Chef Chat: For Gooseberries' Kim Bond and Ross Lessor, Business Is Personal

Categories: Chef Chat

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Ross Lessor and Kim Bond of Gooseberries | Mabel Suen

"Yeah, we get into arguments every now and then,"Gooseberries (2754 Chippewa Street; 314-577-6363) co-owner Kim Bond laughs. "We're pretty good at dropping it after a certain point though."

No, Bond is not offering relationship advice -- unless your relationship involves working long hours in a restaurant with your significant other. As co-owners of the eclectic Dutchtown South cafe, Bond and her partner of eighteen years Ross Lessor blur the line between their personal and professional lives, though Bond insists it's not as hard as you'd think.

See Also: Review: Gooseberries Pleases Herbivores and Omnivores Alike

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Chef Chat: Scott Sandler Makes Edible Art at Pizzeoli

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Scott Sandler of Pizzeoli. | Mabel Suen

Scott Sandler started out making pizzas as a means of creative expression. "I've always had an artistic inclination," the Pizzeoli (1928 South 12th Street; 314-449-1111) owner states. "I wanted to do something with art as a living, but I wasn't sure how to do it -- you can't really make a living selling paintings."

Pizza, however, is a different story, and Sandler was happy to follow that path: "I consider what I do to be edible art."


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Chef Chat: Leon Augustus Braxton Jr. of Miss Leon's on the Joys of Southern Comfort

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Leon Augustus Braxton Jr., a.k.a "Miss Leon." | Mabel Suen

Leon Augustus Braxton Jr., the soul behind Miss Leon's (3960 Chouteau Avenue; 314-652-0011) soul food, insists you refer to him as a cook and not a chef. He wasn't formally trained, he'll tell you, unless you count the untold hours he spent in his grandmother's kitchen.

Call him whatever you want, but there is no denying he is a master of Southern cooking.


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Chef Chat: Lona Luo on Lona's Lil Eats on Loving Durian -- and Hating MSG

Categories: Chef Chat

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Lona Luo of Lona's Lil Eats. | Jennifer Silverberg

Far from her Fox Park storefront and well before word of her dumplings spread throughout Soulard Market, Lona Luo was hard at work honing her craft in remote southwestern China. Distance-wise, it's about as far away as you can get from her south-city restaurant Lona's Lil Eats (2199 California Avenue; 314-925-8939), though you'd never know this from tasting the food.

See Also: At Lona's Lil Eats, Huge Flavor From a Tiny Village in China: Review

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Chef Chat: Tilford Restaurant Group's Peter Schweiss on Becoming the Masa Master

Categories: Chef Chat

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Peter Schweiss of Tilford Restaurant Group. | Mabel Suen

Peter Schweiss clearly remembers the first thing he ever cooked. "Grilled cheese," the commissary manager for Tilford Restaurant Group recalls. "My mom cooked a lot at home. I was always following her around the kitchen asking questions. When I was about nine or ten, she got this pancake griddle and let me make grilled cheese on it. For three weeks that's all we ate."

See Also: Chef Chat: Jason Tilford Turns Corn into Masa and Water into Wine

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Chef Chat: HandleBar's Chris DiMercurio Brings Sicily to Russia with (His Grandmother's) Love

Categories: Chef Chat

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Chris DiMercurio of HandleBar. | Mabel Suen

HandleBar's (4127 Manchester Avenue; 314-652-2212) Chris DiMercurio has an impressive pedigree -- cooking school at the Culinary Institute of America, stages at Le Bernardin and Aquavit in New York City, and a resume that includes stints at some of St. Louis' hottest restaurants, including Niche, Element and Elaia. That he now finds himself at the helm of, as he describes it, a "kitschy, hipster bar in the Grove" may seem like an odd career move, but DiMercurio doesn't see it that way.

See Also: A Look At HandleBar's New, Revamped Menu from Chef Chris DiMercurio

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Brewer Chat: Stuart Keating Raises the Bar for Craft Beer at Earthbound Brewing

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Stuart Keating of Earthbound Brewing. | Mabel Suen

Stuart Keating had his mind on the bar when he was in law school -- just not the same one as his fellow classmates. "When I got to law school, I quickly realized that they were not interested in the kind of law I wanted to practice," the Earthbound Brewing (2710 Cherokee Street; 314-504-3532) co-owner and head brewer explains. "So instead, I pursued and developed other interests: gardening, hosting bar trivia and beer-making."

See Also: Bottled Wisdom: An Oral History of St. Louis' Craft-Beer Movement

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Chef Chat: Bay Tran Plants Her Culinary Roots at Tree House

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Bay Tran of Tree House. | Mabel Suen

Tree House (3177 South Grand Boulevard; 314-696-2100) owner and executive chef Bay Tran grew up with the feeling that she had food in her blood. Granted, her mom and dad were restaurateurs (they own the Mekong restaurant and the Upstairs Lounge), but she felt it went deeper than that. It wasn't until adulthood that her parents revealed the family's impressive culinary heritage that dates back two generations to colonial Vietnam.

See Also: Tree House's Ethical Answer for Pâté de Foie Gras

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Chef Chat: Russell's on Macklind's Russell Ping Plays Well with Sweet and Savory

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Russell Ping of Russell's on Macklind and Russell's Bakery & Cafe. | Mabel Suen

Russell Ping opened his first venture, Russell's Cafe & Bakery (958 Brookwood Center Plaza, Fenton; 636-343-8900), at the ripe old age of 22. It's a little young to be branching out on one's own -- then again, Ping got his first KitchenAid mixer when he was 11.

See Also: Russell's on Macklind's Coconut Cake, A Divine Classic Dessert By the Slice


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Chef Chat: Elaia's Josh Charles Is Making His Uncle Proud

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Josh Charles of Elaia. | Mabel Suen

If his uncle would have had his way, Josh Charles would have stayed out of the kitchen. "My uncle had a restaurant in Farmington, where I grew up," the Elaia (1634 Tower Grove Avenue; 314-932-1088) chef de cuisine recalls. "I was always there hanging out and thought it was so cool how he was the center of the community. The restaurant was where everyone in town met. He never let me work for him, though. He was trying to shield me from that life."

See Also: Nashan, Heath, Poremba and More Named James Beard Foundation Award Semifinalists

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