Chef Thu Rein Oo reigns victorious at Taste of St. Louis Chef Battle Royale

The Crossing executive chef Thu Rein Oo has once again won the Chef Battle Royale at Taste of St. Louis on Sunday, Sept. 15 in downtown St. Louis. This is Rein’s second consecutive win at the annual culinary competition. 


“I’m so happy and can’t believe I won again,” Oo said. “I feel so lucky, you know, to win two years in a row.”


Oo competed against seven other area chefs: Cassie Vires of Winslow’s Home & Farm, Matt Birkenmeier of Hotel Saint Louis, Jason Sparks of Layla, Matt DeBois of The Scottish Arms, Matthew Dawson of Café Coeur and Cork Wine Bar’s Austin Hamblin.




the crossing executive chef thu rein oo at the 2018 taste of st. louis // photo by jon gitchoff for taste of st. louis


Throughout the weekend, the eight chefs competed in a series of head-to-head battles where they had to compose a dish featuring ingredients like cheese, plant-based meats and veal, as well as last-minute secret ingredients additions like whiskey and Red Hot Riplets.


Oo and Hamblin faced off in the final round, Battle Seafood and Reisch Gold Top Beer. For his winning dish, Oo utilized hogfish, a snapper-like fish that he prepared with ginger and garlic, among many other ingredients.


Oo said he may not compete in the battle next year since he’s won twice – but he still hopes to be involved in the competition. “I can retire [from the Battle Royale] now, so I may become a judge next year,” he said.




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Lauren Healey is associate editor at Sauce Magazine.