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Aug 20, 2014
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Posts Tagged ‘Wilfrin Fernandez-Cruz’

The Scoop: Wil Fernandez-Cruz has left The Restaurant

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Wilfrin Fernandez-Cruz has left his post as executive chef of The Cheshire’s The Restaurant. Fernandez-Cruz and his wife Lisa, executive pastry chef at The Restaurant and Basso, moved from New York City in late August and started preparing for The Restaurant’s opening in early September. Although Wil loved the large kitchen at The Restaurant and the massive smoker and rotisserie, reminiscent of Cookshop, where he worked as chef de cuisine in NYC, he told The Scoop that he “didn’t like the direction The Restaurant was moving.” According to Wil, he was unhappy that he wasn’t able to use enough seasonal ingredients and products coming from small local purveyors.

Wil plans on taking the next few weeks off to spend with his two young sons. While he and Lisa’s end goal (no timeline in sight) is to have their own restaurant, in the meantime, he hopes to work at another restaurant in the city. With his immediate start at The Restaurant, he hasn’t had time to explore St. Louis’ food scene, but he’s excited for the chance to finally see what the city has to offer. Compared to NYC, “St. Louis,” he said, “is a little city, but it has big industry.”

Lisa remains on as the executive pastry chef at The Cheshire’s The Restaurant and Basso.

UPDATE: In a statement issued by The Restaurant at The Cheshire, no plans have been reported as far as interviewing for a new executive chef.  The statement said, “We have an outstanding culinary team in place at The Restaurant, an excellent corporate chef in Rex Hale who has been involved from the start, and an amazing talent in Basso Executive Chef Patrick Connolly, a James Beard Award winner, who will take on a larger role.”

— photo by Michelle Volanksy

The Perfect Mix: An interview with Wil and Lisa Fernandez-Cruz

Friday, January 11th, 2013



We all know mixing business and pleasure can be a recipe for disaster, but for Wilfrin and Lisa Fernandez-Cruz, there’s never been a difference between the two. They met while working at 202, a now-closed restaurant in New York’s Chelsea Market. Wil, having emigrated from the Dominican Republic, had climbed the restaurant ladder to sous chef, and Lisa was making pastries. After marriage, two babies and a job change, the pair has been reunited in the kitchen at The Cheshire. He’s the executive chef for the newly opened The Restaurant, its catering arm and The Market (coming soon). She’s executive pastry chef for all of The Cheshire’s eating establishments. And thankfully for St. Louis diners, their recipe for making it work tastes just right.

What was the final impetus to leave NYC?

LF: It was always in the back of my head to bring the kids back. There are just so many more opportunities for them here. But one day, I had one of those days where your bag breaks on the subway, then you trip and fall and step into a huge puddle, and a man screams at you for no reason …

WF: And some guy is puking …

LF: Or pees on your shoe. And I’m like, am I in a movie? I called my sister crying, and the next day she sent me an email that said, “I found this ad on Craigslist and maybe you should apply; there’s a job for your husband at the same place.” We were here within three weeks of applying.

Did you start dating at 202?

WF: We met there – dated, got married; it was a beautiful time.

LF: Well, I didn’t talk to him at first. He didn’t speak any English! He was like, “Hola lady.”

You learned English to woo her?

WF: Pretty much.

LF: He slipped me his number one day.

WF: I was that creepy guy.

What’s your best tactic for working together?

LF: We’re brutally honest without hurting each other’s feelings.

WF: We work really well together. We knew that going in. We fell in love working in a kitchen. I look at Lisa as a business person. Outside, we’re married. Here, we’re co-workers. I’m not like, “Hey sweetie, can you do this for me?”

Your kids must have the most sophisticated palates in all of day care and kindergarten.

LF: George [the 3-year-old] has a 100-percent salt palate. Every single morning he wants eggs and bacon. “Did you put salt on this?” he’ll say.

WF: Then, “Can I just have the salt? I’ll salt it myself.”

LF: But Wil [the 5-year-old] is about the cakes, cookies and candy. Every day, he asks me, “Are you gong to make some cupcakes today? Do you want to bring some home?”

LF: Food; it’s pretty much our life.

WF: It is our life.

— photo by Ashley Gieseking

 

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