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After seeing nights of very crowded dining rooms, I found myself more terrified than relieved. – Gerard Craft, restaurateur

April 2020 S

I1 E R V I N G S T . L O U I S S I N C E 1 9 9 9 // S A U C E M A G A Z I N E . C O M // F R E saucemagazine.com E , A P R I LI SAUCE 2 0MAGAZINE 20


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From the publisher March 18, 2020 I want to speak to you today straight from my heart. Every morning, I wake up to another wave of sadness and panic as I witness what’s happening to our invigorated, bright, enterprising community, and I know I’m not alone. We’ve all been rendered powerless as we watch the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic tear through our food service family in slow motion. The feeling of loss and fear of the unknown is palpable everywhere – without any relief. And yet, we’re all doing our best to stay as positive as possible. Of course we are. After all, we’re creative people. We aren’t afraid to take risks. We’ve succeeded because we beat the odds with our talent. For us, there’s no other way to be.

magazine that just gave Sauce its best year yet. And, as always, I feel the support from the community, the food and beverage industry, and our readers. I trust that will continue no matter what happens or how long it takes for us all to recover. To the food and beverage community in St. Louis, we are your biggest cheerleaders, now more than ever. We have launched a public Facebook group for local businesses to share their important changes in business with the St. Louis community. Join more than 6,000 members on Facebook:

at “How to support STL restaurants through COVID-19.” As scary as this time is, I have an abiding faith in us. Our scene may not look the same on the other side of this, but with our combined creative skills, penchants for risk-taking and unmatched hustle, we will rebuild – and we will be better for it. There’s no other way to be. My deepest respect and love for you all, Allyson Mace Sauce Magazine founder and publisher

That’s why our livelihoods are so much more to us than a job. Every day, we live in our purpose and make a difference in people’s lives, proving over and over that this is exactly where we belong. And it shows in the quality of our contribution to this city. But the uncertainty we’re facing now is bigger than all of us put together. No one knows what’s going to happen to the businesses we’ve invested our hearts and souls in or how this will affect our families, colleagues, employees and friends. For me personally, I don’t know if the magazine I built with an inspired idea and two decades of daily, focused, hard work and commitment will exist in a month. Sauce had just started 20 years ago when 9/11 hit. We survived the 2008 financial crisis and many other smaller obstacles with the support of the community and the love of our readership, and I’m holding onto that right now. What I do know is that I have the most solid, loyal team in the history of the

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APRIL 2020 • VOLUME 20, ISSUE 4 What are you cooking in selfquarantine?

PUBLISHER ART DIRECTOR MANAGING EDITOR MANAGING EDITOR, DIGITAL STAFF WRITER ASSOCIATE EDITOR EDIBLE WEEKEND EDITORS SENIOR DESIGNER PROOFREADER CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS

CONTRIBUTING ILLUSTRATOR CONTRIBUTING WRITERS I’m probably going to start baking bread and pies.

ADVERTISING SALES MANAGER ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES EVENTS COORDINATOR I’ll be experimenting with a LISTINGS EDITOR 5-pound bag of pinto beans I INTERNS got accidentally.

To place advertisements in Sauce Magazine contact the advertising department at 314.772.8004 or sales@saucemagazine.com. To carry Sauce Magazine at your store, restaurant, bar or place of business Contact Allyson Mace at 314.772.8004 or amace@saucemagazine.com. All contents of Sauce Magazine are copyright ©2001-2020 by Bent Mind Creative Group, LLC. The Sauce name and logo are both registered to the publisher, Bent Mind Creative Group, LLC. Reproduction or other use, in

I have way too many frozen sausages. Hopefully I can order some vegetables before it’s all over.

Allyson Mace Meera Nagarajan Heather Hughes Huff Catherine Klene Adam Rothbarth Oodles of noodles Lauren Healey Lauren Healey, Catherine Klene Michelle Volansky Megan Gilmore Julia Calleo, Ashley Gieseking, Elizabeth Jochum, Izaiah Johnson, David Kovaluk, Adam Rothbarth, Carmen Troesser, Michelle Volansky Vidhya Nagarajan Glenn Bardgett, Ryan Griffin, Justin Harris, Lauren Healey, Heather Hughes Huff, Jamie Kilgore, Ted Kilgore, Catherine Klene, Meera Nagarajan, Michael Renner, Adam Rothbarth, Matt Sorrell, Stephanie Zeilenga Allyson Mace Bea Doerr, Angie Rosenberg Amy Hyde Green smoothies - there’s never been a more Amy Hyde important time to keep Erin Killion, our immunity up. Brenna Sullivan

whole or in part, of the contents without permission of the publisher is strictly prohibited. While the information has been compiled carefully to ensure maximum accuracy at the time of publication, it is provided for general guidance only and is subject to change. The publisher cannot guarantee the accuracy of all information or be responsible for omissions or errors. Additional copies may be obtained by providing a request at 314.772.8004 or via mail. Postage fee of $2.50 will apply. Sauce Magazine is printed on recycled paper using soy inks.

EDITORIAL POLICIES The Sauce Magazine mission is to provide St. Louis-area residents and visitors with unbiased, complete information on the area’s restaurant, bar and entertainment industry. Our editorial content is not influenced by who advertises with Sauce Magazine or saucemagazine.com. Our reviewers are never provided with complimentary food or drinks from the restaurants in exchange for favorable reviews, nor are their identities as reviewers made known during their visits.

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SEND A $30 CHECK TO: SAUCE MAGAZINE – SUBSCRIPTIONS for a 12-month subscription 1820 Chouteau

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St. Louis, MO 63103 April 2020


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contents M A R C H 2 02 0

editors' picks

reviews 17 NEW AND NOTABLE

11 EAT THIS

Chao Baan

Buffalo crawfish po’boy at Peacemaker Lobster & Crab

by adam rothbarth

by michael renner 20 LUNCH RUSH

features 22

COVID-19’S DECIMATING IMPACT ON THE ST. LOUIS HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY by heather hughes huff and matt sorrell

The Curry Club

13 A SEAT AT THE BAR

by stephanie zeilenga

Five experts tell us what to sip, stir and shake

by glenn bardgett, justin harris, ryan griffin and ted and jamie kilgore

last bite

30

CRUISING THE MANCHESTER STRIP by adam rothbarth

38 WHAT I DO

14 ELIXIR

Jillian Tedesco of Fit-Flavors

by lauren healey

Gezellig deep cuts

by adam rothbarth

PHOTO BY IZAIAH JOHNSON

green leaf wraps at chao baan, p. 17

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Peacemaker Lobster & Crab 1831 Sidney St., St. Louis, 314.772.8858, peacemakerlobstercrab.com *At press time, Peacemaker was offering carryout, curbside pickup and delivery due to the coronavirus.

E D I T O R S ' P I C K S

Eat This

PHOTO BY JULIA CALLEO

We are constantly craving the hearty Midwest-meets-Southmeets-East Coast vibe of Peacemaker Lobster & Crab’s Buffalo crawfish po’boy. The durable, toasted Companion hoagie stuffed with breaded, fried crawfish tossed in a Buffalo butter sauce, creamy ranch, celery slaw and tangy blue cheese crumbles satisfies us in a deep way. It’s a delightful and surprisingly light bite full of contrasting textures and bright flavors.

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PARTNER CONTENT

K EEP YOU R C HI N U P W I T H

A FISTFUL OF BOURBON Throughout the recent boom of whiskey in the U.S., there has been a tremendous influx of innovation from the world of American whiskey, and there’s never been a better time to imbibe. From unique finishes to straight-up synthetic flavors, the bourbon shelf has expanded exponentially in your local spirits store. However, while new flavor and finishes have flooded the market, one thing has remained the same: Every whiskey comes from one singular distillery. Until now, that is.

The whiskey offers many distinctive flavor profiles: balanced and sweet with green, leafy floral notes, soft spices, and hints of nutmeg, buttery toffee, cinnamon and licorice. “There’s an art and science to blending, and Fistful is a balance of both,” McKechnie said. “Our creative process combined the art of nosing and the science of blending. We’re excited to apply William Grant & Sons’ longtime blending experience to the American whiskey scene.”

Fistful of Bourbon is a blend of five straight American bourbons from three separate distilleries aged at least two years.

For more information, visit fistfulofbourbon.com.

PHOTO COURTESY FISTFUL OF BOURBON

This May, William Grant & Sons is launching one of the first-ever blended bourbons. Fistful of Bourbon is a blend of five straight American bourbons – a fistful, if you will – from three separate distilleries aged at least two years. That together delivers the best bourbon has to offer: 100 percent straight American whiskey blended by William Grant &

Sons master blender Brian Kinsman, who was awarded the 2017 ISC Master Distiller of the Year, and Kelsey McKechnie, William Grant & Sons whiskey blender, after sampling loads of straight bourbons from all over America.

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E D I T O R S ' P I C K S

TED AND JAMIE KILGORE

A SEAT AT THE BAR

USBG, B.A.R. Ready, BarSmart and co-owners/bartenders at Planter’s House

This month, we’re enjoying Armagnac, the cousin of the better-known French brandy, cognac. Usually a higher proof, Armagnac tends to be fragrant and robust in flavor. We love Chateau Arton Haut-Armagnac La Réserve. It is estate produced by a husbandand-wife team (just like us!) and offers floral and orange spice aromas, enhanced by flavors of pear, wood spice and light vanilla. $80. Intoxicology, 4321 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314.833.3088, intoxicologystl.com

Five experts tell us what to sip, stir and shake

RYAN GRIFFIN AND JUSTIN HARRIS Co-owners at Saint Louis Hop Shop

Modern Brewery Party Supplies is a New England-style pale ale that pours a beautiful hazy straw color with a fluffy white head. Its juicy aromatics boast notes of tropical citrus fruits and, while less juicy on the palate, it has the exact crispness you look for in a traditional hoppy pale. This beer comes in at 5.5% ABV and is one of the new, sleek additions to Modern Brewery’s can lineup. Four-pack: $13. Modern Brewery, 5231 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, modernbrewery.com we're drinking the good stuff right now, Armagnac ... and make it a double

ILLUSTRATIONS BY VIDHYA NAGARAJAN

GLENN BARDGETT Member of the Missouri Wine and Grape Board and wine director at Annie Gunn’s

At press time, Intoxicology, Lukas Wine & Spirits and Modern Brewery were offering curbside pickup due to the coronavirus. April 2020

2018 Bedrock Wine Co. Sauvignon Blanc from Sonoma Valley offers lovely complexity with refreshing lime aromas and a hint of the first springtime lawn mowing. Acidity and fruit structure share the glass for a perfectly balanced wine. Although quaffable on its own, the wine’s brightness pairs with anything. $22. Lukas Wine & Spirits, 15678 Manchester Road, Ellisville, 636.227.4543, lukasliquorst.com saucemagazine.com I SAUCE MAGAZINE I

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E D I T O R S ' P I C K S

BY A D A M R OT H B A RT H Unless you’re an expert, chances are that when you walk into a place like Gezellig, you feel overwhelmed by the vast selection of local, domestic and international beers and ciders. That’s OK – we’ve all been there. Sometimes you just have to ask for a recommendation, which we went ahead and did for you. Here’s owner Brandon Cavanagh on seven cans and bottles you need to know about.

BUY IT Gezellig At press time, all beers available through online ordering and curbside pickup due to the coronavirus. Gezellig, 4191 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, gezelligstl.com

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2nd Shift B r e w i n g K at y “It’s foeder-fermented – an Americanstyle farmhaus with Brettanomyces. It’s a fantastic beer with really subtle nuances. Dry, but kind of tropical in a funky sort of way. A really, really nice, easy drinking, subtly complex beer.” Off Color Brewing T o o t h & C l aw “Off Color is out of the Chicago area, and Tooth & Claw is a dry-hopped lager. [It’s brewed for] the Field Museum up in Chicago – that’s why the dinosaur’s on it. It came out in these 16-ounce cans, which is a perfect format for this beer. It’s super crushable, easy drinking. It’s a great beer anytime of year, but for spring and summer, it’s an incredible go-to.” Prairie Artisan Ales Funky Gold Mosaic “This is another ‘spring beer.’ It’s a dry-hopped sour. It’s a fantastic beer. Slightly funky, slightly tart with this nice tropical hop presence. This used to be available pretty regularly in bottles, and I haven’t seen it in a couple years. It just came back in this fantastic can art. I’m really happy to have this

beer back, and I’m really hoping that it stays around.” Strange Roots E x p e r i m e n ta l Ales Vermu’t “What they do is wild ales, and everything I’ve had from them has been absolutely incredible. This is certainly the star for me. It’s a vermouth barrel-aged sour. This is a little more obscure – relatively new to the market, like in the last six months or so. Maybe a little bit of a cop-out, but I’d say anything you see from these guys, grab it. Incredible brewery and something not a lot of people know. But they should.” Lindemans Cuvée René Oude Gueuze “It’s a classic gueuze, [a Belgian beer made by combining older and a younger lambics, then bottle fermenting the blend]. Highly carbonated, bone dry and super funky, it’s a really wonderful beer that’s available most of the year. Most people know Lindemans for their back-sweetened lambics, like their framboise and their kriek. They’re all really sweet and fruited. Those beers are fine – a lot of people really enjoy those beers. We sell a lot

of them. But they also make some really great bone-dry beers.” Ritterguts Gose “It’s slightly tart with a prominent level of salinity, so it wakes up the palate in a really unexpected way for a beer. Gose is a slightly sour German wheat with salt and coriander, originally. Now it’s been Americanized by a lot of breweries and bastardized in some ways. I see a lot of beers coming across that claim to be goses, but they’re extremely acidic, extremely sour. It’s just not really what the original gose is about. It’s something that everyone should without a doubt at least try.”

of ciders to choose from in the states, but this is something extremely different and unique. I think it’s an important beverage. I don’t know if I’d call it a guilty pleasure, but it’s something I drink a bottle of every week or two. It’s also very well priced.”

Bere Aran Cider “It’s bone dry with barnyard funk. It’s got a lot of sediment, funk and yeast on the bottom. It’s so complex, so many different layers. This is a Basque region cider. Basque is on the border of France and Spain. We’ve got a lot

PHOTO BY IZAIAH JOHNSON

GEZELLIG DEEP CUTS

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reviews All Sauce reviews are conducted anonymously.

green leaf wraps at chao baan

NE W A ND N OTA B L E

chao baan BY MICHAEL RENNER // PHOTOS BY IZ AIAH JOHNSON

When the children of immigrant restaurateurs get into the business, what mom and pop did is often more of a touchstone than a template. Shayn Prapaisilp pushed the culinary boundaries of his family restaurant’s long legacy when he and his father, Suchin Prapaisilp, opened Chao Baan in The Grove last year. If you don’t recognize the Prapaisilp name, you should. This entrepreneurial family is the juggernaut behind Oishi Sushi, Oishi Sushi & Steakhouse, Global Foods Market and United Provisions. But it’s the elder Prapaisilp’s King & I restaurant on South Grand that has established the family on the local culinary map since 1980.

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NEW AND NOTABLE p. 2 of 3

King & I gained popularity by specializing in the milder, accessible cuisine of central Thailand and well-known Chinese favorites, but the younger Prapaisilp sensed St. Louis was ready for a menu less geared toward Western tastes – something beyond pad thai. What better way to pay tribute to your family’s rich Thai heritage than by serving the food from where your parents grew up? Chao Baan is focused on the creamy curries and seafood from Thailand’s southern isthmus, where Suchin grew up, and the notoriously red chili-hot, bold preparations of the northeastern region where his wife, Sue Prapaisilp, spent her youth. Whether you call the food rustic or homestyle – Chao Baan means “of the people” after all – it’s the food Shayn grew up eating at home.

from left, my thai and tamarind sour cocktails at chao baan

from left, chef piya mohammed, executive chef gam seng, general manager kurt bellon and owner shayn prapaisilp

chao baan Where 4087 Chouteau Ave., St. Louis, 314.925.8250, chaobaanstl.com

Sure, there are tom kha and tom yum soups: the former creamy and a bit tart-sweet with lemongrass and cilantro providing the perfect herbaceous edge; the latter, a brick-red broth with spicy, sour, acidic notes from red chili paste, lime juice, kaffir lime and tomatoes. Galangal (akin to ginger) and straw mushrooms round out the flavor profile with earthy zest. You’ll want a bowl of either to accompany anything else you order. And order you will. Dishes are not composed, but rather a series of plates. Thai meals are traditionally shared affairs made up of several dishes. The pork riblets are a must. Nuggets of pork marinated in soy, garlic and golden mountain sauce (think sweeter, saltier soy sauce) are breaded, deep-fried and accented with a squeeze of lime and crunchy specks of fried garlic. But the coriander-rubbed fried chicken wings – while seemingly irresistible with a bottle of ice-cold Thai beer – lacked any hint of the fragrant, floral, savory spice, relying instead on the sweet chili dipping sauce for flavor. No dish better exemplified “of the people” than khao tod nam sod: cooked rice mixed with shallots and chilies, molded into cakes, dipped in an egg wash and deep-fried. The cakes are then crumbled, seasoned with fish sauce

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Don’t-Miss Dishes Whole golden pompano fish, pork riblets, gaeng som fiery fish soup

whole golden pompano fish

and lime juice and served with ginger, cilantro and cured pork sausage. Spooning the mixture into the accompanying crisp lettuce leaves produced perfect bites of heat, crunch and funk, demonstrating that harmony is central to Thai food and no one flavor dominates. You can play it safe with a plate of pad see ew: fat, chewy rice noodles with chicken, egg, green onions and bean sprouts in a sweet-savory-sour soy sauce. It sounded simple enough, but balancing that sauce and caramelizing the noodles just right was the key to dish’s well-rounded satisfaction. Or kick it up a notch with a bowl of gaeng kiew, smoky green curry, a spicy and superb classic packed with chicken, green bamboo leaves, quartered

Thai eggplant and straw mushrooms in a fragrant milky broth of coconut and house-made green chili curry paste. I knew it was coming, but the pleasant, almost obsessively lip-tingling heat didn’t announce itself until a few spoonfuls in. Complexly flavored som tum consisted of unripe shredded papaya, which was able to hold up to the pounding it gets with a mortar and pestle (the tum). Tamarind and lime juice provided sourness (the som), palm sugar a hint of sweetness, while dried shrimp and fish sauce contributed their distinct umami funk. Tossed with tomato, long beans, chilies and peanuts, it was the kind of salad – cold, crunchy, tangy, salty-sweet – that paired beautifully with every dish.

Vibe Modern, streamlined space composed of deep marine blue walls contrasting with light maple seating and chandeliers designed to resemble large fishing baskets. Entree Prices $5 to $30 When Mon. to Thu. – 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., 5 to 9 p.m.; Fri. – 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., 5 to 10 p.m.; Sat. – noon to 3 p.m., 5 to 10 p.m.; Sun. – 5 to 9 p.m.

April 2020


Two exemplary fish dishes showcased the spice-rich style of southern Thailand, including gaeng som, a soup consisting of fried tilapia and papaya in an incendiary, deep orange broth of turmeric, shrimp paste, lime and chili. A whole pompano fish, though, proved the real showpiece: deep-fried, golden and served bone-in and head-on in a pungent chili-garlic-tamarind sauce. Carefully pushing aside the colorful garnish of cilantro, lime and bird’s-eye chilies with a spoon and fork (knives are traditionally not used in Thai dining) yielded beautifully crispy skin and deliciously delicate flesh. As you excavate your way through the fish, do

not ignore best part – the tender and sweet cheek meat. There’s a trio of red wines offered, but the bar program smartly features wines best suited for this type spicy food with several whites and a rosé. Cocktails hew close to a Thai theme with tamarind syrup, housemade peanut orgeat, bird’s-eye chiliinfused tequila and sweetened coconut milk. With Chao Baan, Shayn is expanding our notions of Thai cuisine by spotlighting the expansive regional and culinary variations of his parents’ homeland while paying homage to their geographic roots.

*At press time, Chao Baan was offering carryout, curbside pickup and delivery through Uber Eats and Grubhub due to the coronavirus. April 2020

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LUNCH RUSH

The Curry Club chicken is great – it’s smoky and spicy with cloves and chilies and packs a fiery punch that builds gradually over time. The butter chicken is also delicious, rich and tangy with a velvety sauce. On one visit, the chicken curries were unfortunately more bone than meat. But that may have been an anomaly since it wasn’t the case on other visits. Of the vegetarian options, the dal was the standout. The bright yellow-green lentil curry is less spicy and more warming than the other options. I also enjoyed the eggplant masala, a thick, warming curry with large chunks of tender eggplant.

LUNCH RUSH

the curry club BY STEPHANIE ZEILENGA | PHOTOS BY DAVID KOVALUK

When lunch breaks return to some kind of normalcy, the fast-casual Curry Club in Chesterfield deserves to be in your rotation. Unlike most Indian restaurants in St. Louis, it specializes in southern Indian cuisine – as a broad oversimplification, this means less cream and garam masala and more rice, tamarind and sambar. It’s also serving one of the most enticing lunch deals around – two curries, rice flecked with spices and naan for $6. There are typically eight curries to choose from, half chicken and half vegetarian. Served cafeteria-style, the lunch special is ideal for busy workdays. Even if there’s a line to the door, you’ll be digging into hot, fresh curry in just a few minutes.

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The Hyderabad Chicken Dum Biryani, a dish native to the capital of Andhra Pradesh in southern India, is another steal at $10. Unlike the lunch special, this takes a few minutes to appear from the kitchen. The dish is massive. A pile of steaming rice spiced with cardamom and cloves surrounds tender bone-in chicken pieces. It’s topped with sliced onions and half a hardboiled egg. Curry sauce and onion raita, a cooling yogurt-based sauce, come on the side. It’s Indian comfort food – I made more than one meal from the massive portion. The curries and biryani are both delicious, but dosas are the star of the menu. A south Indian classic made from fermented rice and black gram (similar to mung bean) batter, dosas

dosa

the hyderabad chicken dum biryani

the curry club chicken

the curry club's anand babu makes a dosa

The Curry Club 1635 Clarkson Road, Chesterfield, 636.778.7777, Facebook: The Curry Club

are massive flavorful crepes with enticingly crisp edges. You can get one plain, or choose from a variety of stuffing and flavoring choices like cheese, masala or coriander- and mustard seed-spiced potatoes. Get the mysore dosa if you have a high tolerance for heat – it’s spread with a fiery red spice mixture that will definitely make your nose run, or maybe that was just me. If you try a dosa, don’t miss the sauce station to the left of the register. It’s easy to miss, but will significantly enhance your meal – there’s tomato and peanut chutneys and sambar, a citrusy, savory, lentil-laced hot broth. Definitely try them all. If you’re new to south Indian cuisine, it can be hard to know what all the options mean since the menu lacks description, especially when it comes to the dosa fillings. That said, the staff is more than happy to make recommendations. During normal peak lunch hours, The Curry Club was lively with customers enthusiastically digging into their curries and dosas, chatting above Indian music videos playing from one TV and cricket games from another. Even if you live and work nowhere near Chesterfield, it’s worth a visit. * At press time, The Curry Club was offering carryout, curbside pickup and delivery due to the coronavirus. April 2020


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FROM THE SAUCE EDITORIAL TEAM // Written by Heather Hughes Huff

There are

88,000 people

in the St. Louis hospitality industry, according to Mayor Lyda Krewson. She shared the statistic at a press conference informing the public that all St. Louis city and county restaurants were required to close their dining rooms by March 19 in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Restaurants in Illinois had already shut down March 16. At Sauce, we are privileged to focus exclusively on the small local businesses owned, operated and frequented by our neighbors. In the days before Krewson’s announcement, we were overwhelmed by news from chefs, bartenders and restaurateurs we have been covering for 20 years – updated cleaning procedures, reduced seating to increase social distance, dining room closures, new carryout policies, temporary closures and heartfelt messages from people trying to do their part to fight the coronavirus while somehow staying in business. A week before deadline for this issue, we threw out our spring schedule. We reworked content in days, did the hardest interviews of our careers and tried not give into the panic of this shifting landscape. We have reported on our Best New Restaurants closing temporarily and our Ones to Watch losing their jobs. We have talked to business owners who just fired all their employees knowing they had less to offer now than an unemployment check.

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In those days that felt like weeks, we also saw countless examples of what makes the St. Louis restaurant industry a joy to cover even now. We watched Grace Meat + Three owners Elisa and Rick Lewis sacrifice their salaries and Grace employees take voluntary pay cuts to prevent furloughing staff. We witnessed The Gramophone owner Roo Yawitz and Niche Food Group owner Gerard Craft launch Gateway Resilience Fund, getting millions into the hands of industry workers when they needed it most. We watched Craft announce on social media that he was willingly shutting down six of his seven restaurants, including carryout, before there were any government restrictions. “After seeing nights of very crowded dining rooms, I found myself more terrified than relieved,” he said, speaking for all of us. “Our No. 1 goal right now is doing our part to put an end to this virus.” At press time, Craft, a James Beard Award winner with generous investors, was still able to pay his employees after closing. Most small restaurant owners do not have as many resources and, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only one-third of hospitality workers have access to paid time off under normal circumstances. These are not normal circumstances.

The National Restaurant Association estimates that 5 to 7 million jobs will be lost in the next three months. And so we join community leaders like Craft in imploring our federal, state and local governments for the help that could save the restaurants we love and hope to continue to cover. We ask for immediate emergency unemployment benefits for workers impacted by the coronavirus closures, the elimination of payroll tax, rent and loan abatement for impacted workers, and the deferment of Small Business Administration loan payments. At press time, none of these needs have been met. On March 18, Gov. Mike Parson made the first step by declaring a disaster and initiating the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. We hope every level of our government follows suit.

To contact your senator, call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202.224.3121.

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“Our industry is

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i n a f r e e f a l l .” PHOTO BY CARMEN TROESSER

– Zoë Robinson, restaurateur

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COVID-19's decimating impact on the St. Louis hospitality industry BY MATT SORRELL

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t is hard to overstate the impact the coronavirus has had on all aspects of daily life worldwide, and the hospitality industry is one hit the hardest. At press time in mid-March, St. Louis restaurant dining rooms are shut down in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus. For now, food can still be sold through delivery, carryout, curbside pickup or drivethru, but that does not provide enough income for restaurants to maintain regular staff.

“My staff couldn’t wait around for the government to get proactive. I needed to take care of my staff right now,” he said. “I couldn’t wait.”

Many establishments began the process of shutting down before it was officially mandated by city and county officials on March 19 in an attempt to combat the spread of COVID-19 while still offering whatever service they could.

“This is affecting both health and finance, and unfortunately, the cures for both of these are in direct conflict with each other,” Craft said in the video. “This is extremely painful, but we know we’re doing the right thing.”

“Billie-Jean and Bar Les Frères are both dark,” said owner Zoë Robinson. “My crew is all laid off. It’s devastating. It’s heartbreaking.”

During the shutdown, Craft said Niche Food Group kitchens are being used to make free meals for its employees and that his team is working to focus on North Sarah Food Hub, which will deliver free meals to people in need during the crisis.

After reducing seating and then shuttering her dining rooms completely, Robinson began offering a small menu of dishes from all three of her restaurants for delivery and curbside pickup at I Fratellini – a move she would never have considered before the outbreak. She has since suspended service completely. Many establishments have had to pivot from regular menus, offering limited selections or creating new offerings. Louie chose to focus on pizza and pasta, since many dishes on its regular menu were not suited to carryout. The fine dining Vicia opted to offer an entirely new menu of casual, family-style meals, which could be ordered for two, four or more. Juniper chef-owner John Perkins also closed his dining room and restricted service to delivery and curbside pickup before the mandate. He took the step of officially terminating employees (with the intention of rehiring them once the outbreak subsides), so they could apply for unemployment and other benefits. He put together packets for staff members with a termination letter, links to a variety of government agencies and the employee’s yearto-date pay info so they’d have everything they’d need to apply immediately.

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Gerard Craft, co-owner of Niche Food Group, which includes Sardella, Pastaria, Brasserie, Taste and Cinder House in the Four Seasons Hotel, took the extreme measure of closing all his restaurants except Cinder House and not offering delivery or pickup services to ensure zero chance of transmission. Craft announced the decision in an emotional video posted on social media on March 16.

Despite the steps being taken to help alleviate the present situation, the future of the hospitality industry is very much in flux. “Our industry is in a free fall. I don’t know how many will make it. I think we’re out [of service] for months,” Robinson said. “If I had to guess, I think restaurants will be closed through April,” Perkins said. “We’ll come back to a restaurant scene that’s radically changed. A lot of places won’t make it.” “I’m asking myself, ‘Do I want to stay in this business?’” Robinson said. “It’s sickening to think what could happen in just 48 hours.” “It’s a dark night of the soul for a lot of operators,” Perkins said. “They have to ask themselves, ‘Do I want to continue in an industry that’s this fragile?’” Those who are able to reopen will face a slew of challenges, including the cost of restocking products and repairing equipment, retraining staff and bringing new employees up to speed,

My staff couldn’t wait around for the government to get proactive. I needed to take care of my staff right now.

I couldn’t wait. – John Perkins, Juniper chef-owner

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Robinson said. And at the end of the day, there’s the question of whether customers will return to their old dining habits. “Once [the shutdown] gets lifted, is it like after a big snowfall when the snow melts and places get packed, or is it a slow climb back?” Perkins said. “We don’t know.” In the short-term, Craft is urging state and local governments to step up and provide relief for the hospitality industry with emergency unemployment benefits, elimination of payroll taxes and rent and lease abatement for those affected by the closures. Over the long haul, Robinson said, “Our industry has to change. It has to be taken seriously as a profession.” She advocates switching to the model New York’s Danny Meyer and other restaurateurs have adopted with flat menu pricing, set wages and no tipping. While the politicians debate what, if any, relief the hospitality industry will receive, the industry itself is doing what it always does – supporting its own. Nationally, the United States Bartenders Guild has set up a relief fund that can be accessed by members and non-members alike. Olive + Oak owner Mark Hinkle has been especially active in organizing local members of the hospitality industry to demand political action. Demetrius Cain, owner and head distiller at Nobletons Distilling House, is donating 100% of the company’s net profits to support relief efforts. Numerous GoFundMe campaigns have been launched, as well as neighborhoodspecific relief programs like Good for the Grove. The Gateway Resilience Fund, spearheaded by The Gramophone owner Roo Yawitz and Craft, aims to unite efforts for local, independent restaurant workers, offering direct relief payments to employees and owners of local businesses in the hospitality industry.

This is affecting both health and finance, and, unfortunately, the cures for both of these are in direct conflict with each other. – Gerard Craft, co-owner of Niche Food Group 28 I SAUCE MAGAZINE I saucemagazine.com

“My frame of mind at the moment is energy and passion to get through this,” Perkins said. “This shit isn’t going to keep us down.” Bar Les Frères, barlesfreres.com Billie-Jean, billiejeanstl.com Gateway Resilience Fund, stlgives.org/covid19/ gateway-resilience-fund/ The Gramophone, gramophonestl.com Good for the Grove, goodforthegrove.org I Fratellini, ifratellini.com Juniper, junipereats.com Louie, louiedemun.com Niche Food Group, nichefoodgroup.com Nobletons Distilling House, nobletons.com Olive + Oak, oliveandoakstl.com

How you can help today BY HEATHER HUGHES HUFF There are many ways to support your favorite St. Louis restaurants, bars and breweries directly. At press time, St. Louis restaurants were still able to offer carryout and delivery, which is a great place to start. If you don’t feel comfortable eating takeout, purchase gift cards to enjoy after the coronavirus has passed. Many businesses are also selling merchandise with proceeds going directly to employees who are out of work due to the pandemic. For more information on delivery apps and places offering cool T-shirts, hats and more, visit saucemagazine.com. However helpful your carryout and swag purchases are, they’re not going to be enough. The National Restaurant Association estimates that 5 to 7 million jobs will be lost in the next three months. Donate to the Gateway Resilience Fund to support employees and owners of independent bars, restaurants and shops in St. Louis. The fund has already raised millions to cover personal, family, living and funeral expenses incurred by the outbreak. And finally, we need government action to bail out small businesses. Contact your senator through the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202.224.3121 to ensure that at least some of your favorite spots to drink and dine in St. Louis survive.

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CRUISING THE MA

shrimp pad thai at rice thai bistro

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NCHESTER STRIP

PHOTOS BY ELIZABETH JOCHUM

BY ADAM ROTHBARTH

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cold silken tofu in dashi broth with ginger scallion salad at ramen tei in my car eating from a takeout container of the magnificently spicy, beautifully aromatic dish. Just incredible.

EL TOLUCO TAQUERIA & GROCERY*

CHINA BISTRO** 14246 Manchester Road, Manchester, 636.220.3144 China Bistro, the small cafe inside Pan-Asia Supermarket, is so lowkey you may not even know it exists unless you’re a regular at the supermarket. The grocery boasts an inventory of over 10,000 Asian products – an amazing resource for anyone trying to cook Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Korean or Filipino cuisines. At China Bistro, a straightforward LED screen shows you the options: noodle soups and stir-fried rice, Sichuan classics, whole and half ducks. My first time there, the cashier was momentarily away, so one of the chefs took my order. I asked him what was good. “You like spicy?” he asked me. “Definitely,” I said. “You like spicy peppercorn oil?” he replied. “Oh yeah,” I said. Without missing a beat, he said, “Dan Dan Noodles.” Ten minutes later, I was

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14234 Manchester Road, Manchester, 636.686.5444, eltolucotaqueria.com This charming little Mexican grocery store and restaurant is located on the side of a strip mall just east of MO-141. Almost comically inconspicuous, it’s thoroughly inviting once you find it. Through the shop lies a barebones dining room where you can peruse the massive beverage refrigerator, selecting from a wide array of sodas, beers and other beverages. The hot sauces are spectacular, elevating everything from the divine shrimp tacos to the majorly stacked tortas. The grilled veggie tacos are a hearty option for vegetarians, while the al pastor bear a satisfying char that sits well atop capable tortillas. On your way out, patronize the store. Buy a hot sauce you’ve never heard of, a bag of imported chips or a cool ice cream dessert. You can thank me later.

RICE THAI BISTRO* 14536 Manchester Road, Winchester, 636.220.1777, ricethaibistro.net This unassuming shop can be found on the corner of a very small strip mall just west of Sulphur Springs Road in the tiny city of Winchester. I was immediately hooked by the light, palate-cleansing miso soup on the lunch menu. Drunken noodles had a hearty bite and were full of peppery, spicy flavor of marinated beef. The green curry fried rice with tofu saw fluffy, soft rice supporting the captivating textures of stir-fried onion and crispy tofu. It was spicy, but not aggressively so.

RAMEN TEI* 14027 Manchester Road, St. Louis County, 636.386.8019, ramen.teistl.com This sibling restaurant of neighboring Nippon Tei and proud aunt of Indo in Botanical Heights is too often overlooked. Everything I tried there was seriously on point. The pork belly steamed buns were a revelation, with supple bread supporting sweet and smoky pork belly and delicious pickled onion. I inhaled the tonkotsu, whose pork broth and char siu pork belly created deep waves of salt- and fat-laced flavor. The khao soi was a layered, comforting bowl of warmth. Do not sleep on Ramen Tei.

SMOKEE MO’S*** 110 Old Meramec Station Road, Manchester, 636.220.1227, smokeemosstlouisbbq.com Smokee Mo’s barbecue sauce game is, in the parlance of our times, straight fire. Every sauce is good from the sugary house to the broad, complex mustard and the deliciously vinegary Carolina. The meats are solid – the brisket sandwich was especially nice – but the real winner is a robust vegan menu that features items like nachos with cashew cheese and jackfruit; the barbecue tofu platter mimics burnt ends in a unique and satisfying way. Meatheads and their veg-loving homies should trek from far and wide to dine here in harmony.

* Still offering carryout at press time. ** Closed until further notice. *** Manchester location closed until April 1; Arnold location offering carryout, curbside pickup and delivery at press time.

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from top, miso ramen and khao soi at ramen tei

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PARTNER CONTENT

S K C U R E T S A D H C E FOO H T H T R O W W

Between the start of the 9th season of Sauce Food Truck Fridays in Tower Grove Park and the opening of 9 Mile Garden's food truck garden, there's never been a better time to round up your friends and family and park it at a food truck. Here are 14 local trucks to add to your must-try list.

BLU ES FIR ED PIZZA /bluesfiredpizza Blues Fired Pizza has the largest fleet of trucks in St. Louis! With three trucks roaming the streets daily and a kiosk in Kirkwood, you can always find delicious I SAUCE MAGAZINE MAGAZINE I saucemagazine.com 134I SAUCE I saucemagazine.com

pizza near you. They use custom-built, wood-fired brick ovens that cook personal pizzas in under 150 seconds at 800 degrees. Blues Fired Pizza's dough and sauce are made fresh daily with plenty of topping choices and specialty pizzas to satisfy your appetite. Check out bluesfiredpizza.com for the most up-to-date calendar or to book a truck for catering.

BUZZ'S H AWA II A N GRIL L /buzzshawaiiangrill /bzhawaiiangrill /buzzs_hawaiian_grill Buzz's Hawaiian Grill is a Hawaiian-

style food truck and catering service providing authentic Hawaiian plate lunch dishes such as Kalua Pig, Poke, Loco Moco, Teriyaki Steak, Chicken Yakitori, Katsu Chicken, Manapua, Lumpia, Musubi, Malasada and Dole Whip to name a few. They bring "Aloha" to you!

DESTI NATION DESSERTS /destinationdesserts /desserttruckstl /destinationdesserts_stl Destination Desserts is celebrating their seventh food truck season! They are a nonprofit food truck bringing April April2020 2020


PARTNER CONTENT

you cupcakes, cookies, brownies, coffee, smoothies and more. They are best known for their amazing gooey butter cake. When you enjoy Destination Desserts' sweet treats, you'll know you are helping to improve the lives of people with disabilities in your community. Their desserts are also featured at the new full-menu restaurant in Tower Grove South: Destination Café.

of the U.S. to southern Spain. They make menus fun! Some days might have a Southern twist from their time in Memphis and some days feature their Spanish favorites. Fan favorites include bacon wrapped potato bites with house-made Creole sauce and slow-roasted brisket tacos. Check Graze out at 9 Mile Garden, Missouri's first food truck garden opening in May.

Smokehouse to you! Enjoy Pappy's famous ribs, BBQ nachos and sandwiches/sides including brisket, pulled pork, turkey, beans and coleslaw. Book us for your special event, and find us at Food Truck Fridays and out and about!

Steak Tacos, Spicy Pork Burrito, and the Gogi bowl, Seoul Taco’s take on the classic bibimbap dish.

SPU D SH ACK @ spud shack food truck /spudshackstl

SEDA R A S W EETS FA R MTRU K

HEAVY SMOKE BBQ /heavysmokebbq /heavysmokestl

/farmtrukstl Farmtruk is bringing the farm-totable concept to the St. Louis streets. They partner with local farmers to create classic dishes with our own fresh twist. Must-try dishes include the brisket mac, Farmtruk burger and fried green tomatoes. Find them at Enterprise Center, section 327, and 9 Mile Garden, opening this summer.

Heavy Smoke BBQ brings you world champion-winning BBQ with a twist. They pair high-quality meats and award-winning recipes with 20+ years of chef expertise to turn out the classics and much more. From their STL Cuban Wrap to traditional BBQ and scratch-made sides, Heavy Smoke BBQ knows you will love anything you order because of their passion for providing amazing meals and service at a great price.

/sedaracoffeehouse /sedarasweets /sedarastl Sedara brings the authentic tastes of the Middle East to the heart of the Midwest. Be the first to take part in the first and only Middle Eastern food truck in the St. Louis area. Truly a one-stop experience, Sedara treats patrons to savory meals including falafel, beef and chicken shawarma piled high with sauces and spices. Sedara makes more than 16 types of baklava and eight types of ice cream. Try it out this summer!

The Spud Shack brings new meaning to the term “loaded potato”. Their spuds are baked, flash-fried for flavor and loaded with homemade sauces and seasonings. Add five different meat choices, more delicious toppings or veggies only, and you have a delicious gourmet meal! Hoagies or pitas with homemade fries are also available

TRUCK NOR RIS /trucknorrisstl

GR AZE /grazecateringstl /grazecatering

SEOU L TACO /grazefoodtruck

Graze is a fun, funky, green truck with an eclectic flare for food. Chef Amelia Timms' food is influenced from the many places she has lived over 25 years following her husband's naval career — from the east and west coasts April 2020 April 2020

/seoultaco

PA PPY'S ROL LI N' SMOK E /pappysrollinsmoke /pappysrollinbbq Bringing the best of Pappy's

Seoul Taco's menu combines big, bold Korean flavors with Mexican cooking techniques from Chef David Choi. Dishes include burritos, tacos, nachos, and bowls that can be customized with different proteins and toppings. Fan favorite menu items include Bulgogi

Truck Norris brings fun and excitement to your taste buds, creating twists on favorite classic comfort foods. Get your hands on signature Tot-chos – BBQ pulled pork nachos served on crispy tater tots. Owner Todd Norris prides himself in serving tasty food in ways you haven’t seen before. Truck Norris offers a unique catering menu to bring your parties and office events to the next level. Follow along on social media for menus, great entertainment and drool-worthy photos. saucemagazine.com saucemagazine.com I SAUCE I SAUCEMAGAZINE MAGAZINE I 35 I2


PARTNER CONTENT

Get back in the game at Three Sixty rooftop bar BY LAUREN HEALEY

The new shrimp skewer is served with honey aioli, orange slices, slaw and almonds.

“The second you get off the elevator, you’re wowed by the gorgeous views of the river, downtown and Busch Stadium,” said general manager Griffin Letch. “But once you acclimate to that, we’ll wow you with our excellent service, food and drink.”

The assorted open-flame pizzas are also great to share.

Executive chef Tudor Seserman has introduced some delicious new menu items perfect to enjoy while you patiently wait for those sought-after games to begin again. “We’ve got a ton of great options that are ideal to share among a group,” Letch said. He added the fast execution often catches guests by surprise as orders are brought out as soon as they are ready tapas-style, adding to the social vibe of the restaurant.

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“We marinate the shrimp in chimichurri,” Seserman said. “It’s very bright and fresh. The marcona almonds add some nice texture and crunch.”

“We change up a lot of the pizzas seasonally, but we have an awesome vegan mushroom pizza with some nice hen of the woods mushrooms and vegan cheese, which is becoming very in demand,” Seserman said. Although the menu features a plethora of shareables, Three Sixty is also a great place to enjoy a full dinner (game or no game), with entrees like a lobster roll, grilled lamb chops and a strip steak. “I wanted a straightforward meat-and-potatoes dish on the menu, but with some unique elements, so I pair the steak with porcini ketchup,” Seserman said. “And I do a spin on a baked potato and use fingerlings, which are a little more interesting.”

The smash burger is also highly popular. “We wanted the traditional sesame seed elements, but we use a brioche bun,” Seserman said. “The onions are very simple but caramelized in duck fat, which gives more umami.” Three Sixty has a vast selection of brews and a cocktail program that has added to the fame of local mixologist Kyle Mathis. He is currently in the process creating a new cocktail menu with an array of unexpected combinations. “Ten out of our 12 taps are local beers right now,” Letch said. “Whether you’re into 4 Hands or Urban Chestnut, or just want a classic Bud Light on tap, we’ve got you covered, and we have a good bottle selection too. One of the things we like to reiterate is that, while this is an ideal place to come chill on game day, it’s also a great spot for dinner and drinks on any occasion.” Although the restaurant is closed amid COVID-19 health concerns, stay tuned at 360-stl.com and on social media to see when it reopens to celebrate everyone’s good health. In the meantime, stop by Three Sixty’s sister restaurant, Basso at The Cheshire, which is serving to-go orders from its basement spot.

PHOTOS BY LAUREN HEALEY

There’s no better place to celebrate baseball season than Three Sixty atop the downtown Hilton hotel. With the current coronavirus outbreak and, therefore, uncertainty regarding the rescheduling of the Cardinal’s home opener, however, the restaurant has shifted its focus to more than the unrivaled view.

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L A S T B I T E // W H AT I D O

clients all day, then I was in school all night and cooked all weekend. I was basically a personal chef for three years.” “ W h e n I wa s i n culinary school , I studied under my current executive chef, Chris Tucker. I almost couldn’t believe he took this job when I offered it.” “ N o t o n ly d o I h av e t o p r o v i d e c o n s i s t e n t ly perfect products, but I gotta keep the juju good. If front-of-house and back-ofhouse aren’t gelling, it can mess everything up. If they love where they work and feel valued, they’re the best. My employees are everything to me.”

J ILLIAN

TED ESCO

Fit-Flavors founder Jillian Tedesco’s business was not born from entrepreneurial spirit (though she certainly has one). Rather, she turned to cooking as a coping mechanism after she closed a fitness studio. She started preparing food for clients, who began to rely on her for meal prep. Demand quickly outgrew supply. The first Fit-Flavors opened in Chesterfield in 2013, followed by one in Brentwood in 2015, and another in Creve Coeur in 2016. Online sales launched in 2017, and a St. Peters storefront opened this March. Here’s how Tedesco went from personal trainer to CEO of a flourishing brand. – Lauren Healey

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“ I d i d n ’ t g r a d u at e c o l l e g e ; I never thought I would be a CEO. I figured a CEO would go to college and business school, but that wasn’t the case. School was challenging for me. I had these demons in my mind that wanted to hold me back, but I realized I could overcome that. I just got nominated for the 40 Under 40 by the [St. Louis] Business Journal.” “I spent a decade in the fitness i n d u s t r y, but my biggest

passion was understanding how the human body could change through manipulation of nutrition. I spent a lot of time reading, researching and studying nutrition. Then I realized, ‘Well, shoot, I gotta learn how to cook.’ ... Within a couple months of cooking for my clients, I enlisted in culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu.” “I got up to cooking about 6 5 0 m e a l s out of my home kitchen. I had one oven and nine refrigerators. I’d train

“Most of the h e a lt h i s s u e s skyrocketing today stem from bad eating habits and lack of physical activity, from diabetes to heart problems that have people on more medication than ever before. They need to start caring about their health. We want to teach them how to have a healthy lifestyle without giving anything up and still enjoying what they eat.”

April 2020

PHOTO BY ANDY ATCHISON

Fit-Flavors, multiple locations, fit-flavors.com

“It’s been very h a r d physically, mentally and spiritually. I’ve had two children and raised a family through this. I have to be very dynamic and nimble. Training my team to take care of everything gives me the freedom to step back and steer the boat, you could say. I’ve just recently gotten myself out of the everyday tasks like deliveries and working in the store.”


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Profile for Sauce Magazine

April 2020  

April 2020  

Profile for saucemag