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Jan 19, 2018
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Posts Tagged ‘Ted Wilson’

Best New Restaurants: No. 2 – Union Loafers Cafe and Bread Bakery

Monday, December 14th, 2015

Opening a restaurant isn’t easy. Each year, hundreds give it a shot – and not everyone succeeds. Some, however, aren’t just surviving; they’re killing it. In the last year, we ate our way through newly opened restaurants from Alton to Ballwin, compiling a list of places that serve the food and drinks we can’t get out of our heads. They bring something different and exciting to the scene – and they do it damn well. While technical excellence was a must, the service and ambiance also had to win us over. Office debates nearly came to fisticuffs, but at last we agreed on St. Louis’ 11 best new restaurants of 2015. Clear your schedule and book your reservations; you’ve got a lot of eating to do.




Three years after Sauce published a story on how Ted Wilson was going to change the St. Louis bread scene with a new bakery, we can finally report that we were right. Wilson and co-founder Sean Netzer opened Union Loafers Cafe and Bread Bakery in Botanical Heights at the end of September, a lunch spot serving sandwiches on bread unrivaled in the city.

The key to Loafers’ loaves is fermentation. The bread is naturally leavened, meaning the bakery doesn’t just avoid chemical compounds like baking soda. In all but two of Loafers’ breads, it means avoiding even mass-produced yeast. Instead, Wilson starts with just flour and water, and carefully cultivates the yeast that occurs naturally, watching over it as it ferments – think of sourdough starters or Amish friendship breads.

Aside from the incredible flavor this process produces, Wilson is objectively fascinated by fermentation. The fact that he can start with water and flour and end up with bread makes him giddy. “In some way, it takes responsibility off your shoulders. Your role is to set up this environment … you can only be in control of so much,” Wilson said. “Then you just have to react, and you have to pay attention.”

This patient relationship with food requires a rare mix of fanatical curiosity and dogged perseverance – qualities reflected in Loafers’ entire team. Some, like chef Brian Lagerstrom (Sauce Ones to Watch class of 2015), left the fine dining world for Loafers to explore the freedom fermentation allows. Lagerstrom, who dabbled at Niche with house bread and cheese programs (not to mention house-made soy sauce, vinegars and fish sauce), was given free reign at Loafers to get as funky as he liked.
No condiment is too small for serious attention; house-made mustard and pickles grace the Cuban-like roasted pork sandwich, and house-smoked beets are piled high with sauerkraut and creamy Thousand Island dressing. Even the rotating nut butter and jam sandwich is taken seriously. Wilson and crew roast and grind the nuts, cook down the berries and churn that creamy butter.

Romantic slow food notions could easily stall when confronted with labor-intensive reality, but not at Loafers. “The work really brings us joy,” Wilson said. “(We have a) great excitement and love for these transformations that happen under our watch. … They’re little science experiments that taste good.”

Union Loafers is waiting on a liquor license to extend service into evening hours and debut a bread-centric bar menu. We’re confident it, too, will be worth the wait.

-photo by Carmen Troesser

First Look: Union Loafers Cafe and Bread Bakery in Botanical Heights

Thursday, October 1st, 2015



After years of planning, renovating and baking, Ted Wilson and Sean Netzer quietly opened Union Loafers Cafe and Bread Bakery yesterday, Sept. 30, at 1629 Tower Grove Ave., in Botanical Heights. As The Scoop reported in June 2012 and July 2013, this highly anticipated bakery will turn out naturally leavened, hearth-baked breads. The small team at Union Loafers includes Brian Lagerstrom, formerly of Niche and a member of the Sauce Ones to Watch class of 2015.

Union Loafers serves up a lunch menu of sandwiches, open-faced tartines, soups and salads. “Everything’s made from scratch. Especially the bread,” Wilson said, and he means everything – including pickles, mayonnaise, jams and even butter, all made from Missouri dairy. “The only thing we’re not doing is curing meat – yet.”

After the grand opening this Sunday, Oct. 4, drop in for lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. or buy a loaf of fresh bread from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. (or until supply runs out) Tuesdays through Sundays. Union Loafers is currently waiting on a liquor license, but Wilson hopes to stock a bar with a selection of beer, wine and whiskey.


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-photos by Meera Nagarajan



Trendwatch: A look at what’s on the plate, in the glass and atop our wish list right now – Part 1

Monday, December 8th, 2014



1. Fishy Doughnuts: French fritters stuffed with fish and seafood have been washing up on menus all over town. Even if you missed Niche’s smoked trout beignets with sorghum butter and chives, you can still bite into beer-battered brandade beignets of salted cod, potatoes and garlic at Urban Chestnut’s Brewery & Bierhall in The Grove, lobster beignets at Three Flags Tavern and spicy crab beignets at Vin de Set. The classic French market doughnut has never tasted so much like the sea.

2. Top Muffins: What could go better with eggs than a homemade English muffin? You don’t have to head to David Chang’s Momofuku Ko to get a killer house-made version. Restaurants like Death in the Afternoon and Winslow’s Home ditched the bag of Thomas brand rounds and baked their own. Grab a fried egg sandwich at Winslow’s to experience the difference. And any time you eye the sporadically available English muffin at microbakery Comet Coffee, snatch it. Prepare to become an English muffin addict when cafe-bakery Union Loafers opens (“Soon!” promised owner-baker Ted Wilson.). Look for the breakfast staple at the Botanical Heights shop along with a bialy, a Polish roll that’s a cross between an English muffin and a bagel.

3. Forest on the Plate: Cooking with conifer is an art form at René Redzepi’s restaurant, Noma, in Copenhagen, and pine has popped up on plates here at home, too, at places like Sidney Street Cafe, where spruce oil brightened pistachio-encrusted scallops, or Blood & Sand, where they’re grinding toasted juniper berries to season chicharrónes. Also spied at B&S: an Asian pear salad with a buttermilk-juniper sauce and juniper-hemp seed crumble.

Check back tomorrow for Part 2 of Trendwatch.





The Scoop: Ted Wilson to bring artisan bakery to Botanical Heights

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

{Ted Wilson}

It’s been more than a year since The Scoop announced that Ted Wilson, former baker at The Good Pie, was planning to open his own artisan bakery-cum-restaurant. At the time, Wilson had not settled on a space, but today, he moves one step closer to getting his venture, Loafers, off the ground.

Wilson signed the lease today for the space at 4301 McRee Ave., on the northwest corner of McRee and Tower Grove avenues in Botanical Heights. Loafers joins a trio of other newer eating establishments on that corner –La Patisserie Chouquette, wine bar Olio and its sister restaurant, Elaia.

As discussed in a Sauce feature story published in November 2012, Loafers will specialize in European breads, but it will follow a different business model than most bakeries, since fresh breads will come out of the oven in the afternoon, not the morning. And, since Loafers will have seating as well as a bar, it will offer sandwiches at lunchtime and small plates through the evening.

Wilson also plans to put a spotlight on pizzas of all styles at his Sunday Pizza Dinners. “It will be a playground for me,” said Wilson of the weekly pizza-fest idea during an interview with The Scoop last spring. Running the front of the house will be Wilson’s business partner Sean Netzer, currently charged with managing the beer and whiskey programs at 33 Wine Shop & Tasting Bar.

Wilson said he will occupy the space in late November or early December with a projected opening in spring 2014.

-Photo by Greg Rannells

The Ultimate Margherita Pizza

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

Crust. Tomatoes. Mozzarella. Basil. The queen of Neopolitan pizza is understated in her simplicity, yet efforts to achieve this crowning beauty have caused countless headaches in the kitchen. Finally, area experts reveal their essential tricks to making the ultimate Margherita pizza at home.

“Pizza is the most easiest, complicated thing to make. I know people who have been trying to make the perfect pizza for 20 years!” – Vito Racanelli, chef-owner, Mad Tomato

The Tools: You don’t have to have a wood-fired oven to get the thin, crispy crust and great chew of a Neopolitan pizza (See the heat trick below.). But a tricked-out pizza peel and stone will elevate your pie to new heights.

G.I. Metal Perforated Aluminum Pizza Peel
Aluminum peels are durable, flexible and don’t dry out like wooden ones. The perforation lets you shake off excess flour before sliding the pizza onto the stone to avoid burning, and the rectangular shape gives you more surface area, making it easier to lift, slide and adjust the pizza. $96. (model A-45RF/50) gimetalusa.com

Emile Henry Ceramic Baking Stone
This rectangular, heat-tempered, scratch-proof, chip-proof, coated stone won’t crack in your oven and has more surface area than round versions, a crucial factor in achieving that crisp crust. $40 to 60. Kitchen Conservatory, 8021 Clayton Road, 314.862.2665, kitchenconservatory.com 

The Ingredients: We queried quite a few chefs about the brands they’ll bet the house on. Bonus: These high-quality products are all made in the USA.

Hodgson Mills Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
You don’t have to spend extra dough to make great dough. Unbleached, all-purpose flour is fine. This near-local company offers a high-quality product that’s available at most supermarkets.

Stanislas Alta Cucina “Naturale” Style Plum Tomatoes
“We tried every single Italian one,” said Gerard Craft, owner of Pastaria, who settled on this domestically grown tomato because it offers “a nice bite of acidity” and “the right consistency, just crushed on its own.” For a fresh sauce, simply crush the whole, peeled tomatoes in your hand and season with salt. A couple ladles is all you need; you should be able to see the dough through the sauce. No. 10 Can, 6 lbs. 7 oz.: $4.89. DiGregorio’s Market, 5200 Daggett Ave., St. Louis, 314.776.1062, digregoriofoods.com

Calabro Fior di Latte Cheese
Buffalo mozzarella? Not so fast. Cow’s milk can produce a cheese with fabulous flavor. This fior di latte has a lovely creaminess, mild saltiness and melts beautifully into the sauce. Cut it into slightly larger chunks (4 ounces cut into 6 slices for a 12-inch pizza); the cheese will take longer to melt, so it won’t burn by the time the crust is done. ½ lb.:$6. Pastaria, 7734 Forsyth Blvd., Clayton, 314.862.6603, pastariastl.com

Fresh basil
Some chefs add the leaves before popping the pizza in the oven; others wait until after. Place the outer, shiny side of the leaves up. If you add prior to baking, when drizzling olive oil over the pizza, drizzle some on the leaves to keep them from burning and discoloring.

The Technique: Creating a great pizza at home is all about technique. Let Ted Wilson, who trained under pizza god Jim Lahey, take you through it.

Find Wilson’s recipe for The Ultimate Pizza Dough, here.

Cover the dough with just enough flour so it doesn’t stick to your hands or the lightly floured work surface. Use the pads of your fingertips to gently push on the center of the dough until you feel the work surface but don’t break through the dough. Flatten and stretch the dough by pushing from the center of the dough and moving outwards until you get within 1 inch of the rim of the circle that’s taking shape. Give dough a quarter turn and repeat. Continue until a round disk forms. While stretching and shaping, place a hand under the dough to ensure it isn’t sticking. If so, toss a little flour onto the work surface. Gently guide dough outward from its underside as it rests on your fingers to stretch it further.

Ready the toppings before shaping the dough. Once the dough is shaped, quickly add the toppings in this order: sauce, cheese, basil (optional), drizzle of 1¼ to 1½ tablespoon of olive oil and a 4-fingered pinch of kosher salt. Leave the outer rim of the pizza untouched.

To get your home oven to reach restaurant-high temps, toggle between the bake and broil functions. Place the stone in the oven on a rack set in the topmost position with enough room for the pizza. Preheat the oven to its highest baking temperature for 30 to 45 minutes. Just before shaping the dough, switch to broil. Shape the dough, add the toppings, then use the peel to slide the pizza onto the hot stone. Switch the oven back to its highest bake temperature for 2 to 3 minutes, then back to broil. The pizza is done when the cheese is bubbling, the crust is charred but not burnt, and the underside is golden, about 3 more minutes (5 to 6 minutes total).

Pictured: Margherita pizza from The Good Pie, 3137 Olive St., St. Louis, 314.289.9391, thegoodpie.com

— photo by Greg Rannells

All Your Bread Questions: Answered

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

In The Bread Issue, on newsstands now, we officially declare our love for all things doughy. From garlic knots to pretzel sticks, baguettes to handpies, we revel in every last bite. And because we aren’t alone in our adoration for crusts, heels and yeast, we offered kneaders of all levels tips, tricks, hints and recipes for becoming a better baker in The Wonder of Bread.

But our work isn’t done. That’s the thing about baking bread: There are a million factors that go into perfecting the skill. So we asked two of St. Louis’ most talented bakers to join us for Sound Bites, our monthly show on St. Louis Public Radio, to answer your burning bread questions. Not sure how humidity can affect rising? Wondering if it’s time to buy a stand mixer? Thinking about which flour is best for which type of bread? Just curious as to how long a starter can last? Josh Allen, owner of Companion Baking Co., and Ted Wilson, whose big bakery plans we told you about here, are ready to answer every question you have on the art of bread baking.

How can you ask Allen and Wilson your baking query? It couldn’t be easier. Just post your question in the comments section below, write on our Facebook wall, Tweet us @SAUCEmag or email us by Tuesday, November 6. Then, tune in to St. Louis Public Radio 90.7 KWMU’s Cityscape on Friday, November 9 at 11 a.m. and 10 p.m. to hear these bakers extraordinaire answer all your yeasty questions.

— Photo by Greg Rannells

The Scoop: The Good Pie’s Ted Wilson to open artisan bread shop

Friday, June 15th, 2012

Anyone who’s eaten at The Good Pie in Midtown knows that the crust is a fine one. A great deal of that credit goes to Ted Wilson, baker at the Neapolitan pizzeria since it opened in late 2008. Wilson spent a year-and-a-half learning the trade from famed baker Jim Lahey at his Sullivan Street Bakery in New York, and now he’s ready to spin with a project of his own: an artisan bakery called Loafers.

Loafers, explained Wilson, will specialize in baking “great European breads” – from familiar French baguettes to less-common, hefty, five-kilo boules. Wilson also plans to depart from the traditional schedule of baking from late at night into the wee morning in order to offer the freshest bread possible. “Usually, they get breads to restaurants between 4 and 6 a.m.,” Wilson explained. “I want to change that model so the bread isn’t 12 hours old.” Instead, Loafers’ bread will come out of the oven in the afternoon so it’s at its freshest – whether for walk-in customers or for area restaurants who serve Loafers’ bread to diners. (Mike Randolph, chef-owner of The Good Pie as well as MEDIAnoche and Half & Half in Clayton, told The Scoop that he will serve Wilson’s bread at all three of his restaurants.) Since the bread shop will have afternoon and early evening hours, Wilson plans to offer small bites like artisanal cheeses, charcuterie – and bread, of course – along with beer and wine, so customers can linger before heading home with loaf in hand.

The location for Loafers is yet to be determined, although a decision may come as early as next week. In the meantime, Wilson’s plans are already in motion. His tenure at The Good Pie will come to an end on July 21. This fall, he’ll be travelling to Europe to spend time as a stagiaire in Florence, Paris and Munich, immersing himself in Old-World bread-making. If the timeline holds true, the doors to Loafers will be unlocked in the spring of next year. “As far as I’m concerned, this is happening,” said Wilson. “Or else I’m out of a job.” More as we learn it.

— Photo by Greg Rannells

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