favorite chef and restaurant. Click here to register and nominate. Don’t delay – submit your culinary nods before Dec. 31, 2014.

St. Louis is no stranger to the James Beard Foundation. In fact at this very moment, St. Louis is heating up the kitchens at the James Beard House in New York City. The Libertine executive chef and co-owner Josh Galliano cooks there tonight, Oct. 17. Though you can’t grab a seat at that esteemed table tonight, you can pull up a seat at The Libertine bar starting at 5 p.m. for a special happy hour where guests can watch Galliano in action on a live-stream from the James Beard kitchens.

St. Louis made waves on the JBFA stage earlier this year, too. Kevin Nashan, chef-owner of Sidney Street Cafe and the newly opened Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co., and Gerard Craft, chef-owner of Niche Food Group (including Niche, Pastaria, Taste and Brasserie) were both finalists in the Best Chef: Midwest category.




The Scoop: The Civil Life Brewing Co. takes gold at Great American Beer Festival

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014


{From left, Civil Life brewers Brandon Stern and Dylan Mosley accept the gold award for their Rye Pale Ale at the Great American Beer Festival.}


The Civil Life Brewing Co. is raising a pint or two in celebration following its victory last Saturday, Oct. 4, at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. Brewers Dylan Mosley and Brandon Stern accepted the gold medal for Civil Life’s Rye Pale Ale, which bested more than 80 beers entered in the rye category.

“I would like to think that maybe what made it stand out was that it was a very well-rounded, well-made beer,” Mosley said. “The category rye allows for a lot of self-expression and possibly even a lot of experimentation.” Though he has not yet received official feedback from the judges, Mosley said he thought The Civil Life’s experimentation with a traditional pale ale caught their attention.

“We shoot for something that’s a little deeper and copper in color,” he said. “Rye tends to be a little on the lean side. It can have a spicy note to it.” Mosley and Stern balance that spice with sweetness, using different malts and citrus- and pine-forward hops from the Pacific Northwest.

This was the first year The Civil Life attended the Great American Beer Festival, which attracts thousands of breweries from across the country. Mosley said taking top honors both validates the 3-year-old brewery’s beermaking style and also raises the bar for what’s to come.

“We may have a lot of pretty traditional beers in our portfolio. When you can do well with something that is not immediately as exciting … as some of other things (out there) … it says something about your philosophy and technique,” Mosley said. “We’ve got to make sure that everything we’re doing lives up to the moment that we were getting recognition for.”


-photo courtesy of Jason E. Kaplan

The Scoop: Vincent Van Doughnut wins Cooking Channel’s “Donut Showdown”

Monday, July 14th, 2014


{Vincent Van Doughnut co-owner Vincent Brian Marsden}

Local doughnut truck Vincent Van Doughnut made a national splash last Friday, July 11, when owner Vincent Brian Marsden and pastry chef Jamie Hardesty took home first place and $10,000 on the season premiere of Cooking Channel’s “Donut Showdown.” Marsden said this victory places the mobile doughnut shop in the growing circle of other local eateries with national competition chops. “Jilly’s has won (“Cupcake Wars”), Sweet Devine has won and Vincent Van Doughnut has won. It speaks volumes to the talent of St. Louis,” he said. “I’m happy to be included in that realm.”

Marsden and Hardesty survived two rounds against two other competitors, Toronto-based Amazing Donuts and Tucson, Arizona spa Miraval. The first round required the use of a secret ingredient: jelly beans. Vincent Van Doughnut created an anise mascarpone orange-topped doughnut garnished with a melted jellybean glaze. The final round required three Las Vegas-themed entries. Marsden and Hardesty wowed judges with The Bellagio, a doughnut filled with caramel pastry cream, glazed with chocolate ganache and topped with hazelnut-caramel crunch; The Venetian, filled with ricotta pastry cream, glazed with lemon and topped with pistachios and tarragon; and The Flamingo, a cherry cake doughnut topped with a maraschino cherry glaze and silver nonpareils.

Filming took place in February, and the Vincent Van Doughnut team had to keep mum on its victory until after the premiere. Marsden said the prize money will go toward truck improvements, including the purchase of a new fryer, and will come in handy when he starts hunting for Vincent Van Doughnut’s brick-and-mortar home.

Forgot to set your DVR? The season premiere of “Donut Showdown” airs again July 19 at 7 p.m. on Cooking Channel.


The Scoop: Two locals reach finals in national coffee competitions

Monday, April 28th, 2014



Two faces from the local coffee scene were on the national stage last weekend, April 26 and 27, at the 2014 United States Coffee Championships in Seattle.

Nora Brady, co-owner of Blueprint Coffee, took sixth in the final round of the U.S. Barista Championship, and Kaldi’s Coffee roaster Tony Auger took third in the finals of the U.S. Brewers Cup Championship.

During the barista championship, Brady prepared three beverages for a panel of judges: a single espresso, a cappuccino and a signature beverage, which contained at least one shot of espresso and any additional elements except alcohol. Competitors had 15 minutes to prepare, explain and serve their drinks. Brady’s signature beverage (pictured) was a combination of chilled Victor Molano espresso, a reduction of macerated beet and turbinado sugar, lemon juice and nitrogen dioxide.

The Brewers Cup recognizes the art of manual coffee brewing. While the competition relies primarily on sensory analysis of hand-brewed coffee, competitors are also judged on customer service and coffee knowledge.

Their participation in the finals marks the first time in two years that a St. Louis-area barista has advanced to the final round of either competition. Blueprint co-owner Mike Marquard finished fourth in the 2012 Brewers Cup, and sixth in the 2009 and 2010 U.S. Barista Championship. National coffee blog Sprudge commented on the rarity of Brady’s success in particular.  “it’s huge & rare & without much precedent, for @blueprintcoffee to field a finalist before their first birthday. ‪#usbc2014 ‪@snackpackbrady,” @SprudgeLive tweeted.

-photo courtesy of Blueprint Coffee

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