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Dec 18, 2017
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Posts Tagged ‘Garrett Faulkner’

The Scoop: Michael David Murphy named beverage director at Bar Italia

Friday, August 28th, 2015

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On the heels of Brandon Kerne’s departure, Bar Italia has found a replacement for its now-vacant beverage directorship: Michael David Murphy, who oversaw the beverage program at Gerard Craft’s empire of restaurants, will fill Kerne’s shoes beginning this week.

“This is a really exciting opportunity,” Murphy said, citing the more than 600 bottles now amassed in Bar Italia’s wine library. “The cellar runs deep. There’s not many places in St. Louis that you can go to have wine that is correctly aged and served in its prime for $60 to $70.”

Since April 2014, Murphy worked for Robust Wine Bar, following stints as wine director and, later, beverage director for the Craft Restaurant Group from 2010 to 2011 and 2012 to 2013. In between, he was a wine manager for a distributor in Kansas City. Under Murphy’s watch, Craft’s Niche earned a spot among Wine Enthusiast’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants in 2013. He will continue to flex his sommelier muscles in his position at Bar Italia.

“This really is, from a sommelier’s perspective, a dream. Brandon did a phenomenal job elevating this into a prestigious program,” Murphy said. He plans to broaden the regional representation of the wine list and continue to evolve the 30-year-old restaurant’s monthly wine dinner program. Yet for the most part, he said, he just wants to keep an already flourishing program going strong.

Mengesha Yohannes, co-owner of Bar Italia, said Murphy’s laidback approach to beverage service differs from Kerne’s, but is no less apt. “He’s very quiet, but there’s a lot of substance,” Yohannes said. “Every time I have a chat with him, I’m always surprised, the hidden passions boiling under the surface. He’s very, very engaging and has a deep passion that comes out in surprising ways. More of a Zen master approach.”

Kerne, who worked with Murphy for several months before his departure to facilitate the transition, was equally enthusiastic. “I cannot recommend (Michael) enough as a professional,” Kerne said. “He is undoubtedly one of the top talents in the city.”

 

 

 

 

The Scoop: St. Louis sommelier Brandon Kerne to depart Bar Italia for Texas

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

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Editor’s note: This post was updated at 5 p.m. July 30 to include comments from Bar Italia co-owner Mengesha Yohannes. 

 

When Brandon Kerne first took a job as a server after a brief stint at Monsanto, he was young and a little rudderless. Now, the industry greenhorn who blossomed into one of the most recognizable sommeliers in St. Louis is taking his talents to Houston’s Pappas Bros. Steakhouse.

Kerne announced Monday, July 27, that he is leaving his post as beverage director at Bar Italia for his new position as a sommelier on Sept. 1. “I have had the opportunity to work with some of the deepest, most exciting lists in town, and I have worked side by side with the best of the best in this city. I am very grateful,” he said via email.

Kerne began talks with Pappas Bros. Steakhouse in May, and the pieces soon fell into place. “Everything just made sense,” he said. “I am really pumped about tackling a 200-page wine list and returning to a list that covers the entirety of the wine world.”

Kerne, who has also worked with the wine programs at Olio, Elaia and 33 Wine Bar, developed an unorthodox system for Bar Italia’s wines that prioritized tasting notes and characteristics over the name and vintage of the wine itself. He is also among the handful of St. Louis sommeliers studying for the notoriously punishing master sommelier exam. Kerne said Pappas Bros. has graduated several master sommeliers, and he said the move to Houston was partly to continue preparation for the exam.

“I am actually moving directly into an apartment with two other advanced sommeliers (the certification tier immediately below master) in Houston,” he said.

Kerne acknowledged that leaving St. Louis behind will be bittersweet. “The Yohannes brothers are some of the most interesting, charismatic people I have worked for,” he said. “I’m still incredibly enthused about what we are accomplishing with my team at Bar Italia, and I look forward to watching them continue their growth from afar.”

Bar Italia co-owner Mengesha Yohannes said he was proud of his beverage director. “It’s not a loss, it’s a progression,” he said. “What (Brandon) does and what his cohorts do … is remarkably intense and dedicated. They are all ferocious. As soon as he got his advanced sommelier pin, it was clear this young man was headed places.”

Yohannes said he has a few replacements for Kerne in mind, but declined to name any specifically. For the moment, he’s hoping to continue Bar Italia’s run as a nucleus for top wine talent in St. Louis, even considering collaborative direction for the restaurant’s wine program.

-photo by Ashley Gieseking

The Scoop: Caravelli signs on at Butchery, Andrew takes over as head butcher, McDonald departs for Byrd & Barrel

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

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{Steven Caravelli}

 

Do the Truffles shuffle! A considerable role shift is underway at Truffles Butchery. The Ladue restaurant and meat market recently announced Steven Caravelli has assumed the executive chef-ship of Butchery in cooperation with Brandon Benack, executive chef of Truffles. Caravelli, who started at Butchery June 16, is most recently an alum of Cucina Pazzo; he also has helmed Tavern Kitchen, Pi, Gringo, Araka and Sleek.

“It’s kind of a new aspect right now. I’ve been calling myself a shopkeep,” Caravelli said. “I’ve got to know about wine, about all these prepared items we have in the case. I have to know about all the mustard and barbecue sauces we have. It’s almost like a grocery store. For me, it’s a very exciting … opportunity to learn.”

Caravelli said he hopes to expand Butchery’s catering and prepared foods program, particularly boxed lunches that will include house-prepared roast beef, ham and other deli meats. “I want to maintain the consistency and quality of the place,” he said. “We pride ourselves on catering to the neighborhood. We’re trying to figure out what the neighborhood wants and what the neighborhood eats and make more of that.”

 

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{Tommy Andrew}

 

While Caravelli will oversee much of the management duties both in the kitchen and in Butchery’s retail section, butcher Tommy Andrew – a member of this year’s Sauce’s Ones to Watch class – will fill the sous chef and head butcher positions. Caravelli and Andrew previously worked together at Gringo. “(Tommy’s) great at breaking down whole animals,” Caravelli said. “We work well together.”

While staying mostly mum on the details of his new role, Andrew said he is “definitely going to be stepping up a bit.” His promotion comes soon after the departure of Ryan McDonald, who left several weeks ago to be a chef at upcoming fried chicken eatery Byrd & Barrel, slated to open in July.

 

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{Ryan McDonald} 

 

“To be honest, I missed cooking,” McDonald explained. “Butchering was awesome, running the shop was a lot of fun … but my love is in cooking. Me and Bob (Brazell, co-owner of Byrd & Barrel) have been good friends for years and years now, so it seemed like the right move.”

He also mentioned McDonald’s expertise with charcuterie, which he hopes to add to the Byrd & Barrel menu. “Ryan and I have been really close friends since Monarch,” Brazell said. “I want someone that I trust and is going to care about it as much as I do. Ryan’s one of the most talented chefs I’ve worked with. … (He’s) definitely going to be having a lot of influence.”

“Getting back, having fun, cooking really good food and keeping high expectations,” McDonald said. “That’s our main goal: to cook good food for good people.”

 

-Caravelli and Andrew photos by Carmen Troesser; McDonald photo by Greg Rannells

The Scoop: Cassy Vires departs Juniper, John Perkins to step in with new menu

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

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{Juniper chef-owner John Perkins}

 

Cassy Vires, who took the top toque earlier this year as head chef of Juniper, departed the restaurant Saturday, June 20. Chef-owner John Perkins will fill the role in the interim, citing a desire to take a firmer role in the kitchen at his restaurant.

“Cassy’s a very talented, very intelligent lady, and I know she’s going to do well at whatever she picks next. I’m excited to see what is next for her,” Perkins said. “We have parted ways, (but) it’s not a nasty situation.” Vires did not return requests for comment.

Perkins cited creative differences in the two chefs’ vision for the menu, which he is revamping in the wake of Vires’ departure. It will be unveiled early next week. “Pretty much everything on the menu will be replaced or rethought a little bit,” he said. “Our stated vision for the restaurant is New Southern food inspired by the traditions of the region. The idea is that each dish has some kind of tether that ties it to the South.”

Likely menu additions include a white gazpacho made with boiled peanuts, a fried bologna plate with pimento cheese and pickles, a four-beet salad tossed with togarashi-spiced corn nuts and a more traditional take on the kitchen’s ribs, which will now be dry-rubbed, smoked and served over Sea Island red peas with Carolina-style mustard-based sauce.

Since Vires took the helm in January, Perkins remained relatively hands-off in the kitchen, seeking to devote additional time to his family. Yet he said he began to feel he hadn’t adequately communicated his vision for the menu to Vires and his staff.

“Being of the same mind about that has been a bit of struggle for the two of us,” he said. “I kind of put her in a tough position of basically trying to replicate my vision for things while I wasn’t as present and as involved as I should have been.”

Though he’s bringing another chef in the near future (he declined to name the person), Perkins said he plans to have more of a hand in the kitchen’s everyday operations. “I will definitely be involved … more than I have been ever in the kitchen,” he said. “I’m actually really excited about it.”

-photo by Jonathan Gayman  

The Scoop: Pappy’s Mike Emerson spearheads national barbecue festival in St. Louis

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

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Naysayers may claim the barbecue craze is on its way out, but Mike Emerson, co-owner of Pappy’s Smokehouse, begs to differ. Emerson recently announced the debut of Q in the Lou, a national barbecue festival Sept. 25 to 27 at Soldiers’ Memorial. The free event, which celebrates St. Louis’ role in what Emerson called the “barbecue triangle” of St. Louis, Kansas City and Memphis, will feature food available for purchase and demonstrations by a number of national barbecue gurus.

“I’m extremely excited. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” Emerson said. “I have some of the best barbecuers in the world coming in.”

Event spokesperson Mack Bradley said the goal of Q in the Lou is to bring together barbecue pros from across the nation. The festival will see barbecue luminaries from states as far flung as Texas, Tennessee and New York. Participants hailing from the St. Louis area include Emerson, Mike Johnson of Sugarfire Smoke House and Tom Schmidt of Salt & Smoke. Holding up Tennessee’s end will be Memphis in May festival grand champions John David Wheeler of Memphis BBQ Co. and Brad and Brooke Orrison of The Shed Barbeque and Blues Joint. Bradley said the full roster of participating chefs and vendors is still being finalized, though 10 chefs are already on the schedule.

“There’s been a rising tide of great barbecue places in St. Louis for several years now,” Bradley said. “There are good barbecue events around town, but they’re all pretty local. We have yet to do something on a national scale and take our place in Mike Emerson’s barbecue triangle.”

Bradley said he hoped high foot traffic downtown in September – in the midst of the Cardinals and Rams seasons – will result in a good turnout. “I’ve never been involved with something that people were so instantly excited about,” he said. “The line we got from everybody was, ‘Why didn’t we do this before?’”

Emerson is a busy man these days. Last month, he quietly unveiled a truncated Pappy’s menu at Head’s Store in St. Albans with Annie Gunn’s proprietor Thom Sehnert. The partnership crystallized earlier this year. “I had stopped by Annie Gunn’s one day, and Thom and I just started talking,” Emerson said. “It was really a simple handshake agreement to give it a try, and it’s worked out well.”

A smoker onsite at Head’s Store is manned by a Pappy’s pit boss Friday to Sunday and servers a smaller selection of barbecue dishes, including ribs, pulled pork sandwiches and three side options. Emerson said he expects the lineup to expand soon. Unlike Pappy’s, beer and wine is served. Taking inspiration from Annie Gunn’s, Sehnert added a list of sandwiches and burgers to the menu, too. “He is a St. Louis icon, and I consider it an honor to collaborate with him,” Emerson said.

 

 

The Scoop: New American eatery Olive & Oak to open in Webster Groves historic building

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

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Olive & Oak, founded by Annie Gunn’s veteran Mark Hinkle and business partner Greg Ortyl, will soon open in a century-old former boutique at 102 W. Lockwood Ave in Webster Groves.

Hinkle, who confirmed the opening tentatively for September 2015, will depart his management role at Annie Gunn’s in Chesterfield in June to focus on construction of the restaurant. Before moving to St. Louis, Hinkle worked in Chicago in both restaurant and beverage management for several companies, including Gibsons Restaurant Group. He said his pending departure from Annie Gunn’s would be bittersweet.

“I’ve learned a lot with this institution. It’s a hard place to leave, with Tom (Sehnert) and Lou (Rook III) and Glenn (Bardgett),” he said. “It’s one of those handful of places across the country that’s just lightning in a bottle.”

Olive & Oak’s menu is still under development, and Hinkle and Ortyl are also still in the process of choosing a chef. “Food-wise, we’re going to be American, very ingredient focused,” Hinkle said. “(We’ll) bring the best ingredients in and treat them the way they should be treated.” Current candidates for the menu include stout fare like oysters, steaks and pork.

Hinkle added that he’ll handle the initial beverage direction himself, arraying a selection of local beer, cocktails and “a good solid wine list, from affordable options to the big dogs.”

The restaurant will initially offer dinner only, opening for lunch and brunch service after the eatery finds its footing. The 2,600-square-foot space is being remodeled into an open concept with high ceilings and a rustic, exposed aesthetic.

Olive & Oak’s name has personal resonance for the owners, too. Hinkle and Ortyl both had sons who died at young ages of congenital heart conditions, and both have founded charitable organizations named for their children to fund further medical research. The restaurant, named in homage to Oliver Hinkle and Oakes Ortyl, is a continuation of this.

“Both of our families have gotten involved in charitable causes, that’s how (Greg and I) met,” Hinkle said. “We’re having a tribute to the boys and at the same time doing what we want to do, which is run a great restaurant … St. Louis has become a hell of a food town, and I’m happy to be a part of it.”

 

 

 

 

The Scoop: Downtown’s The Precinct closes doors, banquet space to stay open

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

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The Precinct Sports Bar & Grill, which served pub fare with a law enforcement theme at 1900 Locust St. downtown, closed doors for good this week, as reported by St. Louis Magazine’s George Mahe.

Co-owner Mark Winfield, who opened the restaurant in October 2013 with former Cardinals outfielder Jim Edmonds, confirmed the closing through public relations representative Julie Lally, confirming that said the upstairs Space 15 banquet area would remain open. He declined to comment directly to Sauce about the closing.

Winfield and Edmonds first opened the space as Jim Edmonds’ 15 Steakhouse in 2007; the restaurant rebranded in 2013 as The Precinct in anticipation of the new St. Louis City Police headquarters next door. (Sauce reviewed the restaurant in May 2014.)

The pair still owns and operates Winfield’s Gathering Place in Kirkwood, which opened earlier this year.

 

-photo by Elizabeth Jochum

The Scoop: Dixon’s Smoke Co. will light the smoker soon in Midtown

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

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Barbecue is in Joe Dixon’s blood. It’s why he’s opening his first restaurant venture, Dixon’s Smoke Co., at 3664 Forest Park Ave., in Midtown, as first reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Dixon said his new barbecue concept was a continuation of his mother’s work; she owned Charlie’s Barbecue in Berkeley, Missouri, until 1999.

“Basically my whole life she spent in barbecue, barbecuing for churches and catering,” he said. “After she let it go, I wanted to pick up where she left off.”

The restaurant, located in a row building that once housed a Jimmy John’s, will offer 15 to 20 seats and eventually the same number outdoors, too. Dixon said he hopes to turn a brisk carryout business. The menu will offer the usual barbecue suspects, including pulled pork, beef brisket, ribs and chicken, along with sides like baked beans and potato salad. Dixon said he is looking at a late June or early July opening.

“We’re going for more of a St. Louis-Kansas City style-barbecue,” he said. “All wood fire, no pellets, no gas. We use our own rub, our own sauce. It’s all from scratch.”

That rub will soon make appearances on retail store shelves, too. Dixon’s “peppery, savory” I-55 brisket rub and the sweeter I-70 pork rub will first be available online following the completion of the restaurant’s website. Dixon hopes sales of the rub will help drive crowds to the highly trafficked Midtown and Saint Louis University area. “That,” he added, “and good smells of barbecue in the air.”

 

 

The Scoop: Former Côco Louco owners to open Brasilia on South Grand

Friday, April 24th, 2015

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{Churrasco from Côco Louco, the Brazilian restaurant formerly owned by Jorge and Rachel Carvalho} 

 

The busy South Grand neighborhood is no stranger to international cuisine, studded with everything from Vietnamese pho to Thai to vegan eateries. Cue Brasilia, a new South American (mostly Brazilian) concept by husband-and-wife duo Jorge and Rachel Carvalho, slated to open in early June.

The new 1,700-square-foot digs will open at 3212 S. Grand Blvd., in the former Urban Lounge space, which closed suddenly last March. The updated décor will be “tropical, colorful, eclectic,” according to Rachel Carvalho, in keeping with traditional Brazilian aesthetic.

“We liked the location,” Carvalho said. “It’s very international, various cuisines from around the world. We like the feel of the neighborhood, the community. There really aren’t many (Brazilian restaurants) in town. We could certainly use more than one.”

The Carvalhos already possess an extensive if checkered restaurant pedigree. Their churrasco restaurant Côco Louco Brazil in the Central West End earned solid reviews from critics before closing in 2013 for allegedly failing to pay sales tax . Before that, the couple’s Café Brasil in Rock Hill routinely catered to block-long lines before similar tax allegations shuttered the eatery in 2008. Carvalho said they have put such turbulence behind them.

“What we really need here is a fresh start and an area supportive of multi-cultures and unique food,” she said. “We will do really well.”

Brasilia’s upcoming menu, while still largely in the works, will revive several popular dishes from the Carvalhos’ previous restaurants, including the traditional Brazilian feijoada, a black bean dish with bacon, sausage and beef. Jorge Carvalho’s version includes rice, collards, oranges and a house vinaigrette. Entrees of fish, chicken and steak are still in the planning stages. The nascent bar program will offer beer, wine and a collection of signature cocktails, including customizable flavors of caipirinha, the national Brazilian cocktail.

-photo by Brian Fagnani

The Scoop: The Kitchen Sink jumps on board the Washington Avenue restaurant bandwagon with second location

Friday, April 24th, 2015

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Central West End nook The Kitchen Sink will set up a second location at 555 Washington Ave., downtown later this summer, according to chef-owner Anthony Ellerson Jr.

Ellerson said he is broadening his Cajun/Creole-inflected menu and hopes to draw crowds visiting the nearby National Blues Museum, which will open next year. The chef, who opened the first Kitchen Sink on DeBaliviere Avenue before moving to its current location at 255 Union Blvd., in 2013, confirmed the expansion has quietly “been going on for several months,” and he is aiming for an August opening.

Kitchen Sink devotees shouldn’t expect too many departures from the new menu, though Ellerson said the emphasis will be less on breakfast, which won’t be available all day (as it is at the Central West End location) and more on entrees and ambience.

“It’ll be more steaks, more seafood,” he said. “There will be a live band every night. I’m going to have a little dance floor. I want to have it be something a little more crazy and different.”

Though details on menu and décor are still rough, Ellerson said his plans to offer multiple varieties of steak and crab legs were absolute. He also confirmed several new additions to The Kitchen Sink’s eclectic burger selection, including a build-your-own option – with added incentive. The house will select one inspired diner’s creation to be featured on the menu as burger of the month. “We’ll offer a smorgasbord of things and still stay true to my roots,” he said.

Ellerson’s new venture will be among the ballooning cadre of restaurants set to orbit the new museum and growing Washington Avenue neighborhood, including a fourth location of Sugarfire Smoke House; Gerard Craft’s newest fast-casual venture, Porano Pasta + Gelato; and soon-to-open Tazé Mediterranean Street Food.

 

 

 

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