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Nov 24, 2014
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Posts Tagged ‘Lisa Fernandez-Cruz’

The Scoop: Winslow’s Home hires Stein, expands bakery menu

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

Joe Stein

It’s been a year of expansion at Winslow’s Home. In February, Lisa Fernandez-Cruz came on board to create and oversee the baking program as executive pastry chef. Now Winslow’s is adding to its bakery staff again, this time by snagging Joe Stein, former kitchen manager of Local Harvest Cafe.

“He has a natural knack for bread,” Fernandez-Cruz said of Stein. “His attitude and skill-set is a great fit for expansion. He’ll be a real asset to the team.”

Stein arrives just as Winslow’s bakery program is itself expanding in size and scope, adding five to six new pastries and breads to an already diverse selection of tarts, croissants and artisan breads. Fernandez-Cruz also plans to increase the quantity of baked goods produced each day, part of her vision to be the “cornerstone bakery” for its University City neighborhood.

Baking has been the foundation of Stein’s career. In addition to his work experience at LHC, he is also enrolled in the baking and pastry program at St. Louis Community College to learn “what can’t be learned on the job.” He is scheduled to complete the program in spring 2015.

Stein was upbeat about his new position, but added that he finds it hard to leave colleagues behind at LHC. “I’ve loved working at Local Harvest and love the people,” he said. “But I’m ultimately positive about the move.”

-photo by Greg Rannells

The Scoop: Winslow’s Home adds a new baking program, new chef and new event space

Friday, February 7th, 2014

020714_lisa

{Lisa Fernandez-Cruz, baking with sons George and Wil}

 

Winslow’s Home, located at 7213 Delmar Blvd., in University City, is expanding in more ways than one. Under the guidance of its new executive pastry chef, Lisa Fernandez-Cruz, the cafe and shop is expanding its baking program.

Fernandez-Cruz plans to add more sweet and savory baked goods, along with some artisanal breads. She expressed her excitement about joining the Winslow’s team and working under owner Ann Sheehan Lipton. “Our personal beliefs, as far as things we think about in the food industry, are on the same lines. It will be a super-easy transition. And fun. I’m pretty psyched,” Fernandez-Cruz said.

Since moving to St. Louis in 2012, Fernandez-Cruz also has overseen the baking programs at The Cheshire’s restaurants and the Gamlin brothers’ Gamlin Whiskey House and Taha’a Twisted Tiki.

In addition to Winslow’s baking program and pastry chef, it has also added a new downstairs space, The Cellar, which will serve as an event space with seating capacity for 36. Along with seating, The Cellar is equipped with a bar and TV, so it can be used for work presentations and cooking classes, as well as special lunches and dinners. Executive chef Wil Fernandez-Cruz said Winslow’s first such dinner will be on Valentine’s Day. “A lot of people want to have Valentine’s dinner in a special place, a place that you remember. It’s really unique,” he said. “But we’ll also have a take-away menu, too, for the people who don’t want to celebrate Valentine’s Day at all.”

-photo by Carmen Troesser

 

The Scoop: Gamlins lose Ian Craig, gain Lisa Fernandez-Cruz

Friday, September 13th, 2013

091313_steak{Dry-aged Rib-eye steak, on the menu at the soon-t0-open Gamlin Whiskey House}

 

As Derek and Lucas Gamlin prepare to open Gamlin Whiskey House to the public Sept. 30, they find themselves down a chef. Ian Craig, who has worked at their vodka-centric bar and restaurant, Sub Zero, for the last seven years and helped with the menus for Gamlin Whiskey House and sister restaurant Taha’a Twisted Tiki, is no longer executive corporate chef for the Gamlin’s growing businesses.

Lucas Gamlin told The Scoop today that Craig resigned from his position yesterday, Sept. 12, in a mutual parting of ways. Gamlin expressed confidence that the opening of Gamlin Whiskey House will proceed smoothly, noting that the menu is already developed. The Gamlins will begin interviewing candidates for the corporate chef position next week, said Lucas. Craig could not immediately be reach for comment.

While the Gamlins are searching for an executive corporate chef, their search for a pastry chef has ended. Lisa Fernandez-Cruz, formerly of The Restaurant at The Cheshire has come aboard. Fernandez-Cruz will be responsible for desserts at all three Gamlin-owned restaurants.

-Photo by Michelle Volansky

 

 

Calçotada: From Catalonia (and New York), with love

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

In honor of spring’s arrival, husband-and-wife chef team Wil and Lisa Fernandez-Cruz are hosting their first annual Calçotada Festival on Sunday, May 19th at Starr’s, located at 1135 S. Big Bend Blvd., in Richmond Heights. Calçotada is an idea borrowed from a yearly traditional festival bearing the same name that originated in the town of Valls, situated in Catalonia, Spain.

After a long winter, the festival celebrates the advent of spring and the fresh food that comes with it. This is achieved by wood roasting calçots (spring onions native to Valls), sausage and lamb, and dipping them (without utensils) into an earthy romesco sauce (all while drinking porróns of free-flowing rosé). Lisa was first introduced to the festival while working at Savoy in New York City, which celebrated Calçotada for nearly 20 years. When Savoy closed, Lisa moved to its sister restaurant Back 40, which also celebrated the festival. “We would bring in loads and loads of people – it’s just the most fun event ever. It’s like everyone coming out from under their rock in order to celebrate spring with so much food and wine,” Lisa said.

The Fernandez-Cruz’ moved to St. Louis from NYC late last summer to be closer to Lisa’s family and to open The Restaurant at the Cheshire, where the two worked as executive chef and executive pastry chef. Weeks ago, Lisa realized that this spring was going to be the first in many years that she didn’t celebrate Calçotada. “One of my friends suggested I throw the party here, and I wanted to, but I knew our house wasn’t big enough.” That’s when she and Wil decided, why throw a party just for their friends when they could throw an event big enough so that the community could come, too.

After six months working for The Cheshire, both Lisa and Wil left their posts, with Wil now running the kitchen at Washington U.’s fine-dining campus restaurant Ibby’s. “Our first six months here were pretty much nonstop work, and we didn’t have a chance to meet anyone in our community,” Lisa explained, adding how both she and Wil were raised in big families where food was always a communal celebration. “We just figured the St. Louis community would enjoy doing the same thing. It’s kind of something I want to pass on. Maybe people will feel inspired and throw their own Calçotada parties next year.”

This inaugural event starts at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 19. The Fernandez-Cruz’ don’t have an end time in mind – perhaps when the rosé runs dry. Tickets are $50 and include food and all-you-can-drink rosé. Seating is communal, both indoors and outdoors, but if groups want to sit together, they can indicate so on the ticket order, available here.

— photo by Ashley Gieseking

The Scoop: Wil Fernandez-Cruz has left The Restaurant

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Wilfrin Fernandez-Cruz has left his post as executive chef of The Cheshire’s The Restaurant. Fernandez-Cruz and his wife Lisa, executive pastry chef at The Restaurant and Basso, moved from New York City in late August and started preparing for The Restaurant’s opening in early September. Although Wil loved the large kitchen at The Restaurant and the massive smoker and rotisserie, reminiscent of Cookshop, where he worked as chef de cuisine in NYC, he told The Scoop that he “didn’t like the direction The Restaurant was moving.” According to Wil, he was unhappy that he wasn’t able to use enough seasonal ingredients and products coming from small local purveyors.

Wil plans on taking the next few weeks off to spend with his two young sons. While he and Lisa’s end goal (no timeline in sight) is to have their own restaurant, in the meantime, he hopes to work at another restaurant in the city. With his immediate start at The Restaurant, he hasn’t had time to explore St. Louis’ food scene, but he’s excited for the chance to finally see what the city has to offer. Compared to NYC, “St. Louis,” he said, “is a little city, but it has big industry.”

Lisa remains on as the executive pastry chef at The Cheshire’s The Restaurant and Basso.

UPDATE: In a statement issued by The Restaurant at The Cheshire, no plans have been reported as far as interviewing for a new executive chef.  The statement said, “We have an outstanding culinary team in place at The Restaurant, an excellent corporate chef in Rex Hale who has been involved from the start, and an amazing talent in Basso Executive Chef Patrick Connolly, a James Beard Award winner, who will take on a larger role.”

— photo by Michelle Volanksy

The Perfect Mix: An interview with Wil and Lisa Fernandez-Cruz

Friday, January 11th, 2013



We all know mixing business and pleasure can be a recipe for disaster, but for Wilfrin and Lisa Fernandez-Cruz, there’s never been a difference between the two. They met while working at 202, a now-closed restaurant in New York’s Chelsea Market. Wil, having emigrated from the Dominican Republic, had climbed the restaurant ladder to sous chef, and Lisa was making pastries. After marriage, two babies and a job change, the pair has been reunited in the kitchen at The Cheshire. He’s the executive chef for the newly opened The Restaurant, its catering arm and The Market (coming soon). She’s executive pastry chef for all of The Cheshire’s eating establishments. And thankfully for St. Louis diners, their recipe for making it work tastes just right.

What was the final impetus to leave NYC?

LF: It was always in the back of my head to bring the kids back. There are just so many more opportunities for them here. But one day, I had one of those days where your bag breaks on the subway, then you trip and fall and step into a huge puddle, and a man screams at you for no reason …

WF: And some guy is puking …

LF: Or pees on your shoe. And I’m like, am I in a movie? I called my sister crying, and the next day she sent me an email that said, “I found this ad on Craigslist and maybe you should apply; there’s a job for your husband at the same place.” We were here within three weeks of applying.

Did you start dating at 202?

WF: We met there – dated, got married; it was a beautiful time.

LF: Well, I didn’t talk to him at first. He didn’t speak any English! He was like, “Hola lady.”

You learned English to woo her?

WF: Pretty much.

LF: He slipped me his number one day.

WF: I was that creepy guy.

What’s your best tactic for working together?

LF: We’re brutally honest without hurting each other’s feelings.

WF: We work really well together. We knew that going in. We fell in love working in a kitchen. I look at Lisa as a business person. Outside, we’re married. Here, we’re co-workers. I’m not like, “Hey sweetie, can you do this for me?”

Your kids must have the most sophisticated palates in all of day care and kindergarten.

LF: George [the 3-year-old] has a 100-percent salt palate. Every single morning he wants eggs and bacon. “Did you put salt on this?” he’ll say.

WF: Then, “Can I just have the salt? I’ll salt it myself.”

LF: But Wil [the 5-year-old] is about the cakes, cookies and candy. Every day, he asks me, “Are you gong to make some cupcakes today? Do you want to bring some home?”

LF: Food; it’s pretty much our life.

WF: It is our life.

— photo by Ashley Gieseking

 

Drink This Weekend Edition: Old but new at The Cheshire

Friday, December 7th, 2012

St. Louisans who remember what The Cheshire looked like in its heyday shouldn’t get teary-eyed over the vast renovations that have gone into resurrecting the 1930s structure. Head to The Restaurant, the first of three concepts slated for the 35,000 square-foot building at 7036 Clayton Ave., and you’ll see an exterior that is still as gloriously Tudor in style as the dark wood beams, stained glass and functional fireplaces. But with a restoration worthy of a This Old House episode come fresh, contemporary décor touches such as lighting and seating will remind you which century you live in.


{The Monk’s Manhattan}

The idea of blending the old with the new carries over to The Restaurant’s drink menu. If you can only order one cocktail, make it The Monk’s Manhattan. To give you an idea of just how good it is: “When someone from the table orders it, soon we’re sending out two or three more because everyone else at the table wants one,” said Katy Romine, whose official title is “cocktail chef.” What makes this Manhattan so good? Bulleit rye whiskey, dry vermouth, Benedictine, and whiskey barrel-aged bitters – three and a half dashes to be precise, per The Restaurant’s bar manager Matt McMullin (whom dedicated drinkers will recognize from his tenure at Lola). Guard the bourbon-poached apple garnish; it’s too tasty to share.

The Monk’s Manhattan is proving so popular that it’ll stick around for a while, even though the other cocktails on the list won’t. “Unlike many restaurants that change the entire list every few months, we will be debuting one new cocktail on our list every two weeks, based on what is seasonally available,” explained Romine. “The goal of the rotation on the list is to not only serve what is freshest but also to organically move the list from season to season, like we do with our food.”


{Dark ‘n’ Stormy}

Two cocktails worth a try before they say goodbye are the Pearadise Express, a twist on a Sidecar that features a smoked apple purée; and a Dark ‘n’ Stormy with fizzy house-made ginger beer plus Black Strap Rum floating on top like a castaway. Cocktails coming down the line include one featuring fig-flavored vodka and another starring amaro.




If wine is on your mind, rest assured that the restaurant’s wine cellar (pictured above), with the capacity for 1,700 bottles, has something to please your palate. The restaurant offers 30 by-the-glass picks, and among bottle choices, you’ll find 35 whites and more than 40 reds. The list is the pet project of The Cheshire’s beverage director: advanced sommelier and certified wine educator Patricia Wamhoff. This wine wonder woman’s standout bottle pick is the Merlot-Cabernet Franc by Chateau Fonplegade St. Emilion of Bordeaux, France. “It’s a blend between Old World and New World in style,” said Wamhoff of this $87 bottle. “It has the fruit forward of New World but still with the backbone of Old World earthiness,” she said. Wamhoff also mans a captain’s list that she dubbed the  “super-juice list,” and she’s downright giddy to share these “gems.”

Basso, the lower level pub at The Cheshire, is slated to open on December 17. Like the food prepared by Basso’s exec chef Patrick Connolly, the cocktails will have an Italian influence. I didn’t have the opportunity to try the drinks on the launch menu, which is divided into categories of  “Originale,” “Classico” and “Dolce,” but considering that Jason Reed, formerly of Salt, is behind the bar at Basso with loads of Italian spirits, wines and liqueurs at his disposal, I’m confident that the word deliziosa will slip from my lips at first sip.

The Scoop: The Cheshire continues to poach The Big Apple

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

The Cheshire’s gorgeously rehabbed soon-to-open basement restaurant and bar Basso now has an executive chef. Patrick Connolly, a St. Louis native, has returned from New York City to helm the Italian-themed casual counterpart to recently opened The Restaurant, which sits above Basso at 7036 Clayton Ave.

Connolly first gained national attention while at the restaurant Radius in Boston, where he served as executive chef. In 2007, he was nominated for the James Beard Rising Star award, and in 2008, he won the James Beard Best Chef Northeast award. From Radius, he moved to Bobo in New York City, where he again assumed the role of executive chef. Since leaving Bobo a year ago, Connolly was acting as exec-chef for The Kitchen, a food media company and private event space in Manhattan.

Just five weeks ago, when Connolly came across the post for Basso, he and his wife hadn’t been considering a move to St. Louis, but they had been toying with the idea of leaving New York. A day after speaking with Todd Rushing, a partner for Concentrics Restaurants (the company designing The Cheshire’s new eateries), Connolly was on a plane to St. Louis. Connolly was so impressed with Basso and the surrounding facilities that he quickly took the job, but the part he’s most excited about on a day-to-day basis is his new wood-burning oven. While working at Bobo and The Kitchen, Connolly said, “I did a series called ‘Plate to Gate’ where I went to the farms I sourced from. I would go there and produce dinners and cook with wood off the property. It was always a treat. Now I’ll get to cook with it every day.”

Connolly is currently in the last stages of tweaking the menu for Basso before it opens on December 17. He plans to feature about 10 to 12 small plates, six or seven options for both house-made pastas and pizzas, a few a la carte items from the grill, five sides and five desserts.

Connolly is also looking forward to working with Wil and Lisa Fernandez-Cruz, the husband-wife team who are the executive chef and executive pastry chef, respectively, at The Restaurant upstairs. Connolly was friends with the two while living in New York, and he and Wil already have plans to share whole animals between The Restaurant and Basso. “New York and New England have great farms, but the Midwest is the heartland,” Connolly said. “There’s so much. I’m learning new products every day.”

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