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Inspired Food Culture | Saint Louis
feastSTL.com | JUNE 2014 | FREE
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Inspired Food Culture
Inspired Food Culture | Saint Louis
50 JUNE 2014 from the staff
from the PUBLIsher
| 10 |
What’s online this month.
| 12 |
A peek at the June episode.
| 14 |
Our staff and contributors share inspired ideas for tasteful living in st. louis.
| 22 |
coLUmns one on one
st. louis’ John Kennington invents a gadget that improves cooking with charcoal grills.
| 24 |
seed to taBLe
farmer Crystal stevens picks dandelions for hearty fritters.
| 26 |
buy it and try it: Pomegranate molasses.
| 28 |
Homemade cucumber water brightens up white gazpacho.
| 30 |
Pastry chef Christy Augustin ups angel food cake.
| 32 |
four stovetop grill pans are put to the test.
| 34 |
on the sheLf
new and notable in beer, spirits and wine.
| 36 |
Musing on the Moscow Mule.
| 74 |
the Last BIte
Writer stacy McCann satisfies a fresh fruit fix at 222 Artisan bakery in Edwardsville.
COVER PHOTOGRAPHY Of AnniE Gunn’s buRGER (P. 38) bY Jennifer Silverberg TAblE Of COnTEnTs PHOTOGRAPHY bY
mike mills vs. the smoke eaters
cued up ‘
66 the square beyond compare
Cathedral Square Dinner June 26, 2014
Featuring Cathedral Square Brewery’s Brewmaster Brian Neville - 1st Course -
- 3rd Course -
Cajun Crawfish Roll paired with Cathedral Square Belgian Abbey Ale
Espresso Rubbed Ribs paired with Cathedral Square Holy Moly Imperial Stout
- 2nd Course -
- 4th course -
Green Tomato Gazpacho paired with Cathedral Square Belgian White Ale
Special Brownies a la Mode paired with Cathedral Square Hail Mary Belgian IPA
Dinner starts at 6:30pm $60 per person Only 60 seats available! Reserve Today! Visit us online for more info!
636.724.8600 | HendricksBBQ.com | @HendricksBBQ | /HendricksBBQ | 1200 S. Main Street, St. Charles, MO
patio cocktails await you Visit us online for more info!
314.535.9700 | SanctuariaSTL.com | @SanctuariaTapas | /SanctuariaSTL | 4198 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, MO Inspired Food Culture
Commemorating the First Cocktail Party A Scholarship Fundraiser for Bishop DuBourg High School
Friday, June 27, 2014 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM Archbishop’s Residence
Period Craft Cocktails Planters House Bar & Restaurant Hors d’Oeuvres Sidney Street Cafe Catering Services Pappy’s Smokehouse Historical Commentary & Live Music
$600 per person. For additional details call 314.783.4456. Or E-Mail email@example.com
Every Saturday in June
Magazine Volume 5
| Issue 6 | June 2014
Publisher and Editor Catherine Neville firstname.lastname@example.org Managing Editor, Print Content Liz Miller email@example.com Managing Editor, Digital Content Kristin Brashares firstname.lastname@example.org Art Director Lisa Allen email@example.com
at Bella Vino Wine Bar and Tapas
Director of Sales Kelly Klein firstname.lastname@example.org
Check us out every Saturday
Copy Editor/Fact Checker Alexandra Bates, Barbara E. Stefano
for our Pitmaster, Specialty BBQ (tapas style)
Proofreader Christine Wilmes
325 S. Main Street, St. Charles, MO www.bellavinowinebarstl.com 636-724-3434
Editorial Assistants Tory Bahn Stacy McCann Contributing Writers Christy Augustin, Tory Bahn, Brandon Chuang, Shannon Cothran Thomas Crone, Pat Eby, Kyle Harsha, Valeria Turturro Klamm Lucy Schwetye, Matt Seiter, Matt Sorrell, Crystal Stevens Michael Sweeney, Andrew Mark Veety, Shannon Weber Contributing Photographers Jonathan Gayman, Gregg Goldman, J.Pollack Photography Jennifer Silverberg, Steve Truesdell, Cheryl Waller Feast TV producers:
Hand Crafted Coffees Importing Fine Coffees from 20 Countries • QUALITY • EXPERIENCE • SERVICE Full Service Coffeehouse & Restaurant Supplier Fourth Generation Family Owned Coffee Roasters Since 1930
Catherine Neville Kristin Brashares production partner:
Pounds Media contributing Videographers:
Judd Demaline, Kurt Ehlmann, James Jackson, John Jacobsen Chris Roider, Alessio Summerfield, Charles Thomas Contact Us Feast Media, 900 N. Tucker Blvd., 4th Floor St. Louis, MO 63101 314.340.8562 feastSTL.com Distribution To distribute Feast Magazine at your place of business, please contact Jeff Moore at email@example.com. Feast Magazine does not accept unsolicited manuscripts, photographs or artwork. Submissions will not be returned. All contents are copyright © 2010-2014 by Feast Magazine™. All rights reserved. Reproduction or use in whole or in part of the contents, without the prior written permission of the publisher, is strictly prohibited. Produced by the Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis, LLC
Pairs well with
SUNS H INE Summer is in full swing and Missouri wine country calls to us. The warm temperatures and clear blue skies create the need for adventure. Make the most of your wanderlust at one of our more than 125 Missouri Wineries. Spend the afternoon sampling some of our crisp, refreshing varietals while soaking in those beautiful rays. Plan your escape at missouriwine.org.
Inspired Food Culture
“when somebody goes away, first thing they do when they come back is they come to us and have a burger. it happens over and over again.” In the June episode of Feast TV, I get behind the grill and demo columnist Shannon Weber’s pomegranate molasses-glazed chicken thighs. Enter to win the Weber Performer charcoal grill, courtesy of Gas Appliance Service and Fireplace & Grill Center, at feastSTL.com.
– curt grass, co-owner, gordon’s stoplight drive-in
Certain things define the flavor of home, that taste of tradition and nostalgia that connects us to memories and the shared experience of community. Gordon’s Stoplight Drive-In (turn to p. 38 to read Andrew Mark Veety’s take on their Quadzilla along with a number of other notable burgers) has been serving its smashed-and-seared burgers since 1948 and the recipe has not changed since the day the small diner opened in Crystal City, Missouri. Multiple generations have grown up sitting on the mid-century swivel stools that line Gordon’s Formica countertops and you can bet those burgers and shakes will be eagerly devoured for generations to come. Same goes for Imo’s Pizza, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Regardless of where you stand on the Provel issue, if you grew up in St. Louis, you remember your first taste of the “square beyond compare” and one bite of that signature thin-crust pie will undoubtedly bring back a rush of memories. Thomas Crone introduces you to the family behind Imo’s on p. 66. And nothing evokes more sense of place than barbecue, that most American of foods. Brandon Chuang had the privilege of spending a day in the kitchen with Mike Mills, the legendary barbecue master behind 17th Street Barbecue in Murphysboro, Illinois (p. 50). Mills grew up barbecuing, carrying on a tradition that began with his father, and is ushering that tradition into the future in collaboration with his daughter, Amy. Food is a thread that can tie us together in a way that few other elements of our society can and these pages are packed with delicious classics, so pull up a stool and dig into our June issue for a definitive taste of an American summer. Until next time,
Feast in The park Now to October, 5 to 8pm; rotating St. Louis County Parks
This weekly festival gathers mobile eats and popular bands in parks across St. Louis County.
Clayton Farmers’ Market Now to October, 4:30 to 7:30pm Thursdays; North Central Ave., Downtown Clayton; claytonfarmersmarket.com
The market supports local farmers, spotlights organic and natural foods and unique specialties.
Strange Donuts National Donut Day party Fri., June 6; Kuva Coffee headquarters; facebook.com/strangedonuts
Strange Donuts hosts its National Donut Day party in partnership with Kuva Coffee, featuring collaborations with local partners.
Art&Air Festival June 6 to 8; Webster University/Eden Theological Seminary; wcaf.org/artandair
Art&Air features food from favorite restaurants, non-stop live music performances and creative activities that draw 25,000 visitors and buyers.
St. Louis uncorked Fri., June 6, and Sat., June 7; Soldier’s Memorial
Get a first sip of summer with local wines, craft beers, live music and great eats. Presented by CBS St. Louis.
Kids Cook! Sat., June 7, noon to 3pm; Roth Distributing; $65, firstname.lastname@example.org or 314.486.9246
Kids and parents get hands-on and learn to cook a meal together. Presented by The Nest.
Green homes Festival Sat., June 7, 9am to 4pm; Missouri Botanical Garden; mobot.org/greenhomesfest
Learn, play and engage with people with an interest in sustainable, healthy lifestyles.
Clayton’s Food Truck Sundays June 8, July 13 and August 10, 4 to 8pm; Shaw Park; claytonmo.gov/fts
Join us for great mobile eats and live music in Clayton’s Shaw Park.
rick Lewis’ pub Grub Thu., June 19, 6 to 9pm; Schnucks Cooks Cooking School; $45, schnuckscooks.com
Chef Rick Lewis of Quincy Street Bistro will teach you how to make pub-style burgers.
Schnucks Cooks Gazpacho Wed., June 25, 6pm to 9pm; Schnucks Cooks Cooking School; $40, schnuckscooks.com or 314.909.1704
Join publisher Cat Neville in the kitchen and make a meal built around white Spanish gazpacho.
1st Cocktail party Commemoration Fri., June 27, 5:30 to 7:30pm; The Archbishop’s Residence; $600 per person; email@example.com
Food from Sidney Street Café and Pappy’s Smokehouse, period cocktails by Planter’s House, historical commentary by Eric Felten and music by Tom McDermott to benefit the Bishop DuBourg High School’s Tuition Assistance Program.
Let Them eat Art Fri., July 11; Downtown Maplewood; cityofmaplewood.com
Featuring a self-guided tour with live demos by more than 50 regional artists, live music, food and drink.
Catherine Neville publisher@feastSTL.com
397 NOT $599
POWER RECLINER with a softly-textured cover, plump seat cushion, and padded back.
POWER-LIFT RECLINER with a soft microfiber cover, and an easy-to-use controller.
465 NOT $699
POWER RECLINER with sleek lines, padded comfort, and a handsome leather-look cover.
Dad Dese Deserves a Comfy Chair! A Recliner Makes a Great Gift for Fathers’ Day!
WITH HEAT & MASSAGE
CHAISE RECLINER featuring a leather-look cover, and heavily-padded cushions for extra comfort.
CHAISE ROCKER-RECLINER with built in heat and massage units, in a camo cover.
POWER RECLINER features well-padded arms, seat, and back with a soft cover.
ROBOTIC MASSAGE RECLINER CHAIR with multiple programmed massage functions.
Daily 10-8 O’FALLON, MO O’FALLON, IL SOUTH SIDE 2101 E. TERRA LANE 1776 HWAY. 50 WEST 7737 WATSON RD. Sunday 12-5 636-978-3500 618-632-1700 314-968-5595 Offers expire 6/11/14. Not available at SOUTH COUNTY ALTON West Florissant store. Not valid with 5711 S. LINDBERGH 3001 WASHINGTON other discounts or offers, prior sales 314-892-9002 618-462-9770 excluded, ask for details. Inspired Food Culture
hungry for more?
PHOTOGRAPHy By ©ISTOCkPHOTO.COm/CATLAnE
connect with us daily:
FACEBOOk. What to get Dad? Check
PHOTOGRAPHy By Steve Truesdell
facebook.com/feastSTL for our daily Father’s Day giveaways leading up to the holiday.
PHOTOGRAPHy By J. Pollack Photography
Stay up-to-date on new openings (like Union Station’s Grand Hall) and exciting spots in the works at @feastmag.
Our Burgers! board at pinterest.com/feastmag features some of our other favorite spots to get them (like Stacked Burger Bar in Carondelet).
BURGER SHOWDOWN. We think all of the burgers in Burger Bracket (p. 38) are winners, but a true
bracket requires some friendly competition. Visit feastSTL.com to vote for your favorite burger in each of the five styles we feature this month. (Pictured is Gordon’s Stoplight Drive-In’s Quadzilla.) SPECIAL GIVEAWAY. Enter to win the Weber Performer charcoal grill featured on the June episode of
Feast TV! Get details on the prize, from Fireplace & Grill Center and Gas Appliance Service, in the Promotions section at feastSTL.com.
INSTAGRAm. Follow @feastmag to see what
we’re eating and drinking around town.
Watch our videos.
Vietnamese & Chinese Restaurant A 2012 "FEAST" Favorite!
Thank You all Local Area Chefs for Making Us #1 Located in the Meridian Shopping Center at Hanley & Eager Roads behind the Best Buy.
FREE PARKING IN THE METRO LINK GARAGE Tu-Th: 11am-9pm • Fr-Su 11am-10pm 8396 Musick Memorial Dr. • 314.645.2835 www.MaiLeeRestaurant.com
Dining hours for lunch and dinner: Mon-Thurs: 11am-10pm Fri: 11am-11pm Sat: 10am-11pm (Brunch too!) No reservations
106 N. Main St. • Edwardsville 618.307.4830 clevelandheath.com
Delivery, Dine In, Take Out, Catering 3 Locations
YOUR SOURCE FOR THE FINEST
• Maine Lobsters • Jumbo Lump Crabmeat • Dry-Packed Scallops • Jumbo Shrimp • Smoked Salmon • Wide Selection of Oysters & Fish
Homemade Greek Food Carry out • Catering Private Parties Gyros • Kebobs • Baklava
8660 OLIVE IN U CITY
FRESHEST SEAFOOD IN ST. LOUIS SINCE 1978!
oLYmPIa keBoB HoUSe aNd TaVerNa Patio Now open 7 days a week from 11am 1543 McCausland • 314-781-1299
Open 11am- Sold Out 9200 Olive Blvd, Olivette, MO
3150 Elm Point Industrial Dr St. Charles, MO
9955 Winghaven Blvd O’Fallon, MO
Sarah’s Cake Pops for Your Pop! Sarah’s Cake Shop has proven that we deliver more than just a cake treat your POP to our cake pops and create memories for years to come. Sarah’s is a locally owned business offering Custom Cakes, Cupcakes, Petit Fours, Desserts and Seasonal delights to the greater St. Louis area. Celebrating 10 Years of Sweet Memories.
Monday & Tuesday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.
10 Clarkson Wilson Centre • Chesterfield • 636.728.1140 • sarahscakeshopstl.com
Inspired Food Culture
watch this month’s episode to:
PHOTOGRAPHy by Gregg Goldman
Look for the Feast TV splat throughout the magazine. It tells you which articles are part of this month’s episode! Segment 1. Head down to southern Missouri for
a rare look at how Rockwood Charcoal goes from 100-percent hardwood to your barbecue pit.
Segment 2. Grab a stool at Gordon’s Stoplight Drive-In, where generations of customers have enjoyed the same menu since 1948.
Segment 3. Go into the pits with 17th Street barbecue’s Mike Mills and get a step-by-step look at how he makes barbecue magic.
Segment 4. Find out what it was like for 17th
Street barbecue’s Amy Mills to grow up with a barbecue legend and her role now in the business.
Watch the upcoming June episode on the Nine Network (Channel 9) at 2pm on Sat., June 7, and 1pm on Mon., June 9. Feast TV will also air on the nineCREATE channel periodically throughout the month.
feast tv is brought to you by the generous support of our sponsors: MISSOuRI WINES
WHOLE FOOdS MARkET
In June, go for a bottle of St. James Winery’s 2012 Norton. Feast TV producer Cat Neville pairs it with Mystery Shopper columnist Shannon Weber’s pomegranate molasses-glazed chicken thighs.
Get grilling at home – pick up the ingredients and recipe from Cat’s demo at both St. Louis-area locations of Whole Foods Market.
Roth Living curates innovation and luxury in high-end appliances. Explore Roth’s showroom to experience an appliance’s true performance and create the inspired kitchen of your dreams.
Creating local Italian Food
New SPRING / SUMMER MENU
with help from our Farmers and Friends
BOARDS Served with Toasted Bread
PORK BELLY RILLETTES Sweet & Spicy Pickles, Grain Mustard, Red Onion HOUSE RICOTTA Toasted Walnut Pesto, Oven Roasted Tomatoes
HUMMUS Green Olive & Caper Relish, Lemon & Olive Oil
SMALL PLATES BBQ SHRIMP Bacon Shallot Grits, Citrus Vinaigrette CHEESE PUFFS Country White Bread, Sharp Cheddar Mousse, House Catsup – A Ping family tradition ROASTED FINGERLING POTATOES Lemon Garlic Aioli CARAMELIZED PORK BELLY Toasted Brioche, Creamed Sweet Corn, Roasted Jalapeno Relish
SANDWICHES BURGER IPA White Cheddar Spread, House Catsup, Chips APRICOT BOURBON PULLED PORK House BBQ Sauce, Chips BANH MI Caramelized Pork Belly, Chipotle Mayo, Pickled Carrot & Jalapeno Slaw
$30 ~ 4 Course Tasting Menu
ROASTED CHICKEN Bacon Shallot Grits, Heirloom Tomato & Cucumber Salad
7266 Manchester Rd.
COLA & CHERRY GLAZED PORK CHOP Smoked Corn & Sweet Potato Hash, Frissee Salad, Bacon Vinaigrette
STRIP Red Skin Mashed Potatoes, Garlic Green Beans, Roasted Chipolini Onions, Red Wine Reduction
CRAB CAKE Sweet Creamed Corn, Remoulade, Citrus Vinaigrette
314-553-9994 5400 Murdoch • St. Louis, MO. 63109 www.russellscafe.com
M-Th 5-9pm • Fri/Sat 5-10pm
Furniture Repaired, Furniture Refinished 5 Year Workmanship Guarantee Quality Craftsmanship • Refinishing • Reupholstery Antique Restoration Repair • Custom Made Draperies Custom Made Furniture • New Furniture • Antiques Monday - Friday 8am - 4:30pm Appointments & Service Available
24 Hrs. A Day, 7 Days A Week Just east of 3400 S. Kingshighway We accept Discover, Visa, Mastercard and American Express
4821 Fairview Ave., St. Louis • 314.832.1555 • www.zollingerfurniture.com
At Skypark, your first day is free. SkyPark is already the best parking value at Lambert. We offer the newest fleet of shuttles and the most courteous staff. If you like our basic service, you’ll love our valet service – with available car wash and oil change – so you’re ready to roll as soon as you touch down.
Use this coupon to get your first day free and pay just $6 a day for the rest of your stay.* Name
*Coupon valid for Self-Park only. Requires minimum two-day stay (one day free; one day at $6). Expires August 31, 2014. Not valid with any other SkyPark offer. Name and email information required in order to use coupon.
4500 Crestshire Lane • St. Ann • 314.423.3800 • skypar kstl. com Inspired Food Culture
| where we’re dining
4940 Southwest Ave., The Hill 314.669.9222 threeflagstavern.com
This newly opened tavern’s “three flags” moniker reflects the three cultures that inform the menu, which are also the three flags that have flown over the City of St. Louis since its founding 250 years ago: Spain, France and the U.S. At this beautifully rehabbed spot on the edge of The Hill, the kitchen is turning out unique dishes worthy of your attention. Piping hot beignets studded with lobster meat are dusted with Old bay-laced powdered sugar. Rabbit sausage is served alongside black bread and grain mustard. And posole features a hunk of berkshire pork and two crisp pieces of fry bread, a novel take on the traditional stew. Light, flaky trout is served with lingonberries, herbs and a horseradish flan and the heirloom pork mixed grill will satisfy hearty appetites. For dessert, the flourless chocolate cake beckons, but we say get the apple tart, which is a rustic thing of beauty, served with softly whipped cardamon-Calvados cream. In short, Three Flags Tavern is a must-try. –C.N.
three flags tavern
| where we’re drInkIng
the dark room @ grand center wRiTTen by kyle harsha
when rumors started swirling about a new wine bar opening in Grand Center, my first thought was, “what a perfect idea; i wish i would have thought of that.” The slowly burgeoning area has long supported local performers, but there have only been a few short-lived places to sip upscale drinks within walking distance of The Fabulous Fox Theatre and Powell Hall. The Dark Room now satisfies that need with a space that is not only cool to look at, but also supports a good cause. Proceeds from the space benefit Grand Center inc.’s mission “to support the arts, preserve a legacy and transform a neighborhood into a vibrant community.” The wine list – curated by bill Kneip, owner of local distributor Pinnacle imports LLC – is distinctive, with a wide variety of options. we sipped glasses of weins-Prüm Riesling and Domaine Lafond Côtes du Rhône ($12 and $9, respectively), while looking over the wine list, which will change on roughly the same schedule as the featured art. The high-end by-the-glass options rang in at $23, and all of the domestic and foreign bottle selections were less than $100. The beer list is weighted toward locally produced selections and, on my visit, included the likes of Urban Chestnut brewing Co., Perennial Artisan Ales and 4 Hands brewing Co. Food choices are geared more toward grabbing a quick bite: small plates, cheese and meat boards and flatbreads featuring local producers such as Salume beddu and bissinger’s.
APPETITE FOR FUN
The dining room has a heavy industrial vibe, with a lot of unpolished metal, wood and decorations appropriate for a bar that showcases local photography. Rotating selections of local art adorn the walls, changing on a monthly basis. My wife described the feel as “swanky,” and patrons were certainly well-heeled, likely on their way to a play or symphony performance.
615 n. Grand blvd., Grand Center, 314.531.3416, thedarkroomstl.com
A L W AY S H A S R O O M F O R M O R E
From thick, juicy steaks to an international buffet, you’ll never run out of delicious dining options in a city this big.
Kyle Harsha is a certified specialist of wine and certified sommelier with over 20 years’ experience in the food and wine industry. He drinks more wine than he probably ought to.
888.578.7289 | rivercity.com Void for persons on the self or state exclusion lists or otherwise excluded from River City or any other properties owned by Pinnacle Entertainment. Must be age 21 or older to gamble. Gambling problem? Call 1.888.BETSOFF. ©2014 Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Inspired Food Culture
| Where We’re dining
master pieza From the sidewalk in front of Master Pieza, you don’t realize you’re about to step inside of a painting. There are clues – the new Cherokee Street pizza joint’s sign is shaped like a painter’s palate and its name suggests that “master pieces” are crafted within – but inside, the walls pay tribute to the work of Danish artist Piet Mondrian. behind the counter, Master Pieza owner and chef William Porter prepares madeto-order whole pizzas and pizza-by-the-slice from scratch using only the freshest ingredients. Master Pieza’s pizza falls somewhere between St. Louis- and New york-style, with hand-tossed, thin crust pies cut into squares. The shop’s 14-inch and 16-inch pizzas – including its signature veggie topped with broccoli, spinach, red onion and green bell peppers – can be made with mozzarella or Provel. In addition to pizza, Master Pieza serves sides of tangy hot wings and sweetly seasoned fries. And for those enjoying Cherokee Street’s booming nightlife, the shop serves eats until 3am on Friday and Saturday nights. –L.M.
2846 Cherokee St., Cherokee business District, 314.369.0304
| Food stuFF
ee Gluten fr st pizza cru le! b a il a v a now g s bratin usines ly cele years in b 30
Flavorful, fragrant grill rubs spice up chicken, beef, pork, seafood and more, adding new appeal and complexity to summer grilling standards. From all-purpose seasonings to more hot-and-smoky or sweet-and-zesty options, these locally made rubs are surefire ways to amp up backyard grilling this season. – L.M.
FEATURING DAILY SPECIALS Monday-Friday Lunch & Dinner / Saturday-Sunday Dinner Only Special Appetizers and Drink Prices During Happy Hour 4pm - 7pm Mon- Fri in the Bar.
CodE 3 sPICEs
Fine Italian Cuisine from Family Recipes! 2061 ZUMBEHL (Bogey Hills Plaza) • ST. CHARLES, MO Follow us on
636-949-9005 • www.fratellisristorante.com
ROCK‘N’ RO WE
EK E W Y R E EV
Jungle Boogie Concert Series Friday Nights, 5–8 p.m.
Presented by Mid America Chevy Dealers The best bands in St. Louis are getting ready to pounce on the Saint Louis Zoo for a howling good time. All summer long, the Jungle Boogie Concert Series turns up the fun for free, every Friday night from 5 to 8 p.m. Party with thousands of animals and enjoy everything the Zoo has to offer until closing time. But don’t stop there. We’re staying open until 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday evenings for Prairie Farms Summer Zoo Weekends. It’s enough to make a two-legged creature consider going nocturnal.
| 1 | Code 3 Spices Backdraft Rub, Rescue Rub and 5-0 Rub, $6.99/each; Whole Foods Market, multiple locations, wholefoodsmarket.com | 2 | Kakao Chocolate cocoa grilling rub, $6; Kakao Chocolate, multiple locations, kakaochocolate.com | 3 | Hendricks BBQ Pork Rub, Beef Rub and Lil’ Willies’ Love Rub, $7/each; Hendricks BBQ, 1200 S. Main St., PHOTOGRAPHy By Jonathan Gayman St. Charles, 636.724.8600, hendricksbbq.com
June 6 Miss Jubilee and the Humdingers 13 NASHVEGAS 20 (No Concert) 27 Big Brother Thunder & the Master Blasters
July 4 GalaxyRed (goes until 9 p.m.) 11 American Idle 18 Pennsylvania Slim 25 The VCRs
August 1 Mood Swings 8 Coco Soul 15 Griffin & the Gargoyles 22 Ticket to the Beatles 29 FatPocket
Inspired Food Culture
| Shop-o-maTi C
grilling store at terra Written by Shannon Cothran
Vickie Jeude recently married the love of her life, and as a wedding present, she bought her fiancé the best gift she could imagine: a big Green egg. One of the most popular kamado-style grills in the world, the big Green egg is one of many cookers sold at the store Jeude manages, Terra. Located in Des Peres, terra’s tagline well summarizes its wares: “Good Life inside and Out.” the large store utilizes its indoor floor space and outdoor perimeter to showcase its large selection of patio furniture, grills and grilling accessories. Outside, an entire outdoor kitchen gives customers a taste of what the shop specializes in. Fans of backyard grilling can find everything from basics like charcoal and wood chips to specialized accessories like grilling woks and LeD lights for grilling after dark. in addition to its outdoor offerings, the shop also stocks a sizable collection of glassware, home décor and kitchen gadgets. And the stock is constantly changing, so shoppers never see the same merchandise twice. “We buy small amounts,” explains Jeude. “We only buy one or two of each item, so our selection is unique, and then we just have smaller amounts come in more often.” At terra, Jeude and her crew host demonstrations in the shop’s outdoor kitchen on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, usually between noon and 2pm. “We rotate on the big Green egg, the Weber, the Vintage and a Memphis Smoker,” Jeude says. “We do meat demos on them, so our guests can go in our kitchen and try the different ways we [prepare food]. We always have something in our kitchen for people to try.” 11769 Manchester road, Des Peres 314.966.0800, terrastl.com
ThREE GREaT GRiLLinG GaDGETS aT TERRa
Smoker will take the guesswork out of smoking meats at home. At only 39.5-inches high, it still provides 780 square inches of smoking space inside, and comes with a guide and a recipe book for novice home cooks. | 2 | Grill after dark with Charcoal Companion’s LED Grill Light with silicone cover. the light has five LeD bulbs and comes in several colors to choose from, and easily attaches to almost any grill so cooks can safely see what they’re grabbing on moonless summer nights. | 3 | Gourmet Grillware is made of a mixture of 10 different metals. it can be used to cook, bake, broil or grill, and it’s so attractive, even your grandmother would use it. terra carries a wide range of Gourmet Grillware, including salt and pepper shakers and a chili pot.
| 1 | the Bradley Six-Rack Digital
Happy Father’s Day
From the Prezzavento Family Proudly Serving Authentic Italian Food in a Family Atmosphere. Call Now To Book Your Father’s Day Reservations!
Try Our Villa Puccini Toscana Wine Paired with Beef Marsala Let Us Cater Your Special Occasion Featuring Daily Lunch & Dinner Specials Reservations Recommended, Hours of Operation: Tuesday - Saturday 11am-10pm • Sunday Noon-9pm • Closed Monday
5442 Old Hwy 21• Imperial • 636.942.2405 • trattoria-giuseppe.com
Chicken Dinner Sundays Buy one chicken dinner Get one chicken dinner FREE Expires June 30, 2014. Dine-in only. Limit one coupon per table. Not to be combined with any other offers.
114 W. Mill St. • Waterloo, IL • 618.939.9933 • gallagherswaterloo.com
Inspired Food Culture
| whAT we ’re buying
grilling upgrade Take summer cookouts up a notch by investing in a high-performance charcoal grill and smart, sleek grilling tools and gadgets to match. –L.M.
|6| |7| | 14 |
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| 1 | Bombshell Spice Rub, $4.59; Raspberry Jalapeño Sauce, $5.98; Bogart’s Smoke House Voodoo Sauce, $3.95; Ellbee’s Original Garlic Seasoning and Rub, $6.99; Fields Foods, 1500 Lafayette Ave., Lafayette Square, 314.241.3276, fieldsfoods.com | 2 | Kiki Tall Beechwood Grinder, $49.95; Kiki Short Beechwood Grinder, $44.95; Crate and Barrel, 1 The Boulevard, Richmond Heights, crateandbarrel.
com | 3 | Beef kabobs and assorted locally grown tomatoes, asparagus and corn, prices vary; Fields Foods | 4 | Medium Big Green Egg, $679; Big Green Egg Medium Metal Eggnest, $146; Big Green Egg Medium Wooden Folding Shelves, $101.95; Big Green Egg Grate Rack, $13.95; Forshaw, 825 S. Lindbergh Blvd., Frontenac, 314.993.5570, forshaws.com | 5 | Four-Piece Pinch and Pour Prep Bowl Set, $14.95; Crate and Barrel | 6 | Nordic Ware Indoor/Outdoor Side Dish Basket, $12.95; Cornucopia, 107 N. Kirkwood
Road, Kirkwood, 314.822.2440, cornucopia-kitchen.com | 7 | Kitchen towels, $4.95/each; Cornucopia | 8 | Bodum Grill Fork, $16.99; Bodum Silicone Basting Brush, $16.99; Terra, 11769 Manchester Road, Des Peres, 314.966.0800, terrastl.com | 9 | Rockwood Charcoal, $9.99; Fields Foods | 10 | Bodum Stainless-Steel Grilling Tongs, $16.99; Terra | 11 | Kabob Skewers, $23.95;
Cornucopia | 12 | Fox Run Grill Charms, $11.99/ set of six; Terra | 13 | Big Green Egg Grill Rings, $14.99; Terra | 14 | Pino IVV Pitcher, $49.95; Crate and Barrel | 15 | Fox Run Butter Buttons Spreaders, $1.29/each; Terra | 16 | Charcoal Companion Rosewood Corn Holders, $13.99/set of eight; Terra | 17 | Marin Orange Pasta-Low Bowl, $9.95; Crate and Barrel | 18 | Charcoal Companion Corn Skewers, $11.99; Terra | 19 | Big Green Egg Barbecue Sauce Mop, $14.99; Terra | 20 | Architec Red Silicone HotGrip Trivet, $6.95; Cornucopia PHOTOGRAPHy by Jonathan Gayman
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Empowering Through Education The mission of Living Word Christian School is to assist Christian parents in equipping students with a Christ-centered education, empowering them to impact the world for the glory of God.
1145 Tom Ginnever Ave • O’Fallon • 636.978.1680 • www.lwcs.us Inspired Food Culture
one on one
owNEr/iNvENtor, pitmastEriQ WRITTen By Valeria Turturro Klamm | PHOTOGRAPHy By Jonathan Gayman
John Kennington always dreamed of having a company that manufactures “widgets and gizmos,” and better yet, sharing that company with his sons. Today, he and his wife Barb and their sons, Matt and Chris, run Digital Power & Motion, which produces pitmasterIQ, a line of barbecue pit controllers that regulate the cooking temperature inside charcoal pits for precision smoking. What meat does the IQ improve the most? Large, tough cuts that must be cooked for a long time at a low temperature. That’s difficult to do on a smoker because, as the fire burns down and the wind changes direction, the temperature in the smoker changes. The IQ takes care of this and adjusts the combustion air to regulate the cooking temperature. We cook 20-pound briskets for about 14 hours at a steady 225°F for meltin-your-mouth tenderness. What inspired the product? I started Digital Power & Motion in 2007 to design and manufacture industrial-duty electronic controls. In 2009, I saw the first episode of BBQ Pitmasters. The teams were using automatic temperature controls for barbecue pits, and that reminded me of a trade publication I had seen years before where an engineer automated his cooker using a computer fan and an industrial temperature control. All kinds of things fell together at once – I had a company that could manufacture electronics and a passion for barbecue, so I decided to make my own barbecue temperature controller. By September 2010 we had 25 pitmasterIQ IQ110s to take to the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue in Lynchburg, Tennessee. How has business grown? In 2010, Alton Brown decided to end his show Good Eats and go out with a bang the next year with a few special episodes, including one on barbecue. To do research, he went to the barbecue competition Memphis in May in 2011. When he got there, this team had a [charcoal barbecue pit] with a IQ110 on it. He had an instant appreciation for this gadget. He ordered two of our units, and when an episode of his show Good Eats ran in August 2011, we got the last five minutes of the show. We just started selling a ton and it really hasn’t stopped since. Any challenges in developing the product? Getting it to function on such a diverse range of cookers, from a small Weber kettle to a 600-pound gravity feed Rebel. I don’t know how many hundreds of pounds of charcoal I burned and data-gathering I did. Are your customers professionals, home cooks or both? The restaurant customers are few, including Mike Johnson of Sugarfire Smoke House. It’s mostly backyard cooks. Our
pitmasterIQ 636.447.7974 pitmasteriq.com
second-biggest customers are competition cooks who want to cook overnight without monitoring their pits.
Visit feastSTL.com to read the full interview with John Kennington.
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Inspired Food Culture
seed to table
Dandelion Fritters with Honey-Yogurt Dipping Sauce
For me, the month of June evokes the nostalgia of growing up in the Midwest. The sights of summer are whimsical and inspiring; trees are green and vibrant, flowers are in full bloom and kites are soaring high in the sky. The instantly recognizable scents of barbecue and freshly cut grass are classic signs of summer. As a kid, the longer days meant more time outside, playing in the sprinkler, riding bikes well into the evening and chasing fireflies in the backyard. For me, these sights and scents are entangled into my childhood memories. June 21, the summer solstice, the day on which we in the Northern Hemisphere enjoy the longest period of daylight, marks the textbook beginning of summer. While there is plenty growing on our farm this time
story and recipe by Crystal Stevens Photography by Jennifer Silverberg
of year – including greens, scallions, radishes, peas and many others establishing roots – I feel an obligation to pay homage to wild edible weeds as well. After all, they’re another sign of the new season, too.
Dandelion Fritters with Honey-Yogurt Dipping Sauce
And in the world of wild edibles, dandelions are the celebrity. Making a wish while blowing dandelion petals into the early summer breeze is a memory most likely etched in all of our childhood recollections. They are found in almost every backyard in the Midwest. Little did we know, dandelion flowers are not only edible, but also highly medicinal and nutritious. The next time you get ready to mow the lawn, take pause first to pick yourself a bouquet of dandelion flowers, stems and all, and fry up some fabulous dandelion fritters.
Dandelions should only be gathered from areas that are not sprayed with chemicals. Leave 1 to 2 inches of the stem intact, rinse dandelions thoroughly with cold water and towel dry before cooking. For the dipping sauce, any vanilla yogurt can be substituted to taste. Serves | 4 |
Crystal Stevens is a farmer at La Vista CSA Farm on the bluffs of the Mighty Mississippi River in Godfrey, Ill., where she farms with her husband, Eric. They have two children. Crystal is an advocate of integrating creativity into sustainability through writing, art, photojournalism and seed-to-table cooking. Find more of her work at growingcreatinginspiring.blogspot.com, which she created to launch her forthcoming book, Grow Create Inspire.
Dandelion Fritters ½ ½ ¼ 1 1 ¼ 24
cup peanut oil cup flour cup panko breadcrumbs pinch cinnamon Tbsp ground flax meal cup water dandelions, rinsed
Honey-Yogurt Dipping Sauce 1 cup vanilla bean Greek yogurt 2 Tbsp honey
| Preparation – Dandelion Fritters | In a small frying pan or quart-size saucepan over low heat, heat peanut oil. In a shallow bowl, combine flour, breadcrumbs and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, mix flax meal and water. Turn heat up to medium-high. Prepare a plate layered with about 6 paper towels to absorb oil once fritters are finished frying. Dip dandelion flowers (stems on) in the wet mixture, followed by the dry mixture. Repeat a few times, until the flowers are evenly coated. Gently place battered flowers into the pan of hot oil. Place only 12 flowers at a time, leaving space between each flower. Fry for about 1 minute on each side, or until golden brown. Using stainless-steel tongs or a stainless-steel slotted spoon, transfer fritters from oil onto the paper towellined plate. Serve fritters immediately to preserve their crispy texture.
| Preparation – Honey-Yogurt Dipping
Sauce | In a small bowl, combine honey and
yogurt. Whisk mixture together to combine and serve with fritters.
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Inspired Food Culture
The sweet, tart bite of fresh pomegranate would be an ideal flavor during early summer, wouldn’t it? Unfortunately, this captivating fruit won’t be at the market until autumn, which makes this the right time to meet pomegranate molasses.
story and recipe by Shannon Weber Photography by Jennifer Silverberg
such as mouhamara – a dip made with red bell peppers and ground walnuts – and in fesenjān, a Persian stew. Use it as a glaze for meats and vegetables, or add dimension to cocktails and sparkling water. If sweets are more your thing, swirl it into cake batter or frosting (or both) for a subtle flavor lift.
What is it?
Pomegranate molasses isn’t molasses at all, but rather a simple reduction of juiced pomegranates and sugar. Open a bottle and you’ll instantly smell the unmistakable scent of sweet juice, but be prepared to pucker: One taste reveals its exceedingly sour notes. What do I do with it?
Traditionally, pomegranate molasses is used in Middle Eastern dishes
The following recipes are ideal for a warm summer night. The glazed chicken makes excellent use of the sour candy notes, while the salad uses the astringency as a counterpoint to sweet berries and creamy goat cheese crumbles. Visit feastSTL.com to find a third recipe using pomegranate molasses in a pomegranate-citrus compound butter. The butter highlights the intense sweetness of the molasses, and works beautifully with the light smokiness of grilled bread.
Shannon Weber is a writer, graphic designer and stay-at-home mom who writes the award-winning blog aperiodictableblog.com.
Pomegranate MolassesGlazed Chicken Thighs Serves | 4 |
¾ cup pomegranate molasses ¼ cup fresh orange juice 4 bone-in chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
| Preparation – Glaze | In a medium bowl, whisk together pomegranate molasses and orange juice. Set aside. Prepare a charcoal grill for high heat, and oil the grill rack. Generously season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Place chicken over the hottest part of the fire and cook for 10 minutes, flipping once. Brush chicken with pomegranate glaze and transfer pieces to the cooler edge of the grill; continue to cook, glazing 1 to 2 more times until juices run clear, 20 to 24 minutes total.
Arugula Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette Serves | 4 |
¼ cup pomegranate molasses 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice 2 tsp fresh ginger, finely grated ½ tsp sea salt ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper ½ cup olive oil
Tangled Arugula and Summer Berry Salad 6 to 8 large basil leaves, sliced into thin ribbons 12 to 14 mint leaves, sliced into thin ribbons pomegranate vinaigrette (see below) sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 4 to 5 oz baby arugula 6 oz raspberries 6 oz blackberries 8 oz strawberries, tops removed, quartered 4 oz goat cheese, crumbled ½ cup pistachios
| Preparation – Vinaigrette | In a medium bowl, whisk together pomegranate molasses, lime juice, ginger, salt and pepper until combined. Continue whisking while streaming in olive oil slowly until emulsified. Cover and store in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to allow flavors to combine.
| Preparation – Salad | In a large bowl, combine basil, mint and arugula. Add a few spoonfuls of vinaigrette and toss until coated, adding more as needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
| To Serve | Divide arugula mixture and berries evenly over 4 plates. Top each salad with goat cheese and pistachios. 26
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Inspired Food Culture
white spanish gazpacho
The term gazpacho usually conjures the image of chunky, bright red tomato-based soup. That type of gazpacho, however, is the product of evolution. The original gazpacho was void of both vibrant color and tomatoes. White gazpacho, or ajo blanco, is the oldest form of Spanish gazpacho. It was a soup made to feed field
workers, consisting of water, bread and garlic – simple sustenance. Later, almonds were added to this common dish, and from there, it continued to evolve. We have created a slightly modernized ajo blanco with the addition of a few fresh ingredients, including cauliflower, English cucumber and homemade cucumber water.
chef’s tips Savor Flavors. White gazpacho can be made one or two days in advance, as the flavors will only intensify over time. If you prepare the gazpacho ahead of time, be sure to also prepare cucumber water, as you may need it to thin out the soup slightly before serving.
DRINK UP. For more heavily infused cucumber water, prepare the water
one or two days before preparing the soup. Also, don’t be afraid to make extra, as it’s a delicious and nutritious drink on its own. Other fruits and vegetables can also be used to make infused waters.
Make the Meal Make the Meal: •W hite Spanish Gazpacho •S alt-Baked Fish •C hicken and Chorizo Paella • Flan
Learn More. In this month’s class, you’ll learn how to prepare savory
salt-baked fish. You’ll also learn how to make chicken and chorizo paella, a classic Spanish rice dish traditionally made with meat and vegetables. For dessert, you'll learn how to make flan, a popular Spanish sponge cake with sweet or savory fillings.
get hands-on: Join FEAST and Schnucks Cooks Cooking School on Wed., June 25, at 6pm to make the dishes in this month’s menu. Tickets are just $40 for a night of cooking, dining and wine. RSVP at schnuckscooks.com or call 314.909.1704.
Story and recipe by Tory Bahn and Lucy Schwetye Photography by Jennifer Silverberg
White Spanish Gazpacho Serves | 6 | Cucumber Water 1 English cucumber, quartered
lengthwise, thinly sliced 5 cups cold water Gazpacho 6 cups salted water
½ head cauliflower, cut into florets and blanched 2 slices white bread, crusts removed 1 cup almonds, blanched, slivered 3 cloves garlic 2 shallots, peeled and quartered ½ English cucumber, peeled and chopped 2 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste 2 Tbsp sherry vinegar homemade cucumber water 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil Garnish ¼ cup green grapes, thinly
¼ ¼ ¼ ¼ ¼
sliced into discs cup red or purple grapes, thinly sliced into discs cup English cucumber, thinly sliced into half moons cup almonds, sliced, toasted cup pine nuts, toasted cup fruity extra virgin olive oil
| Preparation – Cucumber Water | Cover sliced cucumber with 5 cups cold water. Allow to sit for a few hours to let water absorb cucumber flavor. | Preparation – Gazpacho | In a medium saucepot over medium heat, bring 6 cups salted water to a boil. Add cauliflower florets and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, or until soft enough that if pressed against with the side of a fork, cauliflower easily mashes. Remove from heat and strain. Rinse cauliflower under cold water until cool. Allow excess water to drain off and set aside. In a food processor, process bread into breadcrumbs. Add slivered almonds and process until similar in size to breadcrumbs. Continue this process by adding – in stages – garlic, shallots, cooked cauliflower, English cucumber and 2 tsp kosher salt. At this point, the mixture should look like a thick paste. With the food processor running, add sherry vinegar, 2 cups drained cucumber water and extra virgin olive oil. Process until smooth and about as thick as milk or half-and-half. Taste to check seasoning; add salt if needed. Remove mixture from food processor and place in a bowl or large pitcher, and cover. Refrigerate to allow flavors to develop. Serve, topped with sliced grapes, cucumber, almonds, pine nuts and a drizzle of fruity olive oil.
JUN E 2014
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Inspired Food Culture
angel food cake
one of the most american of cakes, angel food cake was invented in the 1880s, likely by a savvy baker who refused to let egg whites go to waste. these days, not many bakers are likely to have a dozen extra eggs lying around, but i’ve found the perfect excuse to utilize them in this delightfully airy summer treat. My recipe is adapted from nick Malgieri’s Perfect Cakes. Malgieri is an advocate of using all-purpose flour instead of cake flour, and i wholeheartedly agree. My method, however, is unique – most sponge cake recipes call for a gentle folding in of the flour, but i have found that using a stand mixer and pouring the flour into the whipping meringue
story and recipe by Christy Augustin photography by Cheryl Waller
is quick and easy. as long as you are careful not to over-mix the cake batter, the result will be heavenly. in total, this recipe calls for 12 large eggs – the egg whites are used in the angel food cake recipe and the egg yolks are used to make the crème anglaise. a few tips about egg whites and meringues: Fat of any kind is an enemy of whipping whites. be extra cautious when cracking and separating your eggs to not get any yolk in your whites. the fresh lemon juice is a necessary acid to bolster the egg protein for a stronger meringue. additionally, anything that comes into contact with the whites should be clean and grease-free (never butter an angel food cake pan).
Christy Augustin has had a lifelong love affair with all things sweet. After working as a pastry chef in New Orleans and St. Louis, she opened Pint Size Bakery & Coffee in Lindenwood Park in 2012. She calls herself the baker of all things good and evil. Learn more at pintsizebakery.com.
Angel Food Cake with Crème Anglaise Serves | 12 |
Angel Food CAke (yields 1 10-inch cake)
1½ 1 1½ ¼ 1 1 2
cups granulated sugar cup unbleached all-purpose flour cups egg whites tsp kosher salt Tbsp fresh lemon juice tsp pure vanilla extract Tbsp rainbow sprinkles (optional)
Crème AnglAise (yields 1½ quarts)
1 quart heavy cream pinch kosher salt 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped 2 Tbsp granulated sugar, plus 1 cup 12 egg yolks mACerAted rAspberries
1 pint fresh raspberries 2 Tbsp granulated sugar 1 Tbsp Chambord liqueur
| Preparation – Angel Food Cake | preheat oven to 325°F. combine ½ cup sugar with flour and sift three times. Using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip egg whites, salt, lemon juice and vanilla on medium-high speed until foamy and beginning to hold shape. slowly pour remaining 1 cup sugar into the whipping whites and continue whipping until soft peaks form. turn mixer to low speed and gently pour in flour and sugar mixture. add sprinkles. Mix until fully combined. spoon batter into a 10-inch pan and smooth the top. bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until cake is golden brown. the cake should spring back when pressed gently and not leave a fingerprint. invert the pan immediately, to cool the cake completely, before removing from the pan. this important step will ensure your cake does not fall. | Preparation – Crème Anglaise | in a heavy-bottomed saucepot, warm cream, salt, vanilla bean pod and seeds and 2 tbsp sugar. in a medium-sized, heat-proof bowl, whisk remaining 1 cup sugar and egg yolks until pale yellow. When dairy mixture is almost to a simmer, remove from heat and ladle into yolks while whisking vigorously. return custard base to the pot and stir with a heatproof rubber spatula over low heat. the sauce is done when it thickens slightly and leaves a path on the spatula when a finger is drawn across, about 5 minutes. do not let the custard boil. strain through a fine-mesh sieve and chill immediately.
| Preparation – Macerated Berries | combine all ingredients in a bowl and leave at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours. stir gently before serving. | To Serve | Using a serrated knife, slice cake and plate each slice in a pool of crème anglaise. top with berries and serve.
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StovEtop Grill paNS
EmEriL PrE-SEaSonEd CaST-iron 10-inCh SquarE GriLL Pan pros
Nice size, high sides and ridges, and a heavy weight. This pan has good looks and good lines. When it came up to temperature, the heat extended evenly to the edges and corners. The deep-ridged grooves prevent burgers from re-absorbing cooked fats. No stovetop splatter with this pan. cons
emeril’s very heavy pan takes a long time to heat up enough to grill on. The fine taper on the ridge fins leaves anemic grill marks. as with any castiron pan, maintenance and cleanup remain taxing and essential.
ThE oriGinaL GrEEnPan Lima 11 inCh SquarE non-STiCk CEramiC GriLL Pan pros
This big gray pan cleans up in a flash. The longer handle stays cool to the touch throughout the grilling process. cons
No grilling actually happens. Food cooks but doesn’t char, and grill marks are faint at best. The heat doesn’t reach the corners of the pan even with the gas burner at a higher heat setting. This pan should go right to a charitable resale shop. $39.99; Target, multiple locations, target.com
$24.99; Bed Bath and Beyond, multiple locations, bedbathandbeyond.com
WriTTeN by Pat Eby PhoTograPhy by Jonathan Gayman
mi PuEbLo 13-inCh ComaL dE Lámina mETaL GriddLE pros
one of the oldest stovetop grills, the Mexican comal begged to be tested. The Mi Pueblo flat disk blackened fresh peppers and toasted dried ones. it grilled meats and veggies uniformly and quickly. a slight rounding in the center makes a nice hot spot for chars. edges slope up to keep foods corralled while you grill. This is an inexpensive introduction to cooking on a comal. cons
The huge label that covers most of the comal’s surface remained stuck after repeated attempts to remove it. heating the edges with a hair dryer loosened the sticky adhesive enough to peel the label off, but a nasty residue remained. Sustained gentle rubs with paper towels and canola oil finally freed it from the griddle.
CaST-iron rEvErSibLE GriLL/GriddLE pros
This sweet pre-seasoned griddle fires up quickly, heats evenly and holds temperature even after food hits the pan. The griddle spans two burners with plenty of room to cook. Wide, flat ribs produce impressive grill marks on meat and veggies, especially on eggplant. The sizzle and pop sounds add to the grilling experience. overall best performance for a very modest price. cons
More cautions than cons. The griddle gets extremely hot and cools down slowly. handle with care. because it sits flat on the stove, it splatters the stovetop and adjoining counter. Cleanup takes elbow grease. $19.99; World Market, multiple locations, worldmarket.com
$9.59; Supermercado El Torito, 2753 Cherokee St., Cherokee Business District
Ck o ut pag e
WhaT To Look for : Heavy Metals. Cast-iron, steel, stainless-steel, aluminum, ceramic and
stovetop specs. We tested these grill pans on a gas stove. Some grill
other non-stick grill pans abound in stores and online. Cast-iron sizzled, smokin’ hot, and beat all comers for char, grill marks and for the thrill of high-heat grilling. Non-stick? Don’t waste your money.
pans aren’t suited for coil burners on electric stoves and can scratch glass cooktops, so research the product before you buy. riGHt ribs. To grill fatty burgers or meats, look for higher peaks and
GrillinG GeoMetrics. Circles, squares and rectangles – gauge the size
and shape of the cooking surface based on what foods you want to grill.
deeper hollows on the grill surface. When the ribs are too low, food ends up half-fried and half-grilled, as the hollows fill up with juice and fat.
No grill? Use a grill pan to make the chicken dish in Mystery Shopper.
Inspired Food Culture
on the shelf
top JUNE pICKS
WRITTEN BY Michael Sweeney
When he’s not writing, Matt Sorrell can be found slinging drinks at Planter’s House in Lafayette Square or bartending at events around town with his wife Beth for their company Cocktails Are Go.
new belgium brewing co.’s summer Helles
smootH ambler old scout bourbon wHiskey
Style: Helles (5% abv)
ProvenAnce: West Virginia (49.5 % abv)
AvAilAble At: Lukas Liquor Superstore, 15921
AvAilAble At: Randall’s Wines and Spirits, multiple locations, shoprandalls.com; $36.99 try it: Neat, with a splash of water, or as the base for a classic bourbon cocktail
The “big beer” industry has made lager almost unseemly for some people. Pish posh, I say. A lager is the ultimate in craftsmanship for any brewery. In the case of New Belgium, they’ve created a crisp, clean beer with a slight spicy bitterness, thanks to the noble hops. The maltiness of this golden lager is slightly grainy but never overwhelming, keeping you coming back sip after sip.
4 Hands brewing co.’s contact HigH
HocHstadter’s slow & low rock and rye ProvenAnce: Pennsylvania (42% abv)
AvAilAble At: Fields Foods, 1500 Lafayette
AvAilAble At: Lukas Liquor Superstore, 15921
Chocolate and peanut butter, eggs and bacon, hops and wheat – these are all great combinations that make people happy. There’s just something about hoppy wheat beers that makes them so enjoyable. The creaminess of the wheat blended with zippy, citrusy hops makes for a wonderfully refreshing beer. The addition of orange zest takes a standard wheat beer to a whole new level.
Prairie artisan ales’ Prairie ale Style: Saison (8.2% abv) AvAilAble At: The Wine & Cheese Place, multiple
locations, wineandcheeseplace.com; $8.99 (500-ml bottle) PAiringS: Chicken Provencal• Dutch Gouda I think we can all agree that working with your hands is a satisfying experience. A saison was once a style made for Flemish farmhands, who needed something refreshing while working in the sun. Prairie Artisan Ales out of Tulsa, Oklahoma, created a higher ABV version of this classic style, but added a bit of brettanomyces, a genus of yeast, which helps to give it a funky farmhouse aroma and a spicy, malty body.
Yet another entry in the ongoing whiskey boom, Smooth Ambler Old Scout Bourbon Whiskey is sourced from distilleries across the country, and then taken to the Smooth Ambler headquarters in West Virginia, where it’s bottled. It’s high-rye whiskey, which means there’s plenty of spice to be had, as well as a full body with hints of fruits, vanilla and tobacco. There’s also a pricier 10-year version that’s spent a little more time in oak.
Style: American Pale Wheat Ale (5% abv)
Ave., Lafayette Square, fieldsfoods.com; $9.99 (six-pack, 12-oz cans) PAiringS: Drunken noodles• Blue cheese
WRITTEN BY Matt Sorrell
The creator of stlhops.com and founder of St. Louis Craft Beer Week, Michael Sweeney is also the craft beer manager at Lohr Distributing.
Manchester Road, Ellisville, lukasliquorstl.com; $7.99 (six-pack, 12-oz bottles) PAiringS: Chicago-style hot dog• Mozzarella
Manchester Road, Ellisville, lukasliquorstl.com; $19.99 try it: In a rocks glass with a big ice cube Rock and Rye has often been referred to as the original bottled cocktail. In years past, barkeeps would take rye whiskey and add rock candy and a variety of available fruit to take the edge off of the sometimes rough frontier spirit and sweeten things up a bit. Hochstadter’s uses a recipe that harkens back to that rough-and-tumble era, which includes air-dried navel oranges and raw local honey. The taste is akin to a rye Old Fashioned, without the tang of bitters.
osocalis rare alambic brandy ProvenAnce: California (40% abv) AvAilAble At: The Wine & Cheese Place, multiple locations, wineandcheeseplace.com; $43.99 try it: In a snifter after dinner
It makes sense that California, with its abundance of vineyards, would be home to distillers making superlative brandies, in addition to vintners creating fine wines. Case in point, Osocalis: one of the first craft distilleries to set up shop in the Golden State. The company touts its juice as the result of “Old World techniques, New World fruit.” This particular spirit is a blend of brandies made with varietals including Pinot Noir, Sémillon and Colombard grapes. The result is rich, complex and fruit-forward.
WRiTTen by Kyle Harsha
Kyle Harsha is a certified specialist of wine and certified sommelier with over 20 years’ experience in the food and wine industry. He drinks more wine than he probably ought to.
MCManIs FaMIly vIneyarDs PetIte sIrah 2012 Provenance: Lodi and River Junction, California available at: Schnucks, multiple locations, schnucks.com; $11.99 Pairings: Fresh blueberries• Sweet-style barbecue sauce • italian sausage flatbread with fennel
Just because the summer heat is upon us doesn’t mean we will completely stop drinking red wine. This inky, dark cousin to Syrah is a perfect example of a wine you can drink with a steak right off the grill, or you can put some fruit, brandy and ice into it and make killer sangria. This wine is produced by a fourth-generation family and hails from the areas of California in and around Lodi. The blueberry, blackberry and plum flavors cascade out of the bottle, into the glass and over the tongue.
Juan GIl Dry MusCat 2013 Provenance: Jumilla, Spain available at: Randall’s Wines and Spirits, multiple locations, shoprandalls.com; $9.99 Pairings: Fresh guacamole• Oysters on the half shell • Ceviche
This wine is an oxymoron for a lot of people, simply because the Muscat (Moscatel in Spanish) grape is normally produced as a sweet wine. Like McManis Family Vineyards, this wine is also produced by a fourth-generation family, the Gil family, in the region of Jumilla in southeastern Spain. The Gils have fermented this delicious summer quaffer all the way through to dryness. The result is a refreshing wine with floral and white peach notes on the nose, but without the sticky sweetness that sometimes accompanies those aromas.
DoMaIne sylvaIne et alaIn norManD MâCon la roChe vIneuse 2012 Provenance: burgundy, France available at: Straub’s, multiple locations, straubs.com; $19.49 Pairings: Fish tacos• French fries• Chèvre
it’s cliché to say “buy a case, not a bottle” of wine, but in this case, it’s true. Alain normand, of Celtic and Viking ancestry, and his wife Sylvaine, from burgundy, produce this 100 percent Chardonnay at a formerly abandoned vineyard that they bought by paying the landlord in wine. About 3,000 cases are produced annually, and it is made with all native yeasts, resulting in a rustic flavor. it shows brilliant minerality, along with notes of yellow apple, white flowers and fresh straw.
Inspired Food Culture
in today’s world, we look to hollywood – or other countries’ versions of it, like bollywood – for fashion and trends, including what they’re drinking. this is not a new concept. the human race has been doing this ever since there’s been an aristocracy or higher social echelon to emulate. in the 20th and 21st centuries, hollywood has been responsible for a multitude of now-iconic drinks: the modern cosmopolitan as seen on Sex and the City, the vodka martini (or Vesper, if you’re a cocktail geek like me) as seen in James bond films, and the old Fashioneds punctuating just about every scene on Mad Men. but the first drink to be popularized by hollywood was the Moscow Mule – and it wasn’t done through movies. it was done as one of the best marketing schemes across the bar top at cock ’n bull, a popular Los angeles watering hole for many of hollywood’s elite in the 1940s. the three people laying claim to this drink are John g. Martin, a liquor and food distributor; Jack Morgan, the owner of cock ’n bull; and one
Story and recipe by Matt Seiter photography by Jonathan Gayman
of Morgan’s girlfriends, who owned a copper business. Martin was trying to sell his newly acquired product, Smirnoff Vodka. Morgan was trying to rid his inventory of an abundance of cock ’n bull housemade ginger beer. and the girlfriend, well, she just wanted to sell copper. the three of them worked together to assemble a heavy pour of Smirnoff Vodka, with lime juice and a healthy dose of ginger beer, all combined in a nifty copper mug with an engraving of a kicking mule on it. nowadays, this drink seems so simple, maybe even mundane. but back in the ’40s, not many people knew what vodka was. in fact, some of the earliest advertisements for vodka promoted it as “white whiskey” due to the popularity of whiskey. Whiskey was something with which the masses were familiar. also, no other bar was serving drinks in a cool, unique copper mug. new and creative, the Moscow Mule was all the rage, showing up on drink menus across the country – and it brought vodka along with it.
Matt Seiter is a co-founder of the United States Bartenders’ Guild’s St. Louis chapter, a member of the national board for the USBG’s MA program and a continuing educator for all desiring knowledge of the craft of mixology. He is a member of Drink Lab and a consultant at Sanctuaria.
Ju Ne 2014
Moscow Mule Serves | 1 | 2 ¾ 4
oz vodka oz lime juice oz ginger beer
| Preparation | combine all ingredients over ice in a copper mug or highball glass. Stir briefly before serving. For an exhilarating variation, add ½ oz simple syrup and 2 dashes angostura bitters. garnish with a mint sprig.
Bartender Knowledge: An Observation on Vodka the Moscow Mule was the drink that popularized vodka in the U.S. before this drink was created, vodka wasn’t all that well-known, except in communities with a larger population of eastern europeans. that’s why if you look at cocktail or bartending guides printed prior to the 1950s, you’ll find very little, if any, cocktail recipes containing vodka. in The Savoy Cocktail Book, a revered cocktail guide published in 1930 that has more than 700 drink recipes, only a mere four cocktail recipes call for vodka. that’s not even 1 percent of the drink recipes included. herein lies the historical significance of this drink: it popularized vodka for the masses, starting with the hollywood aristocracy and bleeding over into mainstream america in the 1940s. it would take almost 30 years for vodka sales to outshine all other spirits in the U.S. – 1967 was the landmark year that vodka took the top spot in spirit sales. it hasn’t looked back since. then, in the 1980s, we were introduced to flavored vodkas. the market has been flooded with all sorts of flavors ever since.
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Written by Andrew Mark Veety
pHotogrApHy by Jennifer Silverberg
Historians and aficionados may debate the origins of the hamburger, but there is no arguing that this sandwich – the humble combination of meat, ground and formed into a patty and then nestled between halves of bread – is one of, if not the quintessential American dish. While the pairing of patty and bread has been the foundation of the hamburger for more than 100 years, dozens of regional variations and styles of preparation have evolved and intermingled to create a delicious tapestry, reflecting the geographic and ethnic diversity of the land it calls home. At the same
time, the reach of the hamburger is global; its visage that of a culinary ambassador to the rest of the world, the harbinger for all that is right and wrong with American cuisine. the hamburger is utilitarian – a meal by, of and for a people whose destiny manifested itself into a state of constant movement. the hamburger is also democratic, capable of bringing together people from all walks of life and means – if only for a moment – as strangers and friends perch alongside one another on
Curious cooks should head to Deaver’s restaurant in north County, where the kitchen is turning out near-perfect burgers on a nightly basis. no-nonsense half-pound patties are seasoned with salt and pepper, charbroiled to temperature, and then customized with toppings. options abound from this neighborhood gem; however, until the day we finally master Deaver’s burger moves in our own kitchen, we’ll have a hard time passing up its classic burger, topped with earthy, funky mushrooms resting upon a bed of Swiss cheese. 2109 Charbonier road Florissant, 314.838.0002 deaversrestaurant.com
counter stools and in worn booths, partaking in the solemn act of communing with a greasy, messy and soul-satisfying burger. given the hamburger’s revered place in our collective culture – both culinary and popular – when it comes to a consensus on the idea of a “best burger,” debate rages with the fury of a Midwestern thunderstorm ripping across the landscape. passion will tend to do that. We know we’ve said it after polishing off a fantastic burger. the reality is that the idea of finding
the “best” of anything is so wrapped in finality that the act threatens to extinguish what makes finding “the best” a worthwhile endeavor, namely the journey and the search. With this in mind, Feast set out to find 10 burgers – served up in pairs of two and grouped into five distinct styles – in and around St. Louis. the result is a list of hamburgers that were not only worth seeking out and reveling in, but that also reaffirm our belief that the hamburger is one of the finest dishes to be found in all the land.
The “home” burger is just that, the burger you obsessively make at home. However, chances are the burger you make at home is at least, in part, a nod to a particular burger you’ve had while dining out and aspired to recreate for friends and family. Home burgers can come in any style, however, they tend to excel at combining the basic elements and techniques that make for a great burger, yet sometimes challenge the home cook: a burger grind approaching an 80:20 protein to fat ratio; an aggressive use of salt; a brown, flavorful crust – or grill marks from searing over heat – and spot-on temping.
Sugarfire Smoke House is so good at turning out killer barbecue, you may have missed the fact that the restaurant also excels at making top-shelf burgers. In fact, Sugarfire’s burgers remind us a bit (in spirit) of the burgers found at Midwestern roadside barbecues, where patties are grilled and then dredged through a pool of sweet and sticky barbecue sauce before serving – only much, much better. What should home chefs take note of before digging in? Thin, deftly grilled patties that are stacked tall upon request, topped with adornments, speared so they don’t fall over and served up on trays covered with butcher’s paper. And yes, bring on the barbecue sauce for this bad boy, as we think we’ve finally found a burger worthy of its application. Multiple locations sugarfiresmokehouse.com
Inspired Food Culture
Burger-concept restaurants can be misunderstood, perhaps guilty by association with the ubiquity of corporate concepts that punctuate the landscape. The reality is that these places have nothing to do with the corporate homogeneity of fast-food and fast-casual concepts. Instead, they harken back to the golden age of hamburger culture, when beloved burger joints served up well-crafted hamburgers made with high-quality ingredients, cooked up with a keen attention to detail and served to the public at reasonable prices.
Make no mistake, Steve Gontram knew what he was doing when he opened 5 Star Burgers in Clayton (and now in Kirkwood, too) â€“ and it shows. Gontram keeps the focus on patties of Midwest-raised beef, temped to perfection each and every time one is pulled from the grill. A menu of well-edited toppings shines, yet the toppings never steal the show from the burger they travel upon. Perhaps the most harmonious burger on the menu is the Breakfast of Champions â€“ creamy hollandaise, a slow-cooked jam of roasted tomato and bacon, sliced American cheese and a sunnyside-up egg just waiting to run all over the whole package. This burger proves, once again, why breakfast is the most important meal of the day, no matter what time you eat it. Multiple locations 5starburgersstl.com
JUNE MAY 2013 2014
Fans of the Burger Ink food truck celebrated the opening of The Tattooed Dog in Wentzville earlier this year, and for good reason: It captures the cool calm of a classic burger joint and delivers on the goods, especially when it comes to its Jalapener burger. The burger rocks a potent combination of spice from jalapeño jelly, pepper Jack cheese and a savory roasted garlic aïoli, each of which may contrast and compete for your attention at first, but quickly mingle together to form one of the finest sauces we’ve seen added to a hamburger in a long time. 403 Luetkenhaus Blvd., Wentzville, 636.887.2178 facebook.com/TheTattooedDog
Inspired Food Culture
Smashed burgers – also known as thin or diner-style, depending on where you are in the country – are creatures unto themselves, the product of a counterintuitive process to making a hamburger; balls of meat are tossed onto a rocket-hot griddle and then unceremoniously pressed flat until a crisp latticework of crust forms and a deep, almost candy-like flavor develops. It’s a combination that plays decidedly well with a sweet condiment, namely, a hearty squeeze of tomato ketchup.
The best seat (if you can get it) at Carl’s Drive In in Brentwood is right next to the flattop griddle, where burgers are smashed, then assembled – while still cooking, mind you – before being served up to waiting guests who are busy sipping from frosted mugs of homemade root beer. A single patty works well for first timers and kids, but in-the-know diners tend to order doubles or triples to ensure every bite is full of crispy, caramelized, smashed-burger goodness. 9033 Manchester Road, Brentwood 314.961.9652
JUNE MAY 2013 2014
Bite into Gordon’s Stoplight DriveIn’s Quadzilla in the June episode of Feast TV!
If stacking patties upon patties is your thing, then a trip down Interstate 55 to Crystal City is required to partake of the Quadzilla from Gordon’s Stoplight Drive-In. Burgers at Gordon’s are smashed to a quarter-inch thickness and then, upon request, laid over a bed of cooking onions that release a heady, sweet perfume into the burger as it finishes searing. The process creates a noticeable doming effect in the patties as they cook, that lasts until they are stacked one, two, three and, finally, four high and topped with the most classic of drive-in burger combinations: sliced American cheese, sour pickles, crisp lettuce and a generous helping of ketchup and mayonnaise. 500 Bailey Road, Crystal City 636.937.9678
Inspired Food Culture
Fancy burgers may be the overachievers of the burger world, but dining out would be a bit less interesting if they didn’t exist. The hallmarks of these gourmet hamburgers are customblended patties of house-ground prime cuts of beef and toppings that range from the classic to the downright exotic. And the kicker? The elements that make up a fancy burger are usually painstakingly, lovingly made in-house – more than justifying their sometimes lofty price tags.
It is best to arrive at Annie Gunn’s in Chesterfield around 11am when the restaurant opens, and grab a seat at the bar before the dining room fills up with a well-heeled lunchtime crowd. The kitchen offers up a roster of high-end burgers, but diners should feel confident opting for the appropriately named Classic: a thick patty of prime steak – ground cuts of strip, rib, tenderloin and brisket – mixed with sugar-cured pork belly that is expertly grilled to temperature, and then sandwiched between halves of tender brioche. 16806 Chesterfield Airport Road, Chesterfield, 636.532.7684 anniegunns.com
JUNE MAY 2013 2014
The hamburger at Truffles in Ladue is delivered tableside on a cutting board rimmed with a reservoir that was designed for catching drippings of carved meat, or perhaps for foreshadowing just how much juice and fat this gourmet hamburger of prime beef throws off as it is eaten. The end result is a burger that you blissfully chomp away at in a rapid succession of bites, a manner that may seem a bit undignified for such a refined setting. That is until you look up and notice your server nodding in knowing agreement, assuring you that you are, indeed, doing it right. 9202 Clayton Road, Ladue, 314.567.9100, todayattruffles.com
Inspired Food Culture
Pub burgers are the stuff of weekday nights, when time is better spent digging into a hamburger that is short on pretense and big on flavor than dedicated to the preparation of a post-work meal. For many, great pub burgers are the dominion of a favorite neighborhood joint, an association of familiarity, akin to donning a favorite cozy sweatshirt. However, if you eat enough of them, you’ll agree that pub burgers are far from being created equal.
The long-revered pub burger at O’Connell’s Pub in Shaw is not only an institution, it is a thing of beauty; this thick patty of “chopped sirloin,” liberally salted and grilled to a crusty perfection, carries the scent of the thousands upon thousands of burgers that graced the flames of the Gaslight Square throwback before it. This is a burger-lover’s hamburger, served up on a shamrocked and monogrammed paper plate, and at its best when adorned sparingly with a schmear of mayonnaise, thick slices of raw onion and tangy Cheddar cheese. 4652 Shaw Ave., Shaw 314.773.6600
JUNE MAY 2013 2014
Traditionally, the patty is ground beef, ground from trimmings – when burgers are really good, the patty is a custom blend of prime cuts – and grilled or seared over high heat. The best hamburgers approach (or exceed) a ratio of 80:20 percent meat to fat, and are seasoned aggressively with salt right before cooking.
Often overlooked, the bun has the important job of holding things together from the first bite to the last. The classic is a roll of enriched white bread, but German kaiser and French brioche, well-toasted, are perfect burger bun options, too.
Lettuce, onion, pickles and tomato are standards, but the options for topping a burger are only limited by the imagination. A general guideline is that a topping is not the star of the burger (that is the patty), but should add to the whole by playing along with all the parts, hitting notes of sweet, sour, savory and spicy.
In stark contrast to – but not in the shadow of – the burger from O’Connell’s is the unabashedly gratuitous barnyard of a hamburger known affectingly as the Hog Burger from Quincy Street Bistro in Princeton Heights. A mix of beef, pork and chef Rick Lewis’ housemade bacon are ground daily and formed into a potent delivery device for a nest of sweet, caramelized onion and a slathering of pimento cheese, which oozes out the sides and onto your hands with each bite. Extra napkins are a must. 6931 Gravois Ave., Princeton Heights 314.353.1588 quincystreetbistro.com
CHECk IT OuT!
Feast extra Visit feastSTL.com to vote for your favorite burger in each of the five styles featured here. Inspired Food Culture
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Inspired Food Culture
If you ever get the chance to meet Mike Mills, itâ€™s with absolute certainty that you will be fed.
mike mills vs. the smoke eaters
WRITTEN By Brandon Chuang PhOTOgRAPhy By Gregg Goldman
in the pantheon of food culture, you’d be hard pressed to find anything as universally popular and beloved as barbecue. Barbecue’s status atop the sushi and street tacos of the world stems from one thing: its simplicity. Barbecue doesn’t demand a laundry list of ingredients; it doesn’t take a complicated set of directions and procedures that only a CIAtrained chef could convincingly accomplish. All barbecue is, in its soul, is meat, wood and fire – more specifically and more commonly, beef or pork, wood and fire. But if barbecue legend Mike Mills hands you a chicken wing as his first offering of barbecue, you make damn sure to eat it. Murphysboro, Illinois, is a small town. It’s the kind of town that highways tend to ignore; the kind where unique businesses – say, a combination hardware and pet store – can not only exist, but survive. According to the 2010 census, 7,970 people call Murphysboro home. And amidst the stores peddling goldfish and Allen wrenches, right on 17th Street, sits 17th Street Barbecue.
PICTURED, LEFT AND ABOVE: Racks of ribs stacked in the smoker; Mike Emerson (center), owner of Pappy’s Smokehouse, with Mike Mills.
Inspired Food Culture
PICTURED: Amy Mills seasoning
fresh cuts of meat with her father’s signature Magic Dust dry rub seasoning; Mike Mills cleaning chicken in one of 17th Street’s kitchens.
ThaT’s whaT we do here. we build flavors.
If you were driving down 17th Street in Murphysboro, there’s a fair chance you’d gloss over 17th Street Barbecue, possibly passing it up for the remodeled Dairy Queen up the street. The building itself isn’t much to look at: a basic rectangular structure with grayed siding and neon beer signs glowing in the windows. It’s honestly not that impressive. But what’s inside the building is: a smoke-ringed combination of ribs, brisket, pork shoulder and more, which many people far more accredited than you or I consider to be the best barbecue in the country.
proprietary seasoning rub. Magic Dust, he calls it. “Try it now,” he commands. I do. It tastes like better chicken. Grabbing yet another wing from the smoker, Mills places it onto a pan and tells me he’ll be right back. He returns to say he’s placed it on a grill out back. In a few minutes, a grill-marked wing makes its way back to me – my third, and I haven’t even been in Murphysboro for 30 minutes. “Try that.” I do.
If you ever get the chance to meet Mike Mills, it’s with absolute certainty that you will be fed. Within 10 minutes of shaking the man’s hand, he’s placed a chicken wing in mine. “I want you to eat that straight,” says Mills in his graveled tone. Even his voice is smoked – a result, surely, of the Marlboro Reds saddled comfortably in his front shirt pocket. “See what it tastes like fresh out of the smoker.” I do. It tastes like chicken, albeit pretty good chicken. Mills then grabs another chicken wing out of the smoker, this time shaking on some of his
Goddammit. “That,” says Mills, smiling. “That’s what we do here. We build flavors.” If you literally look past the humble exterior of 17th Street, you’ll see a giant warehouse. It’s hard to miss, because it spans the entire length of the block. Inside of this warehouse, you’ll find many things, all affiliated with Mills’ barbecue kingdom. The front houses office space for Mills and his staff, led by his daughter and co-owner of the business, Amy. Further in are two large banquet rooms with giant light-up signs that spell out
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PICTURED: Mike Mills adds pieces of wood to one of the restaurant’s large smokers; The entrance to 17th Street has fun with its signboard; Mills checks on meat cooking in the smoker from inside one of 17th Street’s kitchens.
... three giant built-in smokers the size of fiats. words and phrases like “SQUEAL” and “PRAISE THE LARD.” Upstairs is storage space – tons and tons of storage space – filled with everything from football helmets to old cash registers. “I’m not a hoarder,” Mills jokes. “I’m a collector.” In another corner sit trophies, all collected from barbecue competitions past – and it’s not even all of them. The man has won so many barbecue awards he sincerely doesn’t know what to do with them all, so he shoves them into storage next to cases of never-opened jock straps (“My brother bought a sporting goods store that was going out of business,” says Mills). But in the center of all this… stuff, on the ground floor, in the heart of the warehouse, sit Mills’ tools: three giant built-in smokers the size of Fiats.
They’re each named, of course. Black Betty is the massive smoker in the front kitchen (yes, Mills has several kitchens), and he’s got two more in the back kitchen: Smokey and Bandit, naturally. This doesn’t include his armada of mobile smokers: the stand-alones and pull-behinds that he arms for various off-site events. Touring his facility and seeing smokers everywhere, there’s no telling exactly how many smokers the man possesses, but it’s easily in the high teens, if not higher. “I’ve got a few,” he chuckles. Mills has been around smokers and barbecue for what seems like forever. Having grown up in a family that loved to barbecue, Mills took to it early on. “I grew up with barbecue,” he says. “I can remember standing in my crib, my dad outside barbecuing. I
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Inspired Food Culture
Mike Mills has quietly built a culinary giant, a barbecued colossus built on golden 8-foot-tall trophies.
would holler until my mom came in and raised the blind so I could see what he was doing. I could smell the smoke.” Having grown up in Murphysboro, Mills took to making barbecue the Murphysboro way. “We have orchards all around us,” explains Mills. “So when I needed wood, I used the wood we had a lot of.” Though Mike Mills might not admit it, he’s a driving factor behind why you can find apple, wild cherry and other fruitwoods in nearly any store that sells barbecue-related paraphernalia. Before Mills, the popular woods of choice for most pit masters were heavier, smokier woods like mesquite and hickory. The lighter woods that Mills was using were looked down upon – smoke, after all, is flavor. “I’ve always thought of smoke as an ingredient,” says Mills. “To me, it’s just part of the equation. You still want to taste the meat.” While people might have shunned Mills’ fruitwood barbecue at first, they didn’t for long – especially
when he started winning barbecue competitions with his team, Apple City Barbecue. However, for most, only one competition matters. The World Championship BBQ Contest occurs over a single weekend every year during Memphis in May, a month-long festival of music, food and culture in Memphis, Tennessee. While the festivities are many and varied, nearly everyone identifies Memphis in May with the barbecue competition. If it’s any indication of its import, the competition also goes by the nickname “the Super Bowl of Swine.” Some of the best pit masters from around the country come to Memphis to compete year in and year out. Few win. Mills has won seven times. It’s part of the reason Mills has a Rolodex of barbecue restaurants under his command, including two restaurants in Las Vegas (Memphis Championship Barbecue), and two in southern
Illinois (17th Street in Murphysboro and Marion, respectively). Originally, Mills was uncertain about expanding to Marion. “As an excuse, I told them I couldn’t come because they didn’t have a 17th Street,” admits Mills about the situation. So the mayor of Marion built a 17th Street for Mike Mills and his barbecue. The praise and accolades keep coming for Mills. Bon Appétit magazine anointed 17th Street Barbecue as having the best ribs in America. Food & Wine magazine recently said it has the best wings (yes, those wings) in America, too, which is odd, considering 17th Street Barbecue is, well, a barbecue joint. But that’s when you realize, 17th Street Barbecue isn’t really just a barbecue joint. That’s when you realize the place, until recently, didn’t even have the word “barbecue” in its name. And you start to look a bit closer. You see the Formica tables and the old oaken bar,
but you also see the pimento cheese appetizer on the menu that’s made from scratch. You notice that even though Mike Mills gave you ribs, he gave you much more in wings and fried pickles and pork steaks – things that normally do not a barbecue restaurant make. And finally, now, as Mills lovingly guilts you into eating yet another piece of food, with his primary argument being temperature loss (“eat it before it gets cold”), you realize that Mike Mills isn’t so much a world champion barbecuer, but a man at peace. In this humble location in a humble town of 7,970 people, Mike Mills has quietly built a culinary giant, a barbecued colossus built on golden 8-foot-tall trophies. His talents have brought him everywhere from Memphis to Manhattan, where he helped shape the vision for Blue Smoke, the barbecue restaurant owned by famous restaurateur and St. Louis native, Danny Meyer. “Mike’s baby backs put a huge smile on my face,”
Building an EmpirE The barbecue kingdom that Mike Mills oversees wasn’t built on meat alone. The man has crafted his signature flavors based on three time- and patron-tested cornerstones.
While Mills’ explanation for why he first began using wood from apple, peach and other fruit trees is humble, the results speak for themselves. Extruding far less smoke than more traditional, harder woods, fruitwoods lend a much milder flavor to smoking, meaning the pork on your plate still tastes like pork.
The ingredients list of Mills’ all-purpose seasoning reads like a free-verse poem for the hungry: salt, sugar, paprika, secret spices. What it tastes like, is barbecue in dry form: a smoky salinity that sees itself onto everything from brisket and ribs to chicken wings and pork rinds.
Mills’ barbecue sauce is as old as, if not older than, the war – as in the World War. The first one. What began as a passed-down family recipe, which saw his mother selling it by the gallon to feed her five children, has become its own self-sustaining industry, driving the creation of a bottling facility next door to Mills’ Murphysboro restaurant so his team can make the Memphis in May-winning recipe on-site.
says Meyer. “I’ve never seen anyone have an argument while eating them.” Today, Mills continues to run his successful restaurants across the country. He cultivates his ever-growing mail-order business and nurtures the company’s barbecue consulting agency, OnCue Consulting, all in partnership with his daughter/PR director, Amy. Tomorrow, or in the very near future, he plans on opening a saucebottling facility next door to the restaurant and warehouse in Murphysboro, adding several much appreciated jobs to the small community. “I’m from here, so I want to give back to here. I want to see my town succeed.” In fact, Mills says he wants to see everyone succeed, his barbecue competition included. “I don’t want you to open across the street from me, but there’s room enough for everyone.” Granted, this is a bit like LeBron James saying that it’s
cool for you to play basketball too, but still; the important thing is that Mike Mills actually believes what he’s saying. He welcomes new barbecue restaurants with open arms – hell, his barbecue consulting agency’s main purpose is to help start new barbecue restaurants that aren’t his. And when he feeds you fried pickles and pimento cheese and pork steaks instead of the barbecue you expected when you came here, he knows exactly what he’s doing. For Mills, there are no more fights to fight, mainly because he’s won them all. In the end, Mike Mills knows that you know he knows barbecue. He doesn’t have to tell you or make you eat it. You want to eat it. So go, fill up on all the nontraditional items at 17th Street. Try all the non17th-Street barbecue joints that you want. Sample their sauces. Eat the smoke. You’ll still come back for the ribs and chicken and anything else Mike Mills and company come up with. They all do.
Travel to Murphysboro, Illinois, and meet Mike and Amy Mills in the June episode of Feast TV.
PICTURED, FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Mike Mills surrounded by one-third of his trophies; A spice shaker filled with Magic Dust, Mill’s dry rub seasoning; Sliced beef sausage links covered in 17th Street’s barbecue sauce; Pulled pork sandwich; 17th Street’s wings, named the best in the country by Food & Wine magazine.
Written by Shannon Cothran and Liz Miller
photography by Jonathan Gayman
brilliant yellow-orange flames dance just above the charcoal pit, a seasonâ€™s worth of ash and embers collecting in the pan below. The heat coming off the grill creates a haze almost like a watercolor painting, a phenomenon that occurs when cool and warm air mingle as one. If you get too close to the pit, waves of smoke will make your eyes water and the back of your throat sting. The air is thick and hazy, filled with the aroma of burning wood and cooking meat. For many, this conjures memories of warm summer weekends spent outdoors, backyard barbecuing with family and friends around the grill, cold drinks on ice and ball games playing on the radio. Far across the country and here in St. Louis, it connects people to the shared experience of charcoal grilling. It just so happens that Missouri is the No. 1 producer of charcoal in the U.S., with almost a century of history tied to the industry. Deftly entrepreneurial, American industrialist Henry Ford opened a charcoal plant in Belle, Missouri, in the early 1900s as a way to make money from the leftover wood scraps from his Model T plants. Charcoal not only plays a role in our regionâ€™s history, it connects us
more broadly to cultures and food traditions across the globe. In the grilling world, two types of charcoal exist: lump and briquette. Lump is traditionally made with 100 percent wood that’s charred in a kiln for several days to cook out sugars, tars, liquors – anything that isn’t carbon. Briquette charcoal is made with a combination of sawdust, char dust, an ignition or lighting agent, starch as a binding agent and an ashwhitening agent such as lime. Much of it is filler.
also something of a Renaissance man. A helicopter pilot by trade, he is also a real estate agent, a father of four, husband, barbecue enthusiast, martial artist and, most recently, the man responsible for the newest wave of Missouri charcoal. Heslop began his journey toward charcoal-making because, when he wants something, he gets it – even if that means manufacturing it himself.
“Briquettes have a place; it was a genius way to get rid of sawdust. But [grilling] aficionados don’t use them,” says Jonathan Heslop, the developer and owner of The Saint Louis Charcoal Co., producers of Rockwood Charcoal. Rockwood bags are filled with large, fist-sized pieces of shiny black charcoal that look like a cross between wood and a semi-precious stone. Each piece is a different size and shape, in sharp contrast to the uniformity of pressed briquettes.
Heslop shares only one of his many interests with his father, Jim: grilling. They’ve been bonding over grills since Heslop’s childhood, and though they’ll grill anything, burgers are their favorite, followed closely by seafood. Years ago, Heslop’s father returned home to St. Louis from a business trip in Atlanta with a Big Green Egg in tow. Big Green Eggs are kamado-style grills, which are Japaneseinspired, egg-shaped cookers made of ceramic that allow cooks to use one device for cooking with very high or very low temperatures. At that time, “nobody knew what they were,” says Heslop. “It needed lump charcoal. And we had a hard time finding a good source for it – a consistent source.”
It’s no surprise that Heslop has never been a fan of briquettes for grilling, because, in all things, he is a purist. He does not drink alcohol, soda, coffee or tea. He does not smoke. He is intent on putting only natural things in his body. He is
Then, and now, the Heslops were true barbecue connoisseurs. They wanted charcoal that would impart just the right amount of smoky flavor into their meat every time they grilled, which is difficult to find. The majority of lump charcoals are made from many different types of
wood, which offer a different smoke flavor and intensity with each bag.
Heslop was back to square one, but this time he came up with a different plan.
They had a good source for a short time in the early 2000s, and whenever they spotted their favorite brand in a store, they would buy every bag. Fortuitously, several years ago, Heslop was flying a helicopter over southern Missouri and, by a stroke of luck, flew over the plant that made his favorite charcoal. “I started buying it off the dock, straight from the source,” he recalls. “I was buying it for much cheaper than from the store. This was about 2007 or 2008. I’m buying it for my dad and I, and suddenly [for] neighbors and co-workers, because everyone loved it.”
“I needed another source,” says Heslop. “I had enough retail interest from people who contacted me and wanted a bag and a brand. I thought it was a good investment, so I started a charcoal company.
Soon, Heslop’s annual trips to stock up on charcoal became monthly, then weekly treks, and before long, there were so many people interested in using the charcoal, he needed a truck to haul it all back to St. Louis. It took extra time and effort, but Heslop was simply grateful to have a source of quality lump charcoal to fuel his grill. Abruptly, it all ended when a national company bought and closed the plant.
“I wanted that consistent, neutral smoke flavor, so I could control the flavor, and I could add my own woods myself to control the amount of smoke. I wanted a high-carbon charcoal that I could control the heat and longevity of. Folks like me, that use the Green Eggs and the kamado-style smokers, want big chunks of charcoal. Because of the way the charcoal settles in those things, we have to have big pieces. Some brands, you get large pieces in one bag, and the next bag is pea gravel because they stack it too high and crush the charcoal.” With Rockwood, Heslop not only has his own supply of consistent, top-quality lump charcoal, he’s also found a new mission in life: to make Missouri synonymous with good charcoal, just as California is synonymous with raisins and Idaho with potatoes. Someday, he
says, he wants to hear people refer to Missouri charcoal the same way they refer to Wisconsin cheese, Washington apples and Florida oranges. Missouri already manufactures three-quarters of the barbecue charcoal used in the U.S., and considering the state’s rich history with producing charcoal, Heslop knows he doesn’t have far to go to get Missouri charcoal on the map. It’s all a question of producing the best charcoal around. “What we try to concentrate on is making sure the product is consistent,” says Heslop. “There are a lot of other brands where you open the bag, and you don’t know if you’re getting what came from a good kiln or a bad plant. Ours comes from the same trees, same kilns – you know you’re going to get the same product every time. There’s a lot of good charcoal out there, but we get it to [consumers] the same every time.” Rockwood is different from other lump charcoals because of how it is manufactured. Its charcoal begins with scrap pieces of Missouri hardwood, including oak, maple and hickory. This wood comes from trees harvested by other companies for furniture or flooring, and anything that can’t be used by those companies,
like the knots and edges, is purchased by The Saint Louis Charcoal Co. This wood is taken to a plant located in Shannon County, Missouri, where, after drying for about six months, roughly one dozen employees load it into a kiln that looks like a munitions bunker from a World War II movie. Workers light a low fire underneath the hardwood and close the doors of the kiln. Small air holes up and down its sides allow it to regulate oxygen. After four or five days, they extinguish the fire and the charcoal is left to cool for another few days. After careful sifting, the large pieces are bagged, carefully stacked and distributed, and soon after, used in grills across the region.
these green methods, “because it’s ultimately going into your body,” explains Heslop. The purist in him wouldn’t have it any other way. “You wouldn’t cook over gasoline. Why would you cook over a briquette when the natural product is right there? And the natural product performs so much better than briquettes.” Heslop says he’s not a polluter, but neither is he a staunch environmentalist: “Lump charcoal [is] just where it’s at,” he shrugs. “We didn’t set out to produce a green product, but in this case, it just worked out that the best product is fully green. And that makes it all the much better that we can produce the best product with a low carbon footprint.”
Rockwood Charcoal is also an environmentally friendly product. The Saint Louis Charcoal Co. complies with EPA standards by using a chimney stack with an afterburner to burn any particulates, so the smoke from its kilns is clean and has low odor. Also, Heslop says, “We don’t take down a single tree. We take our product from something that would otherwise be thrown away. Then, everything we don’t use gets sold to a briquette company. The only trash left over is the ash, which can be composted. Even the bag is purposely made with soy ink, so when you use it to start your fire, it’s not going to produce a weird smell.” The company’s charcoal is made using
Naked Whiz, a website founded by Doug Hanthorn, has done for charcoal what Consumer Reports does for cars. On nakedwhiz.com, Rockwood Charcoal reigns supreme, rated No. 1 for more than a year – almost as long as the product has been on the market. Hanthorn writes about Rockwood: “What we have here is a charcoal that…has very mild smoke but burns forever with little ash. You get a charcoal that doesn’t overpower food, allowing you to control the smoke flavor yourself, with chips or chunks, and a charcoal that burns a good long time, producing little ash and delivering good value for [your] money.” Many avid readers of Naked Whiz
can’t get Rockwood Charcoal in their area, despite the company’s distribution network in locations across the country. These charcoal aficionados band together to buy Rockwood Charcoal as a group, getting a shipping quote from Heslop, which reminds him of the hoops he used to jump through to procure his favorite charcoal. As he delves into this new industry, Heslop isn’t just out to make a dime; he’s also happy to have a product he loves to use and to be a part of something bigger: the tradition of home barbecuing. “While it [can be a] pain to ship small orders [now], it’s the spirit. It’s what I did and what I need to do to help [people] get good charcoal. I made some of my best friends through charcoal,” Heslop says. “I delivered charcoal to their houses, and then I’m going to their weddings – and they’re at mine. Charcoal brings people together [and] I help facilitate that. It’s an honor to help facilitate that.”
Take a trip to the plant and see how the charcoal is made in the June episode of Feast TV.
WRITTeN BY Shannon Cothran
the great grilling challenge with rockwood charcoal Before grilling with Rockwood Charcoal at home, I had no experience grilling with lump charcoal. In the past, I had always piled briquettes inside the grill and blanketed them in lighter fluid, before striking a match. So I was unprepared when I read the lighting instructions for Rockwood, which call for a bit more work. The Saint Louis Charcoal Co. believes in cooking over only all-natural components, meaning no lighter fluid. Its website provides lighting instructions for Rockwood Charcoal, which, because it does not contain chemical additives to help it ignite, needs special equipment for lighting. There are different ways for lighting the charcoal in different grill styles. My Weber grill needs a traditional chimney starter, an electric starting coil or an all-natural starting stick. After meeting with Jonathan Heslop, I couldn’t wait to use his product. After picking up three pounds of chicken drumsticks and roasted garlic olive oil at the Tower Grove Farmers’ Market, I was ready to get the experiment underway.
Once the lumps were lit in the grill, the charcoal burned slowly and hot, glowing bright white with a red beating heart at the center of the pile. The smoke was very mild and light-colored, almost clear, and it didn’t sting my eyes or char the back of my throat the way that burning briquettes does. The aroma of the charcoal burning is difficult for me to describe, as it’s unlike anything else I’ve experienced. The scent of pure, burning carbon was like a diluted version of a campfire and made my mouth water before any food had touched the grate. The meat also cooked differently. The heat must have been consistent and even, because my roasted-garlic-oiled and salted drumsticks cooked evenly, and were tender and done on the inside, with crispy, crunchy skin on the outside. The smoke from the charcoal saturated the meat thoroughly, giving it a mild woodsy taste. And cleanup was a breeze, as there was very little ash left over. After eating meat grilled over Rockwood Charcoal, I can proudly say that I’m a lump charcoal convert.
where to buy
Rockwood Charcoal is available for purchase in select retailers throughout the region and country – from Colorado to Texas to New York – as well as on the company’s website, rockwoodcharcoal.com. In the greater St. Louis area, more than 20 local stores sell Rockwood Charcoal, including the 10 featured below.
baumann’s fine meats, 8829 Manchester Road, Brentwood, 314.968.3080, baumannsfinemeats.com fields foods, 1500 Lafayette Ave., Lafayette Square, 314.241.3276, fieldsfoods.com john’s butcher shoppee, multiple locations, johnsbutchershoppee. com kenrick’s meats & catering, 4324 Weber Road, Affton, 314.631.2440, kenricks. com local harvest grocery, 3108 Morgan Ford Road, Tower Grove, 314.865.5260, localharvestgrocery.com mateker’s meat market & catering, 11642 Concord Village Ave., Sappington, 314.842.4100, matekers.com randall’s wines and spirits, multiple locations, shoprandalls.com smokehouse market/annie gunn’s, 16806 Chesterfield Airport Road, Chesterfield, 636.532.3314, smokehousemarket.com sonnenberg landscaping materials and supplies, 1460 Frank Scott Parkway W., Belleville, Illinois, 618.398.0838, sonnenberglandscaping.com straub’s, multiple locations, straubs.com
TV Watch the upcoming June episode on the Nine Network (Channel 9) at 2pm on Sat., June 7, and 1pm on Mon., June 9. Feast TV will also air on the nineCREATE channel periodically throughout the month.
In June, we celebrate the best of summertime eating. Head down to southern Missouri for a rare look at how Rockwood Charcoal goes from 100-percent hardwood to your barbecue pit. Grab a stool at Gordon’s Stoplight Drive-In, where generations of customers have enjoyed the same menu since 1948. Go into the pits with 17th Street Barbecue’s Mike Mills and get a step-by-step look at how he makes barbecue magic, then find out what it was like for 17th Street Barbecue’s Amy Mills to grow up with a barbecue legend and how she got into the family business.
Loaded WITH Flavor!
H S E R F MADE TORE IN-S Our juicy, delicious loaded burgers, full of fresh ingredients like mushrooms, peppers and bacon, are made fresh in-store by our butchers.
Feast TV is presented by Missouri Wines with additional support from Whole Foods Market and Roth Living.
Choose from a variety of signature combinations like Blacken Blue, Jalapeno Jack, Philly-Style, Portobello, Garden Turkey and more. Plus, we have Bacon Cheddar sliders that are sized just right for weeknight dinners or parties. Savor the flavor all summer!
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Inspired Food Culture
square beyond compare Written by Thomas Crone photography by Jonathan Gayman
provel is a distinctly “st. louis taste.” it’s an exclusive style found, ahem, squarely in our region, atop the thin-crusted pies that define
it’s said that certain topics aren’t meant to be discussed in polite company. Religion and politics, for example, are best left for friend-only settings. Discussing how to raise children and pets is also a general “no-no.” And while those might be universals, within any particular region, there are certain topics that can cause a bit of disturbance. In St. Louis, there’s a reasonably predictable list of conversation starters and stoppers. Whether you’re in the confines of a smoky bar, gathered around a table at a church’s trivia night or standing along the sidelines of a youth soccer game, you can always get a discussion fired up by discussing city-county unification, the future of the Rams and Provel cheese. The latter, of course, is a product inextricably tied to the pizza chain that prominently features it: Imo’s Pizza, which is currently celebrating 50 years in business. The blended offspring of provolone, Swiss and Cheddar, Provel is a distinctly “St. Louis taste,” according to many. It’s an exclusive style found, ahem, squarely in our region, atop the thincrusted pies that define Imo’s pizza. Steve Conway’s about as St. Louis as they come. He’s a longtime representative on the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, whose father served as the city’s mayor. For the past nine years, he’s also been the chief financial officer of Imo’s Pizza, a job that allows him a unique look at the company’s place in local culinary lore. People’s reactions to the Provelicious pizza usually involves a “first-time” story and Conway’s place on the Imo’s management team ensures that he has one. “What I remember as a child was when the first Imo’s opened up in the neighborhood I grew up in,” Conway says. “At that point in time, the only place I’d ever had pizza was at a restaurant named Pagliacci’s at Manchester Avenue and Kingshighway Boulevard. One day, my dad came home with a pizza delivered in a paper bag. Those [early
pizza} bags were pretty good; they let a lot of steam out.” That said, “[pizzas] were hard to stack in those bags.”
John Imo, one of six Imo children who collaborate in running 13 restaurants, says that the original location sold only pizza and soda pop until 1968 or so. By the mid-’70s, the growing chain added sandwiches, pastas and other items to the menu. That first location, likely the one that Conway’s dad patronized, could be found at the corner of Shaw and Thurman avenues in the Shaw neighborhood. The Imos shoehorned their original location alongside a grocery, a barbershop and at least one more storefront, eventually taking over the entire structure. Though the building is no longer an Imo’s location, founders Ed and Marge Imo still own it, as well as one operating Imo’s location, the landmark restaurant at Oakland and Hampton avenues on the city’s west side. These days, not too many St. Louis kids are far from their local Imo’s, which now number 90-plus locations, with all but 12 found in our immediate region. While founders Ed and Marge Imo still maintain an interest in a couple of specific shops, their franchising plan has brought about the omnipresence of their very particular, very peculiar brand of pizza pies.
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He admits that, “there are still a couple of blank spaces out there. When there’s an open spot, it’s usually given to stores that might overlap into an area, with a location that’s not connected to either store. What we don’t want to do is open a store next to someone’s territory, unless they don’t want to [go in themselves]. We want to give all stores opportunities.”
“All Imo’s [locations] are locally owned businesses,” he says. “There are no corporate stores. I do believe that our employees feel a closeness, a collective sense of being part of a team.”
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“The growth plan, right now, is that we continue to allow franchisees to expand,” says Conway. “The expansion, given the current state of the economy, is to allow all current owners to expand into adjacent territories. For example, we’ve recently opened two Imo’s [locations] in convenience gas stations – one in Chesterfield and one in Imperial.”
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Adds John Imo, “It’s how my parents operated and always pounded [it] into my head. They always took care of their help, always treated them as they wanted to be treated. Everything always seemed to circle around that philosophy and the franchisees saw that happening over the years and adopted it.”
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Inspired Food Culture
how’d those square cuts come to be? the story is that ed imo was staring at tiles on the floor all day. so when he went to work at night, he still had
squares on his mind.
was a new thing. think of the mindset of 1964 and people thinking, “you’re going to cook dinner and bring it to me?”
her introduction to the pizza vividly. “I had my first bite of Imo’s at a Webster [University] dance and nearly vomited. But time heals all wounds, and I came to love Provel,” says Smillie. “For my birthday this year [my husband] Chris ordered some frozen Imo’s pizza. I can’t share it with my Michigan friends. They’d never understand. I wouldn’t really share anyway.” She says that longtime franchise owner Mike Prosperi was an adherent to team-building long before that term came into vogue. “I can’t speak to other Imo’s [locations],” Smillie says, “but Prosperi fostered a real sense of family at his locations. We were a ragtag group – both behind the counter and leaning on it by the beer taps. We had fun. A lot, a lot of fun.” Spike Gillespie, an Austin, Texas, writer and wedding officiant, was one of Smillie’s co-workers at the freewheeling Webster location. Her memories closely mirror those of her friend Smillie, saying of her own introduction to the local favorite, “As for the flavor, being a Jersey girl who grew up with ‘real’ pizza, I think I initially scoffed [at] the whole Provel-on-[a]-cracker concept. I mean, what the hell is Provel? That’s not real cheese. Of course, I got addicted. I think I ate a mini every day of the last six months I was pregnant. (I wasn’t in St. Louis the first three months.) Imo’s pizza was [my son] Henry’s first solid food. I still love and miss the kooky, melty, sort-of-plasticky-but-not-at-allplasticky taste.” As with Smillie, Gillespie remembers the good times. “I loved working there, Webster and Kirkwood, but especially Webster. There was that sense of family you very often get in restaurant work, but more so. Maybe because, in my case, I worked there with my actual family, [my then boyfriend] Michael and his siblings, and then, when [our son] Henry was born, we brought him in all the time. But I felt family kinship with many people there. I also laughed a lot. Prosperi was/is something else.”
by the numbers:
Dogtown resident Mark Rolf has spent the last decade in the banking game, but he clocked in numerous hours with Imo’s in the decade prior. He’s intimately familiar with the Imo’s family, having worked at the founders’ own restaurant at Hampton and Oakland, eventually managing that restaurant. His answer to what the family and restaurant mean to this city is a remarkably St. Louis-centric response. “I know Marge, Ed and their four youngest children [John, Carol, Carl and Mary],” he says. “Mary was one of [my sister] Jenny’s close friends at St. Ambrose [on The Hill]. Having worked in different capacities for them for at least 10 years, I can say that the family is truly great. They are all genuine people who have gone out of their way to help me in life. Marge and Ed raised their kids the right way. Both John and Carl took me under their wings when I was 15 or 16, and I really enjoyed working with and for them. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Carol not smiling or in a good mood. Mary was probably one of my first crushes in grade school, and same with her about always smiling, laughing and in a good mood. A great family, great pizza. And I’m happy Imo’s Pizza has been around 50 years.”
st. louis takes the square
just as when you have a first taste of Scotch. You drink it a little more, you acquire the taste.”
On a recent Saturday afternoon, the historic Imo’s location at Hampton and Oakland was humming. An overcast sky might have been cutting down on visitors from nearby Forest Park, thus paring down the pizza parlor’s customer base, too. While not overwhelmed, workers were still buzzing through the front of the house, clad in their signature red T-shirts, the phrase, “Peace. Love. Provel.” scrawled across their backs. About 40 customers were dining inside the restaurant, at least one-third of them kids; a few taking turns faux-playing the old-school Ms. Pac-Man game near the counter. It was a pretty wholesome scene. And while the Imo’s menu contains a variety of non-pizza items – primarily pastas and salads – there wasn’t a table in the place that didn’t order one of its famous pies. Imo says that, “if you drew a ring around St. Louis of 80 or 90 miles, Provel’s unheard of anywhere outside of that circle. It’s a niche product, very unique to us. A lot of people reference the cheese, almost like the liquor Scotch. As an outsider, when you first have it, you’re not sure that you like it,
“For the most part,” Conway says, “people here are good with the St. Louis style, the thin crust, the Imo’s mainstay. People are very comfortable with the square cutting; I don’t hear much disagreement with the square cuts. People do disagree about Provel. People who don’t agree are usually transplants from around the country. If they say they don’t like Provel, I know that they’re not a born-and-bred St. Louisan. It’s like saying, ‘What high school did you go to?’ If you don’t like the question, you’re not from St. Louis.” And the biggest question of all? How’d those square-cuts come into being? “My dad was a tile-setter when he came out of the Army, working for his brothers. He was laying tile all day,” Imo says. “When they opened the pizza restaurant, it was only a nighttime business. The story is that he was staring at tiles on the floor all day. So when he went to work at night, he still had squares on his mind. I don’t know if that [is] the most accurate story, but it’s definitely the one we like to joke around with most.”
“When they opened their first store, they had no idea if it would fly or not,” says John Imo of his parents. “Delivery, at the time, was unheard of. Think about the people who lived on The Hill, the old ladies who would walk to the corner store to get what they wanted for dinner that night. A staple of that life was that you cooked every night. What blew my dad away was that there was a bar in the neighborhood that would cook pizzas in the back for the people in the bar. There was never a sure thing that they’d bring it around to your house; you didn’t even know if they were cooking that night. “When you look at it that way, [delivery] was a new thing,” says Imo, who owns locations in Chesterfield and Clayton. “Think of the mind-set of 1964 and people thinking, ‘You’re going to cook dinner and bring it to me?’” These days, 94 locations [“a pretty impressive number,” Imo says] are scattered throughout the region, with nearly 4,200 full- and part-time employees. It’s a St. Louis staple. As is a certain kind of cheese…
fun facts about imo’s
Imo’s Pizza chief financial officer Steve Conway breaks down the square beyond compare.
• 4,000: Roughly the number of employees working in stores
• 1964: The year Ed and Marge Imo opened the first Imo’s
• 50: Percent of Imo’s business made through deliveries.
location at the corner of Shaw Blvd. and Thurman Ave.
• 50: Number of states Imo’s delivers to as part of its frozen pizza delivery service.
• 30: The maximum number of minutes estimated as the wait time for most Imo’s deliveries.
across the region today.
• 28,000: Pounds of Provel are roughly used by Imo’s in one year, which means the company goes through about 2,400 pounds of Provel in a month and 600 pounds in a week.
• 1907: Thurman Ave., the address of the first location of Imo’s.
• What is the most popular pizza on the menu? The Deluxe, with sausage, mushroom, onion, green peppers, bacon and Provel.
• What toppings do Ed and Marge Imo prefer on their pizza? Sausage, mushroom and onion.
• What did the first Imo’s Pizza menu look like? Very simple; it looked like a business card. Carry out and delivery only.
• PR 3-1977: The phone number at the first location in 1964.
• 8,500: The estimated number of Imo’s pizzas delivered in one day. The company says stores average 95 to 120 per store, depending on the day of the week.
through the years:
• What toppings were available on that first menu? • $1.50: How much an Imo’s 12-inch pizza cost in 1964. For $2 you could get a 14-inch pizza and for $3 a 16-inch pizza.
Cheese, mushroom, onion, green pepper, sausage, bacon, pepperoni and hamburger. And the Deluxe pizza.
Inspired Food Culture
peace. love. provel. We asked a few notable St. Louisans about their thoughts on Provel, Imo’s and St. Louis-style pizza. Here’s what they had to say: Mayor Francis Slay, City of St. Louis, via Twitter: Of course, I like Imo’s. I am the mayor of a city built on a foundation of Provel. #imospizzaday #fgs Joe Bonwich: Do people bash the Cheez Whiz that goes on a Philly cheese steak? Or the green-that-doesn’t-occurin-nature relish on a Chicago dog? And just what the hell is scrapple, anyway? That’s why I don’t get Provel-bashing when it occurs. It’s not like Provel has ever pretended to be something it’s not. Like pork steaks, slingers and gooey butter cake – it’s just us, the STL. Chris Sommers, Pi Pizzeria: When I lived in San Francisco
in my 20s and early 30s, I made sure to grab an Imo’s pizza on every trip home. That was childhood, and certainly a taste one can’t get on the West Coast. Most cities have one – that ubiquitous “you-can-only-get-it-here dish.” While I firmly believe Ted Drewes would do well in any other city, the combination of Provel and cracker-thin crust doesn’t sit well with most who didn’t grow up on it. I’d say the same thing about Skyline Chili in Cincinnati, where we’re opening a Pi this summer. Pizza, like chili, apparently, is like baseball, or religion for that matter: You were indoctrinated as a child, and that defines the product. Some stray, but generally don’t adopt a new one later in life. The recent Jon Stewart rants (then later apology) about Chicagostyle pizza supports this. New Yorkers, like Stewart, seem most fervent in their definition of pizza. (And baseball!) When we first opened Pi, using mozzarella instead of Provel, our most loyal regulars were those who didn’t grow up in St. Louis. Many of them had recently moved to [St. Louis] with the Wachovia
acquisition of A.G. Edwards. Those guests, as well as many other transplants, continue to be some of our best customers, but we are grateful that many native St. Louisans have also developed a taste for Pi. I have nothing but respect for the Imo family. They built an empire on a unique product. They are incredibly generous in their support of the community, as well. Most importantly, their business is built around a product that keeps a constant dialogue – or should I say argument – alive. So long as there is pizza in St. Louis, Provel will be loved or lambasted in every discussion thereof. Provel is synonymous with Imo’s, so neither is going away anytime soon. Mary Engelbreit: We love the Imo’s in Webster, but always ask for mozzarella instead of Provel cheese! The thinner the pizza the better, in my opinion, and their toasted ravioli is fantastic. When my husband’s family comes in town, that’s the first place they want to go.
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Inspired Food Culture
the last bite
rainbow fruit tarts
CONtRIButOR: Stacy Mccann, editorial aSSiStant My Saturday mornings between May and October generally look the same. First, I wake up extra early for the Goshen Farmer’s Market in my neighborhood in Edwardsville, Illinois. I inevitably fall back asleep, and then curse myself for surely missing all of the “good” tomatoes when I wake up an hour later. After shopping at the market (where there just so happen to be plenty of “good” tomatoes), I’m predictably hungry. Rather than going home to enjoy the morning’s haul, I save that for later and stop by 222 Artisan Bakery for a snack. I usually rotate between pastry flavors (mango is a favorite), but during those summer months, with fresh fruit brightening up every corner of the market, 222 takes advantage and creates these beautiful rainbow fruit tarts. As each berry pops into your mouth, summer skips over from the market and into 222’s doorway. Pair it with mango iced tea and it’s the perfect treat after loading up on all those “good” tomatoes. 222 Artisan Bakery 222 N. Main St., Edwardsville, Illinois 618.659.1122 222bakery.com Follow Stacy around town as she covers the St. Louis food and drink scene on The Feed at feastSTL.com.
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