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Jan 19, 2018
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Posts Tagged ‘John Perkins’

The Scoop: Juniper to move to new location in Central West End, launch new concept

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017


{ Juniper chef-owner John Perkins }


Southern comfort food spot Juniper will move to a new location in April 2018.

Chef-owner John Perkins said the eatery’s new digs would be located on the first floor of the new mixed-use building currently under construction at 4101 Laclede Ave., in the Central West End.

“I would imagine in a year from now we’ll be open in that spot,” Perkins said. “We expect to get the space by the beginning of November, and then take it from there and do the build out.”

The new space will be larger than the original location at 360 Boyle St., which opened in October 2013, but not overwhelmingly so.

“I wanted to get bigger, but I didn’t want to get too big,” Perkins said. “There will be about 3,200 square feet, which is about 1,400 square feet more than we have now,” Perkins said. “There’ll be a bigger kitchen and a wood-burning grill that I’m excited about.”

The current Juniper location has 64 seats, including the bar. Perkins said the new incarnation would boast 120 seats. The new dining room will have the same 56 seats the original space has, with most of the new seats picked up in the expanded bar area. Two separate patio spaces round out the floor plan. As befits the larger bar area, Perkins said to expect an expanded bar program.

Perkins said he’s aware of the perils of relocating from an established spot, but he’s confident in the move.

“I think I have a pretty good idea of what the space is going to look like, and I think it’s going to feel like a continued evolution of what Juniper is. It won’t feel disconnected,” he said.

Fans of the original Juniper location shouldn’t despair. Perkins said he plans on keeping the space for private events, and he’ll develop a new concept there called Little Bird in the near future (details to follow). Juniper will stay open in its current location until March 2018.

Perkins is also still in the running for the Fantasy Food Fare competition, sponsored by Equifax, Rise and the St. Louis Small Business Development Center. The winner will receive two years rent free in a fully set-up restaurant space in Old North, among other prizes. If he takes the top spot, Perkins said he’ll open a meat-and-three concept in the space.

Photo by Greg Rannells

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine.

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

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Cooking the Classics: Baked Ham

Thursday, November 19th, 2015



If your holiday isn’t complete without a beautiful glazed ham, call your butcher shop this year and place an order for uncooked country ham instead of a bagged, precooked option. They’re a bit more work, so we turned to Juniper chef-owner John Perkins to guide us through the days of soaking, baking and glazing to make a proper country ham worth the wait.

Don’t freak out, but when you remove the ham from the packaging, it might have some mold on it. Like an aged cheese, a little mold is normal. Place the ham in a large pot (or new cooler) and cover it with cold water – it has to soak at least 24 to 48 hours. Change the water every eight hours or so to properly leach the salt from the ham. After 12 to 24 hours, remove it and scrape off any mold with a knife. Rinse the ham, place it back into the pot and cover with fresh water to soak another 24 hours, changing the water every eight hours.

After soaking, preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Rinse the ham thoroughly and place it on a rack in a roasting pan filled with 1 to 2 inches of water and 1 roughly chopped onion. Tent the ham tightly with foil and bake 20 minutes per pound until the internal temperature reaches 163 degrees. Let the ham rest at room temperature 1 hour, then remove as much of the skin as you can. Start at the hock (the small end) and trim away the tough outer skin, leaving as much fat as possible on the ham. (There is no need to score before you glaze since the skin has been removed.)

Now it’s time to glaze. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, baste the ham with your preferred glaze (recipes p. 41), and bake 30 minutes, basting every 10 minutes. Remove from oven and continue to baste as it cools.

Ham is tastiest served slightly warm or at room temperature. To present the ham, first cut a slice from the bottom to make a flat base. Start about 2 inches from the hock and make a cut straight through to the bone. From there, make thin parallel cuts perpendicular to the bone. To release the slices, cut parallel along the bone from the small end. Wham, bam, thank you, ham.

Save that bone to add depth to a pot of greens or beans. Once completely cool, wrap the bone tightly in two layers of plastic wrap and one layer of foil, then toss it in the freezer. Bone-in, uncooked country ham ($4 per pound) is available at Kenrick’s Meat Market and Catering.

-photo by Greg Rannells

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

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015



{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: Home Wine Kitchen’s Cassy Vires finds new home at Juniper

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014



{From left, chef Nick Martinkovic, Juniper chef-owner John Perkins and new Juniper head chef Cassy Vires}

Editor’s note: This article was updated with comments from John Perkins at 4 p.m. Dec. 31.

Cassy Vires will join Juniper’s kitchen as head chef, according to an announcement made on Dec. 30 by Juniper chef-owner John Perkins. Vires will fire up the kitchen Jan. 8 after the restaurant’s team returns from its week-long break beginning tomorrow, Jan. 1.

The news comes just a few weeks after Vires and her husband and business partner, Josh Renbarger, announced they would close doors at their Maplewood eatery Home Wine Kitchen tonight, Dec. 31. Perkins said Vires would be a valuable, reliable asset as Juniper continues to grow, adding that Vires would help take the CWE eatery to the next level. “It was a meeting of needs on both our parts,” he said. “I needed somebody that I could trust the restaurant in their hands when I wasn’t there, and she clearly fits that requirement.”

Perkins said while the menu would still stay true to Juniper’s Southern roots, it was possible that some of Vires’ popular Home Wine Kitchen Dishes could make their way to the menu in 2015. “There’s some natural overlap,” he said.

The baton-passing is the latest transition for Juniper’s kitchen staff, which has been in flux since late October. Former chef de cuisine Ryan McDonald and sous chef Tommy Andrew left Juniper to take a position at Truffles and Butchery. Chef Nick Martinkovic, formerly of Death in the Afternoon and Blood & Sand, has lent a hand at the Southern eatery since early December before he departs St. Louis for his new job at Emko in West Palm Beach, Florida after tonight’s dinner service.

“I think having Home close and Nick (Martinkovic) leaving basically at the same time, it seemed like a real natural thing,” Perkins said. “I reached out when I found out about Home, and it seems like it’s going to be a great fit.”


The Scoop: Juniper chef de cuisine Ryan McDonald to join Truffles Restaurant and Butchery

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

The meat case is filled with various cuts of locally and regionally sourced beef, pork, lamb and chicken.

{The meat case at Truffles Butchery}


After a year as chef de cuisine at Juniper, Ryan McDonald is joining the team at Truffles and Butchery as executive sous chef.

It’s a reunion of sorts. McDonald worked briefly at Truffles before he took the position at Juniper, and he has previously worked with Truffles executive chef Brandon Benack, sous chef Israel Rodriguez and general manger and wine director, Aleksander Jovanovic at Hubert Keller’s former steakhouse Sleek.

McDonald will man Butchery two days a week, assisting head butcher Andrew Jennrich in the newly opened shop. The remainder of his time will be spent helping Benack to expand and rework menu items at Truffles. “He’s definitely going to have plenty of freedom and room to bring his own touch to the menu,” Jovanovic said. “Both Brandon and Ryan have very deep backgorunds in Southern cooking.”

“I’m excited to be able to collaborate and renovate the menu,” McDonald said. “I’m especially excited about the charcuterie and getting my hands on butchering whole cows.” Truffles’ Butchery specializes in whole-animal butchery sourcing from local and regional farms. The shop also sells house-made side dishes and condiments and offers a sandwich menu.

McDonald said his time at Juniper taught him skills essential to taking on a leadership role in the kitchen. “Juniper is the first place where I was able to take the reins and have freedom to cook the food that I wanted to cook,” he said. “(Juniper) helped me develop and mature into more of a chef than a cook.”

Juniper chef-owner John Perkins said he could not comment on who would replace McDonald at his Central West End establishment, but that his former CDC’s talents would serve him well at Truffles. “Obviously Ryan was really important to the growth of Juniper over the past year, and I expect that he’s going to do very well at Truffles and into the future, whatever that ends up looking like,” he said.

Editor’s Note: This article was updated at 5 p.m. Oct. 23 with a comment from Juniper chef-owner John Perkins.

The List: The Cookbook Nook at Juniper

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Welcome to The List, our annual homage to the people, places, dishes and drinks we love in St. Louis. Don’t miss a single pick; click here to read the whole List and share your thoughts on Twitter with #thesaucelist.




If you’re a lover of all things food, Juniper’s jam-packed bookcase will not just catch your attention, it will compel you to finally renew your library card. Listen to its shelves groan under dozens of cookbooks and memoirs by culinary heavyweights such as Thomas Keller, Ferran Adrià, Julia Child and Jacques Pépin. More recent hits like David McMillan’s The Art of Living According to Joe Beef or April Bloomfield’s A Girl and Her Pig will have you wondering what recipes Juniper’s chef-owner John Perkins has dog-eared when creating his own rustic and tantalizing menus. – B.K.

360 N. Boyle Ave., St. Louis, 314.329.7696, junipereats.com

The Scoop: Two CWE restaurants debut, plus new noshes at MX Movies

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Fall is in the air. That means lots of new restaurants opening doors and loads of menu changes. The Central West End is seeing the debut of two restaurants, while this weekend moviegoers at MX Movies downtown can watch a flick with some new eat-in-the-dark foods.

091013_johnperkins{Juniper chef-owner John Perkins}


For Entre chef-owner John Perkins, the pop-up has run its course. Agrarian, his latest temporary restaurant, is out, and he’s ready to roost in the space at 360 N. Boyle Ave., with only one concept, as The Scoop first reported, in early September. The restaurant is called Juniper; the focus is southern cuisine. Juniper opened this week and serves dinner Wednesday through Sunday.



101813_gamlin1{A Manhattan featuring hand-selected bourbon at Gamlin Whiskey House (top),  a mint julep (bottom left), a whiskey flight (bottom right) }


On Oct. 21, Gamlin Whiskey House will enter the scene as St. Louis’ first whiskey house. Located at 236 N. Euclid Ave., the highly anticipated restaurant will focus on paring whiskey with creatively prepared comfort food. The bar will have a selection of 270 whiskeys, including its own hand-selected barrels, as well as more than four dozen whiskey-centric cocktails. Helming the kitchen is Ivy Magruder, who recently left his post as exec chef and GM at Vin de Set to join owners Derek and Lucas Gamlin in their new venture. The liquid side of the house is guided by the hand of Dustin Parres, now corporate bar manager for the Gamlin Restaurant Group, which includes Sub Zero and soon-to-open Taha’a Twisted Tiki. During its first week of service, Gamlin Whiskey House will open at 4 p.m. Lunch service will begin the week of Oct. 28.



{MX Movies kitchen leader Jeramy Perry with a spread of flatbread pizzas}


Today marks the newest round of changes to the food at MX Movies. One draw for the theatre when it opened in January was that patrons could have an enhanced experience by ordering bistro-like fare from the touch screen next to their seats instead of munching on typical concession items such as candy and popcorn. Some 10 months after Josh Galliano, consulting chef for MX Movies developed the initial menu, the staff at MX has made tweaks so that “more things are easier to eat in the dark,” said GM Chris Bruemmer. New menu items include shrimp and beef tacos, quesadillas, shrimp cocktail and a variety of flatbread pizzas. Among the latter, try the barbecued chicken, a crisped pita topped with barbecue sauce, southwest-seasoned chicken, bacon, smoked cheddar and red onions.





The Scoop: Post-Agrarian, John Perkins to stick to southern food

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013



If you’re wondering what will become of John Perkins after his latest temporary restaurant, Agrarian ends after dinner service Oct. 5, you’re not alone. The space won’t be the hyper-local concept Perkins described late last year when he outlined his plans for four short-lived restaurant concepts at 360 N. Boyle Ave., in the Central West End, nor a wild game-focused menu.  In fact, the Agrarian is “the last time for the quarterly thing,” he told The Scoop. “I’m not going to do that or a game-themed restaurant.”

Instead, Perkins plans to return to – and hopes to stick with for good – the southern dining concept he explored this spring with pop-up A Good Man is Hard to Find. “I want to explore that a little bit more. It went well in terms of numbers, and it was fun cuisine for us to make,” Perkins said. “The other factor is it’s kind of an unexplored style of cuisine here, I think, at least [being that it’s] southern food that’s not Cajun or Creole. I don’t see a lot of low-country southern, Mississippi Delta southern food.”

Perkins is still deciding what to call the southern-focused restaurant (It won’t be named A Good Man is Hard to Find.), which will debut mid-October. He expects it to be open for dinner Wednesday through Saturday, the same days of operation for his previous concepts. However, he plans to add carryout at lunch featuring fried chicken plus sides.

In the meantime, Perkins hopes for a strong finish for Agrarian in its final four weeks. The menu, which offers many plant- and grain-based dishes, was never exclusively vegetarian. “There’s always been meat on the menu,” he said. “Now we have four meat entrees on the menu – but we can make most dishes vegetarian – so we’re friendly to a vegetarian diet but extremely friendly to carnivores, as well.”

-Photo by Jonathan Gayman



John Perkins’ The Agrarian to pop up in the Central West End next week

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013


Entre chef-owner John Perkins is preparing to launch his latest pop-up restaurant. The Agrarian, which debuts Tues., June 11 at 360 N. Boyle Ave., in the Central West End, will showcase the unsung heroes of the Midwest: summer vegetables.

The primarily vegetarian menu is categorized by crop, with headings such as “root,” “leafy,” “field” and “fruit.” “I want to let the vegetables speak for themselves, with intensity or subtlety, if that be the case,” said Perkins, whose previous pop-up concepts, A Good Man is Hard to Find and Le Coq, paid homage to southern food and chicken, respectively. “Whenever I design a dish, I am always trying to balance everything, different components of taste and texture. With this menu, I am going to design smaller plates to share that may simply express one element, completely rich with no acid or completely tart. The dishes should be able to play off each other.”

Perkins cited dishes like whey-poached asparagus, beet-infused tofu and poutine with smoked shitake velouté and blue cheese and examples of the fare that diners would encounter at The Agrarian. “I want to channel the ripe flavors of fresh herbs and spices, in lieu of meat or animal fats to season the dishes,” he explained. For carnivores looking for a bit more meat on the plate, there will be a few meat and seafood side dishes, such as steamed halibut wrapped in ramps as well as goat belly.

Mixologist and bartender Michelle Bildner designed a summertime cocktail list that features lighter spirits such as gin, rum and tequila, and that balances the alcohol with stone fruit juices and herb infusions. The wine list features food-friendly wines from around the world with enough complexity and spice to hold up to bold dishes.

The Agrarian will be open for dinner Wednesday through Saturday from June 11 through July 27. Go here to make a reservation.



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

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