Best Service in a Restaurant - 2011
Eric Scholle first worked with Farmhaus owner and chef Kevin Willmann in Edwardsville, Illinois, at Erato on Main. Scholle lived in apartment above the restaurant while it was under construction. He met with Willmann and told him, in so many words, that a job was the least Willmann could offer as payback for all the noise and disruption. Scholle's gambit worked, and when Willmann left Erato to open his own place, Farmhaus, Scholle came along. Here Scholle's title is manager, though that doesn't quite encompass the very many things he does well. He is, first and foremost, an excellent server, unobtrusive but able to anticipate a table's needs, expert at pairing dishes with the restaurant's selection of wine, beer and cocktails — all three lists that he himself has worked to expand. He keeps the restaurant's social-media presence not merely active but essential: The restaurant's popular "Blue Plate" lunch special is advertised almost exclusively through Farmhaus' Twitter account (@farmhausstl). Willmann's creativity and skill as a chef won him deserved praise this year as one of Food & Wine magazine's "Best New Chefs," but it's no exaggeration to say that a vital element of Farmhaus' success is due to Scholle's work, both in the front of the house and behind the scenes.