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Oct 24, 2014
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Posts Tagged ‘The Scoop’

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 of 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 Scoop: Cooper’s Legendary American Pub opens in St. Charles

Friday, October 17th, 2014



The heat is rising in St. Charles as Cooper’s Legendary American Pub settles in downtown. The new eatery opened Tuesday, Oct. 14 at 140 N. Main St., replacing Eros Eclectic Greek Taverna, which closed Aug. 18. First-time restaurant owners Bill and Jeanne Komlose and Lori Schneider took over the space and introduced a new menu that gives new meaning to the term hot wings.

“We’re bringing out the wings and setting them on fire right in front of the customer, flambé style,” Bill Komlose said. In addition to this firey dish, Cooper’s will offer other “elevated bar food,” including a white cheddar mac-n-cheese topped with fried spinach, shrimp poached in a Guiness broth and burgers topped with custom butters. Whipping up this new pub grub is 20-year-veteran chef John Nunley, who Komlose said essentially came with the building. Nunley was the chef at Eros for the last two years and agreed to man the helm at Cooper’s. Joining him as sous chef is Le Cordon Blue graduate Patrick Kelley.

A full bar features 11 beers on draft, including local favorites like Urban Chestnut and 4 Hands, as well as more options in bottle. Patrons can also choose from an evolving wine list and full liquor selection. Cooper’s can seat 50 inside and another 40 on the patio, a key factor point when they owners chose the space. “What sold me on this place was the patio,” Komlose said. “People say it’s the best patio on Main Street. It is well landscaped and has great river views.”

Cooper’s Legendary American Pub is open Monday and Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1:30 a.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The Scoop: Chef Bob Brazell launches catering business, revamps The Corner Cup menu

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014



Chef Bob Brazell, former executive chef at Athlete Eats, has recently launched Snack STL, a catering business that will also offer the occasional pop-up dinner. Brazell said he hopes to collaborate with other local chefs and food purveyors, and menus will vary widely depending on the event.  “I enjoy cooking everything from Southern to Korean to Thai to Mexican,” Brazell said.

At Athlete Eats, Brazell created clean, low-carb, high-energy foods as the restaurant’s executive chef. Before that he cooked at Entre, Monarch and Niche and worked as a personal chef to professional athletes like Sam Bradford.

Brazell also plans to consult for area restaurants, beginning with a new menu at The Corner Cup in Dogtown that focuses on specific dietary needs and lifestyles. The rotating menu has lots of vegan, vegetarian and paleo choices using only locally sourced meats. Diners can also build their own burritos, omelets and breakfast sandwiches.

“We have a really great group of regulars now, and we’re interested in driving people here from all over St. Louis who are interested in quality and locally sourced food,” said Joe Buechler, general manager at The Corner Cup.

New menu highlights include apple-cinnamon French toast topped with caramelized apples and candied walnuts and drizzled with a coconut milk-horchata glaze, paleo pumpkin pancakes topped with toasted cashews and a coconut maple glaze, and a breakfast meatloaf made from grass-fed beef and topped with an egg from Cock and Bull Farms.

The Corner Cup chef Sean Gibson phased in the new menu two weeks ago, served 7 a.m. to noon Thursday through Monday. One staple that won’t change is Buechler’s house-made granola bars, packed with nuts, dried fruit, peanut butter, honey, toasted oats and a vegan protein. The Corner Cup has also added catering, delivering “meetings to go,” with coffee and pastries, and Buechler said he will soon add hot onsite breakfasts as well.

-photo by Greg Rannells


The Scoop: Strange Donuts to open third St. Louis location in Central West End, Strange Trap Kitchen

Thursday, October 9th, 2014


{From left, Strange Donut co-owner Corey Smale, corporate chef Mary Boehne and co-owner Jason Bockman}

As Strange Donuts prepares to blow out the candles on its first birthday done, owners Corey Smale and Jason Bockman announced the coming of its third St. Louis location in the next few months. Strange Trap Kitchen, a pop-up kitchen concept, will open inside Brennan’s at 4659 Maryland Plaza in the Central West End, as reported by Liz Miller of Feast. The announcement comes just a few weeks before Smale and Bockman open their sophomore Kirkwood location on Oct. 22 and just days after the news that another Strange Donuts location will share storefront space with Seoul Taco in Columbia, Missouri.

Strange Trap Kitchen will feature doughnuts with new ingredients and “elevated flavors,” the handiwork of Strange Donuts corporate chef Mary Boehne, Smale said, as well as the possibility of hot chocolate, juices and Kaldi’s coffee. The CWE address aims to capture a morning commuter crowd with early hours of 7 to 11 a.m. Tuesdays through Fridays. The new shop gets its name from trap music, a subgenre of hip-hop.

Smale sees Strange Donuts’ rapid expansion – four locations, dozens of events and catering clients like the St. Louis Rams organization – as the mark of a great team. “We’re not intimidated because we know we got the right people to do this,” he said. “When you think to yourself, ‘What would I do without them?’ that’s when you know you have a great staff.”

-photo by Adrian O. Walker


The Scoop: Former exec chef at The Nest Chris Vomund joins culinary team at Herbie’s

Thursday, October 9th, 2014



Herbie’s Vintage 72 is seeing changes to its kitchen crew. Chris Vomund will join the team at the CWE restaurant Oct. 14. He will initially assume the position of chef de cuisine, but Herbie’s owner Aaron Teitelbaum said the goal is for Vomund to become the restaurant’s executive chef, replacing chef Chris Ladley, who left Herbie’s in September. Teitelbaum called Vomund “a solid cook” whose style suits the classical French cuisine at Herbie’s.

Previously, Vomund was executive chef at The Nest in Frontenac. Upon its closure this summer, he took an interim position as sous chef at 1111 Mississippi. His 12 years of restaurant experience also includes working as kitchen manager at Pi in the CWE, helping to open the Pi carryout location in Chesterfield and managing the kitchen at Hard Rock Cafe at Union Station.

“I’m looking forward to taking classical French and maybe incorporating a little of the great farm-fresh stuff we have in the Midwest,” Vomund said of his new position.

As for Ladley, who ran the kitchen at Herbie’s since March 2013, he has joined chef Rick Lewis’ culinary brigade at Quincy Street Bistro. In addition, he is butchering for The Block. “I spend my Wednesdays breaking down lots of pigs and Fridays doing the same thing with beef,” Ladley said. “It’s nice to have a life again and see my fiancee.”

The Scoop: The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis names new pastry chef

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014


{Pasty chef Brielle Fratellone and “Lucy,” her life-size pastry wedding dress}


It’s a sweet homecoming for Brielle Fratellone, new pastry chef at The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis. The hotel recently announced that Fratellone joined executive chef Melissa Lee in August, replacing chef Nathaniel Reid who worked in the hotel’s pastry program since April 2013.

Originally from the Midwest, Fratellone became enamored with pastry while working as a cake decorator in a grocery store. After winning a James Beard scholarship in 2007, she attended the Culinary Institute of America and upon graduation began working in some notable Florida hotels and resorts, including The Breakers in Palm Beach, Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort in Amelia Island and most recently at the famed, exclusive Everglades Club in Palm Beach.

“Her creativity is helping us as a team,” Lee said. “Her leadership style is excellent, innovative and creative. When I talk about staying relevant, I talk about Brielle.”

Fratellone said she is glad to be back in the Midwest and is excited to build on current trends like deconstructing desserts and to take existing flavor combinations like sea salt and chocolate to a new level. “I want to bring modern influence to the luxury desserts we already serve,” she said.

As pastry chef, Fratellone is responsible for more than just the dessert menu. She and pastry cook Laura Cottler spent more than 96 hours planning and executing a life-size wedding dress made entirely of pastry elements for The Ritz-Carlton’s reopening of its grand ballroom. Fratellone is now hard at work creating another “out-of-the-box” holiday creation scheduled to be unveiled in the hotel lobby Nov. 28.

The Scoop: The Civil Life Brewing Co. takes gold at Great American Beer Festival

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014


{From left, Civil Life brewers Brandon Stern and Dylan Mosley accept the gold award for their Rye Pale Ale at the Great American Beer Festival.}


The Civil Life Brewing Co. is raising a pint or two in celebration following its victory last Saturday, Oct. 4, at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. Brewers Dylan Mosley and Brandon Stern accepted the gold medal for Civil Life’s Rye Pale Ale, which bested more than 80 beers entered in the rye category.

“I would like to think that maybe what made it stand out was that it was a very well-rounded, well-made beer,” Mosley said. “The category rye allows for a lot of self-expression and possibly even a lot of experimentation.” Though he has not yet received official feedback from the judges, Mosley said he thought The Civil Life’s experimentation with a traditional pale ale caught their attention.

“We shoot for something that’s a little deeper and copper in color,” he said. “Rye tends to be a little on the lean side. It can have a spicy note to it.” Mosley and Stern balance that spice with sweetness, using different malts and citrus- and pine-forward hops from the Pacific Northwest.

This was the first year The Civil Life attended the Great American Beer Festival, which attracts thousands of breweries from across the country. Mosley said taking top honors both validates the 3-year-old brewery’s beermaking style and also raises the bar for what’s to come.

“We may have a lot of pretty traditional beers in our portfolio. When you can do well with something that is not immediately as exciting … as some of other things (out there) … it says something about your philosophy and technique,” Mosley said. “We’ve got to make sure that everything we’re doing lives up to the moment that we were getting recognition for.”


-photo courtesy of Jason E. Kaplan

The Scoop: Seoul Taco and Strange Donuts to open shop together in downtown Columbia

Saturday, October 4th, 2014


{From left, co-owner Corey Smale, chef Mary Boehne, co-owner
Jason Bockman}

Strange Donuts and Seoul Taco are expanding into Mizzou territory. The owners of both businesses are finalizing negotiations to rent the former Panera Bread space at 102 S. Ninth St., in downtown Columbia. Each restaurant will operate its own kitchen and counter, but will share a dining area. The restaurants are slated to open in December or January, before the start of the spring semester at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Seoul Taco owner David Choi and Strange Donuts co-owners Corey Smale and Jason Bockman hit it off when they collaborated to create the “Seoul Done,” a savory doughnut sandwich filled with Seoul Taco’s Korean bulgogi and glazed with a chili sauce. At the time, the owners of both eateries were aggressively searching for spaces in downtown Columbia in which to bring their concept to that city. Both parties liked the Hall Theater Space at 102 S. Ninth St., which was too large for them individually but could accommodate both restaurants nicely.

“We thought it would be a cool concept to bring something new and fresh to the area,” Choi said.

The two businesses have a lot in common. “Our businesses and personalities are really similar,” Smale said. “We are all young. We have a concept right now that’s hot, so we’re going to push it as far as we can.”

Seoul Taco’s Columbia location will offer the same menu as that available at its St. Louis location, which is relocating to the former Ginger Bistro spot at 6665 Delmar Blvd., in The Loop in December and adding a second concept at its new space – a cook-at-the-table Korean barbecue and hotpot restaurant, Seoul Q. The Scoop reported this news yesterday, Oct. 3.

Strange Donuts will likewise serve the same menu at its location in Columbia that it offers to done-lovers in The Lou, including its biggest hit, the gooey butter doughnut. “Our goal is to continue the Strangers there (like the chicken and waffle, hog burger and pizza donuts) and collaborate with some Columbia restaurants,” Smale said regarding the expansion into the Columbia market. “I also want to bring out St. Louis restaurants that aren’t represented in the Columbia market.” He’s already lining up a collaborative doughnut with Sugarfire Smokehouse. Strange Donuts currently operates a shop at 2709 Sutton Blvd., in Maplewood and will be unlocking doors at 107½ E. Argonne Drive in Kirkwood within the next two weeks. Plans for a fourth location are also in the works.


-photo by Adrian O. Walker

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: David Choi to move Seoul Taco, open new Korean barbecue restaurant, Seoul Q

Friday, October 3rd, 2014


{Seoul Taco owner David Choi}


Seoul Taco‘s brick-and-mortar is moving around the corner to a larger space in the Delmar Loop, and owner David Choi is adding a second concept to the new space – a cook-at-the-table Korean barbecue and hotpot restaurant, Seoul Q. Both restaurants will open at 6665 Delmar Blvd., former home to Ginger Bistro.

The move, scheduled for December, gives Choi 3,700 more square feet. Half of the new location will operate as Seoul Taco and the other half will be Seoul Q, which will have cooking implements and eight to 10 barbecue grills at the tables.

The menu at the new concept will include meats, traditional Korean banchan, or sides, like pickled vegetables, tofu, stews and soups. Diners will have the option to cook marinated or plain meats, which will be served with dipping sauces to eat inside as ssamjang, Korean lettuce wraps. Sauces include a sesame oil-based sauce with salt and pepper and one made with gochujang, a spicy, slightly sweet fermented chile paste.

Another menu item Choi is excited about is bo ssom, pork belly simmered in Korean spices for eight to 10 hours and paired with fresh tofu and kimchee. “(The recipe has) been in my family for years,” he said.

Choi has also secured a liquor license for each restaurant, and he plans to serve local craft brews at Seoul Taco and soju cocktails at Seoul Q.

Except for the addition of liquor, the menu at Seoul Taco (which fuses Korean barbecue and Mexican cuisine) won’t change, Choi said. It’ll still offer its famous Korean bulgogi (marinated steak) that Choi learned from his mother and grandmother and tweaked himself. The move came about because Seoul Taco’s existing 900-square-foot location was too cramped, especially since it also serves as commissary kitchen for its food truck. “It’s been elbow to elbow, whether it’s in the back of the house or the front of the house,” Choi said. The new restaurant will seat 160 total, 80 seats on each side for Seoul Taco and Seoul Q.

-photo by David W. Johnson Photography

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