one to watch alex salkowski photo by greg rannells

Ones to Watch 2020 // Alex Salkowski

Alex Salkowski, head baker at Balkan Treat Box and saute cook at Sidney Street Cafe
Age // 28
Why Watch Him// From fast casual to fine dining, he hustles all day. 

Unlike so many up-and-comers jockeying for a place on the fast track to culinary success, Alex Salkowski takes the long view. He has no problem paying dues. As he explained, “I’m still learning.” 

His quest for knowledge took him from the dish pit at age 15 to graduating from St. Louis Community College at Forest Park with degrees in culinary arts and baking and pastry. It’s landed him at places like Three Sixty, The Restaurant (now Boundary) and Basso. 

In an effort to pack in all the experience he can, Salkowski now works simultaneously in both the fast-casual and fine-dining worlds. He is head baker at Balkan Treat Box by day, helping chef and co-owner Loryn Nalic shape those trademark pide flatbreads, and saute cook at James Beard Award-winning Sidney Street Cafe by night. 

“He’s the one people come to with questions in the kitchen,” said Sidney Street chef de cuisine Robert Zugmaier. “He’s also an excellent cook. I’m interested to see what he does.”

We’ve been watching what he can do at competitions like the 2019 Chef Battle Royale at Taste of St. Louis, where he represented Sidney Street, and events like the Chefs Helping Chefs dinner at Quincy Street Bistro and the Young Blood Dinner Series at Good Fortune during the past couple years. 

Working two jobs, he wants to continue to hone his skills collaborating on pop-ups and dinners with other cooks and has already built up a personal brand, Off Beet, documenting his myriad culinary interests on social media. 

“He’s probably one of the most dedicated, hard-working, loyal, talented people I’ve encountered,” Nalic said. “He lives and breathes this industry. And he works. A lot.” 

Matt Sorrell is a staff writer at Sauce Magazine.