I wanted to profile Andrew Ladlie of Sassy JAC's (1730 South Eighth Street; 314-932-1280) because I'd enjoyed my review visits to his Soulard restaurants so much. But as we spoke, I realized the Sassy JAC's at which I'd dined was merely a fraction of Ladlie's ambition for the place.
"I love the creative aspect of cooking," Ladlie says, "but I think learning how to manage my time as a small business owner has been the main thing that has held me back. You work so many hours as a small business owner, you forgot about what you opened the business for. Then you get caught up...'What if I try it and lose a bunch of money?' So I haven't been as aggressive. I've got all that under control now."
Ladlie and I met in the Sassy JAC's dining room between lunch and dinner service one afternoon last week. As befits a Soulard joint, a few bar patrons provided the soundtrack while we discussed how he went from a college chemistry major to a restaurant owner (read part one for that story), his disdain for fiddlehead ferns and feather boas, and the time he asked a giant dishwasher to clean out the walk-in.
What did your family eat when you were a kid? My parents both worked so hard. We didn't have a whole lot, but until I got older -- I mean, my twenties -- I didn't even realize they didn't have as much as we needed. I remember my parents working a big garden in the summer because that was food. There wasn't steaks and stuff like that.
What were your favorite foods then? Whatever meal involved broccoli-rice casserole. Obviously, all the potlucks with my family. And we had an ice-cream store across the street.
What's a typical meal at home for you? We eat at home on Sundays. Meals are dictated by my daughter still [Clara, four years old]. She does pretty good with food. She'll eat anything. Her favorite food is probably salad. She eats olives out of the jar. She loves different dressings. She'll eat lamb chops. The first time we gave her lamb chops, it was just little lollipop chops, so now she thinks all lamb should be eaten like that.
Any guilty pleasures? Something we'd be surprised you like? That Jennie-O turkey loaf. I can't believe I like it. It's just such garbage. That's an embarrassing pleasure, if that counts.
What's on top of your pizza? Bacon, black olives, some spicy pepperoni.
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