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Mar 22, 2018
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Posts Tagged ‘Nick Luedde’

The Scoop: Farmtruk’s Samantha Mitchell named executive chef at The Libertine

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017


{ Samantha Mitchell, Farmtruk chef-owner and new Libertine executive chef }


Big changes are afoot in The Libertine’s kitchen. Farmtruk chef-owner Samantha Mitchell has been tapped as the Clayton restaurant’s new executive chef.

The Libertine co-owner Nick Luedde said the change has been in the works for a while. “Matt (Bessler, former executive chef), has a project he’s been working on that he’s not quite ready to announce yet, so I’ve been looking around town to see who’s available,” he said. “I’ve had my eye on Samantha for a long time. She’s so smart and so together. She has a lot of great ideas. I’m super excited.”

Mitchell said she’s excited to return to the restaurant world. “I’m stoked,” she said. “I miss it; it’s who I am. It’s what I’ve done since I was a teenager. It’ll be nice to have a home base and get back to my roots.”



{ The Libertine chef de cuisine Wil Pelly } 


Mitchell’s arrival isn’t the only change in The Libertine kitchen. Sous chef Wil Pelly, formerly of Sanctuaria Wild Tapas and Sugarfire Smoke House, officially steps up as chef de cuisine. To round out the roster, Derek Northway, former executive chef at The Scottish Arms, joins the team as executive sous chef. Luedde said Mitchell and Norwood step up to the stoves full-time this week.

The Libertine recently debuted a new spring menu, so Mitchell will gradually add menu items over the next few weeks. Luedde said she will continue the restaurant’s focus on local, sustainable ingredients, but definitely put her own stamp on things.

But don’t despair, Farmtruk fans. Mitchell intends to continue as chef-owner of the truck and will still be onboard working the window three days a week. “I’ll just be working a lot of doubles,” she said.

Mitchell recently partnered with fellow food truck proprietor Paul Listenberger. The chef-owner of Steak Louie announced the opening of a food truck food court in South City in the former Annie Moons Bakery, which serves as a commissary kitchen for his truck, Farmtruk and Go! Gyro Go!

Mitchell said more changes were in store at The Libertine with a plan to introduce a “whole new format” – though she remained mum on the details.

Mitchell photo by Jonathan Gayman; Pelly photo by Jennifer Silverberg

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine.

Related Content
Best New Food Trucks: Farmtruk

The Scoop: Food truck food court to open in South City

The Scoop: The Libertine’s Josh Galliano to join Companion Bakery, Schlafly chef Matt Bessler to replace Galliano


Readers’ Choice 2016: Favorite Restaurateurs

Thursday, July 7th, 2016



{Clockwise from bottom, Gerard Craft, Dave Bailey, Kevin Nashan, Nick Luedde}

The menus have been printed, revised, reprinted, revised … and reprinted again. The staff has been trained forward and backward. The silverware has been polished until it’s too shiny to behold. Friends and family have flown in for the soft opening with compliments fit for the pope/Shakespeare/Beyoncé of restaurant owners. But when the restaurant finally opens to the public, what’s going through a restaurateur’s mind?


Winner: Gerard Craft
Owner, Niche Food Group (Brasserie by Niche, Pastaria, Porano Pasta, Sardella, Taste)

“I think my opening of Niche was way different from any opening you will see today. In 2005, social media wasn’t really a thing. People finding out about new things were not overnight happenings. Now you open a restaurant and a million people line up out your door — definitely not with Niche. No one knew who we were. It was me, one other cook and my pastry chef who I basically kidnapped. We opened to 12 customers, and I think six of those were from the bar across the street, who I think I convinced to come over if I would feed them for free. …

“I was 25. My wife was pregnant. I was doing something a little bit different, which certainly didn’t make it easier. I would work from 8 a.m. until 2:30 a.m. every day. It was intense – a lot of anxiety, a lot of stress. … It was this dream, but also so much reality. And I physically remember when we finally got reviewed — (former St. Louis Post-Dispatch critic) Joe Bonwich just gave us this love letter. After, I looked up and … there were so many people, we didn’t know what to do. I almost threw up. I was like, ‘Oh shit, I have to cook for all these people!’”


2nd: Nick Luedde
Co-owner, The Libertine

“We had been in the press and had such a highly anticipated opening. … Ten minutes prior to opening — the staff looks great, and we had 200 people on the books — but I’m looking at my wife (Audra Luedde), afraid no one was going to show up. We had so much money invested. This was everything. … It all comes down to whom you’ve hired. If those people are people you actually want to have a drink with, the rest takes care of itself.”


3rd: Kevin Nashan
Chef-owner, Peacemaker Lobster & Crab and Sidney Street Cafe

“Obviously you want to throw up in your mouth. It’s such a big rollercoaster. You just hope people come and are so grateful when they do. It takes a village — everyone contributes to your success. … There are so many variables on opening day. The system you have sometimes completely changes during service, after service.”


Honorable mention: Dave Bailey
Owner, Baileys’ Restaurants (Baileys’ Chocolate Bar; Baileys’ Range; Bridge Tap House & Wine Bar; Rooster; Shift, Test Kitchen & Takeout; Small Batch; The Fifth Wheel)

“My seven stages of opening a restaurant for the first time:

Electric shock: Woke up early that sunny morning with no alarm clock with a surge through my body and the immediate thought, ‘I am opening a restaurant today! You’ve been working on this day and night, sleeping two hours at a time on top of the bar. It’s actually real now. Go go go!’

A burning sensation in the back of the head and neck: Is there enough time to get everything done? … What did I forget? Will anyone come? Will too many people come? Why am I doing this on a Friday? Why didn’t I do a soft opening?

Accelerated breathing and hypersensitivity to sound and touch: Almost there; we’re looking pretty good; it’s all about to happen; this is going to be amazing!

Calmness and solidarity of purpose: Ready. Everything looks right; everything feels right; everyone is in position.

Panic and self doubt: Why wasn’t there a line at the door? Is anyone going to come? Was this a terrible idea in the first place? I can’t afford for this not to work.

Total absorption in work and an extremely narrowed focus: Wow, it’s really busy. Everyone seems happy. We are almost keeping up; we need to go faster; we need to go much faster. Touch more tables … make them happy no matter what.

Complete relief and a feeling of having learned and grown more in hours than in the past several years: It worked. We built it, and they came. We are going to do an even better job tomorrow.”

-photo by Ashley Gieseking

Readers’ Choice 2014: Favorite New Restaurant – The Libertine

Sunday, July 13th, 2014


With each seasonal iteration of The Libertine’s trademark entree Three Little Birds, executive chef Josh Galliano and executive sous chef Josh Poletti exhibit the classic elegance of fowl, whimsically reinvented and roasted to perfection. Chicken, quail and Cornish hen are deboned, brined, stacked in layers and finally topped with morsels of dark meat. The succulent casserole is gently CVapped for several hours, which caramelizes the crispy skin before the Three Little Birds are laid to rest upon a bed of tangy, old-school Carolina Gold rice middlins, cooked with milk and pecorino. The ensemble is finished with a saute of local, seasonal vegetables – this spring, it was Scharf Farm’s asparagus and Andy Ayers’ snow peas doused in spring ramp butter sauce. The end product is a testament to Galliano’s and Poletti’s ability to elevate mere chicken and rice to first-rate distinction.

To see all the 2014 Readers’ Choice winners, click here.

-photo by Jonathan Gayman 

In This Issue: New and Notable – The Libertine

Thursday, September 12th, 2013



Deadline be damned, I wanted fried chicken. Specifically, I wanted Josh Galliano’s fried chicken: the deep-fried, crunchy, spicy bird that I – and seemingly half of St. Louis – devoured last year at his one-night pop-up event. This was well after Monarch (where most of us first fell under the spell of Galliano’s chicken) had closed, so there was much pent-up demand and curiosity about what he was going to pull out of the skillet this time. Since then, the New Orleans transplant put on another pop-up (gumbo-themed) and designed and executed the meat MX Movies downtown.

Earlier this year, Nick and Audra Luedde tapped Galliano to head the kitchen at The Libertine, their new restaurant in downtown Clayton; and you thought all that buzz you heard was the cicada invasion. Nick is a practiced mixologist, sommelier and restaurateur, while Audra is a master chef and sommelier. A year ago the husband and wife team moved to St. Louis (Nick’s hometown) from Chicago to open The Libertine.

To read more about our reviewer’s thoughts on The Libertine, click here.

-Photo by Jonathan Gayman



Sneak Peek: The Libertine

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Since owners Nick and Audra Luedde announced in January that they were teaming up with local chef talent Josh Galliano, buzz has been building about The Libertine.

The Libertine, located at 7927 Forsyth Blvd., in the old Chez Leon space, will officially join the Clayton restaurant scene on Tuesday, May 14. Described as “a reimagined neighborhood eatery that serves accessible yet ingredient-driven food,” the restaurant’s menu is divided into three categories – vegetable, meat and seafood – plus desserts. Dishes range from small bites to entree-size portions to small plates intended for sharing. The menu also features numerous house-made items, including bread, cheese, charcuterie and desserts. Like the food menu, drink options spotlight local products – whether in a handcrafted cocktail or a pint of beer – rounded out by small production and boutique wines.

When the Libertine opens, it will serve dinner daily, except Mondays, beginning at 5 p.m. Lunch service is expected to be added later this year. Reservations are accepted but are not required. They can be made by phone at 314.862.2999 or online at www.libertinestl.com.

For a sneak peek at what’s in store at The Libertine, head to our Facebook page.

The Scoop: Josh Galliano to open The Libertine with restaurateurs Nick and Audra Luedde

Friday, January 4th, 2013

UPDATE 1.8.13: Co-owner Nick Luedde expects to sign a lease for The Libertine within the next few days at 7927 Forsyth Blvd., in Clayton. This is the former home of Chez Leon, Leon Bierbaum’s upscale French restaurant that closed in May of last year. Luedde noted that, although the contract has yet to be signed, the terms still being negotiated are “all minor stuff.” St. Louis Magazine’s George Mahe broke the news of the location, which Luedde has now confirmed to The Scoop.

Ever since Monarch restaurant closed in March of last year, St. Louisans have been waiting for news on what its executive chef, Josh Galliano, would do next. The wait is over. Galliano is teaming up with restaurateurs Nick and Audra Luedde to open The Libertine this spring. An announcement regarding the restaurant’s location is expected in the coming weeks, though Galliano did tell The Scoop that it will be in Missouri, not Illinois.

According to a press release, The Libertine will be a “reminagined neighborhood eatery” that combines the “warmth and easy one finds in their favorite local ‘everyday’ eatery.” It went on to say that it will “defy convention with fresh and creative cuisine, exemplary drink and impeccable service, all provided in a space that is fun, comfortable, but also stylish and perhaps, even a little bit sexy.”

The culinary focus will be to offer the “nuance and flavor” of top-tier restaurants but “without the pretension or the hefty price tag.” The menu, comprised entirely of shared plates, will be divided into the three categories: vegetables, meat and seafood. Galliano will prepare numerous items in-house, including bread, cheese, charcuterie and desserts. Initially, the restaurant will only offer dinner service; lunch service is anticipated later in the year.

The beverage program, under Nick Luedde’s direction, will include “modernized parlor cocktails” prepared using fresh and house-made ingredients, as well a diverse assortment of eclectic, value-driven wines and a selection of small-production craft beer. Nick Luedde, a St. Louis native, and his wife, Audra Luedde, have extensive experience in the beverage world. He is a sommelier and mixologist with 15 years of experience, including time working at restaurants and nightclubs in New York and Chicago, and has been recognized as Chicago’s Best Sommelier and Best Mixologist-Midwest. He also received The Wine Spectator’s Grand Award of Excellence.

According to the release, the design of The Libertine will be inspired by “the pared down styles of the early 19th century English Georgian and French Directory. The English club and the French salon were the beginning of the modern venue for socializing and drinking. The project will not only use stylistic cues from these precedents but, more importantly, will use spatial references: exposed brick, glass, metal, industrial accents and clear hand-blown glass along with rich accented lighting to create places of intimacy conducive to the art of conversation.”

Since Monarch shuttered, Galliano has kept busy. He launched a couple of one-day-only pop-up restaurants in August and September, and he recently signed on to design the menu for MX Movies, the new dine-in movie theater slated to open in the Mercantile Exchange downtown.  We’ll have more on The Libertine, including location details, as we learn them.

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