Chef Chat: Chris Bolyard Is a Butcher with a Soft Side
Chris Bolyard is a busy man these days. Technically still the chef de cuisine at Sidney Street Cafe, Bolyard has been hard at work getting ready for the fall opening of his much-anticipated Bolyard's Meat & Provisions. It's the realization of a dream for the Culinary Institute of America grad, who is looking forward to parlaying his passion for butchering into a shop of his own in downtown Maplewood. There, this self-described "meat geek" will offer St. Louisans locally and humanely raised beef, chicken, lamb and pork and educate his patrons on whole-animal cooking.
Bolyard took a break from helping his boss, Kevin Nashan, out at the Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co. (does this guy ever stop?) to share his thoughts on the St. Louis food scene, training for a 50-mile trail run and bear hugs from his daughter, Betty.
What is one thing people don't know about you that you wish they did?
I'm a softie! Especially after becoming a dad, don't be surprised if you catch a glimpse of me shedding a tear while I watch a video of my daughter experiencing something for the first time. My wife sent me a video of Betty seeing a lighting bug for the first time...how can you not shed a tear after seeing that? She's incredible!
What daily ritual is non-negotiable for you?
A morning run. I'm a goal-oriented person and I am usually in training for a race. Right now it's a 50-mile trail race in September.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
Being invisible would be fun.
What is the most positive trend in food, wine or cocktails that you've noticed in St. Louis over the past year?
I feel like small, craft-focused shops are popping up all over, and I love it! So many coffee roasters and bread bakers and Max [Crask]'s new ice cream shop Ices Plain & Fancy. I absolutely love when people find their skill and passion and really hone in on it.
Who is your St. Louis food crush?
Nate Hereford, executive chef at Niche. He's just so positive all the time. He's passionate and insanely talented. He's just an all around good guy.
Who's the one person to watch right now in the St. Louis dining scene?
The guys and gals at Strange Donuts -- they're always up to something aren't they? They're fun, approachable and have a stellar product.
If someone asked you to describe the current state of St. Louis' culinary climate, what would you say?
We've made leaps and bounds from where we were a decade ago. The St. Louis talent pool is vast and so many of the young chefs are taking risks and creating awesome concepts. St. Louis is definitely on the map when it comes to food cities.
Name an ingredient never allowed in your kitchen.
Not so much an ingredient, but something that truly affects the finished dish or product like cutting corners or poor work ethic. Great food takes a lot of time and there are often a lot of steps involved. If you're not truly cooking with your heart and soul, you can taste the lack of care in the final product. Passion for the trade is essential.
What is your after work hangout?
Home with my wife and my daughter Betty. I love waking her up when I get off work. There is nothing like a big bear hug from that kid after a long shift. She's the best!
What's your food or beverage guilty pleasure?
Ice cream or sweets in general.
What would be your last meal on earth?
That's easy -- an entire buffet of sweets by Christy [Augustin] at Pint Size Bakery.