The Insatiable Lens Issue 02 - Rogue!

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Issue 02 2016


An exclusive look into the mos t secreti ve dining society in St. Louis.


Issue 02 2016

table of contents rogue



The Rules The first rule is ... you don’t talk about the Rogue Underground Dining Society...



Rogue Turns 50

Underground Recipes The Rogue Chefs share guidelines for cooking at home that read like a beat poem and form the framework for culinary discovery!

The Rogue Chefs host their fiftieth underground dinner with a twist: Guests create the menu when they arrive!

From the Editor.................................................. 5


Twenty Rogue Facts....................................... 8

The Sweet Spot........................................................ 24

All photography by Jonathan Gayman. Food Styling for this issue by The Rogue Chefs

Last Call........................................................................ 28

Layout and design by Pak Creative

Raspberry Lavender Trifle Tequila and Tea Cocktail

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operations … no, this isn’t a spy thriller or conflict reportage. All of this intrigue is for something much less dangerous, but equally as exciting: dinner! But this dinner is special. It is a super secretive Rogue dinner! I first met the Rogue Chefs through mutual friends at a house party, shortly after my wife and I moved to St. Louis in 2010. It seems we made a favorable impression, because shortly thereafter we received our invitation to join the Rogue Underground Dining Society. After attending several events, a year later we hosted a Rogue event at my studio. It was an amazing evening: strange and wonderful food, the allure of doing something a tiny bit outside of the law, and most of all an introduction to a wonderful community of folks who love good food, good drink, and good people. Not to mention the joy of watching talented chefs prepare a 12 course meal in the studio’s kitchen.

The result, after months of busy schedules, delays, and complications, is the Rogue issue of The Insatiable Lens. The chefs generously invited me to cover one of their events (page 11), and for the first time in public, they share the rules they have set for the Society (page 6), and of course a few recipes (page 26). What they are not sharing? Their identities or contact information. If you want to join the Rogue Underground Dining Society, well, you’re going to have to do a little research on your own. In the words of Chef K., “A little digging will help us know if they are sincere.”

The first rule about the Rogue Underground Dining Society is...

In early 2015, I shared a copy of The Insatiable Lens with Chef K. He immediately asked if I wanted to do an issue about Rogue. Of course I said yes. His only request was that we keep the identities of the Rogue Chefs secret. This proved to be a challenging endeavor; after all, how do you photograph people that do not want to be identified and an event that isn’t supposed to be happening? It was definitely a challenge, but a really fun project.

Remember, if you do manage to score an invitation … the first rule of the Rogue Underground Dining Society is … you do not talk about the Rogue Underground Dining Society! Shhhh...

Jonathan Gayman Photographer & Editor in Chief Jonathan Gayman is an editorial and commercial food & beverage photographer based in the Midwest. He is a regular contributor to epicurean publications and his work has appeared in advertising and marketing materials for clients located all over the U.S. When he’s not on the road for location shoots, he works in his studio in downtown St. Louis.

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First, there are the

rul e s Because we can. BY THE ROGUE CHEFS

#ONE: SILENCE IS G O LD E N The Rogue Underground Dining Society is like Fight Club. You don’t talk about Rogue. We have survived this long because pretty much everyone we deal with has stuck to this rule. Our policy on telling other people is “please don’t do it” but there is only so much we can control. If people spill the beans, oh well.

#TWO: G RANDMA’ S R ULE You may encounter foods you are not familiar with. Some may even weird you out a little. However, we ask that you at least take one bite of everything. Trust us. Someone else will eat what you do not.

#THREE: DO N’T STAND O N C E R E M O N Y Eat when the food hits your table. Do not wait for anyone else. Eat now or forever hold your peace.

#FOUR: CO MMU NITY Support this society. Give back. Share what you can. We always need new spaces to do events. People have donated bread, wine, desserts, and most importantly: time. We have people who have designed and given us t-shirts. We have a photographer who has given us countless and tireless hours of photographs. All of our kitchen and service staff (which we believe is the best in the city) are volunteers whose ranks are mostly filled by guests who have been at past events. Be communal.

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The Rogue Chefs in their “prep area” at Brennan’s in St. Louis, working on a game plan to execute eleven recipes on the fly.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

We have served more than 200 dishes and have never repeated a single one.

We once had to change the location 3 times only days before an event because of circumstances.

We once re-created an entire Sugar Shack complete with 20 feet of scaffolding in an abandoned warehouse.

Other interesting locations: wine shops, breweries, vet clinic, sex cafe, museum, stage of a theatre, winery, converted funeral home, college campus.

Rogue #1 took place at a fully operational train station. The only amenity was one small sink with cold running water, and we served dinner in the midst of arriving and departing passengers.

We have been at a total of 38 different locations in St. Louis.

We have hosted 50 official events plus another 7 unofficial events.

Rogue was created in October 2009.


We serve on average 8-11 course per dinner to 20-24 guests. We once did a dinner with 25 courses.

Foie Gras has been served at each and every Rogue event.

8 10 11

15 16 17 18 19






12 20

There is ALWAYS an after party and everyone including the guests are invited. When you hear Michael Jackson on the juke though, it’s time to leave.

Special dietery needs: Are. You. Kidding?!

If you don’t show up or cancel last minute you are immediately taken off Rogue list.

You get what you get at Rogue. You don’t know location until a few days before the event (sometimes we don’t) and you don’t know menu till you show up that night.

Favorite theme? Cadavre esquisse, Dada Game.

We end up cooking what we want to cook no matter what the theme.

We were once told that we should serve more French wines at a dinner. That guest was told they need not return to any future event.

The smallest kitchen we worked in was 3 by 8 foot ... our biggest had 8 work stations.

We once had to steal a BBQ pit from an unsuspecting neighbour to complete a dinner when the oven we were working. on went out.

No walk-in? Scant counter space? No problem. At least there is running water in this mini-kitchen.

TU RN S50 The Rogue Underground Dining Society celebrates a milestone with their most ambitious theme yet. by Jonathan Gayman IT’S A BRISK FALL AFTERNOON IN the Central West End neighborhood of St. Louis. I’ve climbed a narrow flight of stairs in the rear of the main kitchen at Brennan’s, a popular wine and cigar-centric pub, looking for the Rogue Chefs. Comprised of several turn-of-the-century row houses that have been interconnected by doorways punched in the walls, the

second floor of Brennan’s features a couple of bars, a cosy cigar lounge, and much to my surprise, a tiny record shop (yes, as in vinyl). It also features a minuscule kitchen boasting a single six burner gas range, and a small refrigerator. It is in this tiny space that the Rogue Chefs will shortly prepare an 11 course meal for 30 people.

I first met the Rogue Chef’s through friends, shortly after moving to St. Louis. Back then the Rogue Underground Dining Society was in its second year, and my wife and I were thrilled to be invited to join one of the dinners. Over the years we have gone to several (Continued on page 14)

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PL ANNI NG I S KEY Late on a weeknight evening after long shifts at their day jobs, the Rogue Chefs begin their planning process in a family kitchen on the outskirts of St. Louis. Despite the lofty menu ideas for the upcoming event floating back and forth across the table, they fuel the strategy session with more pedestrian fare: pizza and red wine.

Lamb Tartar with Nuk Choy, Soy Sake Gel, Black and White Sesame Seeds Recipe on page 27

(Continued from page 11)

pop-up events at locations ranging from a Gothic church to a suburban basement to the roasting facility of a local coffee company. Each dinner is announced via email to a carefully curated list of invitees. The only information provided is the date and theme. Those who are able to respond immediately are able to snap up a reservation for the twenty or so seats - competition is high. If you RSVP and then cancel? Chances are you won’t be on the next invite list. The location is provided to the lucky guests a day or so before the dinner, usually just an address, with no other information about the location. Dress is generally “as you see fit” but most diners tend to dress up a bit … this is, after all, not your usual dining experience. You are given a theme, but no menu or details. Basically you show up and see what happens.

actors. Each of these individuals need to form a team determined to create an event that will break down the industry’s “4th Wall.” One of the most exciting things about The Rogue Underground Dining Society is the ability to not only enjoy a delicious meal in a clandestine location, but to participate in the event, whether that means helping to prep, donating bread or wine, or volunteering an interesting space for a future dinner, as my wife and I did.

All this with the thought in mind that the guests are about to experience an event that forces them to become an integral part of Rogue. We are after all Culinarians whose vision of the industry was and is forever built on a platform of change and progression. Nothing happens by chance at a Rogue event, and yet everything is left to chance, luck, and a hint of illusion.” For their 50th dinner at Brennan’s, the Rogue Chefs took this sense of participation and creativity to an extreme level. When the guests arrived, they were greeted with a cork board populated with small tags. On one side were tags notating different cuisines (Hispanic, Canadian, Far East, etc.) and on the other, various cooking techniques (fried, under pressure, torched, etc.). Each party was asked to choose one tag from each column and pair them up. Then, while the guests enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, the chefs took these mash-ups and created the menu on the fly, drawing on their collective experience to serve up amazing combinations of flavor, texture, and technique to make Rogue 50 a memorable experience for their guests.

We are driven by the urgency to create events that are not always (or only) about food."

“From the beginning, Rogue was meant to be a culinary vision,” says Chef K, “driven by both our reaction to the contemporary dining setting, and by a deep sense that we wanted to liberate ourselves and our diners from the many constraints that diners experience in this generation’s glamorized food world. We wanted to create an all access pass to everyone who would be involved in Rogue, and by everyone we mean everyone - the volunteer wait and kitchen staff, the photographers, the occasional DJs, event hosts, musicians, singers, and

“The diners themselves are always considered part of “the crew” and are asked to participate in any way they feel comfortable. They ultimately end up helping us form our true identity as an engaged Underground Society. We are driven by the urgency to create events that are not always (or only) about food. As much as Rogue has always been about chaos and no-holds-barred breaking of all the rules, each and every detail is always carefully thought out and planned, from the menu, to the lighting, the music, centerpieces ... even entrances and exits are carefully orchestrated.

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Later, well after midnight, as they were toasting the success of Rogue 50 at the traditional after-party, the Rogue Chef’s were already planning their next event. Chances are you won’t be on the invite list, but keep your ear to the ground in St. Louis and you may just meet a Rogue Chef in the wild...

Each course is whisked to the table by volunteers and the chefs themselves.

Torched Scallop with Braised Freekah, Herb Aioli, Micro Kale, Charcoal Salt Recipe on page 26

GA M E TI M E! After hours of prep work, after the tables are set, and the sun has gone down, the guests arrive. Over cocktails they choose the mash-up combinations from pins on a corkboard that will decide what dishes they will be eating. Our heroes jump into action, along with their volunteer team of kitchen and wait staff to create and execute. The guests are plied with cocktails and wine pairings with each course, the noise level rises, and the chefs hit their stride.

Roasted Vegetables with Hot Sauce Vinaigrette Recipe on page 26 Wint er 2014 15 www. jona t ha ngayman.c om 17

Pressure Cooked Pork Cheeks with Molasses and Sweet Pea Risotto, Bacon, and Oregano Molasses Jus Recipe on Page 27

14 Wi n te r 2 014 15 T he I n s a t i a b l e L e n s

Epilogue “IMAGINE PREPARING THE FOUR recipes photographed in this magazine, add seven more, and execute them off-the-cuff for 30 guests in a kitchen with barely enough room for one person. That’s 330 plates inspired by a list of 11 cuisines and 11 culinary techniques that our guests were invited to mash-up together and

make us sweat. And sweat we did! That was the make up of what became Rogue 50. The “mashup” anti-anniversary party. Rogue, remember, is all about control and precision. This event challenged our abilities and creativity to the extreme. It was grueling and fun. We had to pivot every 5 seconds to get to the next course. It completely threw us

off our game. As a result it was the most exhilerating Rogue we have ever done. The rush was more than we could have imagined and we realized at the end of the day (which began at 5 a.m. and ended at 1:30 am the next day) that this was why we Rogue. This is why Rogue exists. This is why it will continue...” - Chef K. n

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Raspberry Lavender Trifle

The resident pastry chef at Rogue events concocts all manner of delicious baked goods as well as sumptious desserts. Her challenge for Rogue 50? To mash-up French cuisine with a Layered technique.

R ECIPE FILE INGREDIENTS Thyme Simple Syrup ½ cup water ½ cup granulated sugar 2 teaspoons dried thyme, (or to taste) Lavendar Pastry Cream 2 cups whole milk 4 oz. granulated sugar 2 egg yolks 1 large egg 1.25 oz. cornstarch 1 oz. softened butter ½ teaspoon vanilla extract 1 teaspoon finely chopped dried lavender (or to taste) For the Trifle 9” basic spongecake Thyme simple syrup Lavender pastry cream Fresh raspberries Sweetened whipped cream Toasted, chopped hazelnuts

Thyme Simple Syrup Place all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 1 minute. Allow to cool completely before using. Lavender Pastry Cream Bring almost all of the milk and sugar to a boil in a saucepan. In a separate bowl, mix the egg yolks, egg, cornstarch and remaining milk until smooth. When the milk in the pot boils, temper a small amount of the hot milk into the egg mixture. Pour the warmed egg mixture back into the pot of milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and boils. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat, and cool quickly in an ice bath. Stir until pastry cream is lukewarm, and then add softened butter, vanilla, and lavender. Stir until cooled.

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Assemble the Trifle Cut the spongecake in half horizontally. In a trifle bowl, or other large, glass serving dish, line the bottom with half of the spongecake. You can cut each half into a circle to exactly fit the bowl, or you can cut the cake into cubes and scatter them evenly. You can also use smaller glasses for individual servings. Brush the cake liberally with the thyme simple syrup. Top the cake with a layer of raspberries. Spoon over half of the lavender pastry cream, and smooth it out with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Repeat all the layers. Refrigerate until serving time, but no more than 24 hours. The trifle will still be good to eat after that, but it may become soggy. Right before serving, top the trifle with a thick layer of sweetened whipped cream. Garnish with the toasted hazelnuts and more fresh raspberries.


are structured in such a way as to help you unleash your own creative genius. We believe that every recipe in existence should be questioned and adapted to the needs of the dish, the season and the final product. It comes down to why you cook the way you cook. So for better or for worse the recipes are vague so that you will help them evolve as well. - THE ROGUE CHEFS R EC IP E FI LE

and make the aioli for you cook the freekah ent. further flavor developm As for the rest of the


ply by making a An aioli can be made sim ing to any number add mayonnaise base and bs should be her se The bs. of fresh fine her the last second to chopped and added at or as well. Remember maintain flavor, and col . be a part of this recipe to garlic does not have ge era h the fine bev It may even interfere wit ide this dish. ngs alo g vin ser be you will

Braised Torched Scallop with cro Kale, Mi Freekah, Herb Aioli, Charcoal Salt Cuisine: Asian Technique: Torched

Rogue’s need to This dish really defines . The torching of the lore experiment and exp a campfire feel and scallop creates for us e of the scallop while caramelizes the outsid but firm. Cutting into leaving the inside raw etness that is potent swe it should unleash a and sublime.

familiar with the Feel free, if you are not sear these at will. If pan torching method to blow torch remember you are using a home en cutting board. Use not to torch on a wood iron) skillet or sturdy instead a metal (cast - meaning do not put dry sheet pan. Leave it outside diameter of oil on pan. Torch the and bottom. Notice the scallop, not the top salt or pepper to we have not asked you scallop you have d cke the incredible dry-pa your local trusted purchased with care at want you to taste the fishmonger. We really of the scallop. Let incredible sweet flavors temperature while m roo the scallop rest at

toasting it slightly in Braise the freekah by r liquid. Bring to a a pan then adding you ally one would braise boil and simmer. Norm of cooking) covered d tho (merely the wet me stove top uncovered in an oven. We prefer going on. Freekah, so you can see what is om wheat and is now by the way, is an heirlo take its sweet time es do readily available. It impatient start it before to cook. So if you are prep. We like to braise the Scallop and mayo tly sautéed shallots and the grain in some ligh ble broth. Cook until eta a well flavored veg no longer crunchy. Unless you like a little


weird? Yes it is. You Next: Is charcoal salt ing a small piece of tain can make it by ob d d all-natural hardwoo non-chemically-treate n The ter. wa er und ing it piece of coal and rins r you of e littl a into it e let it dry and microplan ng Here is where usi favorite finishing salt. rs. Don’t use your tte ma t sal a high quality with!!!! Ration whatever charcoal salt to cook has a bit of charcoal tastes good to you and ing! Now you ryth eve taste. Balance is it is the time to … nts me ele have all the toss the aioli into assemble the dish. We with the scallops. te chilled freekah and pla e as well. Top sid the on It can be served micro kale. and t sal al rco cha with a little

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Eat that dish! n

R ECIPE FILE Roasted Vegetables with Hot Sauce Vinaigrette Cuisine: Southern Technique: Roasted So simple and so incredibly delicious. We love roasting whatever seasonal vegetables are available. The light roasting of vegetables releases important nutrients that the body can absorb. Roasted vegetables are simply tossed in a little oil of your choice, seasoned to taste with salt and pepper and cooked in a hot oven, 350ºF seems to make good sense, until done to your liking. Twenty-five minutes or so. The puffed wild rice is made by simply frying the rice in a pan in some hot oil. Probably the best thing to do here is to have an instant red thermometer in order to check the temperature of the oil. 340ºF works great as it is hot enough but will not burn. Remove rice with a slotted spoon and put on something absorbent to capture excess grease. Paper towels are nice. While the veggies are roasting and the rice is puffing, assemble the hot sauce vinaigrette by adding about ¼ cup of your favorite hot sauce to two tablespoons of honey, the same

of molasses, and the same of melted butter. Taste and adjust for sweetness. Sauce may be served either warm or cold. Plate roasted vegetables drizzled with hot sauce. Simple and electrifying. Add raw brussels sprout leaves just to throw everyone off! n


R ECI P E FI LE Lamb Tartar with Nuk Choy, SoySake Gel, Black and White Sesame Seeds. Cuisine: Far East Technique: Raw We love Tartar of any kind and this one kills it!

Pressure Cooked Po rk Cheeks with Molasses and Swee t Pea Risotto, Bacon, and Oregano Molasses Jus Cusine: Street Fo od Technique: Pressu re If you don’t own an electric pressure co oker now is the time to get one. They are qu ick and efficient and ba ddass and work we ll in a Rogue environment where more often tha n not we do not have a kitchen.

None-the-less let the pressure cooker do the rest of the work. Fo llow the instruction s that come with it for co oking meat, then let the cheeks stand in the ir liquid while you ma ke the pea risotto.

People always think risotto is harder to make than it actua lly is. We learned ye ars ago that one does not have to cook a risotto by standing over it and watching the liquid evapora te, adding more a little For the pork cheeks at a time until it is : Salt and pepper yo gone. After the ini ur tia l cheeks and then sea sw eating of the arbori r them in a hot pan o rice in a pan with with a little oil. Move the bro a litt le oil and diced onion wned cheeks to the and some pressure cooker and the minced garlic, we n sauté about two ou add all the liquid tha nces t is diced onions over a required, usually a low heat for about 3-4 three to one ratio minof liquid utes in the pan that to rice, and let it cook the cheeks were in. uncovered until the Deglaze the pan with some int liq uid is absorbed. We stir eresting dry red win occasionally. e. Use something you would We then add some like to drink please!!! pureed pea that ha Pour s wine and onions int been tossed with a o the pressure cook little soft butter an er. Then d add ¼ cup molasses so me diced cooked baco and add enough liq n or pork jowl uid or broth just to cover as the fresh oregano the cheeks. The liquid leaves. or broth can be many things. If water is all For the Molasses Ju you have use it. The cheeks wil s, just take some of l still rock, but the sau the liquid from the finish ce will be fairly bland. ed cheeks and Use instead a vegeta reduce it down over ble or meat stock that you me diu m heat until it have made or your thickens, very thick favorite store-bought is fine. or not so thick. Wh The best liquid to use atever you desire. Plate ch of course would be a gre eeks with risotto. Th at veal stock, but I me e jus can be npo ured over, or unde tion the other liquid r, or on the side. s first because not all of us have a veal stock rea dily available. You’ve just made an other killer dish. n

The lamb can be purchased ground or you can mince your own. If you can find some great quality local lamb, even better. Just don’t make it too fatty as that fat will sit on your tongue in a very unpleasant way. Add all these ingredients to taste and mix: finely diced shallot, hot mustard, sesame oil, shrimp paste. Taste a little and balance out those flavors. Err on the side of less sesame as the pronounced flavor there can kill everything. Blend soy sauce in a blender pitcher and slowly sprinkle agar into vortex, blend for 2 minutes. Bring mixture to simmering in a small pot, then pour into a shallow dish. Allow to cool in refrigerator for 2 hrs, break up with a fork and re-blend until it becomes a smooth gel. Hold in a squeeze bottle. Lightly steam of the Nuk Choy, an Asian green, toss in a drop or 2 of sesame and serve. You can also use Bok Choy so don’t drive yourself crazy trying to find the Nuk Choy unless to really want to. Serve with a the tartar and a few drops of the Soy Sake Gel. Voila. n


Tequila & Tea EVERY ROGUE DINNER BEGINS THE WAY THAT every good dinner party should: with a cocktail. The Rogue Chef’s enlist the help of local mixologists to create cocktails that will compliment the hors d’oeuvres and also follow the theme of the evening. For Rogue 50, since the theme was a mash-up, the cocktail that was chosen follows suit, combining the flavors of Mexican tequila, Spanish Paprika, and Carribean hibsicus. The charred lime adds a further note of depth ... and makes for a great presentation as well! n

R ECIPE FILE INGREDIENTS 1 lime 1 tsp kosher salt 1 tsp smoked paprika 2 oz tequila 1 oz lemongrass and ginger simple syrup 1 oz cold-steeped Firepot hibiscus elixir tea Mix the salt and paprika together in a small dish. Cut a piece of lime and use it to rim the lip of the glass. Sprinkle the salt mixture to coat the lime juice. For best results, allow the rim to dry for a few minutes. Use a kitchen torch to char a lime slice or wedge. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, and add the tequila, simple syrup and tea. Shake vigorously until chilled, then strain into a coupe that has been rimmed with a 50% paprika 50% salt mixture. Garnish with a burnt lime.

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