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Apr 24, 2017
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Posts Tagged ‘Farmhaus’

Extra Sauce: In case you missed it…

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

From national honors for hometown chefs to a new restaurant announcement from Dave Bailey, here’s what went down last week in the St. Louis food scene, in case you missed it…

 

050216_jamesbeardsidebyside

 

1.The St. Louis restaurant scene experienced a bit of déjà vu when the finalists for the James Beard Foundation Awards were announced March 15. Two St. Louis chefs moved on as finalists in the Best Chef: Midwest category: Sidney Street Cafe chef-owner Kevin Nashan and Farmhaus chef-owner Kevin Willmann. Both chefs were finalists in this category last year.

 

TwoPlumbers_01

 

2. Two Plumbers Brewery & Arcade officially opened doors Saturday, March 18, at 2236 First Capitol Drive in St. Charles. As The Scoop reported in December 2016, Two Plumbers is the brainchild of owner Robert Schowengerdt and head brewer John Simon.

 

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3. Restaurateur Dave Bailey, owner of Baileys’ Restaurants, will soon add another concept to his stable of eateries. Hugo’s Pizzeria is slated to open this summer at 3135 Olive St., in Midtown, just two blocks away from another of his restaurants, Small Batch.

 

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4. Tapped, a restaurant and bar that will allow customers to pour their own beer and wine, will open in April at 7278 Manchester Road. Co-owners Ryan and Lindsay Reel will open in the former A Pizza Story space.

 

The Scoop: James Beard Foundation names Kevin Nashan, Kevin Willmann Best Chef: Midwest finalists

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

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{ from left, Sidney Street Cafe chef-owner Kevin Nashan, Farmhaus chef-owner Kevin Willmann } 

 

The St. Louis restaurant scene experienced a bit of déjà vu when the finalists for the James Beard Foundation Awards were announced today, March 15. Two St. Louis chefs moved on as finalists in the Best Chef: Midwest category: Sidney Street Cafe chef-owner Kevin Nashan and Farmhaus chef-owner Kevin Willmann. Both chefs were finalists in this category last year.

“I’m so grateful,” Nashan said. “You never know if you’re going to on the list again – it’s torturous! I’m just so grateful and really excited for the team. I just found out and I’m really blown away.”

Willmann found out about the news when Sauce called for comment. “Oh, no shit? Hell yeah!” he said. “I’m really proud of my team this year, we have an awesome groove going, and the sky’s the limit. “

As The Scoop reported in February, the James Beard Foundation named four St. Louis-area chefs as semifinalists in the Best Chef: Midwest category. Olive & Oak executive chef Jessie Mendica and Público chef-owner Mike Randolph did not make it to the final round. Pastaria executive chef Ashley Shelton, a semifinalist for Rising Star Chef of the Year, also didn’t advance to the final round.

Winners of the chef and restaurant awards will be announced at a ceremony in Chicago on May 1. Local eatery Gioia’s Deli will also be honored at the gala; the Beard Foundation honored The Hill sandwich shop with an America’s Classic award in January.

 

Related Content
• The Scoop: 5 St. Louis chefs earn James Beard Foundation semifinalist honors

The Scoop: James Beard Foundation declares Gioia’s Deli an American Classic

The Scoop: James Beard award eludes Willmann and Nashan

The Scoop: 5 St. Louis chefs earn James Beard Foundation semifinalist honors

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

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{ Pastaria executive chef Ashley Shelton } 

 

The James Beard Foundation announced its 2017 restaurant and chef award semifinalists today, Feb. 15. St. Louis’s recent run of recognition from the foundation continues, as five St. Louis chefs earned nominations for the esteemed culinary awards.

Pastaria executive chef Ashley Shelton was named a semifinalist for Rising Star Chef of the Year. This award recognizes “a chef age 30 or younger who displays impressive talent and is likely to make a significant impact on the industry in years to come.”

“It’s pretty much every chef’s dream come true to be recognized in that way,” Shelton said.

The JBFA nod is the latest in a growing list of recognition for Shelton. She is a member of the Sauce Ones to Watch Class of 2016, and Eater named her a Young Gun of 2016. Shelton said the honors validate her leadership style in the kitchen. “For me, it keeps pushing me and telling that the path I’m on is the right path,” she said. “We’re trying to do something different in our restaurants – not screaming and yelling.”

Pastaria owner Gerard Craft, who won Best Chef: Midwest in 2015, said Shelton’s culinary future is bright, and not just because she’s a talented cook.

“Being a chef is being a chief. It’s being a leader. It’s one of the hardest parts of the job,” Craft said. “For somebody her age to lead a team the size that she leads and operation the size that she leads, I can’t imagine anybody doing it better. What she’s going to do in the future is sure to be amazing.”

 

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{ from left, Olive & Oak executive chef Jesse Mendica, Perennial Artisan Ales’ Phil Wymore and Olive & Oak owner Mark Hinkle }

 

JBF also named four area chefs as semifinalists in the Best Chef: Midwest region: Olive & Oak executive chef Jesse Mendica, Público chef-owner Mike Randolph, Sidney Street Cafe chef-owner Kevin Nashan and Farmhaus chef-owner Kevin Willmann. This category acknowledges “chefs who have set new or consistent standards of excellence in their respective regions.”

This is the first Beard Foundation honor for Mendica. Neither she nor Olive & Oak owner Mark Hinkle could immediately be reached for comment.

 

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{ Público chef-owner Mike Randolph }

 

This is the second semifinalist nod for Randolph, whose restaurant Público was named a finalist for Best New Restaurant 2016.

“Going into last year I had put so much emphasis on the restaurant getting the Best New nomination because I felt like that was kind of a loftier goal, to be honest,” Randolph said, crediting his team with the restaurant’s success. “But that being said, I look at this list – these are people that I admire and that I respect. Any time you get a chance to see your name thrown in that hat, it’s humbling. It makes me want to work harder – and go in and hug everyone at Público.”

 

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 { Farmhaus chef-owner Kevin Willmann }

Nashan and Willmann are no strangers to this prestigious honor. Willmann earned his first finalist nod last year. “It’s always an honor and always exciting, especially for the crew,” he said. “They go so hard to keep our standards up.”

 

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 { Sidney Street Cafe chef-owner Kevin Nashan }

 

Nashan has twice made it to the finalist round of this category. “It’s awesome and amazing,” he said. “I literally just found out. It’s an honor any time you’re mentioned — it’s just great to be on the bus.”

Finalists will be announced March 15, and the winners will be named May 1 in Chicago. A full list of the winners is available online.

 

Editor’s note: This post was updated Wednesday, Feb. 15 at noon to add comments from Kevin Willmann. 

Heather Hughes, Catherine Klene and Matt Sorrell contributed to this report.

Ashley Shelton and Kevin Willmann photos by Carmen Troesser; Kevin Nashan photo by Greg Rannells; Mike Randolph photo courtesy of Público by Greg Rannells; Jesse Mendica photo courtesy of Olive & Oak Facebook

 

Related Content
• The Scoop: James Beard Foundation declares Gioia’s Deli an American Classic

The Scoop: James Beard award eludes Willmann and Nashan

The Scoop: Chefs Kevin Nashan, Kevin Willmann earn finalist nods for JBFA Best Chef: Midwest

The Scoop: 5 STL-area chefs, The Side Project Cellar, Stone Soup Cottage all earn JBFA nods

The Scoop: Gerard Craft wins James Beard award

Ones to Watch 2017: Jake Sciales of Farmhaus

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

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Title: Head chef and baker, Farmhaus
Age: 29
Why watch him: On the ice or in the kitchen, he’s a competitor.

The greatest lesson Jake Sciales has learned in his four years baking bread is respect. “Bread doesn’t care how busy you are. It doesn’t care when you need it, how many reservations you have. It does its own thing and you have to adapt and react,” he explained.

Shortly after hiring Sciales, Farmhaus chef-owner Kevin Willmann had his friend Matt Herren, then owner of 222 Artisan Bakery in Edwardsville, teach the crew how to bake bread. It wasn’t long before Sciales was heading up Farmhaus’ bread program. “Two to three weeks after I started, it kind of got tossed on me,” Sciales said.

Sciales looks at restaurant work as a competition for the adrenaline to get though daily challenges. He accepted his new role of bread baker, on top of being chef, like the athlete he is. “I took it as a way to endear myself to the new crew I was joining,” Sciales said. “I wanted to take the responsibility and start contributing to the team.”

Sciales got his start washing dishes at Sky Hi in Columbia, Missouri, after college. He was initially attracted to a career in the restaurant industry for the same reason he played a lot of sports growing up, and still plays hockey every week. “A desk job isn’t a good fit for me,” he said. “Being active and having the rush of cooking, the pressure and intensity of it, drew me, and I ran with it.”

With bread baking, Sciales found a new awareness. “It was almost calming because I just followed the process; there was no cheating it, you just have to do it,” he said. “You have to work with it. It doesn’t work with you.”

Something is definitely working. Willmann insisted Sciales puts out some of the best bread in St. Louis. “He’s ambitious for sure, and reliable, with a magnet of a personality,” he said.

Sciales loves working with Homer, the 20-plus-year-old wild yeast mother used to make Farmhaus’ rustic country loaf, and is pretty into sourdough pretzels now. What’s next? “It jumps around,” he said. “Four, five months ago I was getting into focaccia.” Sciales’ mercurial interests fuel what breads Farmhaus serves, but one thing is clear: “Without Matt and Kevin, I probably wouldn’t be down this road right now.”

Photo by Carmen Troesser

Trendwatch: What’s on our plate, in our glasses and at the top of our wish lists now (Part 1)

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

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1. Sweet Heat: Golden honey infused with chile peppers makes for a fiery topping around town. Hot spiced honey is drizzled over a mountain of rich butternut squash on toast at Cleveland-Heath, while the crew at Pastaria adds the spicy nectar to balance its ’nduja pie. Likewise, chef Cary McDowell was spotted drizzling this sticky treat atop Pi’s Burning Man pizza. Top your DIY creation with Mike’s Hot Honey at Porano Pasta or pick up a bottle at Larder & Cupboard in Maplewood.

 

2. Carbonara Change Up: Chefs are putting their stamps on this classic Roman dish. Carbonara traveled south of the Mason-Dixon line at Juniper, where country ham stepped in for bacon. Farmhaus has gilded the creamy lily with lobster and a butter-poached farm egg, while Eleven Eleven Mississippi opts for roasted red pepper fettuccine and grilled chicken. The Libertine combines two Italian favorites (cacio e pepe and carbonara) and adds crispy pork belly; Small Batch goes the vegetarian route with bacon-esque smoked mushrooms, roasted cauliflower and snap peas; and Element chef Josh Charles breaks the carbonara mold completely with celery root-black pepper tortellini, sous vide egg yolk and pancetta.

 

3. Hooked on Whole Fish: Forget fillets; St. Louis is looking whole fish square in the eye. Público and Olive & Oak encourage sharing with a rotating whole fish special. Boundary offers whole fried snapper with Vietnamese salad, or you can fuse those Vietnamese flavors with Peruvian notes at Copper Pig when you order the fried red snapper with sofrito rice, maduros and a chile-tamarind sauce. Dig into herb-stuffed and grilled pompano at Lona’s Lil Eats, then dive in at Chaparritos with Mexican mojarra, whole fried tilapia served with rice, beans and tomatoes.

-photo by Greg Rannells

 

The Scoop: Chefs Kevin Nashan, Kevin Willmann earn finalist nods for JBFA Best Chef: Midwest

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

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{Chef Kevin Nashan}

Finalists for the 2016 James Beard Foundation Awards were announced today, March 15, and two St. Louis-area chefs are still in the running in the Best Chef: Midwest category. The James Beard Foundation recognized Kevin Nashan, chef-owner of Sidney Street Cafe and Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co., and Kevin Willmann, chef-owner of Farmhaus.

Willmann found out about his finalist nod when Sauce called for comment. “Are you serious? Oh my God. I’ve never been a finalist and am honored to share this with one of my best friends, Kevin Nashan. I hope one of us wins,” he said. “It’s awesome for our city. It’s cliche to say, but so many people have done collectively a good job to put our city on the map.”

Nashan said he was equally thrilled for Willmann as himself. “I’m floored. I’m super excited, and excited to see Kevin Willmann as a finalist as well,” Nashan said. “It’s humbling. I’m speechless and so grateful. There’s nothing to say.”

 

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{Kevin Willmann} 

As The Scoop reported in February, the James Beard Foundation named four St. Louis-area chefs as semifinalists in the Best Chef: Midwest category. Semifinalists Elaia and Olio chef-owner Ben Poremba and Público chef-owner Mike Randolph did not make it to the final round. Cleveland-Heath co-owner and chef Ed Heath was also a semifinalist for Best Chef: Great Lakes, but did not make it to the finalist round.

Among national awards, The Side Project Cellar was a semifinalist for Outstanding Bar Program, Stone Soup Cottage was a semifinalist in the Outstanding Service category, and Público earned semifinalist status in the Best New Restaurant category. None advanced to the final round.

Winners of the chef and restaurant awards will be announced at a ceremony in Chicago on May 2. A full list of nominees is available here.

Nashan and Willmann joined Sauce editor Catherine Klene to discuss their JBFA nominations on St. Louis Public Radio. Listen in to a special Sound Bites segment here.

 

-Nashan photo by Greg Rannells; Willmann photo by Carmen Troesser

Meals That Changed My Life: Kevin Willmann of Farmhaus

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

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It takes more than great food to make a great meal: Service, ambiance, company and cuisine all combine to create a dining experience. It is these experiences that have stuck with 2016 James Beard Award semifinalist and Farmhaus chef-owner Kevin Willmann. From Chicago to Florence, Italy to a picnic table in Greenville, Illinois, here are the meals that changed Willmann’s life.

 

Alla Vecchia Bettola
Florence, Italy, 2014

(My wife and I) found this little, family run restaurant across the park from where we were staying. … They sat us down between two tables. They had Jessica sit down and they brought this board and put it in between the two tables and brought a chair out of the back. Here we are packed into this already packed little tiny restaurant. We’re best friends now with the four people right next to us. I learned in Florence that they embrace the fact that, “This guy makes the best prosciutto. This guy makes the best mortadella.” … It opened my eyes to (the idea that) it’s OK to bring in the very best.

Greenville, Illinois
Childhood

The more formative meals are the meals of my childhood with everybody getting together for a harvest. All my aunts and my grandma would come over and pick all the beans from the garden in my dad’s backyard, and they’d sit there and can what seemed like 600 cans of beans. Then we’d go to Uncle Denny’s house and pick all of his corn. There were picnic tables full of shucked corn, and there were kids everywhere. I’m sure there were burned pork steaks and all of that. That’s the smell that goes along with the memory of being around the picnic table at the end of the summer and you have to get (all the produce) put away.

Schwa
Chicago, Illinois, 2006

We went to Schwa at the time I was in Edwardsville, getting going. They were jamming Portishead full blast. The cooks were serving their own food. … The vibe was very much: This is who we are. You were watching them make everything and bring it out to you. I knew we were going to be walking into a really great meal, but my idea of fine dining was completely blown away. It was gritty, raw and real. There was no fluff. That was a huge influence on me: It didn’t have to be perfect, but we can still do what we want to do. We can get started now. We don’t have to wait forever and save hundreds of thousands of dollars. There are ways to make this work.

-illustration by Vidhya Nagarajan

The Scoop: 5 STL-area chefs, The Side Project Cellar, Stone Soup Cottage all earn JBFA nods

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

 

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{Mike Randolph}

 

The James Beard Foundation announced its 2016 restaurant and chef award semifinalists today, Feb. 17. Once again, St. Louis is well represented among this year’s picks for the esteemed culinary awards.

Among the national categories, chef-owner Mike Randolph’s Público was named a semifinalist for Best New Restaurant. This category recognizes a restaurant that “already displays excellence in food, beverage, and service, and that is likely to make a significant impact in years to come.”

“It means the world,” Randolph said. “I’ve had the concept in my head for years. From the day we opened we knew exactly what we were and haven’t deviated from it. Our vision has been well received and people are excited about it. To be judged by people you really care about is pretty cool.”

Along with three other St. Louis-area chefs, Randolph was also named a semifinalist in the Best Chef: Midwest category. This is the first time Randolph was recognized by the James Beard Foundation.

“It’s humbling for sure, but I’m on the shoulders of the people I’ve had a chance to work with,” Randolph said. “It’s a testament to the crew.”

Sidney Street Cafe and Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co. chef-owner Kevin Nashan, Farmhaus chef-owner Kevin Willmann, and Elaia and Olio chef-owner Ben Poremba were also named semifinalists for Best Chef: Midwest. All three have previously made this prestigious shortlist.

Nashan said he feels honored that he and his team have been acknowledged once again. “I’m always grateful to be on the bus. We work hard. Not necessarily for this, but it feels great and it’s great for the team and great for this town. Hooray for St. Louis.”

“It’s a very big honor,” Poremba said. “It’s reaffirmation that my team and I are doing something right and on the right path.”

Poremba went on to comment on other area nominees. “It’s nice to see new inclusions to the list. There are people who are a big force in this town and contribute a lot to the scene, new semi-finalists and veterans. I’m stoked for Stone Soup Cottage and for Público. (Best New Restaurant) is a hard one to get.”

Willmann likewise said the JBFA nod was an honor and validation for his Farmhaus team.  “It’s always special to have our little mom-and pop restaurant recognized,” Willmann said. “We talk about being perfect and even though we can’t be perfect, we don’t take anything for granted. If something’s not right, we don’t sell it. It’s about doing our best every day.”

Across the river, chef and co-owner Ed Heath was named a semifinalist for Best Chef: Great Lakes for the second time in two years. “It’s super unreal,” he said. “I was 100-percent certain that it wasn’t gonna happen again. This morning, I didn’t even look.”

 

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{The Side Project Cellar team. From left, Katie Herrera, Shae Smith, Chris Hoertel and co-owner Karen King}

 

Also in the national categories, The Side Project Cellar in Maplewood was named a semifinalist in the Outstanding Bar Program category, which honors restaurants or bars that demonstrate excellence in cocktail, spirits and/or beer service. Side Project co-owner Karen King learned of the nomination when Sauce called for comment.

“Every year those come out and it’s always the best chefs in the freaking in world,” King said. “So we’re excited, I know that!”

Co-owner Cory King said he was thrilled to hear that Karen King’s hard work at The Cellar has been recognized. “It’s really mostly her,” he said. “She’s the one who operates this thing day-to-day.”

 

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{Carl and Nancy McConnell}

 

St. Louis-area service was also recognized at Cottleville’s Stone Soup Cottage, named a semifinalist for Outstanding Service as a restaurant open “five or more years that demonstrates high standards of hospitality and service.”

Co-owner Nancy McConnell said she and co-owner and chef Carl McConnell were shocked at the news. “We are on Cloud 9,” she said, stressing the importance of having their entire team recognized for their service efforts. “We are so humbled and just numb.”

This is the first James Beard Foundation Award nods for The Side Project Cellar and Stone Soup Cottage.

Finalists will be announced March 15; the James Beard Foundation Awards take place May 2 in Chicago.  A full list of semifinalists is available here.

Catherine Klene and Kristin Schultz contributed to this report. 

Editor’s note: This post was updated at 12:15 p.m. Feb. 17 to include comment from Kevin Willmann. 

-Mike Randolph photo by Greg Rannells, all other photos by Carmen Troesser

 

The List: 20 dishes, drinks, faces and places we love – Part 4

Monday, April 27th, 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 4 of our 2015 lineup, featuring an enterprising farmer, a hot mess of a sandwich, an unshareable dessert, the mom and pop behind Sugaree Baking Co., and Monday Funday (yes, really).

What’s on your list? Share with #TheSauceList on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and check out Parts 1 through 3 of The List here.

 

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16. Todd Geisert of Geisert Farms

Farming isn’t what it used to be. Ask Todd Geisert. His family has operated Geisert Farms in Washington for nearly a century, and much more has changed than the farming equipment. Always entrepreneurially minded (he started a metal fabrication business as a high school junior), Geisert diversified the farm’s offerings when he took over in 2008. Today, he boasts an abundant year-round roadside farmstand and creates more than 50 different meat products from potato-bacon sausage to teriyaki snack sticks. Geisert also distributes his pork to dozens of St. Louis restaurants and shops, unites fellow independent farmers across eastern Missouri and still raises hogs according to a deceptively simple philosophy: “The animals can be what they are, out in the fresh air and the sunshine,” Geisert said. “You can tell that they are content by looking at them.”

Here, four ways Geisert is redefining what it means to be a farmer:

A businessman
“Produce is a big part of our business now. The first year I planted 120 tomato plants and I thought that was a lot. … The last couple years, we planted 5,000 tomato plants. Once we build (customers’) trust and give them a good quality product at a reasonable price, it’s a fairly easy sell from there.”

An ambassador
“We’re pretty proud of the town. I’ve done quite a bit of traveling across the United States, and there’s not too many places like Washington, Missouri. The volunteerism is the biggest thing you’ll find in Washington that is unique. … Some people have left town and didn’t realize how good they had it until they came back.”

A family farm advocate
“I feel a responsibility to help people grow and try to keep the family farms to give people an avenue to keep a living. That’s a tough thing to do in our business.”

A softie
“Dealing with the baby pigs is my specialty.”  – C.K.

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17. Hot Roast Beef at Eovaldi’s Deli

If a sandwich is just a sandwich, then Eovaldi’s Deli’s Hot Roast Beef must be meat and cake. Delicately sliced top-round beef is piled high on fresh garlic cheese bread and topped with your choice of melted cheese (ours is mozzarella). While savory juices drip with each bite, a side of robust, hot au jus is served for the dip-on-demand types. Still a sandwich skeptic? Start with a 4½-incher, but be warned: By next week, you’ll be on to the 6-inch then the 9, and by the end of the month, no one will be surprised when you quietly graduate to the 12.  – E.M.

18. Monday Funday

The next time you have a case of the Mondays, hit up one of St. Louis’ culinary hotspots that break with tradition and open their doors on Monday. Head to Farmhaus for its Blue Plate Special lunch of crunchy fried chicken, mac-n-cheese, smashed taters, house salad and tea. For dinner, check out Niche’s Monday Supper, where the sous chefs take the reins for a $35 three-course meal of refined comfort fare, or stop by Juniper for its Mondays-only Meat and Three, a Southern tradition served family style. Don’t feel like dressing up? Swing by Pastaria for Meatball Monday, or if even that sounds like too much effort, enjoy dinner in your pajamas after grabbing a Meatball Monday meal to-go from Bolyard’s Meat & Provisions, featuring fresh beef and pork meatballs with Pastaria’s pasta and pomodoro sauce. We’ve never looked forward to Mondays as much as we do now.  – S.P.

 

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18. Pat Rutherford-Pettine and Jim Pettine at Sugaree Baking Co. 

This past St. Patrick’s Day, like they do every St. Patrick’s Day, Pat and Jimmy fired up a grill in front of their Dogtown bakery, Sugaree Baking Co., and sold beer, brats and, in Pat’s words, “Some crappy high-school cafeteria pizza that we buy just for that day. The drunks just love it!”

Pat and Jimmy, formally known as Pat Rutherford-Pettine and Jim Pettine, exude a lust for life with a healthy dash of humor that precedes even their formidable skills in the bakery (where, it should go without saying, nothing they make is crappy).

Every day the couple descends from their home above Sugaree to whip up buttery quiches, chocolate croissants, small-batch fig bars, lemon coconut roulade cakes, crisp cookies and pies. Then each Monday they send out an email letting regulars know which pies will be for sale that weekend (the storefront is only open Fridays and Saturdays), so customers can reserve pies in flavors like chocolate cream, peach-blackberry, caramel-apple crumb and dozens more. Even if you’ve never made it to the storefront, chances are you’ve already savored one of Sugaree’s cakes or pies. They often wind up at some of your favorite local restaurants and institutions, including Grapeseed, Quincy Street Bistro, I Fratellini, Kreis’ Steakhouse & Bar, Pho Grand, Tony’s A.M., and the concessions at the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

Don’t forget Sugaree’s potpies, sweet brioche and mini cheesecakes – you’ll wind up trying everything once you become a member of Pat and Jimmy’s extended family of customers. If you’re lucky, you might get a sneak preview of forthcoming dessert specials. If you’re even luckier you might hear tales from Pat of her daughter, grandson and the jerk who took her parking space last night.

Plenty of brides-to-be order wedding cakes from Sugaree, too. If you find yourself sharing gossip with Pat while she’s meticulously decorating one of their cakes, then you’re not just a regular, you’re a friend.  – B.K.

 

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20. Pineapple Inside-out Cake in a Cup at The Fountain on Locust

Every time I order my favorite dessert at The Fountain on Locust, someone asks, “Can I have some? You can try mine!” No! I don’t want to try yours, and as for my Pineapple Inside-out Cake in a Cup, I don’t have enough to share. Once I arrange the perfect bite of whipped cream, ice cream and fluffy, house-made spongecake with a dab of the sweet, buttery pineapple sauce from its center, I understand why you’re jealous, but here’s the upside: You can get your own. – M.N.

 

-Todd Geisert photo by Greg Rannells; sandwich, Sugaree and cake photos by Elizabeth Maxson

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

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

 

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{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.

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