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Nov 27, 2015
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Posts Tagged ‘Jason Tilford’

The Scoop: Mission Taco Joint adds a food truck to its ranks

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015


Adam Tilford knows how to take a hint. Enough people asked the co-owner of Mission Taco Joint how to rent the restaurant’s food truck – and were surprised when he told them there wasn’t one – that he figured it was time to hit the road. The new Mission Taco Joint food truck debuted yesterday, July 28, at the restaurant’s Soulard location.

The Tilford Restaurant Group opened Cater Al Fresco commissary kitchen last summer, and the availability of the new food-preparation space also prompted the food truck’s launch. Tilford said he anticipates that much of the truck’s business will come from complementing the company’s catering services at events, while street vending will be secondary.

There’s no set menu, Tilford said, but expect to see favorites from Mission Taco Joint, including three or four tacos, plus possibly a torta or burrito option and carne asada fries.

The truck may also serve as a test kitchen. “Jason and the team can try out new tacos and ideas,” Tilford said, referring to his brother and co-owner, Jason Tilford. “You’ll see some surprises we might run in a month (in the restaurant).”

Follow the truck’s whereabouts on Twitter at @mtj_mobile and on Facebook.

The Scoop: Tilfords sell Barrister’s in Clayton

Monday, July 6th, 2015




Jason Tilford, co-owner and executive chef of Tilford Restaurant Group, and his wife, Colleen Tilford, have sold their interest in Barrister’s in Clayton. The new proprietors, Sam and Kristie Boctor, assumed ownership of the popular soccer pub, located at 7923 Forsyth Blvd., on July 1.

Tilford explained the sale means he can focus on growing the dining concepts that he owns with brother Adam Tilford. Those include Mission Taco Joint, Milagro Modern Mexican, Tortillaria Mexican Kitchen and Cater Al Fresco. Barrister’s was the only non-Mexican concept among the bunch, and Tilford felt the neighborhood bar “needs an owner-operator on-site,” which his busy schedule did not permit.

“It’s bittersweet,” he said. “It was my baby.” The Tilfords opened Barrister’s in 2004 at 15 N. Meramec Ave. They relocated it to its current location in 2013.

Soccer fans needn’t worry, though. The bar will still continue to show their favorite matches on TV. “There’s no need to change. We kept the staff. It’s just new management,” said Kristie Boctor, who was looking to purchase a turnkey bar operation with her husband. “After meeting Colleen and Jason, we knew we had similar styles. We loved what they’d done with the place. That’s the kind of place we wanted. Jason and Colleen had an image of a gastropub, and we really want to see that through.”

The Boctors both have experience in the hospitality industry. Sam Boctor’s 20-year career, primarily at the front of the house, includes stints at Algonquin Golf Club, Cardwell’s, Busch’s Grove, Monarch and Mosaic in Des Peres. Kristie Boctor has worked for several years as a meeting planner for an insurance company.

Barely a week into their new role as owners of Barrister’s, Boctor said they couldn’t be happier. Fans packed the house yesterday, July 5, to watch the U.S. Women’s National Team take home the World Cup. “There are passionate soccer people who know this bar. The intention is to keep it the same,” she said.


The Scoop: Mission Taco Joint to expand in The Loop and Soulard

Friday, November 22nd, 2013


While Adam and Jason Tilford are currently in San Francisco gathering inspiration for their newest restaurant venture, this afternoon they took a moment to catch up with The Scoop.

The brothers announced that this coming January, the space next to Mission Taco Joint will open as an overflow bar, designed for people who are waiting for a table or waiting to pick up food.

Why more space?

When Mission first opened less than a year ago, the brothers weren’t quite expecting the level of success the restaurant has been experiencing. “We didn’t think we would have much use for this little space,” Adam said. “Our plan was to have a little bodega, a Mexican market with milk, tortillas and staples, but two things changed that.” He explained that with the new Washington University housing development going up across the street from Mission and a giant Global Foods going under it, there really wasn’t a need for the bodega concept.

So they came up with a better idea. “We go on a wait every night, but there’s nowhere to wait, so we had the idea to change the bodega to a waiting bar,” Adam said. At the waiting bar, there will be 10 to 12 beers available by the can and bottle and a handful of cocktails. The bar, with the look of a beach taco stand with its corrugated tin roof, will also be a drink lab, of sorts – a place for the bartenders to experiment with new ideas. “Jimmy and Kyle [Mission’s bar manager and assistant bar manager] are really excited about it,” Adam said.

In addition to expanding next door, Mission Taco will also be expanding across town with another location at 908 Lafayette Ave., in Soulard.

As first reported by Ian Froeb of the Post-Dispatch, Adam signed the lease for the new space on Monday.

The Tilfords told The Scoop that the concept will pretty much be the same as the existing Mission. There will not be a take-out window though, and no patio seating. “It will have about 120 or 130 seats inside,” Adam said. “It also has a big garage door – a faux four seasons patio, and the door can go up.”

Along with the space and the location, the Tilfords are excited to be so close to iTap, where patrons will be able to order and carry-in Mission food. “We are right around the corner. Our back doors meet,” Jason said.

Look for the new Mission location to open in late spring.

— photo by Michelle Volansky

Hit List: Two new restaurants to try this month

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

{John Perkins}

A Good Man is Hard to Find: 360 N. Boyle Ave., St. Louis, 314.632.6754, entrestl.com/presents

If you’ve ever had John Perkins’ food, you know that it is as creative as the ways he delivers it – from his Entre Underground dinners to his first chicken-themed pop-up, Le Coq, this past winter. So hurry up and snag a seat at his newest pop-up, a southern-comfort concept named after the classic Flannery O’Connor short story. Start with a basket of house-baked bread, then bask in the supporting characters – from the pickled beet terrine with goat cheese and blood orange to the jarred sides of house-brined pickles, spiced nuts, sunchoke relish and chow-chow (a low-country mustard-based staple). When you finish off your entree with a blueberry buckle, order it topped with a scoop of buttermilk ice cream, a slightly sour foil to the sweet, juicy berries. This short story ends on Derby Day, so better crack it open soon.

Mission Taco Joint: 
6235 Delmar Blvd., The Loop, 314.932.5430, missiontacostl.com

From Adam and Jason Tilford, the busy brothers behind Milagro Modern Mexican, Barrister’s and Tortillaria Mexican Kitchen, comes this über casual ode to the taquerias dotting San Francisco’s Mission district. Seat yourself, then go with the a la carte tacos, wrapped in house-made tortillas and served with a bowl of onions, cilantro and hunks of lime for the squeezing. Brave souls should try the extra-fiery Nopales Taco (That’s Spanish for cactus.), while carnivores who can’t pass on pork belly will enjoy the crispy bits crumbled atop the tender Roasted Duck Tacos. The bar is in the creative and capable hands of Sanctuaria alum Joel Clark, who opted against an obvious tequila-heavy theme (There’s just one, solid margarita.) in favor of unique bottles like Blackwell Jamaican rum and Del Maguey Single Village mezcals. Sip apricot-heavy The Chaplinesque or place a pint glass under one of the 10 local taps.

– photos by Jonathan Gayman and Carmen Troesser

Keeping Up With Jason Tilford

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Part of Jason Tilford’s job is bouncing between the four restaurants he co-owns with his brother, Adam – Barrister’s, Tortillaria Mexican Kitchen, Milagro Modern Mexican and the newly opened Mission Taco Joint – and the nine others he consults on with buddy Chris LaRocca. With temptations of onion rings, burritos and margaritas galore, he’d have to be battery-operated not to get real fat, real fast. Yet he’s one of the slimmest chefs in the business. Sure, he has guilty pleasures – Barrister’s wings and Milagro’s chicken enchiladas to name a few – but Tilford has found a way to keep the extra pounds at bay, even while working the line. We begged him for his tricks for staying balanced in the most gluttonous profession around. He was happy to oblige.

Eat well, but eat often.
I hardly ever sit down with a plate of food. I eat a lot, but mainly small meals, all day. I try not to eat late at night. I try to skip the sweets and fried food. It’s funny; when you get into a routine, you crave eating healthy, almost. You get so used to it that eventually that Alfredo cream sauce doesn’t even look good.

Mix it up.
I play soccer, but it’s tailed down a lot since I turned 40. I also do some weight training and flexibility stuff. I’m trying to get into yoga, but it might be too boring for me. And I coach my son’s soccer team.

Hit the gym early.
I have to get my kids to school by 7:30 a.m., and the restaurant stuff doesn’t really wake up until 9. If I don’t go in the morning, usually, it’s not going to happen.

If work starts calling?
[Laughs] I can answer the first couple texts and emails of the day on the treadmill.

If you miss the morning window?
I go to Club Fitness and there’s one near my house, one between Milagro and Barrister’s, one near my sons’ school. They’re all in my rat race. There’s even one near Restaurant Depot [a purchasing center for restaurants].

 — photo by Ashley Gieseking, shot on location at Sweat.

Sneak Peek: Mission Taco Joint

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013


Mssion Taco Joint is expected to open to the public any day now. While brothers and co-owners Adam and Jason Tilford shared details about the menu a few weeks ago, we’ve been itching to see some of those words on paper become edible. Yesterday, the Tilford brothers (who also own Barrister’s, Tortillaria Mexican Kitchen and Milagro Modern Mexican) gave Sauce a taste of what customers will encounter when they order fare from St. Louis’ newest taco joint. The restaurant, located at 6235 Delmar Blvd., in The Loop, has not announced its opening date. Watch for that news to be posted in The Scoop in the next week or so. When doors do open, hours will be Tuesday through Sunday from 4 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. For a sneak peek of what you’ll find at Mission Taco Joint, head on over to our Facebook page.

— Photo by Michelle Volansky

The Scoop: It’s nearly mission accomplished for Mission Taco

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Last summer, restaurateurs Adam and Jason Tilford announced their plans to open Mission Taco Joint. Renovations are moving along inside the former home of Delmar Lounge at 6235 Delmar Blvd., and the Tilford brothers are aiming to unlock doors during the last week of February.

With opening day just weeks away, Jason gave The Scoop a peek at a draft version of the food menu he developed. The tightly focused menu begins with a handful of shared appetizers. Highlights include crab taquitos as well as roasted mushrooms with huitlachoche, goat cheese and arugula presented in a fried corn masa base called a huarache. A la carte tacos include popular choices such as baja fish and carne asada, but Mission gets creative with quite a few others, such as the chile-roasted duck with crisp pork belly and avocado serrano sauce. The menu also beckons for vegetarians with options like a roasted cactus taco or one featuring the local product Mofu tofu. The restaurant will feature giant Mission-style burritos wrapped in house-made tortillas, plus tortas served on telera rolls from Diana’s Bakery. Diners looking for a square meal can round things out with side dishes like fire-grilled vegetable quinoa and chayote calabacitas.

Joel Clark, who recently departed from Sanctuaria, will be helming the beverage program. Clark stated that the bar at Mission Taco Joint will be “a very culinary bar,” explaining that “as many fresh ingredients the kitchen is going to get, I’m going to get the same.” The focus on fresh will be seen in the likes of numerous flavors of agua fresca and horchata, available in virgin form or as alcoholic beverages. In addition, he plans on aligning beverages – not just cocktails, but also beer and wine – with the food. “I’m going to work really closely with the kitchen,” he commented. Clark, who’s been part of a local movement in progressive bartending, plans to continue in that direction, preparing house-made ingredients like syrups and shrubs (No flavored vodkas, sorry.) and noted that the Mission bartending crew will be quite capable of crafting classic cocktails. “I want [the bar] to be an extension of [the kitchen] as well as a bar on its own,” Clark said.

The Scoop: Tilford Bros. to open late-night taco joint in former Delmar Lounge space in The Loop

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Adam and Jason Tilford have a project in the works: a late-night taco joint located in The Loop at 6235 Delmar Blvd., in the space previously occupied by the recently shuttered Delmar Lounge. The Tilford brothers are the owners of Milagro Modern MexicanTortillaria and Barrister’s.

The restaurant, whose working name is Mission, will be “a twist on an urban taquería,” Adam explained. “It will be a cool bar where you go and hang out and, while you’re there, you can eat Mexican food.” The menu will consist of some eight to 10 tacos – ranging from the typical fish taco to atypical options like tofu or roasted mushroom tacos to suit vegetarians and vegans. There will also be Mission-style burritos, tortas and shared appetizers called botanas, plus sides like charro beans and off-the-cobb street corn. Managing the beverage program will be Lawrence Ballard, who recently came aboard as bar manager at Milagro and, coincidently, worked at Delmar Lounge for a few years.

The restaurant takes its inspiration from The Mission district in San Francisco (pictured), which Adam likened to “San Francisco’s Cherokee Street, if you will” – for its breadth of taquerías as well as “cool bars and hip, edgy feel.” He noted that giant Mission burritos hail from the district and added that diners will be able to watch as the kitchen staff makes fresh tortillas for those burritos on the tortilla press. “It’s one of the visual things people don’t usually see,” he noted. Since murals are prevalent throughout The Mission district, Adam is considering adding that touch of décor as well.

Upon taking possession of the space, which Adam expects to occur on October 1, the interior will undergo a renovation, including a complete overhaul of the kitchen. Working with Adam on the design is Space Architecture + Design, the architectural firm that also recently completed a renovation at Milagro. Adam hopes to open the eatery in early 2013, with plans to initially operate during dinner and late-night hours, extending to lunch hours soon afterward.


Just Five: Mexican Street Corn

Monday, April 30th, 2012

When you see what appears to be a hot dog vendor in Mexico, according to chef Jason Tilford of Tortillaria and Milagro Modern Mexican, he’s more likely to be peddling street corn than the bun-wrapped beauties we find at the ball game.

Traditionally made with salty cotija cheese and Mexican crema (similar to creme fraiche), Tilford’s recipe is pantry-friendly, using Queso Fresco and basic mayonnaise (Let’s all take a moment to recall how I feel about only using real mayonnaise in recipes and never, ever settling for Miracle Whip, mkay?). If I had to compare the two, cotija cheese is similar in taste and texture to Parmesan, while Queso Fresco is closer to feta. This corn (served on the cob at Tortillaria and off the cob at Milagro) is salty, rich, sweet and utterly addictive. This recipe implies one ear per serving, but there’s no shame in eating two. Although not necessary, a splash of lime juice adds a lovely acidic note to this truly sensational dish.

Mexican Street Corn
6 Servings
Courtesy of Tortillaria and Milagro Modern Mexican’s Jason Tilford

6 ears corn, husks still on
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. puréed garlic
1/8 tsp. ground chipotle (can substitute chili powder)
6 oz. Queso Fresco, crumbled

• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
• Place the ears of corn directly on the oven rack for 15 to 20 minutes, turning halfway through cooking time. Alternatively, the corn can be cooked outside on a grill over medium-high heat.
• While the corn is roasting, combine the mayonnaise, garlic and ground chipotle. Set the mixture aside.
• Remove the roasted corn and carefully pull back the husks and remove the silk, leaving the husks intact so that they can be used as “handles.”
• Brush the mayonnaise mixture over the entire ear of corn and roll in the crumbled Queso Fresco. Serve immediately.

What I Learned From Shopping With Diana Kennedy

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

When it comes to Mexican cuisine, there’s no greater authority than Diana Kennedy. Beginning with the 1972 publication of her first cookbook, The Cuisines of Mexico, and spanning through her most recent work, Oaxaca al Gusto: An Infinite Gastronomy, Kennedy has been instrumental in making authentic Mexican cooking accessible to the English-speaking world.

I was pretty excited to learn that Kennedy, a native of the U.K. who resides in Mexico, was visiting St. Louis this week. Her books are always among the first that I flip through when seeking inspiration for Mexican dishes. Tonight and Saturday afternoon, she will be at Kitchen Conservatory teaching cooking classes, something that she has done for more than 40 years. Sauce was invited – along with Local Harvest Café executive chef Clara Moore and Milagro Modern Mexican executive chef Jason Tilford – to accompany Kennedy as she shopped for the ingredients for the dishes she will prepare in these classes – and to hopefully learn a few tricks in Mexican cookery along the way.

“I’ve got to work. I have to concentrate,” Kennedy warned as we entered El Torito Supermarket on Cherokee Street, confirming what I had heard about her no-nonsense personality. First on the list: dried peppers. Kennedy spent a good 10 minutes looking for the right dried guajillo peppers and then rooted through the entire selection of whole dried arbol chile peppers seeking ones with the stems still on. The stems indicated Mexican origin, she explained. They would be a darker red color and more flavorful than de-stemed peppers.

Moving to the spice aisle, Kennedy pointed to cinnamon sticks, noting that those were the “right” kind – as opposed to the cassia bark found in most pantries. “Jason, I hope you’ve got the right cinnamon,” she said, looking at Tilford. He grabbed a bag off the spice rack. “I do now,” he replied.

Onto the produce section, where the entourage learned as much about Kennedy’s views on sustainability as her ability to pick out the choicest veggies. “We will not use plastic if we do not have to,” said Kennedy, who had brought her own shopping bags and began filling one with fresh tomatoes. “It drives me mad to go to the store and see all the plastic grocery bags. People don’t think about what they are doing to the environment.”

When Kennedy had filled the bag to what she guesstimated to be four pounds, she had Moore weigh the bag. Four pounds. “El ojo de rica,” she said of herself. “It’s a phrase [used] in Mexico that means ‘the rich woman’s eye.’ Because I said four pounds and it’s four pounds.”

After inspecting cebolla rabo (Mexican green onions) and putting a bunch in the cart, Kennedy rooted through garlic, disappointment evident in her voice. “They are probably coming from China,” she noted. “We’ll, it looks like we don’t have much choice.”

She nearly cleared out the meat case as she asked for package after package of fresh chicken giblets, chicken feet and chicken wings needed to prepare her Chicken Soup Tuxtepec, published in Oaxaca al Gusto. “I’m taking all his stuff,” she laughed, quickly turning serious with the employee as she beseeched him to use minimal plastic to wrap the fresh meat. To prepare Pork in Chile-Garlic Sauce, another dish from Oaxaca al Gusto, she was careful to select stewing pork with ample fat.

When Kennedy learned that El Torito could grind corn into masa and, upon request, even make the tortillas, she was impressed. “Oh, I’d like to see it. Just to comment on it, you know.” Upon being handed a bag of freshly made masa and sampling a pinch, she commented, “This market is good.” Good enough, in fact, that she placed an order for five dozen tortillas that she would serve at her classes.

At the checkout, the same employee charged with grinding the masa approached Kennedy with a hot, freshly made corn tortilla. “That’s such a lovely Mexican gesture,” she said between bites. “Mm. It’s got quite a bit of cal (lime powder). Delicious.”

Upon unloading her purchases into the car, I thanked Kennedy for letting me wander the aisles with her, adding that I hoped I hadn’t distracted her from her mission. She smiled and dismissed the thought with a wave of her hand, adding, “It’s a big responsibility giving a class. I want to give them their money’s worth.”

Kennedy has been giving home cooks their money’s worth for decades. And if you are among the lucky ones with a spot at Kennedy’s sold out classes at Kitchen Conservatory this week, rest assured, it will be money well spent.

No ticket? No problem. Head to Salt of the Earth, located at 8150 Big Bend Blvd., this Friday from 6 to 8 p.m., where Kennedy will be signing copies of her most recent book, Oaxaca al Gusto. Admission is free.


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