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

Categories: Chef Chat

lonaluo.jpg
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

More »

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

Categories: Chef Chat

schweiss.jpg
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

More »

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

Categories: Chef Chat

dimercurio.jpg
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

More »

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

Categories: Chef Chat

earthbound-stuart-keating.jpg
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

More »

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

Categories: Chef Chat

STL_GutCheck_20150327_BayTranTreeHouse_ByMabelSuen_002.jpg
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

More »

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

Categories: Chef Chat

STL_GutCheck_20150322_RussellsOnMacklind_ByMabelSuen_002.jpg
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


More »

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

Categories: Chef Chat

STL_GutCheck_20150315_JoshCharlesElaia_ByMabelSuen_004.jpg
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

More »

Chef Chat: Maddie Earnest Is Local Harvest's Rooted Grocer

Categories: Chef Chat

STL_GutCheck_20150308_MaddieEarnest_ByMabelSuen_001.jpg
Maddie Earnest of Local Harvest Grocery. | Mabel Suen

Maddie Earnest had planned to spend her life working in social services -- she just didn't know that was going to be as a neighborhood grocer. "I have a MSW in social work," the Local Harvest Grocery <em>(3108 Morgan Ford Road; 314-865-5260) co-owner explains. "I was a social worker, but I always believed in local farming, had a CSA membership, grew up gardening. After helping my business partner set up the Tower Grove Farmers' Market, we decided to open Local Harvest. Sometimes we joke, "What were we thinking?"

See Also: 10 Local Urban Farms We Love

More »

Chef Chat: Jessie Gilroy is the Big Kahuna at Cucina Pazzo

Categories: Chef Chat

jessie.gilroy.jpg
Jessie Gilroy of Cucina Pazzo. | Compliments of OGHG

Cucina Pazzo's (392 North Euclid Avenue; 314-696-8400) chef de cuisine Jessie Gilroy grew up tinkering around her parents' kitchen and thumbing through her mom's stashed-away cookbooks. It should have come as no surprise to them that she wanted to go to culinary school after she graduated high school. "My parents didn't want me to go," Gilroy recalls. "They were the type of people who thought that you needed to get a four-year degree. So I said, 'OK,' and moved to Hawaii to become a marine biologist."

See Also: The 10 Best Restaurants for Fresh Pasta in St. Louis

More »

Chef Chat: Stephan Schubert Is River City Casino's High-Flying Pastry Chef

Categories: Chef Chat

stephan.schubert.jpg
Stephan Schubert of River City Casino. | Courtesy Pinnacle Entertainment

All Stephan Schubert wanted to do was be an airplane mechanic. "In Germany, at the age of fifteen, you have to make a decision on your career track," the acclaimed River City Casino (777 River City Casino Boulevard; 314-388-7777) executive pastry chef explains. "At that age, you're not exactly free thinking. I told my parents I wanted to work on airplanes, and they told me no. I had to go into pastry."

See Also: Chef Chat: River City Casino's John Johnson Knows How to Rock a Bacon Hat


More »
Loading...