WATC H louie cook alex herman and the rest of our rising stars on p. 24
TO TRY TH IS MO NTH
January 2019 INDEPENDENT CULINARY AUTHORITY ST. LOUISâ€™
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JANUARY 2019 • VOLUME 19, ISSUE 1 What’s your favorite hot drink?
Nothing beats a hot toddy with
PUBLISHER ART DIRECTOR MANAGING EDITOR MANAGING EDITOR, DIGITAL STAFF WRITERS EDIBLE WEEKEND EDITORS PROOFREADER SENIOR DESIGNER ASSOCIATE EDITOR CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS
CONTRIBUTING ILLUSTRATOR CONTRIBUTING WRITERS My dad always made something called Hot Glogg around the holidays. He’d ladle it out for his friends, and they’d play Euchre. I couldn’t wait to get old enough to have some.
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honey, clove, cinnamon, a little Allyson Mace lemon and some nice, sharp Meera Nagarajan whiskey. Heather Hughes Catherine Klene Adam Rothbarth, Matt Sorrell Lauren Healey, Catherine Klene Megan Gilmore Michelle Volansky An Irish coffee. Lauren Healey Julia Calleo, Jonathan Gayman, Izaiah Johnson, David Kovaluk, Greg Rannells, Carmen Troesser, Michelle Volansky Vidhya Nagarajan Glenn Bardgett, Julie Cohen, Lauren Healey, Katie Herrera, Heather Hughes, Jamie Kilgore, Ted Kilgore, Catherine Klene, Kevin Korinek, Monica Obradovic, Michael Renner, Adam Rothbarth, Matt Sorrell, Stephanie Zeilenga Allyson Mace Matt Bartosz, Angie Rosenberg Amy Hyde Amy Hyde Monica Obradovic, Sophie Tegenu, Jane Thier
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St. Louis, MO 63103 January 2019
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contents JANUARY 2019
E AT THIS
STUFF TO DO by monica obradovic
Eggplant with garlic sauce at Sze Chuan Cuisine
by adam rothbarth
WHAT I D O
mexican chilaquiles at crispy edge, p. 15
by catherine klene
3 places to try this month
by heather hughes and catherine klene
O NE S TO WATCH
by julie cohen, heather hughes, catherine klene, kevin korinek, adam rothbarth and matt sorrell
N E W AN D N OTABLE
Food and drink pros with promise
by michael renner 19
NIGHTLIFE The Hideaway
THE GREEN KITCHEN Reduce your carbon footprint
by lauren healey
by stephanie zeilenga COVER DETAILS Ones to Watch 2019
dine & drink
Louie cook Alex Herman is one of the St. Louis food and drink industry’s rising stars. Meet the whole 2019 class of Sauce Ones to Watch on p. 24.
PHOTO BY GREG RANNELLS
A SE AT AT TH E BA R Four experts tell us what to sip, stir and shake
PHOTO BY IZAIAH JOHNSON
by glenn bardgett, katie herrera, and ted and jamie kilgore 22
ELIXIR Hot drinks
Tune in to St. Louis Public Radio 90.7 FM when Sauce’s Heather Hughes joins 2019 One to Watch Dakota Williams and One to Watch alum Evy Swoboda to talk about their careers as young chefs on the rise in St. Louis. And join us at the beginning of the month when we discuss the musttry new restaurants on the January Hit List.
by matt sorrell
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EAT THIS SZE CHUAN’S EGGPLANT WITH GARLIC SAUCE is so good it’ll change your idea of what eggplant can be. One of the most common veggie dishes found on Sichuan menus, eggplant is also one of the most difficult to get right. This one is cooked impeccably in a beautiful blend of oil, dried red peppers and sizeable, aromatic pieces of garlic. PHOTO BY JULIA CALLEO
Soft to the palate, it still has heft and substance and even seems to elevate the white rice served with it.
SZE CHUAN CUISINE, 7930 OLIVE BLVD., UNIVERSITY CITY, 314.925.8755
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3 new places to try this month
dry-aged porterhouse at grand tavern by david burke
GRAND TAVERN BY DAVID BURKE
PHOTOS BY MICHELLE VOLANSKY
We don’t care that David Burke is a celebrity chef; we care that the roast chicken at his new Grand Tavern in Grand Center is blissfully moist and tender with crisp skin. We care that the menu flourishes meant to entice – cauliflower-pistachio agnolotti and chimichurri sauce with that chicken – are executed with balance and finesse. The on-target richness of the bison short rib and wild mushroom cavatelli is worth a repeat performance, as is the accompanying quenelle of truffle mousse delivered tableside. We’re even up for the spectacle of the Clothesline Bacon (bacon pinned on a mini clothesline and torched tableside) if your party is ready to spend $18 on three strips of bacon. The excellent service alone is a reason to dine at Grand Tavern next time you attend the symphony. Servers ask if you’re going to a performance in Grand Center and pace the meal accordingly.
626 N. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, 314.405.3399, grandtavernstl.com
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Brews are finally flowing at Rockwell Beer Co., the long-awaited project from owner Andy Hille and fellow former Perennial Artisan Ales brewer Jonathan Moxey. Follow the glow of the neon R on Vandeventer Avenue, and start the night with Simple Needs, an easy-drinking blonde ale, or opt for something juicier like Velour Tracksuit, a hazy New England IPA. While Hille and Moxey handle the beer, Niche Food Group’s Joe Landis mans the grill, bringing Brasserie’s famous burgers and bratwursts to the brewery. Although we’ll never say no to a perfectly executed double cheeseburger, we’ll happily tuck in to Brasswell’s (get it?) house-made veggie burger made with black beans, brown rice, bell peppers and corn, along with a basket of thin-cut, ultracrispy fries.
ROCKWELL BEER CO.
3015 Locust St., St. Louis, 314.620.3969, brennanswl.com
1320 S. Vandeventer Ave., St. Louis, 314.256.1657, rockwellbeer.com
rockwell beer co.
a double cheeseburger at rockwell branzino at grand tavern
the bar at grand tavern
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PHOTOS BY MICHELLE VOLANSKY
Brennan’s new concept in Midtown caters to the workday crowd with a large coworking space, free Wi-Fi and plenty of food and drink to fuel the next crop of St. Louis entrepreneurs. Start your morning with Kaldi’s coffee drinks or a nitro cold brew and an egg sandwich with sage sausage and Gruyere on fresh ciabatta, or enjoy a quick power lunch with a colleague. Talk business over a roast beef sandwich with creamy cotswold cheese, peppery arugula and a bright horseradish crema, or the warm turkey club with smoked meat, tomato, bacon and gooey, earthy truffle cheese.
BRENNAN'S WORK & LEISURE
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reviews All Sauce reviews are conducted anonymously.
dishes at crispy edge
NE W A ND N OTA B L E
crispy edge BY MICHAEL RENNER | PHOTOS BY IZAIAH JOHNSON
I l o v e r e s ta u r a n t s embedded in n e i g h b o r h o o d s , especially my neighborhood. When I heard of a place opening on a quiet residential street in Tower Grove South, I was intrigued. When I learned its menu was devoted to my favorite finger food – pot stickers, those irresistible, pleated, puffy pillows of comfort – I was downright thrilled.
new and notable CRISPY EDGE p. 15
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from the sea Azteca. Who doesn’t like seven-layer black bean dip? Wrap it up with a square of nutty chia seed dough, slide it through a drizzle of creamy, cool lime-cilantro crema and a kicky tomato-picante salsa, and you’ve got the ultimate party for one.
reviews NEW AND NOTABLE p. 2 of 2
You can taste each ingredient used in making the different doughs, fanciful fillings and savory sauces – a testament to executive chef Tori Foster’s attention to the art and science of pot stickers. The chorizo-date variety, made with turmeric dough, best exemplified the difference between creatively crafting and merely manufacturing food. A lemon pepper cream dipping sauce both complemented and the dining cooled the spicy-sweet room at dumplings’ robust flavors. crispy edge
Proust had his madeleine. For St. Louis entrepreneur David Dresner, the Chinese pot sticker is a remembrance of things past – of time spent rolling dumpling dough with his grandfather, a Korean War vet and culinary school graduate. In addition to owning a custom coffee sleeve and coaster company, Dresner started what he called his passion project, wholesaling pot stickers to local businesses, five years ago. He renovated the back of a former community center into a production facility and catering commissary and, after a few pop-ups and private dinners, converted the front into a weekends-only restaurant. It’s all quite sleek – more Washington Avenue than Juniata Street – with dark ink-colored walls, subdued lighting, a bar in the back and a comfy lounge area in the front. The grow lights from a couple hydroponic walls alive with microgreens cast a deep, rosy glow.
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Our exposure to pot stickers has long been as a takeout commodity. Dresner cherished those versions he chowed down on the way home from school as a kid, but I bet they weren’t as memorable as the traditional pot stickers I ordered one night, consisting of ginger-seasoned ground pork and cabbage and citrus ponzu glaze, topped with daikon microgreens. If the Mexican chilaquiles is any indication, I’m all in on the gourmetization of the Chinese snack. Garlicky dough surrounded a piquant chicken verde filling with black beans, cotija crumbles and cilantro sprigs scattered on top. A squeeze of lime and an avocado crema dipping sauce provided creamy zing, and I added the grilled street corn small plate – sweet, salty, savory, nutty, creamy and tart all at once – to complete my meal. The most popular is another Mexican-inspired version: the vegan
Where 4168 Juniata St., St. Louis, 314.310.3343, crispyedge.com
Don’t Miss Dishes From the Sea, For the Party, Mexican chilaquiles
Pot stickers come either three or six per order, and it can be difficult to narrow choices. Here, Crispy Edge could benefit from a sampler plate or pot sticker flight. There are also four dinner entrees on offer, along with a seasonal option, each paired with specific pot stickers and a cutesy name. From the Sea consisted of three slices of sesame ahi tuna lined up like crimson stained-glass tiles topped with thinly sliced wasabi-marinated cucumbers and a traditional dumpling. A splash of citrus ponzu provided acidity while bonito flakes (katsuobushi) imparted subtle smokiness. A side of bok choy to share rounded out the meal. My other favorite, From the Coop, consisted of a jerk chicken thigh atop sofrito rice with grilled pineapple relish paired with the spicy chorizo-date pot stickers. For the Party also packed in the flavor with sticky, succulent St. Louis-style ribs slathered in sweet, tangy barbecue sauce on a mound of bacon-cheddar mashed potatoes and blue cheese sauce. Buffalo chicken pot stickers – ranch-
Vibe Calm, sleek design elements with an upbeat, clublike vibe on busy nights
herb dough plumped with a chicken and celery filling and glazed in Buffalo wing sauce – accompanied the dish. Sunday brunch offers five unique entrees incorporating Breakfast Stickers. (A bottomless cup of Blueprint coffee comes in handy while making hard choices.) The Quiche au Chevre dumplings proved a good choice with chive dough filled with egg and creamy goat cheese. Ordering Eggs Your Way (two eggs and three pot stickers covered in your choice of sauce) with the biscuits and gravy pot sticker, however, arrived with everything loaded on a small plate, making for a messy, albeit delicious, dish. For dessert there are apple pie and Cherry Blossom pot stickers. The former wrapped apple pie filling in cinnamon dough and bourbon-caramel sauce, while the latter used almond dough as the vehicle for mascarpone-cherry filling. Crispy Edge serves cocktails, but it’s the quality and affordability of the wine list that sets it apart. No glass is over $8, and no bottle exceeds $27, which is perfect when you want to sit outside on a summer evening sipping French rosé or meet friends on a snowy weekend afternoon to share Spanish rioja while munching on the most creative pot stickers in town.
Entree prices $8 to $18
When Fri. and Sat. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sun. brunch 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. January 2019
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for those who care to catch the game, but not a dominating feature.
the hideaway BY STEPHANIE ZEILENGA | PHOTOS BY IZAIAH JOHNSON
o hipster bar masquerading as a dive, The Hideaway has earned its worn-in feel with more than six decades in business. This is a quintessential no-frills neighborhood watering hole with low lighting, icy cold drinks and a clientele that defies easy classification, except
O R D E R T H I S January 2019
perhaps that regulars are a thing here, and they love to greet each other with a hug or a friendly slap on the back. The slightest smell of cigarettes betrays the bar’s long history. It changed ownership in 2016, but things reportedly stayed exactly the same except for
Although The Hideaway hosts a variety of intriguing events – Meat Bingo, anyone? – Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights reign supreme. When a pianist takes a seat at the circular piano booth in the middle of the bar and The Hideaway starts doing 5900 Arsenal St., St. his thing, Louis, 314.645.8822, the room Facebook: The transforms Hideaway into something a little more festive, a little more intimate. Two musicians, Chris Swan and Oliver Johnson, share the schedule. I caught Johnson one night. In addition to his piano chops, he also kills it on a fresh coat of paint and the the trumpet and trombone, removal of some less-thanand his repertoire leans toward spotless carpeting. Smokers crooners like Frankie Valli were kicked out of the bar, but and Frank Sinatra. Naturally, they still congregate outside dancing happens. the front door. On weekends, regulars hold court at the The decor isn’t the only thing long wood bar or around about The Hideaway that tables outfitted with heavy packs a nostalgic punch. wooden chairs that can only No expensive 10-ingredient be described as “grandparent cocktails (or even a cocktail basic.” Dark red, textured menu, really) here. The plaster walls accentuate the low bartenders work from a lighting, while two paintings playbook that predates all of buxom women framing the the 2010s mixology excesses, bar add a whisper of old-school preferring drinks that are naughtiness. For sports fans, cold, strong and simple. there are three TVs – enough This means they can work
a bartender pours a glass of ecco domani pinot grigio.
their magic quickly, mixing up drinks and handing out buckets of beer while maintaining a friendly conversation with the characters at the bar. That’s not to say they don’t know their stuff. When I ordered an Old-Fashioned, the bartender admitted they didn’t have oranges, an essential ingredient in the classic drink. Honesty is valuable in a bartender; I’d rather order something else than be handed a Frankenstein mess of a drink like the ones I remember notso-fondly from college bars. I happily ordered a Manhattan instead, and it was perfectly done. Like any dive worthy of the label, the booze here is cheap. Cans of Natural Light and Miller High Life go for $2, and cocktails are around $5. Higher-pedigreed beers are available too. Tucked away behind the bar is a fridge case with a nice assortment of local brews from Urban Chestnut Brewing Co., Schlafly and 4 Hands Brewing Co., as well as a few selections of wine. For those nights when you just want something simple and good and don’t want to have to think too hard, The Hideaway’s affordability and come-asyou-are-vibe are an appealing antidote to trendier bars.
the hideaway is a great place for kicking back with a stiff glass of whiskey.
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maplewood brewery’s charlatan american pale ale features notes of tropical fruit, earthy pine and grapefruit pith.
ILLUSTRATIONS BY VIDHYA NAGARAJAN; PHOTO BY CARMEN TROESSER
A SEAT AT THE BAR / Four experts tell us what to sip, stir and shake Heaven’s Door Double Barrel Whiskey is the marriage of three aged American whiskeys rested an additional year together in charred oak barrels. It exudes notes of toasted oak, vanilla, butterscotch, spices, brown TED AND JAMIE butter and black walnut. KILGORE With flavor as exquisite as USBG, B.A.R. Ready, BarSmart the packaging (the artwork is and co-owners/bartenders at Planter’s House designed by Bob Dylan, who is part owner) you’ll feel like you’re “knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door.” $50. Randall’s Wine & Spirits, 10800 Lincoln Trail, Fairview Heights, 618.394.9800, shoprandalls.com January 2019
Vines planted as long ago as 1900 inject power and complexity into the 2015 Klinker Brick Old Vine Zinfandel, the most American of West Coast reds. While cabernet is GLENN BARDGETT too tannic and pinot noir Member of the Missouri Wine is too soft to accompany and Grape Board and wine football-fueled fare, director at Annie Gunn’s this Goldilocks red is just right. Soft tannins and berry fruit richness stimulate your senses and pair well with smoky barbecue or pizza. $20. The Vino Gallery, 4701 McPherson Ave., St. Louis, 314.932.5665, thevinogallery.com
Awaken your senses with the new-to-the-Lou Charlatan from Chicagobased Maplewood Brewery. The Great American Beer Festival medal-winning American pale ale is clean and balanced with a sensory KATIE HERRERA profile dominated by juicy Area sales manager at tropical fruit, earthy pine Revolution Brewing and grapefruit pith. This blend showcases an amber hue, medium body and a lovely caramel malt balance to the vibrant, hoppy notes that resonate on the palate. Four-pack: $10. Saint Louis Hop Shop, 2600 Cherokee St., St. Louis, 314.261.4011, saintlouishopshop.com saucemagazine.com I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 21
HOT DRINKS B Y M AT T S O R R E L L
There’s nothing more comforting than getting out of the cold and bellying up to the bar for a warm mug of boozy goodness. Here are five spirited spots offering first-rate hot drinks.
Reeds American Table For those after a traditional tipple, Reeds has all the boozy bases covered. The house hot toddy is available with a choice of aged rum, brown butterwashed rum or whiskey. House ginger syrup, lemon and cinnamon round out the wintry mix. For something lighter in alcohol but still big in flavor, try Reeds’ mulled wine with cinnamon, star anise, clove, fennel seed, Sichuan peppercorn and citrus. 7322 Manchester Road, Maplewood, 314.899.9821, reedsamericantable.com
Drinkers in the know cozy up with the French Mexican Hot Chocolate, an off-menu specialty at Frazer’s. Herbal Green Chartreuse and spicy Ancho Reyes chili liqueur play nicely with a topper of hot chocolate capped with a flamed marshmallow. 1811 Pestalozzi St., St. Louis, 314.773.8646, frazersgoodeats.com
tai. 1000 Mississippi Ave., St. Louis, 314.696.2603, plantershousestl.com
Planter’s House Part of Planter’s seasonal roller derbythemed menu, The Jammer features both Plantation Xaymaca and El Dorado 3-Year rums along with Big O ginger liqueur, house-made chestnut syrup, lime juice and butter. Think of it as a warm, wintry take on a mai
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Eclipse Restaurant at the Moonrise Hotel Get on board the polar beverage express with Eclipse’s Sweater Weather. Dark fruit and spices abound with house-made, quince-infused
cognac leading the way and creme de cocoa, allspice liqueur, cinnamon and heavy cream making up the caboose. 6177 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314.726.2222, moonrisehotel.com
Taste The festive Feral Children at Taste promises to keep the chill at bay.
The drink is built on a split base of Rittenhouse rye whiskey and Old Forester 100 bourbon. Ginger liqueur, chai-sorghum syrup and lemon balance things out, while Angostura and Suze aromatic bitters add some complexity. 4584 Laclede Ave., St. Louis, 314.361.1200, tastebarstl.com
PHOTO BY CARMEN TROESSER
Frazer’s Restaurant & Lounge
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FOOD AND DRINK PROS WITH PROMISE
P H O T O S BY G R E G R A N N E L L S // PIXELOGRAPHY BY DANNY HOMMES
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Suji Grant PASTRY CHEF, NICHE FOOD GROUP AGE: 32 WHY WATCH HER: SHE HAS PASTRY DOWN TO A SCIENCE.
There were no limits in the Grant home. Growing
up, Suji Grant ran ragged through the house. She was never reprimanded for using a pencil to sketch all over the walls. She made sailboats out of refrigerator boxes with her dad.
“I just aspire to be as cool as my dad one day,” she laughed. A self-employed artist, carpenter and all-around everyman, he’s the reason Grant jumps into learning new things – from studying biology and anatomy at San Francisco State University with the hopes of working in the field to running circles around the Italian restaurant scene in Manhattan, working dogged hours to deliver immaculate wedding cakes to Brooklyn socialites. Her dad is also the reason Grant got into the food industry. “Every year we make a cake together to celebrate my birthday, and I just fell in love with it.” Now she’s a pastry chef in the Niche Food Group commissary, where the Grant inventive spirit has made its mark in some unexpected ways – like the focaccia recipe at Sardella, much to Niche Food Group owner
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Gerard Craft’s amazement. “She didn’t just change it,” Craft said. “She brought in a brand-new recipe.” Executive pastry chef Sarah Osborne sees the same kind of innovation. “She made a cassata that we put on the menu – a Nutella, vanilla ice cream cake kind of thing that was over-the-top and really just delightful,” Osborne said. “She has an eye for precision, and she nails the small details every time.”
“I love problem-solving
and efficiency, so when I see things that don’t gel, I just have to go for it,” Grant said. And while it’s that penchant for precision that makes her one to watch, we’re looking at the ways she wants to draw outside the lines in St. Louis. “I miss all the delivery options in New York, but I think an expansive freezer section would be cool, something that offers housemade pans of lasagna for takeaway,” she said. While she’s still troubleshooting her next leap into something new, we’ll be watching. – Kevin Korinek Niche Food Group, Facebook: Niche Food Group January 2019
Dakota Wil iams EXECUTIVE SOUS CHEF, SARDELLA AGE: 24 WHY WATCH HIM: HE NEVER STOPS WORKING.
Dakota Williams’ secret to success? Become a Swiss Army knife.
Williams has worn a lot of hats for Niche Food Group in a short amount of time. He started at Pastaria as a line cook, then helped open Porano and worked his way up the chain to become kitchen manager there. He helped set up Pastaria in Nashville. Now he’s an executive sous chef at Sardella. Always the first to raise his hand to help out, Williams has become one of Niche Food Group owner Gerard Craft’s go-to people for events in cities across the nation. “He is super young and insanely hard-working,” Craft said. “When he came on as sous chef at Sardella, he was really responsible for taking brunch and making it a hot spot.” He was 23 then.
His work ethic is the stuff
of legend. Craft said it’s a rare trait in young chefs. “When young people fail, they let it cripple them, but Dakota’s really good at taking feedback, making changes and growing from it way faster than anybody his age.”
Call him on his day off, and you’ll find Williams reading a stack of cookbooks. Curiosity motivates him. Competition challenges him. “When I was a kid, I was very rebellious – I just liked proving people wrong,” Williams said. Now he wants to prove people right. “Failure pushes me to keep trying.”
It’s a drive that has Sardella executive chef Brian Moxey keeping an eye on Williams’ career. “He’s constantly thinking of different dishes. He came up with this chicken liver mousse with jalapeno and apple jelly – I was having a hard time wrapping my head around some of his flavors – but it was really good and a great way to use a byproduct of the chickens that we serve to our customers.” For the future, Williams’ gaze is focused squarely on the plate in front of him. “There’s nothing I like more than fine dining and serving food that people can really experience.” To keep doing what he loves, Williams plans to keep his wits sharp – and his blades sharper. – Kevin Korinek Sardella, 7734 Forsyth Blvd., Clayton, 314.773.7755, sardellastl.com saucemagazine.com I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 27
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Alex Herman COOK, LOUIE AGE: 23 WHY WATCH HIM: HE’S THE CHEF ST. LOUIS CHEFS ARE ROOTING FOR.
They call him The Little Chef. Alex Herman was
the most recommended person for Ones to Watch this year. Gerard Craft (Niche Food Group), Alex Donnelly (Gioia’s Deli), Brian Lagerstrom (formerly Union Loafers), Cary McDowell (Pi Pizzeria), Chris Meyer (Kitchen Kulture), Nick Bognar (Nippon Tei), Tim Wiggins (Yellowbelly) and more suggested him. None of them will directly benefit from his success. “Yes, it’s the cooking; he’s a very good cook,” said Louie owner Matt McGuire. If you love the fish specials at Louie, you know Herman is good. But that’s not the only thing that matters in a kitchen. “It’s a small boat. If a kid’s an asshole, it’s a long day. He knows how to make the day be OK.” Herman is the kind of guy unfazed by a burly chef friend suddenly grabbing him from behind, kissing his cheek and asking if he can join an interview. One of six siblings in a family of first responders, he’s used to taking shit. “It’s definitely helped me out,” he laughed. “Say whatever you want to me – I don’t care! It’s already been said.”
The fend-for-yourself lessons of growing up in a large family have also helped. Herman first learned how to cook from his firefighter dad because he wanted to be able to make his own breakfast when his mom, a police dispatcher, was busy. He took French starting in middle school because he thought it might help him in the industry. It has. He also took cooking classes at South County Technical School during high school and attended the Culinary School at St. Louis Community College – Forest Park while working at Pastaria and Niche after graduation. He needed carpal tunnel surgery in 2016 and came back to work at the now-closed Porano after two months.
Ask Herman about his strengths, and he’ll tell you
about his failures.
“Porano was really great,” he said. “The thing about Porano and Niche is that I failed a lot at both of them.” But along with cheerfully chronicling his supervisors’ admonishments (Sam Witherspoon, One to Watch class of 2017, had him write out his Niche shifts in fiveminute increments to help with time management), Herman related how he
now keeps his station clean, is more efficient and has become a good teacher. “[Sam] would always say, ‘Whenever you get your James Beard Award, I’m the first person you thank, alright?’ He’s the first person I’m gonna thank if I ever get it,” Herman said.
That blend of humility and
confidence is what makes him a darling of the St. Louis industry. Many cooks feel like they already have to know everything, but Herman is open. He’ll ask questions. If you want to get better faster, you have to ask questions. “He is at school, and he is a great student at every level,” said McGuire. “He is clearly taking all the jobs he can.” Beyond that, “part of being a really good chef is being able to recruit,” McGuire said. Good chefs inspire old colleagues to move across the country when they open restaurants. “Alex is definitely that kind of guy,” McGuire said. “One of these days, there’s going to be a Chez Alex – or a Chez Little Chef.” – Heather Hughes Louie, 706 DeMun Ave., Clayton, 314.300.8188, louiedemun.com saucemagazine.com I SAUCE MAGAZINE I 29
Juliette Dottle SOMMELIER AND ASSISTANT GENERAL MANAGER, ELMWOOD AGE: 27 WHY WATCH HER: SHEâ€™S AIMING FOR THE MICHELIN STARS.
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For the misogynous and moronic, it would be easy
One thing she prides herself on is hearing what people mean even when they aren’t saying it.
In 2016, she followed her new-ish boyfriend from Baltimore to St. Louis. That boyfriend took the St. Louis wine scene by storm, quickly becoming general manager and wine director at Blood & Sand and making our 2017 Ones to Watch list at just 22.
“When a guest says he wants a dry white wine, well 99 percent of our whites are dry, so that doesn’t really help. I have to decipher what he really wants. Do you mean floral? Do you like it oaky?”
to underestimate Juliette Dottle.
Dottle worked at Blood & Sand too, but no one had really heard of her until she took over her boyfriend’s job when he decided to move on to Reeds American Table. He stuck around Blood & Sand for a little while, though, to help out as she studied for her level 2 certified sommelier exam – a test he passed two years prior. Yet to ever call her “Zac Adcox’s girlfriend” instead of Juliette Dottle would be a grave mistake.
“She has an inherent confidence,” said Chris
Kelling, owner and operator of Elmwood, slated to open this month. “And her confidence is backed up by a great depth of knowledge balanced with a deep understanding of what we do.” By “what we do,” Kelling means hospitality. Dottle’s grasp of it is what he thinks sets her apart from other sommeliers.
She figures out exactly
what guests want, even if it’s something they’ve never tried before. Rather than telling guests what she wants to sell, she brings them what they want to drink. In essence, every guest helps her become better at her job. Even though she first earned a degree in biochemistry, Dottle sees the wine industry as her future. “She is here to stay. This is not her fallback career,” Kelling said. After Elmwood, she’d like to work in a Michelin-starred restaurant. Opening her own restaurant is also a goal. As for today, “I just want to keep learning,” she said. After all, she has the advanced sommelier exam to pass this year. And according to everyone else in the local wine community, she is bound for the master exam sooner rather than later. As for Juliette Dottle’s boyfriend?
“She wants to first make the guest happy, which is super refreshing,” Kelling said. “Wine and fancy pins are irrelevant without the guest.”
She laughed lovingly and then raised her eyebrows. “I’ve already eclipsed him.” – Julie Cohen
Dottle concurs. “It’s not about selling a bottle, it’s finding a bottle,” she said.
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Connor James HEAD ROASTER AND COFFEE DIRECTOR, COMA COFFEE AGE: 25 WHY WATCH HIM: HIS COLD BREW IS ONE OF THE BEST IN THE COUNTRY.
Within seconds of meeting you, Connor James might disappear deep down the rabbit hole. Questions about your day can quickly transition to a cool discourse on microclimates in Colombia. As it turns out, there are many. And if you want to know the name of the farmer who grew the beans used to make the coffee you’re drinking, he’ll tell you that too. A coffee obsessive with a cartographer’s knowledge of geography, James regards the act of drinking like a travel experience. “Tasting coffees from different origins and different cultures, being able to bring that to people who are going about their average day and having them enter, so to speak, another part of the world … I think that’s amazing,” he said. At 18, James was your average Starbucks barista. By 20, he was honing his
expertise at VB Chocolate Bar in Cottleville, where he rose to manage the coffee program. He joined the team at Coma Coffee a few months after it opened in 2016. The following year, at 24, he became head roaster and coffee director. Co-owners Corbin and Macy Holtzman have encouraged James’ experimentation with beans and profiles that pique his interest, like his current obsession: Ally Coffee’s Monteblanco Pink Bourbon. Such enthusiasms drive what he’s trying to do at Coma. One of his favorite ways to engage with people is by hosting public cuppings. He sees the events as opportunities to educate imbibers about flavor and aroma profiles, terroir and even the history and politics of a region. He’s also working on side-byside tastings of naturalprocess and washedprocess beans so he can
help people understand the different nuances. But James’ goals don’t end with Coma’s space in Richmond Heights. One dream is to can his awardwinning cold brew to sell at retail stores, competing with legacy brewers like Stumptown and Chameleon. Coma aims to bridge the gap between corporate coffee accessibility and artisanal erudition. James embodies that balance, never dipping into the snobbish antics you may expect from a highconcept barista. Despite his ecstatic passion, he comes off as surprisingly calm, focused and soft-spoken, especially for someone who drinks coffee all day. For James, each cup is a story, and 2019 will be full of unique narratives. – Adam Rothbarth Coma Coffee, 1034 S. Brentwood Blvd., Richmond Heights, 314.250.1042, comacoffee.com
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Shimon Otsuka KITCHEN MANAGER, NATHANIEL REID BAKERY AGE: 25 WHY WATCH HIM: HE’S ON AN INTERNATIONAL QUEST TO PERFECT PASTRY.
Shimon Otsuka fell hard for Scarlett. The two-
tone, mirror-glazed cake so enamored him that he drove from North Carolina to Nathaniel Reid Bakery to see it in person – and meet the man who made it. “It was just the looks. I didn’t know anything about Nathaniel,” he said. “I didn’t even know where St. Louis was.” The drive from the East Coast to Kirkwood was arguably one of Otsuka’s shorter journeys in pursuit of pastry. He grew up living between Boston and Saitama, Japan, where he first fell in love with traditional French cakes. “Before I go to bed, it’s always on my mind,” he said. “New cakes, new ideas – [I’m] constantly thinking about new flavors.” At 19, Otsuka walked into one of Tokyo’s most prestigious bakeries, Patisserie Aplanos, and asked chef Shinpei Asada for a job. “I’m still not a sweet tooth, but I will eat all the cakes,” he said. “That was one of my
favorite things to do back in Japan because there are so many pastry shops in Tokyo. [On our day off,] me and my friends would go around to 10 or 15 different pastry shops and buy one cake each. We’ll take one bite out of each cake and move on.”
That curiosity took Otsuka
halfway around the world just to stage for Reid, another internationally renowned pastry chef. It goes without saying that Otsuka is talented – at the end of day one, Reid offered him a full-time job. It’s not just skill that sets Otsuka apart, however. “It doesn’t take talent to show up on time. It doesn’t take talent to work hard,” Reid said. “It does take the discipline and the will to do that. … He checks those boxes daily.” Now kitchen manager, Otsuka’s approach to pastry is equal parts scientific – meticulously coaxing flavors and textures to perfection – and sculptural aesthetic. “Every single cake is so artistic. Just a small touch can change the looks of the cake,” he said.
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His nomadic education will eventually put down roots at his own pastry shop. “Right now, it’s all over. I keep changing my mind,” he said, laughing. “For now, I really want to do just cakes, so it’s going to be a patisserie, a viennoiseries (laminated dough, so breakfast
pastries), confiserie (which is the jams) and a chocolaterie (chocolates). I’m trying to keep it within those four.” He still has another continent to hit before he opens doors, though: Europe, birthplace of his beloved pastry techniques. “I’ve learned a
lot at my old shop in Japan, I learned a lot at this shop, and I hope to learn a lot more in the future,” he said. – Catherine Klene Nathaniel Reid Bakery, 11243 Manchester Road, Kirkwood, 314.858.1019, nrbakery.com
Tai Nalewajko From his hometown near Flint, Michigan, to film school in New York,
then seminary studies in Springfield, Missouri, Tai Nalewajko didn’t plan to end up behind the bar. Nalewajko discovered bartending by chance while working as a server and cook at Buffalo Wild Wings – a bartender didn’t show, and Nalewajko got the nod. The happy accident sent him down a new path toward St. Louis and stints at bars as diverse as Cantina Laredo, Elaia & Olio, Blood & Sand and Atomic Cowboy, along with a turn as market manager at Kansas City’s Tom’s Town Distilling Co. It wasn’t until 2017 that Nalewajko found a true home behind the bar when a consulting gig turned into a bar manager position at Delmar Loop stalwart The Blue Ocean. “I used to drink sake once in a while and didn’t know what soju was until I started at Blue Ocean,” Nalewajko said. “It’s kind of unfolded over the past year.” In that short time, the bar program at Blue Ocean has become known for creative
BAR MANAGER, THE BLUE OCEAN AGE: 28 WHY WATCH HIM: HE GETS PEOPLE TO DRINK OUTSIDE THEIR COMFORT ZONES.
cocktails and a stock of hardto-find Asian spirits, while Nalewajko has become a fixture on the St. Louis scene for both his skills and his personality behind the bar. “He tries to motivate people to drink outside their comfort zone,” said Planter’s House co-owner Ted Kilgore, who has judged Nalewajko at cocktail competitions and hired him to work at Miracle, a holiday pop-up bar. “He’s so light-hearted. He makes it about fun, not about him or his knowledge.”
Nalewajko’s wanderlust is
unabated. He’s helping The Blue Ocean owner Chai Ploentham put together a new concept in Chicago and plans to open his own place eventually – maybe a dive, “dingy but not dirty,” with a playlist heavy on punk and hip-hop, or a small, intimate spot a la downtown Tokyo, tucked away in an alley or an anonymous office building. “I like the idea of something being off the beaten path.” – Matt Sorrell The Blue Ocean, 6335 Delmar Blvd., University City, 314.726.6477, blueoceanstl.com
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THE GREEN KITCHEN Cutting back on kitchen waste – from spoiled produce to one-use items like plastic wrap – is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and do something to better our besmirched planet. While the greenest thing you can do is not buy anything and simply reuse and recycle what you already have, these products can help on your journey toward an eco-friendly lifestyle. – Lauren Healey January 2019
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THE GREEN KITCHEN
Urban Vermiculture Mini Bin
At-home composting is more compelling when you consider that landfills are so densely packed that even an apple core could take years to fully break down. If a countertop worm farm sounds off-putting, don’t be alarmed. This kit is ideal for composting newbies and will remain odor-free if used properly. The worms thrive on fruit and veggie scraps, coffee grounds and shredded paper, but certain things (like onion, citrus and spicy foods) cannot be composted, so do your homework before getting started. $20. Larder & Cupboard, 7310 Manchester Road, Maplewood, 314.300.8995, larderandcupboard.com
One Eye Blind Woodworks utensils
This durable alternative to foil and plastic wrap is made from organic fabric coated in a mixture of tree resin, beeswax and jojoba oil. With regular use, they last a year or more, then can be cut up and composted or wrapped around kindling to start your next fire. (Learn to make your own at samg.bz/ DIYbeeswrap.) Three-pack: $18. Kitchen Conservatory, 8021 Clayton Road, Clayton, 314.862.2665, kitchenconservatory.com
These eco-conscious wooden kitchen utensils are sourced exclusively from foraged wood. Made in Sullivan, each piece is labeled with the type of tree it’s made from. If properly cared for, they’ll last for years. $18. Larder & Cupboard, 7310 Manchester Road, Maplewood, 314.300.8995, larderandcupboard.com
Kitchen Dynamo e-cloth
Not only are sponges breeding grounds for microscopic bacteria, they’re often laced with bleach and dyes. The extra-long fibers on this sponge alternative make cleaning your kitchen a cinch using only water and a little elbow grease. $8. Local Harvest Grocery, 3108 Morgan Ford Road, St. Louis, 314.865.5260, localharvestgrocery.com
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About half of all produce in the U.S. is thrown away, according to a report from The Guardian, often because it spoils before we get around to using it. Humidity and cool temperatures keep veggies vibrant longer, and these storage bags made from organic cotton help extend the life of produce. Simply wet and wring the bags, then place rinsed veggies inside and keep in the fridge. $19. Vejibag, vejibag.com January 2019
COMPOST BIN AND SPOONS PHOTO BY IZAIAH JOHNSON
The insane number of plastic straws used by Americans every day – and how many end up in our oceans – has recently attracted controversy. If you’re on board with saving sea turtles but still long for a tube for sipping on the go, these portable, collapsible straws stand the test of twice-daily use for over 15 years. $25. Final Straw, finalstraw.com
make a difference,” said Larder & Cupboard owner Cindy Higgerson. “It was published almost 10 years ago, so it was a frontrunner for this movement, and it’s still relevant today. Alice Waters is the goddess of slow food – local and sustainable. She’s been doing this her whole life, and she’s a good role model for absolutely everyone.” E-book: $16; hardcover: $19. Amazon, amazon.com
“In the Green Kitchen: Techniques to Learn by Heart” by Alice Waters
PRODUCE BAGS PHOTO BY SARAH MULLINS
“This book is full of little ways to change what you’re doing at home to
Tips from St. Louis Earth Day’s Recycling on the Go program director Bob Henkel • “The biggest thing for people to think about is using reusable products as opposed to disposable.” • “Make an effort to recycle. Our recycling rate is stagnant around 30 percent. Recycling creates jobs, reduces pollution and manufacturing of raw materials, and lowers transportation costs and energy usage.”
Simple Ecology deluxe grocery bags
As eco-conscious shoppers embrace the war on plastic bags (which take hundreds of years to degrade), reusable shopping bags are the first line of defense. These heavy-duty organic cotton muslin bags are natural, sustainable and biodegradable, and feature six sleeves to help keep items like bottles and tall veggies upright. Threepack: $22. Simple Ecology, simpleecology.com
STAY GREEN AT HOME
Restorium Designs reusable produce bags
Tired of tossing all those paper-thin produce bags? Pick up a few of these, made from tight-weave mesh paint strainers (with ponytail holders in lieu of twist ties) next time you’re in The Grove. Weighing in at less than an ounce, they won’t affect produce sold by weight, yet hold up to 15 pounds. $4. City Greens Market, 4260 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314.884.8460, stlcitygreens.org
• “Stay away from Styrofoam; it’s one of the worst things you can use. When it comes in contact with hot, greasy food, it can leach chemicals into the food, plus the manufacturing of it has a lot of issues around pollution.” • “Anytime you use paper products for food or drink, it ruins the product for any recycling possibility. Paper has to be clean and dry. If you recycle a container with anything wet that comes out of it, then that contaminates the paper.” • “Buy local whenever you can. It reduces your environmental impact.”
GREEN GUIDES TRASH IS FOR TOSSERS trashisfortossers.com, Instagram: @trashisfortossers, Twitter: @Trashis4Tossers THE ZERO-WASTE CHEF zerowastechef.com, Instagram and Twitter: @zerowastechef THE ZERO WASTE COLLECTIVE thezerowastecollective.com, Instagram: @zero.waste.collective
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stuff to do:
JANUARY BY MONICA OBRADOVIC Eleven Eleven Mississippi Dinner Demo
Jan. 9 and 23 – 6 p.m., Eleven Eleven Mississippi, 1111 Mississippi Ave., St. Louis, 314.241.9999, 1111-m.com Cozy up on Eleven Eleven Mississippi’s heated, enclosed patio for a four-course dinner demonstration from award-winning chef Trevor Ploeger, featuring courses like grilled shrimp and white-bean bruschetta, and butternut squash and sage risotto. Tickets available by phone.
A New Year in France Wine and Chocolate Pairing Jan. 10 – 7 to 9 p.m., Handcrafted by Bissinger’s, 32 Maryland Plaza, St. Louis, 314.367.7750, 23cityblocks.com Ring in the new year with Bissinger’s chief chocolatier Dave Owens and Ben Tollefsen of Bommarito Wines. Abandon any resolutions to stay away from sweets while enjoying handpicked Bissinger’s chocolate and wine pairings. Tickets available online.
Schlafly Cabin Fever Jan. 12 – noon to 4 p.m., Schlafly Bottleworks, 7260 Southwest Ave., Maplewood, 314.241.2337, schlafly.com Bundle up and
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get out of the house to enjoy unlimited samples of 40 of Schlafly’s beers in a commemorative tasting glass. Warm up around the bonfires while grooving to live music from Sean Canan’s Voodoo Players. Tickets available online.
Winter Fearless Fermentation Jan. 16 – 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Larder & Cupboard, 7310 Manchester Road, Maplewood, 314.300.8995, larderandcupboard.com Turn your kitchen into a fermentation station after an informative night with Robin Wheeler from Larder & Cupboard. Guests learn the basics of fermentation with green cabbage sauerkraut, sourdough starter, winter kimchi and more. Tickets available online.
Taco Pocket Pop-Up Jan. 25 – 7 to 10 p.m.; Jan 26 – 6 to 8 p.m. and 8 to 10 p.m., Anew Test Kitchen & Rooftop, 519 N. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, 636.579.6514, bornandbredtruck.com Born and Bred’s taco pockets are freshly made tortillas filled with smoky barbecue, cheese and fresh veggies. After dinner, enjoy desserts like Nanny Bites, banana cake dipped in pancake batter and fried, and Gooey Goodness Bites, Born and Bred’s take on gooey butter cake. Tickets available online.
Wolpertinger 2019 Jan. 27 – 1 to 5 p.m., Urban Chestnut Brewing Co., 4465 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314.222.0143, urbanchestnut.com Sample beers from more than 40 local breweries during this annual festival celebrating craft beer. This year’s event includes live music from polka group the Bolzen Beer Band and a Wolpi costume contest for prizes and beer. Tickets available online.
sponsored events Clayton Restaurant Week Jan. 21 to 27 – participating restaurants, Clayton, claytonrestaurantweek.com Revisit an old favorite or discover something new during Clayton Restaurant Week. Nineteen Clayton restaurants like Herbie’s, The Bao and Copia offer three-course dinner menus for $25 or $35, and patrons can tack on a donation to Operation Food Search. A full list of participating restaurants is available online. Reservations recommended.
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WHAT I DO
Giovanni Brex Giovanni Brex built his life around family and pasta. His childhood in Queens revolved around his Sicilian immigrant family and their elaborate holiday meals. A cousin helped get him into his first restaurant job at the nationally lauded Roberta’s in Brooklyn. Now the father of two (soon to be three) helms the pasta programs at Gerard Craft’s Sardella and Pastaria. Here’s how Brex went from a rookie at Roberta’s to making some of St. Louis’ best noodles. — Catherine Klene
“I had no e x p e r i e n c e . I just remember [them] telling me, ‘Just bring a couple of knives, and we’ll get you started.’ I was so excited I went out and I bought my first set of knives. I bought a pair of Misono UX10s, and the reaction I got was, ‘Well, when I said bring a pair of knives, I didn’t mean go out and spend $350 or $400 on knives.’ I was excited.” “ I t h i n k yo u need to be i m m u n e t o t h at i n e v i ta b l e b o r e d o m that might come from doing something
repetitious. It’s either that or you need to really enjoy what you’re doing and feel like you’re in some sort of pursuit of maybe not perfection, but mastery. … You have to be someone who is, I don’t want to say introverted, but someone who enjoys being in their headspace.” “ M y f av o r i t e pa s ta t o m a k e is hand-shaped p a s t a like orecchiette or cavatelli. I really enjoy making those by hand. Most of the time it’s half and half, some sort of fine flour like a 00 and a coarse semolina. It just makes a really
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nice, chewy pasta. It’s really satisfying to eat. It feels a lot more homey.” “For me, Sardella is more h e a d y . I think a little more. I try to take things like my mother’s stuffed artichokes with breadcrumbs and pancetta and oregano and pecorino. … Sardella gives me a place to say, ‘What are the flavors I enjoy most about that, and how do I turn that into a pasta?’ Maybe someone else isn’t going to be reminded of stuffed artichokes, but they’re going to enjoy it similar to how I enjoy stuffed artichokes.”
“I grew up in a s i x- fa m i ly a pa r t m e n t b u i l d i n g . Four of those six apartments for the majority of my young life were family. … Christmas was in the apartment I grew up in. Thanksgiving was in my Aunt Giovanna’s apartment. New Year’s was in my Aunt Marcella’s apartment, and Easter was in my grandmother’s apartment. … I appreciate it so much now. I guess there aren’t a lot of people who had that experience. Me and my cousin talk about it all the time: ‘Remember when we weren’t adults with jobs, and we were just running around in the hallway annoying the only two tenants?’”
“I work during t h e d ay, w h i c h means I can c o m e h o m e in time for my boys to be excited to hear the front door open, which is great. I don’t think I could do anything that couldn’t offer me that. … It’s provided me the necessary flexibility to tend to and be a very active part of a growing family. On the career side of it, I feel like I’m granted a lot of autonomy. It’s good to feel like you can be trusted, even if it means you might make a mistake, so long as you can grow from [it]. It’s the kind of place that promotes personal growth.” January 2019
PHOTO BY IZAIAH JOHNSON
Sardella, 7734 Forsyth Blvd., Clayton, 314.773.7755, sardellastl.com; Pastaria, 7734 Forsyth Blvd., Clayton, 314.862.6603, eatpastaria.com
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