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Jan 22, 2018
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Posts Tagged ‘Stellina’

What I Do: Heidi Hamamura at Guerrilla Street Food

Monday, January 1st, 2018

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Heidi Hamamura’s culinary education started when she absorbed her father, chef Naomi Hamamura’s, knowledge of sushi, Japanese and French fare in their kitchen after school. Since then, she has made a career out of exploring new cuisines: Italian with Jamey Trochtop at Stellina, Malaysian and Chinese with Bernie Lee at Hiro Asian Kitchen and modernist fine dining with Ben Grupe at Elaia. Now she’s diving into Filipino fare as executive chef of Guerrilla Street Food’s upcoming location on The Loop.

 

“The most I’ve had was five jobs at one time. It was intense, but I kept myself busy. … It’s like if someone likes yoga – loves it. It’s like going to different yoga classes all the time. Me going to different restaurants all the time and working was just fun. It was less like work.”

“My dad always told me you have to enjoy what you’re doing, and if you don’t, then I won’t back you up in life. If you love McDonald’s and you want to work at McDonald’s and you love everything about the company, then I will support you 100 percent. But if you work at McDonald’s and you bitch about life and complain all the time and do nothing about it, I’m not going to help you.”

“[My son] cooks already with my dad, too. … He likes to help cook his meals. He drags a chair over and wants to help hold the pan and sprinkle the salt on. He’s already there. My mom’s like, ‘No, you’re supposed to be a doctor!’”

“Since I didn’t go to culinary school, I promised [Trochtop] I wouldn’t leave if he taught me something new every day – a new word, anything. Even after work, I’d come back for my third shift and help him roll pasta until two in the morning. We’d grab a beer and roll pasta together because I wanted to learn.”

“Ben Grupe was one of the chefs that really inspired me. That’s the kind of cooking that I want to learn, that I love. It might be a small dish, but there is so much flavor in that, and creativity. It’s like art – you don’t want to eat it.”

“If we could find someone to open a [Japanese street food bar] in St. Louis, it would make so much money. … If the right investor comes or if I win the lottery, that would be really fun to do.”

“Making sushi is by far the most fun for me. … It’s the interaction and the different kinds of ways you can create and make sushi and display it. It’s like an art form. There are so many different ways you can beef up sushi or display an array of sashimi with different vegetables that go with certain fish or different spices. … I can eat sushi every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

“I remember the first time my dad took me out [to the lake]. … We were sitting on the boat drinking beers, and I had my fishing pole in the water and the sunset is going down and I said, ‘Whoever the hell created fishing is a genius. This is the best feeling ever.’”

Photo by Ashley Gieseking

Catherine Klene is managing editor, digital at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
• Guerrilla Street Food will open a location in The Delmar Loop

• The Story of Hama

• Sauce Magazine: January 2018

The Scoop: Chef Ben Grupe to launch year-long pop-up series in former Stellina space

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

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The kitchen had barely cooled since Stellina’s final service on New Year’s Eve before chef Ben Grupe stepped in and fired up the ranges. As The Scoop reported in December, Grupe announced that he would continue his pop-up dinner series at the Lindenwood Park space, located at 3342 Watson Road. Now, he’s released more details about his upcoming projects.

Grupe will host a year-long ticketed monthly dinner series beginning Jan. 29 and 30. Each dinner will feature a different five-course menu, and each course will be paired with a beer or cocktail. “I’ll be making food that I could rarely cook at my old job. I’m focused on making it casual, honest, contemporary and regional,” said Grupe, who most recently worked as executive chef at Meadowbrook Country Club in Ballwin.

Grupe’s regional fare will be sourced from several locations from the City Bitty Farm in Kansas City to Three Rivers Farm in Illinois. “Properly raised animals are key to this project. We’ll also can and ferment our own vegetables. Solid flavors are going to be our focus,” he said.

When not preparing for that month’s dinner, Grupe will be prepare his team for the American Culinary Federation Culinary Olympics in October. “My priority career-wise is my Olympic team,” said Grupe, who has served as Team USA’s captain since 2013. “This dinner series is my creative outlet. We’ll be hosting dinners based around the team’s schedule.”

 

The Scoop: Stellina announces closure at end of year

Friday, December 4th, 2015

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{Stellina chef-owner Jamey Tochtrop}

After nine years in business, Stellina chef-owner Jamey Tochtrop announced today, Dec. 4, that he will serve his last plate of house-made pasta on Dec. 31.

“Stellina has come a long way from our humble beginning, and it’s my desire to go out at the top of our game,” Tochtrop said in a statement. “Full disclosures of my immediate plans are something I have chosen to keep rather close. Time with my family and loved ones, especially my son Harper, is the biggest reason for this decision. Other goals and new visions have moved to the forefront of my thoughts as well.”

While he did not elaborate on his future plans in the statement, Tochtrop said the kitchen’s burners would not grow cold. The space at 3342 Watson Road will be used for private parties and special events. Chief among these is the continuation of chef Ben Grupe’s dinner series, the next of which takes place Jan. 29 and 30.

“New dining trends will be explored as we look to create the most unique dining experience our city has to offer,” Tochtrop said in the statement. “These exclusive events will be fueled by hyper-local goods with an emphasis on urban farming and self-sustaining produce at the forefront of our venture.”

Grupe said the arrangement allows him to explore new ideas and introduce a ticketed dining system to St. Louis. “It’s a growing trend in the industry, and it’s a way for people to control budgets, labor, food cost and reservations,” Grupe said. “I thought this would be the best avenue to approach to interject this new concept.” The next installment of the dinner series takes place Jan. 29 and 30.

Tochtrop did not immediately return requests for comment.

Editor’s Note: This post was updated at 4:30 p.m. Dec. 4 with comments from Ben Grupe.  

-photo by Josh Monken 

Extra Sauce: Where to buy local fresh pasta

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

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A beautiful plate of pasta is nothing short of enchanting – rich aromas, nuanced flavors and the painstaking presentation of the professional chef. It’s easy to boil a pot of noodles, but turning strands of wet spaghetti into a Michelin-starred dish can be a tall order for the home cook. Here, area chefs share their better-than-Nonna’s recipes and secrets for everything you need to take your pasta from basic to bellissima. Pro tip No. 1: Start with fresh pasta. Here’s where to get it in St. Louis.

Stellina: 3342 Watson Road, St. Louis, 314.256.1600, stellinapasta.com
Pasta available: Semolina or whole-wheat fettuccine, semolina or whole-wheat walnut tagliatelle, agnolotti, lasagna (by special request)
Price: $3 per 5-oz. nest

Katie’s Pizza & Pasta: 9568 Manchester Road, Rock Hill, 314.942.6555, katiespizzaandpasta.com
Pasta available: Arugula reginette, black spaghetti, bucatini, capellini, fiori, lemon pappardelle, paccheri, pappardelle, spaghetti, tagliatelle
Price: $5 per pound

Pastaria: 7734 Forsyth Blvd., Clayton, 314.862.6603, pastariastl.com
Pasta available: Bucatini, canestri, chitarra, gargenelli, pappardelle, regular and whole-wheat strozzapreti
Price: $6.25 per pound

Midwest Pasta Co.: 2023 Cherokee St., St. Louis, 314-772-7560, midwestpastaco.com
Pasta available:
Laminated – angel hair, vermicelli, spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine, tagliatelle, pappardelle
Extruded – penne, rigatoni, ziti, conchiglie (shells), bucatini, rotelle, radiatore, macaroni, torini, fusilli, cresta di gallo, cavatappi
Gnocchi – egg, spinach, garlic, chive, sun-dried tomato, sweet potato
Ravioli – black bean, butternut squash, four cheese, goat cheese, gorgonzola, lobster, mushroom, spinach and walnut, ricotta and sun-dried tomato, white truffle
Tortellini and Tortelloni – beef and Pork, chicken
Gluten-Free – fettuccine, spaghetti, penne, rigatoni, farfalle (bow ties), lasagna sheets, gnocchi
Price: Approximately $4 per pound

 

-photo by Greg Rannells 

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