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Jan 24, 2018
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Posts Tagged ‘January 2017’

Trendwatch: 7 trends on the plate, in the glass and atop our wish list now

Friday, January 13th, 2017

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1. Smash and Grab
St. Louisans don’t have to wait until Shake Shack opens later this year to get their griddle burger fix of thin patties smashed on a flattop. Get a taste at Reeds American Table, where two patties are smothered with Swiss cheese and tallow aioli, or head to Olive & Oak in Webster Groves, where the kitchen keeps it classic with American cheese and dill pickles. The smashed Farmhouse Burger has been a fixture at Retreat Gastropub since it opened in October 2015, and The Dam in Tower Grove South does smashed patties – though the burgers are stacked so high with fixins, it’s hard to tell. Find griddled burgers at Brasserie, Local Chef Kitchen and Baileys’ Range, too.

2. Drinking like a Vegan
Aquafaba, aka the cloudy liquid in a can of chickpeas that usually goes down the drain, has seen new life as a vegan egg replacer in baked goods. Now it’s found its way behind the bar and into Pisco Sours at Los Angeles establishments like Birch and Gracias Madre. Small Batch pulled a similar move in its Cicer Sour with aquafaba, smoked almond Pisco and dry curacao. Bengelina Hospitality bar manager Drew Lucido shakes it with Old Tom Gin, Becherovka and lemon juice in The Walden at Olio, while the team across the street at Nixta uses a cream whipper to add a foamy, egg-free head to the No. 3.

3. Kung Pao That
The Chinese staple is popping up outside the takeout box these days at restaurants like Mission Chinese in San Francisco, which has a kung pao pastrami we hope someone in town will replicate. Chefs at Cleveland-Heath were inspired by a celery dish at Mission’s NYC location to create a shaved raw beef and celery kung pao special for St. Louisans to enjoy last summer. The Preston swaps in calamari for a sophisticated take on the dish, and the pop-up and future restaurant Good Fortune is crazy about kung pao. It incorporated the flavors into a bratwurst made for a collaboration with Brasserie, and made a kung pao pizza for an event with Delicious Pizza in Los Angeles.

 

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4. Rise and Shine
The Egg McMuffin will always hold a special greasy place in our hearts, but area restaurants are taking breakfast more seriously these days. Whole concepts, like Egg on Gravois Avenue and Yolklore in Crestwood, are devoted to breakfast beyond the standard flapjacks, eggs and bacon. Quick counter-service options at newly opened eateries like Sardella and The Garden on Grand mean we’re setting our weekday alarms a few minutes earlier. Even pop-up eateries are getting in on the action: Revel Kitchen chef-owner Simon Lusky and chef Adam Altnether recently hosted the breakfast-themed Waffle Nut Pop-up, serving sweet and savory waffle combos and cereal milk coffee beverages.

5. Lightning in a Mug
Loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and a large dose of caffeine, yerba mate is a light, herbaceous tea that’s creeping its way into local spots like SweetArt, where it’s served hot, and Comet Coffee, where it’s found in two forms: as hot tea and as a mocha-nut mate made with toasted mate leaves, chocolate, hazelnut and marigold flowers for a sweet treat. Pick up some of the loose-leaf tea to brew at home from international grocers like Global Foods Market or United Provisions.

6. Meat Lollipops
Some St. Louis chefs are frenching chicken drumettes, trimming classic wings into little meat lollipops. The trend has a confusing extra-work-for-less-meat quality, but we’ve bought jeans with holes in the knees, so we’re not here to judge. Try the lollies at Mona’s, where they’re smoked and served with a creamy giardiniera sauce and salsa verde, or at Copper Pig with a Vietnamese fish sauce caramel or a sweet chile basil sauce. Scapegoat offers a more traditional Buffalo version.

7. Taste the Magic
Magic Shell is making appearances outside grandma’s sundae bar these days. We noticed it with caramelized honey and honeycomb candy on soft serve at The Honey Paw in Portland, Maine, and over caramel corn and vanilla malted milk balls at Girl & the Goat in Chicago. But Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co. has offered the topping on soft serve since it opened in 2014, and our favorite matcha-chocolate cookie gelato pop from Porano this summer was dipped in Magic Shell. Taste’s new brownie dessert with candy cap ice cream and toffee sauce lives in a Magic Shell house, too.

 

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What I Do: Dana Huth and Ben Triola of Mauhaus Cat Cafe and Lounge

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

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There’s a small island off the coast of southern Japan so overrun with cats that it makes internet cat videos look like a cheap ball of yarn. But before you start booking expensive airfare, try relaxing at Mauhaus Cat Cafe and Lounge, a new spot that caters to felines and the good people who endlessly share their memes. Co-owners Dana Huth and Ben Triola opened the cafe as a space where people can leisurely bond with and potentially adopt the animals while enjoying lunch or fresh pastries. They also co-own a software company, video game development studio and real estate investments, but said that helping animals in need is worth the stress – and the cat snuggles don’t hurt, either. Here, the couple talk about why a cat makes for a programmer’s best friend.

Getting Attached
“Basically, we’re like a big foster family for these cats, except that we also serve coffee and food. … The adoptions can be a little tough on us but ultimately it’s a very happy thing to find these cats a good home. We partner with Tenth Life Cat Rescue and they have over 100 cats in foster homes, but right now they’re almost at capacity. If we can help get cats adopted, that means Tenth Life can take in more.” –B.T.

“The cat cafes in Asia are full of specialty cats, and they’re not adoptable. Every time you go, you see the same cats. But we knew that was a problem here – so many cats need homes and so many get killed at shelters every year. … I cried when the last ones that got adopted left. I had a very special connection to those cats. But it’s so good; they have great homes.” –D.H.

Cat Magic
“We were not at all planning on opening another business until we went to this cat cafe in Thailand. We were like, ‘We have to have this at home.’ What was most magical about it was not that there were cats, but that there were so many. It’s not like going into someone’s house who has three cats. To see like 15 cats living in a space, and you get to come in, be surrounded – you get to experience their home. … And to have really nice food, that was definitely a bonus.” –D.H.

Bring on the Fun
“This is talked about a lot in the game development industry: fun is really hard to plan for. It can be really elusive … you don’t know on paper if XYZ is going to be fun, so you have to build something and then play with it and then go back and figure out which parts were fun and which weren’t. There’s a lot of iteration. We call it ‘finding the fun.’ I think that’s kind of what we’re trying to do with the cat cafe – find the fun and share it with other people.” –B.T.

Cuteness Overload
“Any morning we come into the cafe, it’s basically a stampede of cats coming toward the door to all get attention.” –D.H.

Cat Therapy
“There’s this thing in programming, where if you have a problem you’re supposed to get a rubber duck and explain the problem to the rubber duck. In the course of explaining the problem out loud, you usually find the solution. But I think you can use the cats just as well – explain your problems to the cat and you might just figure some things out.” –B.T.

Interoffice Romance
“I feel really lucky that this is our life. It works really well for us because we’ve known each other so long, we think on the same wavelength. I think for a lot of people that could be difficult – spending that much time with your significant other, but I really wouldn’t have it any other way. We’ve worked with a lot of people, had other partners, and it’s not that any of those were necessarily bad, but I’ve never been able to communicate with anyone better than I can communicate with Dana. It makes sense that we do pretty much all things together.” –B.T.

 

Heather Hughes and Kevin Korinek contributed to this article. 

Photo by Ashley Gieseking 

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First Look: Mauhaus Cat Cafe and Lounge in Maplewood

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Make This: Savory Granola

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

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Ditch the croutons and pump up the volume on your soups and salads with this crunchy, savory topper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup old-fashioned oats, ½ cup slivered almonds, ½ cup raw sunflower seeds, ⅓ cup grated Parmesan, ¼ cup raw sesame seeds, 2 Tbsp. chopped rosemary, ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper and ½ teaspoon garlic powder. In a small bowl, beat 1 egg white until frothy, then add it and ¼ cup olive oil to the oat mixture. Toss to combine. Pour onto a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and bake 25 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Let cool, then break into chunks. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Photo by Carmen Troesser

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Make This: Thai Noodles with Gai Lan

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Eat This: Chicken Sandwich at Square One Brewery

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

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Chicken sandwiches are a dime a dozen, but the unassuming Grilled Chicken Sandwich at Square One Brewery is a diamond in the rough. A juicy, tender charred cutlet is draped in smoked white cheddar and topped with scallions and crispy bacon, served on a sturdy yet yielding ciabatta bun. But the crown jewel is the pungent, creamy swath of house honey mustard sauce, which takes this chicken sandwich to the next level.

Photo by Carmen Troesser

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• Eat This: Strawberry Mousseline Cake at La Bonne Bouchée

 

Hit List: 7 places you must try this January

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

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 {Lemon Gem owner Beth Styles}

1. Lemon Gem Kitchen Goods
4180 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314.696.2744, lemongem.com

The Grove’s new kitchen shop has the hardware you need to whip up a fabulous meal and the Instagram-able tableware you want to present it on. Located in the former home of Rise Coffee, owner Beth Styles stocks basics like Cuisinart pots and Victorinox knives, as well as collectible jadeite cake stands and Missouri oak rolling pins from woodworker Collin Garrity. Head upstairs to peruse Lemon Gem’s cookbook nook for inspiration, then head home to make your kitchen as Pinterest-worthy as the shop you bought it in.

 

2. Cate Zone Chinese Cafe
8148 Olive Blvd., University City, 314.738.9923

Cate Zone offers the warm, comforting dishes we’re craving right now. English translations of the Chinese menu are enigmatic, but offer rich payoff despite a lack of description of the Dongbei regional cuisine. Slice Beef Onion with Special Sauce appears with thin curls of sliced beef and onions in a dark, intensely savory sauce that is definitely special. Served over sticky rice, the dish comes with the unexpected bonus of a sunny egg. Those looking for something more familiar will be delighted by the sweet and sour pork, which is tender under a crunchy crust in a pool of gloriously sticky sauce. Or try the head-on, in-shell Sichuan spicy shrimp, which practically float with the lightness and addictive crunch of a chip.

 

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{ From left, 2nd Shiftcrew includes Mikey Manning, Jake Senn, co-owners Libby Crider and brewer Steve Crider, Becca Senn and Mike Sweeney.} 

 

3. 2nd Shift Brewing Co.
1601 Sublette Ave., St. Louis, 314.669.9013, 2ndshiftbrewing.com

There’s not much to 2nd Shift Brewing’s new tasting room on The Hill: It’s basically a warehouse with some tables and cute orange chairs, separated from the brewing equipment by a rack of barrels. But it’s all you need to enjoy some of the best beer in the city. Right now, there are only a handful of 2nd Shift beers available on draft, alongside guest taps from like-minded locals like Side Project Brewing and Perennial Artisan Ales, and some classic pours like Oskar Blues Pinner Throwback IPA. Look for a fruited variant of 2nd Shift Katy for a sweet twist on the tart and effervescent original Brett beer, or peruse the longer list of bottles available. Until kitchen construction is complete, food is only offered on weekends, catered by Mission Taco’s Tilford Restaurant Group.

 

4. Himalayan Yeti
3515 S. Kingshighway Blvd., St. Louis, 314.354.8338, himalayanyetistlouis.com

The new Southampton restaurant offers a wide array of Indian and Nepalese specialties from skewered meats cooked in tandoor ovens to biryani rice dishes. Start with an order of fried Himalayan Chicken Momo, sturdy dumplings filled with spiced ground chicken and served with a delectable tomato-sesame dipping sauce. Chunks of tender lamb swim in a rich curry sauce in the lamb rogan josh, or opt for the saag paneer, with chunks of the house-made Indian cheese in a thick spinach cream sauce. Whatever you choose, be sure to order plenty of thick, soft naan to sop up every drop.

 

 

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5. Intoxicology
4321 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314.833.3088, Facebook: Intoxicology STL

You’re going to need a bigger bar cart after a visit to Intoxicology. The cocktail supply store aims to be a one-stop shop for the home bartender, offering artisan sprits, liqueurs, shrubs, barware, recipe books and more. We were particularly impressed by Intoxicology’s bitters selection: 60 varieties from classic Angostura and Peychaud’s to peppercorn-bacon, cherry-cedar and chile-chicory. Step up to the bar to sample the shop’s latest acquisitions, then stock up with everything you need to tend bar at home – right down to the Boston shaker and delicate vintage coupes.

 

6. The U.R.B
4501 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314.222.0143, urbanchestnut.com

Thanks to Urban Chestnut Brewing Co.’s new consumer research bar and pilot brewery, anyone 21 or older can be a beer critic. Open daily, The Urban Research Brewery (or U.R.B.) offers tastings Wednesday through Saturday evenings, and $1 gets you a flight with up to four 2-ounce pours of experimental beers as long as you provide feedback online. Order a slice or two of New York-style pizza while you judge. Try the sunchoke pizza with jalapenos and Frank’s Hot Sauce for an extra kick, or go traditional with the house-made sausage and mushroom pie. The crust’s sourdough-like tang cuts through the rich cheese to add a boost you didn’t know you wanted.

 

7. Gezellig Tap House & Bottleshop
4191 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314.833.5532, gezelligstl.com

The Grove’s newest beer destination is named for the Dutch word gezellig, meaning a cozy, convivial environment or a sense of togetherness among loved ones. It’s a spirit owner Brandon Cavanagh hopes patrons feel as they settle in at the bar with friends and enjoy a beer from the 28-tap list displayed on two large TVs. Look for seasonal and special releases like 4 Hands Brewing Co. Bonafide or Stone Brewing Xocoveza Mocha Stout, available in full or 5-ounce pours. Or head to the wall of refrigerated bottles and cans and choose from hundreds of options from here to Belgium. Non-beer fans can enjoy bottled classic cocktails like Negronis or gin martinis, as well as straight spirit pours served neat or on the rocks. Rather gezellig at home? Grab bottled brews to go for 20 percent off the list price.

 

Photos by Michelle Volansky 

 

Related Content
• Sauce Magazine: January 2017

Sneak Peek: 2nd Shift Brewing on The Hill

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First Look: Intoxicology in The Grove

 

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

Ones to Watch 2017: Troy Bedik of Civil Life Brewing Co.

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

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Title: Brewer, Civil Life Brewing Co.
Age: 29
Why watch her: She does whatever she wants.

Before she became a professional brewer, Troy Bedik concocted a homebrew recipe so good, Steve Crider of 2nd Shift Brewing mass produced it. Now, after recently landing the highly competitive and coveted position of brewer at Civil Life, she’s already developed a Kölsch recipe owner Jake Haefner declared a favorite of the past year.

Considered one of the most passionate in the field by her peers, this won’t be the last time you hear about Bedik. But first, hear it in her words:

“I love getting my hands dirty – it’s my favorite part of what I do. I like being on my feet all day, moving around, getting to move heavy things. I like having a job where I’m physically crafting something. I can brew the beer, package the beer, put the beer on draft and then enjoy the beer. It’s the ultimate satisfaction.”

“The craft beer world can be a very intimidating environment for women. It’s gotten better, but you have to fight for people to take you seriously, to prove that you know what you’re talking about. It’s good to have a strong support group.”

“I always get the joke from people: ‘Oh, you’re a brewer – where’s your beard?’ Sometimes if I’m wearing a dress, I wonder if it automatically discredits me because I don’t look the part. I think people mean well by it, but you don’t have to look a certain way – like a 30-year-old bearded guy. There’s room for everybody.”

“One of my favorite moments while working at Civil Life was one day when I was wearing my big work boots, work shorts, a headlamp and safety glasses, and I walked into the bathroom and saw this little 5-year-old girl.

“She asked me, ‘Why are you dressed like that?’

“And I said, ‘I’m a brewer. I work over there.’

“Her eyes got wide and she said, ‘That’s so cool!’ Then she ran over and told her dad.

“I loved it because she saw that you can have a job that lets you get a little dirty – you can do whatever you want to do.”

Photo by Carmen Troesser

Ones to Watch 2017: Sam Witherspoon of Sardella

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

OTW_Sam_Blog_Jan17

 

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

 

 

Ones to Watch 2017: Alex Pille of Annie Gunn’s

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

OTW_Alex_Blog_Jan17

 

Title: Sous chef, Annie Gunn’s
Age: 28
Why watch him: His gardening exploits are likely to land on your plate.

Annie Gunn’s sous chef Alex Pille grows the usual slate of Midwestern fruits and vegetables like tomatoes and peppers, but that’s where the similarities to your grandmother’s garden end.

“I love to try new things,” Pille said. “Amaranth is an ancient grain crop. It has a giant flowering head that can be dried and is kind of like quinoa.” He’s also grown sorghum, rice, saffron and zucca – one of the world’s largest gourds that can weigh up to 100 pounds.

He grows produce his boss, executive chef Lou Rook III, never knew existed and some stuff he has a hard time finding. “I’ve been working with farmers since 1989 and had never heard of these [lemon drop] chiles,” Rook said. “I was so excited about them and Alex goes, ‘Oh yeah, I grew those last year. They’re great.’”

“I research online, but with the more obscure things, it only goes so far,” said Pille. “That’s where the chef part comes in. I found out a lot of people use zucca as a filler in jams. I decided to make applesauce with it. It worked out great.”

The current beneficiaries of Pille’s harvest are his family, friends and sometimes diners at Annie Gunn’s. But that may change.

“Last year I had a variety of around 60 plants growing,” Pille said. “I kept expanding my garden and before I knew it, it was a quarter of an acre.” This spring he plans to plant at least one of the five acres he recently bought in De Soto. “Hopefully by the end of the year, I can have a greenhouse out there, too.”

For Pille, farm-to-table is not a marketing gimmick; being a better farmer makes him a better chef. “He’s farming the food to bring to the table,” Rook said. “He understands food, how to prepare different things, because of his farming background.”

Eventually, he’d like to have his own produce business, selling to area restaurants. “I could be in both realms. I can grow unique things and also offer methods and applications for these obscure ingredients.”

Photo by Carmen Troesser

 

Ones to Watch 2017: Jen Epley of Vicia

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

OTW_Jen_Blog_Jan17

 

Title: Assistant general manager, Vicia
Age: 31
Why watch her: She knows what you need before you do.

Jen Epley has her eye on you. Where did you sit, what did you order and what was your favorite dish? If you don’t like cilantro, you won’t see it – now or the next time you dine with her.

For Epley, successful service means everything appears effortless. Wine keys, pens, lighters and birthday candles are accounted for before the night begins. Guests are greeted warmly, treated with friendly respect and watched carefully from the moment they’re seated until the last glass of wine is consumed.

“You have to know something about them. They are there for that experience of connecting with the food, the servers, the beverages. They want to feel everything that you put into that restaurant,” Epley said. “You have to be part of it. … If you don’t love it, you shouldn’t be there because that resonates with all the guests that walk in.”

This is something she’s learned from hospitality pros in some of the best restaurants in the city, starting at Five Bistro five years ago.

“She’s really one of the unsung heroes of service in St. Louis,” said advanced sommelier Andrey Ivanov. He trained Epley on Mediterranean and Middle Eastern wine when they worked at Olio and Elaia. “She’s so technically sound that she can do everything better than most people on autopilot, and meanwhile … look around the room and anticipate what’s next.”

“So many people treat serving as ‘Same job, different apron,’” said Sardella general manager Chris Kelling, who worked with Epley at Niche. “She has goals to ascend in the industry and be amongst the best. That is something I’ve only recently seen in St. Louis, that people are taking hospitality as a career.”

It seems only natural that Epley’s next step is to help open Vicia under co-owner and general manager Tara Gallina, who was service captain at Blue Hill at Stone Barns – a restaurant lauded as much for service as culinary talent. Before a recent wine tasting meeting, Epley pulled out a tote bag filled with polished stemware and ever-present spiral-bound notebooks.

“When I write things down, it’s easier to remember than typing,” she explained, rifling through pages filled with impeccably written wine tasting notes and potential front-of-house hires. Epley loves the puzzle of it all, carefully sorting each detail into its proper column. “It’s a fun game of Tetris,” she said.

“She’s always two steps ahead, which is what you have to be, and seeing the big picture at all times,” Gallina said. “She really just gets it.”

Photo by Carmen Troesser

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