Chef Liz Schuster on Turning Films into Menus and Her Mad Bow Hunting Skills
I first met Liz Schuster when she was a line cook at a country club, still working her way through culinary school. I was leaving town for graduate school, and as a going away present, she gave me a copy of the film Eat Drink Man Woman. Schuster had very specific instructions: "You'll be living out of boxes for a while, so you'll want to order some really greasy Chinese takeout. Pop in this movie, open a nice bottle of wine, and eat on the floor -- use your moving boxes as a table."
Five years later, Schuster has turned her knack for mixing food, film and scene into Tenacious Eats (314-605-3684), her pop-up restaurant located in the Meyers Grove theater. Schuster took a break from her next food and film pairing (the word is that it's Wes Anderson's the Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou), to chat with us about her thoughts on the St. Louis dining scene and her mad bow hunting skills.
What is one thing people don't know about you that you wish they did?
I'm a traditional bow hunter. I have a 60 lb long bow made by my bow hunting buddy in Alaska, Steve Hohensee. Hunting is something that my son Benjamin (16), my dad Leonard (72) and I enjoy doing together. Its the fact that I've hunted, and lived off the land that makes me a chef that truly is connected to her food source. I take nothing for granted.
What daily ritual is non-negotiable for you?
Hot cup of Kuva Coffee, black please! I prefer Kuva's Sumatra. Camel and my cell phone turned to silent for at least 10 minutes. If expected results do not manifest themselves...Repeat with sugar free Redbull.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
Brilliant and unlimited amounts of razor sharp sarcasm. Oh, wait got that. Seriously, time travel. Going back to talk to my grandpa and grandma, now that I'm an adult. I am always in need of their wisdom.
What is the most positive trend in food, wine or cocktails that you've noticed in St. Louis over the past year?
Utilization of local products in addition to our farms and ranchers. Coffee roasters, cheese artisans and even pressed hemp oil!
Who is your St. Louis food crush?
My bad boy pick is Will Pelly of Sanctuaria. What he does to pork is naughty.
Who's the one person to watch right now in the St. Louis dining scene?
Adam Gnau at Acero. He's all heart and humor. I had the opportunity to hang out with him at KMOX and Feast Magazine's Food Fight. Can't wait to see what he does next.
Which ingredient is most representative of your personality?
Real horseradish. Strong, in your face, blunt. Some people like me, and some people don't. Its a love or hate thing. I am what I am.
If someone asked you to describe the current state of St. Louis' culinary climate, what would you say?
Camaraderie and diversity! St. Louis chefs love expressing themselves in a very honest way. I think that's what allows all of us to be friends without trepidation and backstabbing. We truly admire each other.
Name an ingredient never allowed in your kitchen.
Whirl, and/or any kind of substitute or processed junk. Processed, makes me %&$#@$ crazy. I named my business Tenacious Eats, not Limited Eats. So, just about everything is fair game. Even if my palate doesn't appreciate a particular ingredient, my diners' palates might. Nothing good for you requires a paragraph of ingredients.
What is your after work hangout?
With two children and a house to maintain, I don't get out after-hours much. Usually, our Tenacious Eats presentations at Meyer's Grove are "my nights out". We usually end the show with a few of Dan Stoner's amazing cocktails, a lot of crazy giggling and on a really wild night we might end up at Uncle Bill's Pancakes or Courtesy Diner. If I do have a chance to get out, I love the standards: O'Connell's,(Still great burgers).
What's your food or beverage guilty pleasure?
Chuck-A-Burger! Single Chuck with everything on it, and a large chocolate Coke! I went to Ritenour, (which is directly across the street) and let me tell you those perfect old-school, butter burgers truly feed the soul. Go Huskies!
What would be your last meal on earth?
Depends, how long is the flight? Before departing earth, it would have to be real German Sauerbraten, crisp potato pancakes, sour cream with dill, warm applesauce and Steve Schmidt's famous plum cake. (And one last cup of black coffee!)