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Mar 23, 2018
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Posts Tagged ‘Truffles’

Ones to Watch 2018: Eric Tirone

Monday, January 1st, 2018



Head Butcher and Sous Chef at Truffles Butchery
Age: 27
Why Watch Him: He was a born butcher.

What do you do if your kid tells you he likes cutting raw meat? Hide the knives? If you’re Eric Tirone’s family, you start buying whole chickens. Tirone’s older brother, Chris Tirone (a member of the Ones to Watch Class of 2011), convinced their parents to let them practice breaking down the animals. “My dad said it was a little creepy hearing a little kid say he liked cutting raw meat,” Eric said. “But it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.”

At 17, he was helping his big brother butcher whole lambs and fish at An American Place. “Eric shared the same interests I had: sports, cooking, hunting, fishing,” Chris explained. “When I got into cooking, he enjoyed it as well and continued to mess around in the kitchen. Even at home I wouldn’t let him skate by.”

To understand Eric Tirone, all you have to do is watch him break down a massive hog with the skill of a surgeon and finesse of a ninja. It’s that virtuosity that got him promoted to head butcher at New Orleans’ famous, swine-centric Cochon Restaurant in just one year. There, he was butchering at least four pigs a week. Now, at Truffles Butchery, he butchers about one a week and teaches classes.

Does Eric Tirone want his own place? “Oh my God, absolutely! It’s been my end goal my entire life,” he exclaimed. “I haven’t been doing all this for shits and giggles. I can’t see myself doing anything else!” And when that time comes, after “knocking out a few big-boy things” like his wedding next year, you can bet the Tirone brothers will be back, standing side-by-side in the kitchen.

Photo by Carmen Troesser

Michael Renner is Sauce’s longtime New & Notable critic. 

Trendwatch: What’s on our plate and in our glass right now – Part 1

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015



{Steak tartare at Randolfi’s}


1. Put An Egg On It: The Sequel Whites may be the healthy darling of the egg, but yolks are packed with flavor and are perfect for curing with salt and a bit of sugar. Catch them runny on top of steak tartare at Randolfi’s and Truffles, or dried and shaved over a plate of pasta carbonara at Wild Flower. Veritas Gateway to Food and Wine features them frequently on dishes like its avocado gazpacho with crispy pork jowl.

2. Slick Trick Bartenders around town are dropping and shaking oils into cocktails for huge flavor, body and intensity. At Central Table, the What is That, Velvet? daiquiri is shaken with extra-virgin olive oil for a soft, consistent texture. Terry Oliver amps up the orange flavor in Frazer’s Julius Benedict with orange culinary oil, and The Libertine’s Ben Bauer infused olive oil with coriander for his Good Like Goldblum.

3. Baller The great meatball debate rages on: What blend of beef, pork or lamb truly makes the best meatball? We say, throw ’em all out and expand your repertoire. Chef Rob Beasley at Chaumette Winery and Vineyard did just that, adding elk meatballs to his fall menu, served atop romesco sauce with polenta cakes and greens. The kitchen crew at Retreat Gastropub crowns a nest of spaghetti squash with turkey meatballs and yellow tomato jam. In September, Kitchen Kulture’s Michael Miller rolled up a chicken-fennel version along with a veg-friendly chickpea-pimento option at his Thursday Sump lunch. And this summer, Death in the Afternoon dedicated an entire dinner menu to meatballs, serving up three options: traditional spicy pork, a ground turkey and vegan version using quinoa.

-photo by Greg Rannells

The Scoop: Tommy Andrew to join kitchen at Byrd & Barrel

Friday, September 25th, 2015



The band is getting back together. Tommy Andrew is slated to man the line as sous chef at just-opened Byrd & Barrel. He will join co-owner and chef Bob Brazell, as well as fellow chefs and cooks Ryan McDonald, Drew Sedlack and Luke Cockson. Andrew and McDonald first met in the kitchen at Monarch, and their paths have since crossed at eateries around town including Juniper and Truffles.

Andrew, a member of this year’s Ones to Watch class, currently serves as head butcher and sous chef at Truffles Butchery under executive chef Steven Caravelli. Andrew and McDonald worked together at Butchery until McDonald left for Byrd & Barrel in June.

Andrew’s first day at the new fast-casual fried chicken shack will be around Oct. 8, and he’s anxious to get back in the kitchen. “I haven’t cooked in a year and I’ve missed it,” he said.

Byrd & Barrel currently uses Andrew’s Inappropriate Apiaries honey in its sweet chili honey sauce, but Brazell recruited his former co-worker for more than his culinary chops. “He’s an amazing chef,” Brazell said. “And his attitude is the best. He’ll do anything for anybody.”


-photo by Carmen Troesser

The Scoop: Caravelli signs on at Butchery, Andrew takes over as head butcher, McDonald departs for Byrd & Barrel

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015



{Steven Caravelli}


Do the Truffles shuffle! A considerable role shift is underway at Truffles Butchery. The Ladue restaurant and meat market recently announced Steven Caravelli has assumed the executive chef-ship of Butchery in cooperation with Brandon Benack, executive chef of Truffles. Caravelli, who started at Butchery June 16, is most recently an alum of Cucina Pazzo; he also has helmed Tavern Kitchen, Pi, Gringo, Araka and Sleek.

“It’s kind of a new aspect right now. I’ve been calling myself a shopkeep,” Caravelli said. “I’ve got to know about wine, about all these prepared items we have in the case. I have to know about all the mustard and barbecue sauces we have. It’s almost like a grocery store. For me, it’s a very exciting … opportunity to learn.”

Caravelli said he hopes to expand Butchery’s catering and prepared foods program, particularly boxed lunches that will include house-prepared roast beef, ham and other deli meats. “I want to maintain the consistency and quality of the place,” he said. “We pride ourselves on catering to the neighborhood. We’re trying to figure out what the neighborhood wants and what the neighborhood eats and make more of that.”




{Tommy Andrew}


While Caravelli will oversee much of the management duties both in the kitchen and in Butchery’s retail section, butcher Tommy Andrew – a member of this year’s Sauce’s Ones to Watch class – will fill the sous chef and head butcher positions. Caravelli and Andrew previously worked together at Gringo. “(Tommy’s) great at breaking down whole animals,” Caravelli said. “We work well together.”

While staying mostly mum on the details of his new role, Andrew said he is “definitely going to be stepping up a bit.” His promotion comes soon after the departure of Ryan McDonald, who left several weeks ago to be a chef at upcoming fried chicken eatery Byrd & Barrel, slated to open in July.




{Ryan McDonald} 


“To be honest, I missed cooking,” McDonald explained. “Butchering was awesome, running the shop was a lot of fun … but my love is in cooking. Me and Bob (Brazell, co-owner of Byrd & Barrel) have been good friends for years and years now, so it seemed like the right move.”

He also mentioned McDonald’s expertise with charcuterie, which he hopes to add to the Byrd & Barrel menu. “Ryan and I have been really close friends since Monarch,” Brazell said. “I want someone that I trust and is going to care about it as much as I do. Ryan’s one of the most talented chefs I’ve worked with. … (He’s) definitely going to be having a lot of influence.”

“Getting back, having fun, cooking really good food and keeping high expectations,” McDonald said. “That’s our main goal: to cook good food for good people.”


-Caravelli and Andrew photos by Carmen Troesser; McDonald photo by Greg Rannells

Drink This Weekend Edition: 4 steps to ordering the perfect glass of wine

Friday, March 6th, 2015



Everyone should be able to peruse a restaurant wine list with confidence. Personally, I love when someone hands me a heavy leather-bound wine bible, but I realize that even a simple one-page list can be daunting for some. Here, how to order your perfect glass of wine in four simple steps:

Step 1: Order a glass of bubbly. Look for something from one of the traditional European sparkling wine regions: Spanish cava, Italian prosecco and French Champagne. The crisp, dry flavors in a sparkling wine whet your appetite, and bubbles always make the evening a celebration. Choosing one will be easy, as most wine lists only include one or two options. The budget-conscious can sip a cava or a fruity prosecco, while those looking to indulge can try a slightly more expensive glass of Champagne.

Step 2: Now that those bubbles have boosted your confidence a bit, turn your attention to the rest of the list and decide how much you are willing to spend on a glass (or bottle). Don’t be swayed by the first bottle of cabernet sauvignon you see; they can often be pricier, while more unfamiliar wines are often better values.

Step 3: Go outside your comfort zone. Order something outside of your usual repertoire. If you’re enjoying a steak, skip the cabernet or Bordeaux and instead try a red from South American or France’s Cahors region. The more obscure picks are often gems on wine lists, with a little more age and a much better quality for the price ratio.

Step 4: Still confused? Ask for help. Servers at quality establishments are trained to guide you toward a great wine pick. Ask for something special and out of the ordinary, then enjoy what comes.

Put your newfound skills to the test this weekend at Bar Italia in Central West End or Truffles in Ladue; both establishments have amazing by the glass and full wine lists – and attentive staff in case you get stuck. Choosing a wine should be fun; don’t let it stress you out.


Ben Wood has more than 10 years experience in the wine industry. He currently works as a sales representative for St. Louis-based wine importer Terra Firma.

The Scoop: Home Wine Kitchen’s Cassy Vires finds new home at Juniper

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014



{From left, chef Nick Martinkovic, Juniper chef-owner John Perkins and new Juniper head chef Cassy Vires}

Editor’s note: This article was updated with comments from John Perkins at 4 p.m. Dec. 31.

Cassy Vires will join Juniper’s kitchen as head chef, according to an announcement made on Dec. 30 by Juniper chef-owner John Perkins. Vires will fire up the kitchen Jan. 8 after the restaurant’s team returns from its week-long break beginning tomorrow, Jan. 1.

The news comes just a few weeks after Vires and her husband and business partner, Josh Renbarger, announced they would close doors at their Maplewood eatery Home Wine Kitchen tonight, Dec. 31. Perkins said Vires would be a valuable, reliable asset as Juniper continues to grow, adding that Vires would help take the CWE eatery to the next level. “It was a meeting of needs on both our parts,” he said. “I needed somebody that I could trust the restaurant in their hands when I wasn’t there, and she clearly fits that requirement.”

Perkins said while the menu would still stay true to Juniper’s Southern roots, it was possible that some of Vires’ popular Home Wine Kitchen Dishes could make their way to the menu in 2015. “There’s some natural overlap,” he said.

The baton-passing is the latest transition for Juniper’s kitchen staff, which has been in flux since late October. Former chef de cuisine Ryan McDonald and sous chef Tommy Andrew left Juniper to take a position at Truffles and Butchery. Chef Nick Martinkovic, formerly of Death in the Afternoon and Blood & Sand, has lent a hand at the Southern eatery since early December before he departs St. Louis for his new job at Emko in West Palm Beach, Florida after tonight’s dinner service.

“I think having Home close and Nick (Martinkovic) leaving basically at the same time, it seemed like a real natural thing,” Perkins said. “I reached out when I found out about Home, and it seems like it’s going to be a great fit.”


The Scoop: Andrew Jennrich departs from Butchery, joins Annie Gunn’s

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014


{From left, Butchery’s former head butcher Andrew Jennrich and Truffles executive chef Brandon Benack}


Andrew Jennrich has left his post as head butcher at Butchery, the butcher shop and food emporium at 9202 Clayton Road in Ladue. Jennrich said he is now reporting for work at Annie Gunn’s, where’s he’s doing a little bit of everything at the Chesterfield restaurant and its smokehouse next door, he said.

Aleksander “Alex” Jovanovic, general manager at Truffles (which is under the same ownership as Butchery), said he appreciated Jennrich’s contribution to the fledgling butcher shop that opened in late summer. “He helped us get our feet off the ground,” Jovanovic said. “I was hoping he would have stayed longer.” However, he noted the unexpected split was still amicable.

Jennrich said his decision to leave came down to a difference of opinion regarding Butchery’s direction. “We saw things differently,” Jennrich said. “I had a great time being with Brandon (Benack, Truffles’ executive chef) and Alex. I miss being with those guys. Other aspects – (It) just wasn’t going to work out.”

Taking the head butcher slot is Ryan McDonald, who joined the team at Truffles and Butchery as executive sous chef in late October. Jovanovic said that despite the unanticipated change, the transition has been seamless since the Jennrich and McDonald had many weeks to work together prior to his departure. McDonald’s primary role at the shop is butchering; two line cooks from Truffles are now responsible for charcuterie.

Jennrich said his move to Annie Gunn’s has been an educational one, noting the restaurant’s quality and talented staff, particularly executive chef Lou Rook. “Lou Rook, Steve Gontram, Vince Bommarito, Bill Cardwell – they laid the track for all of us. It’s cool to work with someone who set the groundwork,” Jennrich said. “They were all the guys doing farm-to-table before it was cool.” Jennrich’s official title at Annie Gunn’s is still to be determined, but he anticipates it will be settled in January after the holiday season.


-photo by Meera Nagarajan

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 up 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.

Hit List: 3 new places to try this month

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014


{Ricotta-mushroom ravioli at Grapeseed}

1. Grapeseed: 5400 Nottingham Ave., St. Louis, 314.925.8525, grapeseedstl.com

With an extensive wine selection and a menu emphasizing snacks and small plates (don’t miss the smoked trout cake), Grapeseed appears to be a wine bar. But this South City eatery, nestled on the corner of Nottingham and Macklind avenues, offers a full dining experience. The sandwiches and entrees are familiar and unfussy, and their flavors speak for themselves, as with the Missouri pork chop, accompanied by mashed potatoes, braised red cabbage and an apple compote. The kitchen sources ingredients from numerous local purveyors and, in some instances, makes its own product, like mozzarella for an eggplant caponata panini or pita for scooping up olive hummus. (Look for house charcuterie down the road.) There are 70 wines (and counting) to choose from, 16 by the glass, as well as six local craft beers on tap and another 16, primarily domestic, in bottles. The cocktail menu merits attention, especially the spritz-like Sheriff of Nottingham and the seasonal sangria (currently, it’s butternut squash). Sit in the 50-seat dining room at one of the wooden Mwanzi tables and banquettes fashioned from the property’s former staircase or head to the back patio, brightened with white string lights. A glass in hand, food on your fork … autumn date night is calling.



2. The Butchery: 9202 Clayton Road, Ladue, 314.567.7258, todayattruffles.com

The Old World meets the 21st century at St. Louis’ newest butcher shop. Located next door to Truffles (and operating under the same ownership), Butchery sources its meat from local and regional farms. It specializes in whole-animal butchery, which enables it to offer unique cuts like tomahawk steaks and secreto, the pork equivalent of a skirt steak, not readily available at other butcher shops or grocery stores. House-made meat products range from numerous styles of sausage to rendered animal fats. A focal point is the aging room made of Himalayan salt bricks that purify the air and facilitate the curing process. The meat market doubles as a food emporium; shelves are stocked with artisan condiments and wines selected from Truffles’ award-winning wine list. A sandwich menu and prepared items (pasta, potatoes, coleslaw, chowchow, polenta cakes) serve the shopper on the go – or the Truffles regular who wants to re-create one of the restaurant’s dishes at home.


3. Sushi House: 17265 Chesterfield Airport Road, Chesterfield, 636.778.3232, sushihousestl.com

The former owners of Momoyama are back with Japanese fare – and karaoke – in Chesterfield Valley. The color-changing bartop and pillars that light up an otherwise slick, modern interior hint at the private karaoke rooms in the back, complete with professional karaoke systems and rainbow lighting. Dine in privacy while you rock out, or grab a seat in the more sedate dining room. Sushi House, which receives fresh fish shipments every other day, offers a full roster of traditional nigiri and sushi, along with elaborate house creations like the colorful Sea of Love Roll, in which shrimp tempura, eel, avocado and seared tuna hide inside a roll covered with spicy mayo, house-made eel sauce and four kinds of roe. Still hungry? Tap the call button on your table to summon your server and order a bento box; the pork katsu version comes with two pounded and breaded pork cutlets atop a bed of grilled mixed vegetables. Other compartments hold tempura vegetables and shrimp, seasoned rice, a salad of field greens and a few pieces of a California roll. Sushi House sports a wide selection of wines, spirits, local beer (and Hitachino!) on draft, and seven sake varieties.




First Look: Butchery

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

Carnivores, prepare your grills and break out your roasting pans. Full-service butcher shop and food emporium Butchery has opened its doors. In June, Truffles announced it would add the meat market next door to the restaurant at 9202 Clayton Road in Ladue. Since quietly unlocking doors in late August, Butchery has seen a steady flow of patrons hungry for everything from house-made sausages to premium cuts of beef.

Truffles executive chef Brandon Benack directs operations at Butchery, while meat geek Andrew Jennrich helms the chopping block. Together, they’ve created a unique shop. “Few people in St. Louis are dealing with whole animals,” said Jennrich, noting that Butchery can provide hard-to-find cuts like tomahawk steaks and secreto, a little-know piece near the pork belly, all typically not available at other butcher shops.

While beef, pork, lamb and chicken are sourced from highly regarded local and regional farms, Butchery also makes numerous meat products in-house. It boasts a state-of-the-art aging room for curing charcuterie and offers prepared and ready-to-cook items like sausages, beef patties and pork potpies. Butchery even renders animal fat and sells it in 8-ounce containers. “We’re selling flavor,” Benack said. The Butchery will even marinate your cut for free using the Cryovac machine at Truffles to vacuum-seal it.

Apart from all the meaty goodness, patrons will find local cheeses, myriad house-made condiments, grab-and-go sides, a sandwich menu, a selection of boutique pantry perks and wines that hail from Truffles’ award-winning wine list.

The shop is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Here’s a look at what’s happening at Butchery:


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-photos by Meera Nagarajan

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