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Feb 24, 2018
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Posts Tagged ‘Privado’

6 STL-area chefs, restaurants earn James Beard nominations

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

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{ Vicia }

 

It’s that time of year again. The James Beard Foundation announced its list of semifinalists for its annual awards recognizing chefs and restaurants today, Feb. 15, and once again, St. Louis’ food scene was well represented with six nominations, including some first-timers.

Vicia was nominated for Best New Restaurant. “It’s a huge honor. It was something we hoped to achieve,” said co-owner Tara Gallina. “When we opened – you know, you always set goals for yourself – this was certainly a high goal, so nothing we would be heartbroken if we didn’t get. But we’ve been really pushing ourselves and our team.”

This is the latest in a slew of local and national honors for the Central West End restaurant, which opened in March 2017. Gallina said she’s aware of what this recognition can do for Vicia’s business, since James Beard nominations are something people look at for ideas while traveling.

“I’m the same way when I go to a new city,” she said. “It’s wonderful to be able to attract people from all over. These types of things are amazing for your business … and will also help attract amazing talent.”

Longtime St. Louis fine-dining standby Tony’s made the semifinalist list for Outstanding Service, which recognizes restaurants in business at least five years that demonstrate high standards of hospitality and service.

Chef Vincent P. Bommarito Jr. said it was Tony’s first Beard nomination. “We are so excited about it. We didn’t know anything about it until it came out in the news,” he said. 

Bommarito Jr. said the recognition will spur his front-of-house team to even greater levels of hospitality. “I have to tell you, we’re not taking this lightly,” he said. “Service is going to be better now than ever.”

 

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{ Privado chef-owner Mike Randolph }

 

The foundation also singled out four area nominees for Best Chef: Midwest: Elaia executive chef Ben Grupe, Sardella executive chef Ashley Shelton, Privado chef-owner Mike Randolph and Lona’s Lil’ Eats chef-owner Lona Luo. This is the first such nomination for Grupe, Luo and Shelton and No. 3 for Randolph.

“It’s a great and humbling experience,” said Randolph, who was a semifinalist in 2016 and 2017. “I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t weird to see Privado on there instead of Público, because we’ve done such good work there. But Privado has been a really special project for me. You never know who’s going to be sitting at the table.” He added that it’s satisfying to see the unique weekend-only concept recognized. “It definitely puts a pep in our step.”

 

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{ at left, Lona Lil’ Eats chef owner Lona Luo } 

 

Luo said she found out about the honor when people starting congratulating her this morning.  The fast-casual Fox Park eatery specializes in fare from Xishuangbanna in China’s Yunnan province, where Luo grew up. She prides herself on making every sauce and marinade from scratch without MSG or preservatives. “If people are happy, their body is happy and it’s making me happy” she said.

Luo credits her front of house and kitchen staff, particularly chef Jason Hummel, with the success of her restaurant. “My team is absolutely awesome,” she said. “I really love them. Without them I cannot make that happen. … They are my right hands and my left hands.”

 

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{ Sardella executive chef Ashley Shelton }

 

This is the second time the James Beard Foundation recognized Shelton; in 2017, she was a semifinalist for Rising Star Chef of the Year, which recognizes promising chefs younger than 30. Shelton, who was a 2016 One to Watch, said the nomination validated her growth in the kitchen. “I’m actually doing good at this,” she said. “It’s not just about being young anymore – it’s about being a talented chef.”

Shelton credited her Sardella team for helping her reach this point. “It’s awesome. I think it’s going to be a huge lift for everybody at Sardella,” she said. “It’s going to fuel them and push us to keep working even harder than we already are.”

Sardella owner Gerard Craft said Shelton earned the honor. “We’re super excited for her, and this is very well deserved,” he said. “She works her tail off everyday, and this is the result.”

 

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{ Elaia executive chef Ben Grupe }

 

Grupe said he appreciated the recognition of his team’s hard work. “It’s a great honor. It’s referred to as the Oscars of the culinary world, so just being nominated is a great achievement,” he said. “We’ll see where we fall when they make the next announcement in March.”

Elaia owner Ben Poremba said the honor further proves that Grupe is doing something special at the Botanical Heights fine dining restaurant.

“It wasn’t easy for me to leave my position and trust my restaurant to someone,” said Poremba, himself a three-time James Beard Best Chef: Midwest nominee. “But Ben came in and took it to new heights. I’m proud of him, proud of his work and proud of our restaurant group. It takes a lot of work, focus and resilience.”

Tony’s and Luo didn’t immediately return requests for comment.

The finalists for each category will be announced at 8:30 a.m. March 14, and the annual James Beard Awards will take place May 7 in Chicago.

Editor’s note: This article was updated at 11:20 a.m. Feb. 15 to include comments from Ben Grupe. it was updated again at 1:40 p.m. to include comments from Lona Luo. It was updated again at 3:30 p.m Feb. 23 to include comments from Vincent P. Bommarito Jr. 

 

Ashley Shelton photo by Carmen Troesser, Ben Grupe photo courtesy of Grupe, Lona Luo photo by Elizabeth Maxson, Mike Randolph photo by Greg Rannells, Vicia photo by Michelle Volansky

Heather Hughes, Catherine Klene and Matt Sorrell contributed to this report. 

Related Content
• Sidney Street Cafe’s Kevin Nashan wins James Beard Award

• St. Louis food community reacts to James Beard wins

• James Beard Foundation names Kevin Nashan, Kevin Willmann Best Chef: Midwest finalists

Best New Restaurants: No. 2 – Privado

Friday, December 1st, 2017

To be the best, everything matters – atmosphere, service and food. Here are St. Louis’ 12 best new restaurants of 2017.

 

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Reservations only. Open just two seatings on Friday and Saturday. Sixteen diners, max. A 12- to 15-course tasting menu that changes nightly.

But don’t get the wrong idea. Privado is high-concept dining performed to a Bruce Springsteen soundtrack by a Midwestern chef who is genuinely having fun – and guests are having a blast, too. This is fine dining according to Mike Randolph.

“I really wanted to prove to myself as much as anyone else that we could – in this particular market, two nights a week – change the way the people thing about a ‘fine dining’ experience,” Randolph said.

Yes, there are a handful of seats at the bar, where those who still pine for Randolfi’s can walk in and select from a tight menu of pasta and snacks. Randolph even hosts occasional weeknight pop-ups to stretch his creative muscles (curry, anyone?). But to truly experience Privado, book a reservation online and prepare for a three-hour multisensory meal.

When you arrive, you feel like you’re in on a secret – sneaking into a restaurant for a private meal on the chef’s day off. Swing by the open kitchen before service and chat with Randolph and his team (no starched chef whites here, just a couple of guys in baseball caps and aprons) while you sip an aperitif and snack on an amuse bouche served at the pass. That’s the whole point: to create a relaxed, organic interaction between diner and kitchen. “We want people to feel disarmed, like they can come in and be themselves,” Randolph said.

 

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As First Aid Kit’s cover of “America” cues up, settle in to the first course – perhaps Missouri paddlefish caviar atop a crema cloud – and feel free to audibly marvel. Everyone else is, and it gets louder as the wine pairings flow to a steady playlist of rock, bluegrass, soul and jazz.

The meal features two- to three-bite dishes you’ll stretch into seven or eight nibbles just to study their complexity and savor the moment. Observe the crisp skin atop a meaty cube of pork belly and how it provides textural contrast to the unctuous liver (yes, liver) ice cream. Swoon over a raviolo stuffed with braised turnips and buried under a snowbank of white truffle shavings, presented on its own hand-carved spoon.

Swipe the perfect cylinder of mind-blowing Taleggio cheese wrapped in dried pear through vibrant sorrel ice cream. Wonder why on earth you never thought to pair earthy porcini mushrooms with rich dark chocolate ganache before now. Savor the last bite as Roy Orbison croons “It’s Over” and collect your thoughts between sips of Madeira and French-pressed coffee. You’ll never experience that meal again – and neither will anyone else.

Photos by Carmen Troesser

Catherine Klene is managing editor, digital at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
• First Look: Privado in The Loop

• Mike Randolph will open Privado in former Randolfi’s space

• Sauce Magazine: Best New Restaurants 2017

Extra Sauce: In case you missed it…

Sunday, October 22nd, 2017

A viral sensation is moving to accommodate more diners and a chef realizes his longtime goal of an exclusive fine-dining restaurant, ICYMI…

 

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1. Privado, the new weekend-only tasting menu concept from chef-owner Mike Randolph opened Friday, Oct. 20, bringing a fine-dining experience to the Delmar Loop.

 

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2. After just a little more than two years in business, Twisted Ranch will soon move to a new, larger location just a block away.

 

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3. St. Louis has danced with the dual sushi bowl and poke trends for years, but cousins Kati Fahrney and Ron Turigliatto have brought the first fast-casual sushi bowl and roll restaurant to St. Louis with BLK MKT Eats.

 

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4. There are three commandments you must follow to achieve flame-kissed, grilled pizza nirvana that no conventional oven-baked pie will ever reach.

 

Don’t miss out! Follow Sauce on Facebook and Twitter for the latest Scoops in the St. Louis restaurant scene. 

 

First Look: Privado in The Loop

Thursday, October 19th, 2017

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Privado, the new weekend-only tasting menu concept from chef-owner Mike Randolph opens tomorrow, Oct. 20, bringing a fine-dining experience to the Delmar Loop.

Privado is located at 6665 Delmar Blvd., in the space that once housed Randolph’s Italian restaurant, Randolfi’s, which closed last month. As The Scoop reported in September, Privado is reservations-only, offers one tasting menu (usually between 12 and 15 courses) and has a single seating on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. Only 16 seats are available per service.

The menu changes constantly, giving Randolph a unique chance to experiment with a wide variety of flavors and ingredients. It also gives diners a different culinary experience each time they visit.

The restaurant’s interior has been tweaked a bit since the Randolfi’s era to enhance the new concept. Two community tables now sit directly in front of the open kitchen for a full view of the action. LED lights mounted in shadowboxes above each seat create the perfect spotlight (and phone-friendly photo lighting) for each dish.

The kitchen has been streamlined for service with new workstations and shelving, though the signature wood-fired oven remains (as does the poster of “Born In The U.S.A”-era Bruce Springsteen). The front of the space, which used to serve as the main dining room, is available for private events during the week.

For those who want to stop by Privado for a drink and a bite, the bar area is available for walk-ins and reservations. A small a la carte food menu is available, as well as a drinks list that includes four classic cocktails, four rotating cocktails, plus a limited selection of beer, wine and spirits. The bar menu incorporates ingredients that appear on the tasting room bill of fare and includes an appetizer, two pastas, an entree and a dessert.

Tickets for each seating are available online in two-month blocks – October is already sold out, and November and December are starting to fill up. Here’s a first look at what to expect from Randolph’s newest project:

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Photos by Caitlin Lally 

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
• Mike Randolph will open Privado in former Randolfi’s space

• Randolfi’s will close in The Loop Sept. 9

• Best New Restaurants: No. 1 – Público

Mike Randolph will open Privado in former Randolfi’s space

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

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Mike Randolph is finally getting his experimental fine-dining restaurant. As The Scoop reported in late August, Randolph closed his Italian Randolfi’s at 6665 Delmar Blvd. earlier this month. He plans to open Privado in the same space in October.

“It is exciting,” Randolph said. “It took a little bit of time to just get over the hurt of Randolfi’s, but once we figured out what was possible and what we wanted to do, we kept coming back to this.”

Privado will be a fine-dining tasting menu restaurant open on Friday and Saturday evenings for one service of about 15 courses for just 16 patrons. Tickets for each dinner will be available online for $100 each. The first service is planned for Oct. 20.

“I’ve thrown a ton of things at the wall, but I’ve never given [fine-dining] a fair chance,” Randolph said. “We want to be in there two, three, four days a week experimenting, tweaking techniques, processing ingredients.”

He plans to design the space and experience – the plating, lighting, music, even the smell in the room – in ways that were impossible at his previous fine-dining projects (Little Country Gentleman and the Diversion Dinners series), since they took place in other, permanent establishments. “This is no longer a divergence from work – this is work,” Randolph said. “This is a singular focus.”

The bar will be open around weekend dinners, so customers can have a cocktail before or after their meal. A handful of snacks and desserts will be available for those who just want to pop in for a drink as they wait for a table at Público or wander in from The Loop – though reservations are encouraged for bar seats as well.

During the week, Privado will serve as a private event space, available for everything from baby showers to cooking demonstrations, and a kind of commissary kitchen that Randolph’s other restaurants can use when they need extra space. “This will give us a really flexible space,” he said. “We can do anything we need to do within the restaurant group out of that space.”

“We’re excited – that’s the long and the short of it,” Randolph said. “It’s switched from sorrow to excitement.”

 

Photo by Greg Rannells for Mike Randolph

Heather Hughes is managing editor at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
Meals That Changed My Life: Mike Randolph

Randolfi’s will close in The Loop Sept. 9

Best New Restaurants: No. 4 – Randolfi’s Italian Kitchen

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