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Mar 24, 2018
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Posts Tagged ‘Tony’s’

No St. Louis-area chefs, restaurants make it to James Beard finals

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018


{ from left, Vicia chef-owner Michael Gallina and owner Tara Gallina }


The finalists for the James Beard Foundation Awards were announced today, March 14, and for the first time in seven years, none of the St. Louis semifinalists advanced to the final round.

As The Scoop reported last month, the James Beard Foundation named four St. Louis-area chefs as semifinalists 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.

Tony’s was on the long list for Outstanding Service, and Vicia was singled out as a semifinalist for Best New Restaurant.

Two St. Louis chefs have earned James Beard awards for Best Chef: Midwest: Sidney Street Cafe chef-owner Kevin Nashan in 2017 and Niche Food Group owner Gerard Craft in 2015 for his work at Niche.

Winners of the chef and restaurant awards will be announced at a gala in Chicago on May 7. A full list of the finalists can be found online. 

Photo courtesy of Vicia

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
• 6 STL-area chefs, restaurants earn James Beard nominations

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

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

6 STL-area chefs, restaurants earn James Beard nominations

Thursday, February 15th, 2018


{ 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.”



{ 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.”



{ 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.”



{ 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.”



{ 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

The Scoop: Tony’s to open casual downtown cafe, Tony’s A.M.

Friday, January 23rd, 2015


{Vince Bommarito Jr.}


Tony’s Restaurant has relaxed its dress code, but if those nice tablecloths still intimidate you, you may feel more at home at the Bommarito family’s forthcoming casual cafe, Tony’s A.M., it’s opening mid-February at 10 S. Broadway, as reported by the St. Louis Business Journal, and will be located just down the street from the downtown icon of Italian cuisine. Tony’s A.M. will operate under the direction of Tony’s executive chef, Vince Bommarito Jr.

Hours will be 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and prices between $3 and $10 at the counter-service cafe, which will serve made-to-order breakfast and lunch, plus desserts by Tony’s pastry chef Helen Fletcher. Morning options will include breakfast sandwiches and pastries by Fletcher, while the lunch menu will feature hot and cold sandwiches made from fresh-roasted turkey, ham and roast beef, plus salads and three soups.

The new eatery won’t serve alcohol, but local roaster Chauvin Coffee will provide coffee service and craft a special blend for Tony’s A.M., which will also sell Chauvin beans.

Bommarito said wasn’t planning to open a morning restaurant, but he agreed to it when the building’s management company offered him the space. He anticipates the cafe will draw customers from the building’s other tenants, which include law and accounting firms, and which will gain around 200 new people next month when architecture firm HOK moves in.

-photo by Carmen Troesser



Trendwatch: A look at what’s on the plate, in the glass and atop our wish list right now – Part 2

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

Click here to read Part 1 of Trendwatch.






4. Eveything’s Better with Uni: Whether it’s Peter Gilmore at Quay in the land down under or April Bloomfield at The John Dory in NYC, top chefs around the world are diving into uni. When the sushi chefs at Baiku get their hands on the sweet, briny roe sacs from a prickly sea urchin, they get egg crazy with an uni shooter special: The creamy uni, a quail egg, masago and tobiko (capelin roe and flying fish roe, respectively) all swim in a sake-filled champagne flute. Or, try the spreadable version when Baiku runs its special of salmon with uni butter. The Libertine’s Josh Galliano proved uni has a place outside of Asian and seafood restaurants when he pureéd the raw orange lobes with sungold tomatoes for an uni sorbet to accompany tomato toast. Uni is nothing new to Vince Bommarito Jr. When the venerable Tony’s chef gets the itch to cook with the delicacy, it usually ends up on a billowy bed of house-made fettuccine. And we thought the egg-on-everything trend was nearing an end.

5. A Side of Flan: Jiggly flan always equals caramel custard, right? Wrong. Stop looking for the silky egg custard on the dessert menu and check out the entrees instead. Find carrot flan served on the side of duck confit at newly opened Avenue in Clayton, spoon up the horseradish flan served with rainbow trout at Three Flags Tavern or try Modesto’s goat cheese and salmon flan.

6. Don’t Be a Chicken … Eat the Skin: We all know the best part of fried chicken is the crispy, greasy skin. Recently, area chefs indulged us by ditching the meat altogether and taking strips of fatty chicken skin straight to the fryer. During the summer and into fall, Juniper featured fried chicken skins as a starter, and during a one-night-only event at the CWE restaurant, guest chefs Jeff Friesen of Farmhaus and Andrew Jennrich of The Butchery unveiled their ingenious idea for chicken skin: Wrap it around okra. At Franco, it wasn’t decadent enough for chef Jon Dreja to roll chicken around black truffles and pistachios; he served the roulade with a wedge of crispy chicken skin.

7. Tapping into Local Maple Syrup: Funk’s Grove was once the only local choice for sweet tree sap, but now the maple syrup market is booming, and chefs are stocking up. Just a year after its first bottling, DeSoto homestead Such & Such Farm saw its liquid amber stocked in pantries at Juniper, Dressel’s and The Libertine. New among maple syrup suppliers is Michael Gehman, the man formerly known as Veggie Boy, now the owner of Double Star Farms. Gehman peddles Raber’s Sugar Bush, a grade B maple syrup from Flat Rock, Illinois, to numerous area restaurants.







The Scoop: Here Today will be here tomorrow

Friday, November 8th, 2013



On Nov. 9, North County will be home to the first location of Here Today, a new discount retail store. Here Today is the brainchild of a group of St. Louis-based retail veterans (hailing from Grandpa’s, DEALS: Nothing Over a Dollar, and Save-A-Lot) who are hoping to launch the next generation of extreme value retailing.

Although Here Today, located in Florissant Meadows Shopping Center at 770 N. Highway 67, is quite large (more than 15,000 square feet), its founders’ goal is to offer a unique, boutique-like shopping experience without the crowded aisles and piles of unorganized merchandise as often prevalent in discount superstores. The store will carry home decor, pet products, electronics, small appliances, storage items, and health and beauty items among other offerings.  Additionally, the store will have groceries – both fresh and frozen – and will feature local products, such as Goshen Coffee and Kaldi’s Coffee (Cups of complimentary Kaldi’s coffee will be available for shoppers.), Companion products, Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate items, Zia’s and Tony’s pasta sauces, local craft beer and more.



The Scoop: Tony’s loosens jacket and tie policy

Thursday, October 17th, 2013



Tony’s has loosened its dress policy. Beginning this weekend, male guests only have to don a jacket and tie on Saturdays; business casual dress will get guys through the door on weekdays.

Changes to the Tony’s dress code were made to keep up with the changing times. “As a culture, Americans have gotten more casual (and comfortable), both in the workplace and when going out on the town,” said a spokesperson for the venerable downtown restaurant. “Of course, Tony’s will always maintain their uncompromising standard of quality and service. Guests will still enjoy the same ‘Tony’s experience.’ They are simply enabling their guests to enjoy the evening in more casual attire.”

In addition, if the St. Louis Cardinals win the National League Championship Series, Tony’s and Anthony’s Bar will both be open Sunday, Oct. 27 and Monday, Oct. 28. Guests wearing Cardinals gear will be welcome at either restaurant.



By The Book: Helen Fletcher’s S’mores Tart

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

For the second book in our local cookbook series, I baked from Helen Fletcher’s European Tarts: Pastries Like a Pro; Divinely Doable Desserts with Little or No Baking. During an interview with Fletcher, who was featured in February’s Cook’s Books, she impressed me with her kindness and humility; but what really wowed me was her resume. When I was assigned her book, written by a woman who bakes pastries for Tony’s and is basically St. Louis’ version of Julia Child, I figured me and my kitchen were in for some failures.

Boy was I wrong. This recipe for the S’mores Tart literally took me six minutes to make. Granted, I cheated by buying a graham cracker crust (rather than making my own with Fletcher’s recipe), yet, even if I made it, this would still be an easy recipe.

And if it hadn’t been easy (some of her other recipes look more challenging), she includes links to the book’s website for how-to photographs. Not only did Fletcher hold true to her cookbook’s promise that this was a “divinely doable dessert with little or no baking,” the dessert tasted decadent and delicious.

I mean, marshmallows, heavy cream, chocolate and peanuts? This couldn’t have tasted bad.

My only concern? Fletcher claims that the pie serves 10 to 12. Fletcher might want to add a note there – “Pie serves 10 to 12 if you don’t allow yourself to stand in front of your open fridge with a fork in hand in the middle of the night. In that case, pie serves three.” 

S’mores Tart
10 to 12 servings

A true delight for young or old, this is quickly made and quickly eaten! I have been told that s’mores don’t have nuts in them. All I can say is, mine does!

Plain Graham Cracker Crumb Crust (recipe follows)
¾ cup, whole, shelled peanuts (85 g. or 3 oz.)
2 cups mini-marshmallows (85 g. or 3 oz.)
1 cup 40% cream (heavy cream)
12 oz. milk chocolate (340 g.)

• First, make the crust.
• Place the peanuts and marshmallows evenly in the crust. Set aside.
• Bring the cream to a boil, submerge the chocolate, and set aside for 5 minutes.
• Stir to melt the chocolate, whisking to smooth completely. Pour over the peanuts and marshmallows, which will rise to the top. Chill to set. Release.

9-inch Graham Cracker Crumb Crust

½ cup unsifted powdered sugar (55 g. or 2 oz.)
1 1/3 cups graham cracker crumbs (buy them in crumbs or run the crackers through a food processor) (170 g. or 6 oz.)
8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted (114 g. or 4 oz.)
½ tsp. vanilla
1 quiche pan

• Sift the powdered sugar into a bowl. Add the crumbs, mixing well. Add the butter and vanilla and toss with a fork until the crumbs are completely coated.
• Spray the bottom of the quiche pan and press 2/3 of the crumbs (200 g. or 7 oz.) evenly over the bottom of the pan. Distribute the crumbs evenly against the sides. Press firmly against the sides.
• Add the remainder (160 g. or 5 2/3 oz.) to the bottom of the pan and press firmly.

What’s your favorite no-bake dessert and why? Tell us about it in the comments section below for a chance to win a signed copy of European Tarts: Pastries Like a Pro; Divinely Doable Desserts with Little or No Baking. We’ll announce the winner in next week’s By the Book column.

And now, we’d like to congratulate Jason whose comment on last week’s By the Book has won him a copy of Sanctuaria: The Dive Bar of Cocktail Bars. Jason, keep an eye out for an email from the Sauce crew. 

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