Predicting the James Beard Awards…Easier Than You Think?

James Beard AwardsTwo years ago I told you the James Beard Awards are actually pretty predictable.  Once a chef has made the short-list of five finalists for their region, unless they jump ship to another restaurant, or something crazy happens in or to their region, they’re probably going to continue moving forward each year until they’ve won.

In the past, ripples have been things like Grant Achatz opening Alinea.  Heralded as one of the best—if not the best—restaurants in the country, he bucked the typical trend and won quickly.  Another was

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St. Louis Specific Updates to Food-Related Wikipedia Entries #1: Barista

While reading up on the scully cap I noticed, like many Wikipedia entries, not only was the included picture of  poor quality, it was just some random dude with a stupid look on his face.  Figuring he probably uploaded it himself, I’m embracing the power of the internet and am making accurate, St. Louis specific updates to food-related Wikipedia entries.

I begin with Barista for three reasons…

  1. There wasn’t a current barista photo.
  2. I love coffee and was trying to find an entry that was currently without a picture for sticking power.
  3. Although the barista in the photo,  Alex Brooks, is no longer a barista in St. Louis, he is a friend of mine and often wears a scully cap–which I now know is more accurately called a flat cap.

Event: Organic Gardening Club


In the past I’ve put off home-gardening because I’d hoped to move soon and didn’t want the mess in my backyard. But, with the economy what it is, I’m not going anywhere soon. So perhaps you, like I, plan to make gardening a part of your new year. And if you’re really like me, you’re better at killing things then growing them so the inaugural meeting of the Missouri Organic Association‘s Organic Garden Club might just be for you.

The cost is $5 and the event will be held Thursday, January 8 at the Town & Country location of Whole Foods from 6:30-8:00 PM. Friend of Slow Food St. Louis Molly Rockamann of EarthDance Farms will be there to speak and answer questions as well as show EarthDance’s short-film, Connoisseur of Fine Foods, about Mueller Organic Farms in Ferguson, MO. You can catch a teaser of the film on YouTube.

Further details and registration information can be found online at

Fast Food V. Slow Food


There is a bar called Maryland House @ Brennan’s in the Central West End. I have never been there and honestly had no idea what it was until the owner of Pi, Chris Sommers, told me about a little something they do the first Wednesday of every month (that’s tonight). On that day (tonight I say) is Brennan’s Arguments and Grievances which is, in their own words, “a monthly event wherein the good citizens of St. Louis can stand up for the causes that matter least and, with their masterful oratory, command the minds and mirth of the crowd to decide the fate of such long standing and ridiculous feuds.”

Specifically Sommers told me about it because he was to be one of the opponents in Harley V. Vespa which you can catch online.

Specifically I tell you about it because (a) I’ve yet to make it and it sounds like a hell of a good time (especially if you could see a showdown like Jaws V. Jurassic Park) and (b) because the undercard tonight is a topic that doesn’t matter least to me, it’s Fast Food V. Slow Food with Sauce’s own April Seager taking the Slow roll of Carla Petrini.

Change comes before January 20th


Last Tuesday saw 52.6% of America step into the voting booth and mark their ballots “change.”  Of course it won’t be until January 20th that they’ll begin to find out if their hopes and dreams are met by President-Elect Barack Obama.  For the people of St. Louis, however, we’ve got Pi, and thinking we shouldn’t have to wait that long, a change to their menu will leave us waiting only until Friday.  It’s then you’ll be able to head on down to the East Loop restaurant and order up their new creation–the Obama inspired Broccoli O’Bama–and hope that it tastes alright.

Topped with broccoli, seasoned potatoes, applewood smoked bacon, gruyere cheese, cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese, minced garlic, fresh chives (after bake) atop a vegan thin crust and served with a side of sour cream dip, I’m not sure they could have squeezed anything else on.  Not to mention it’s like a sort of pizza lovechild where the upscale pizza Pi normally serves had a one night stand with Gumby’s.

For the Republicans amongst you, you’ll undoubtedly be convinced that even the pizza of your foe has a sort of metaphoric flaw.  Topping it with all requests in an effort to please everyone it could result in pleasing no one because broccoli isn’t exactly going to have carnivores celebrating in the streets, and all that cheese and bacon is going to leave the vegetable-loving vegans hungry as well.

I’ll personally be sticking with the Lincoln Park.  It’s sure to remain Pi’s best pizza.  But then what the hell do I know? Maybe the Broccoli O’Bama will be delicious like everything else at Pi.

See, I can poke fun at the businesses I’m friends with.

More Pork Steaks


And speaking of pork steaks, I don’t know how other parts of the county roll, but in Florissant, warm weather means fund raising barbecue events; the biggest of which always come from the Florissant Elks when they set up for an extended stay at the corner of Lindbergh and Charbonier in front of Sears Hardware.

Since Monday they’ve been setting up for the Florissant Valley of Flowers Festival weekend and this year I think they’ve started a day early. They will be cooking today Wednesday, April 30 to Sunday, May 4.

And they’re seriously not not messing around

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Gerard Craft has Risen to the Top

NicheMaybe you were wondering why Niche updated their website recently adding that snappy flash intro, and a bunch of new cook and staff bios, and that awesome picture of Gerard and Mathew that says more than words ever could about their friendship and generosity.

Well, wonder no more because while the St. Louis culinary bubble may have been rising overall lately, Gerard Craft has risen to the top having today been named one of the 2008 Food & Wine best new chefs.

Huge congratulations to Gerard and the staff of Niche!

But you know, as overjoyed as I know they must be, it’s a great day for the St. Louis Culinary scene as a whole by raising the nation’s awareness of the St. Louis culinary scene and saying “hey, one of our chefs was good enough to win this thing, so maybe we have a few more you should check out too.” Perhaps you don’t believe this, but there are absolutely people that go out of their way to eat at the restaurants whose kitchens are led by the chefs that win this award.

So chefs, get your game faces on because those same people that come to St. Louis for Niche will undoubtedly see what else is going on around here.  And diners…you thought Niche reservations were hard to get before.

Heads Up: St. Louis Cooking News

More national attention for upcoming St. Louis cooks this time by way of another great Joe Bonwich article about Brett Eisen. Eisen a Senior at Parkway Central is traveling to Miami next week where he will be vieing for a Johnson & Wales University National High School Chef of the Year award as one of nine finalists.

Hop Alley?

Sorry, Bill, I can’t get behind this one.

I forget which but there is one ballpark that has a small public field on the lot outside the stadium. As anything is better than a pile of mud, they could easily erect something like that for the time being so that things look a little nicer on that stretch of downtown. I’m sure it would cost next to nothing.

And yes, it is food related. There is food at the stadium is there not?