Chef's Choice: Lisa Slay, Remy's Kitchen & Wine Bar

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That included a return to Slay's Lebanese roots with a Mediterranean-inspired menu of small and large plates. "It was something different to St. Louis at the time, and I had some family background in it. Fifteen years ago nobody knew what couscous was. No, give me some potatoes."

click to enlarge Chef's Choice: Lisa Slay, Remy's Kitchen & Wine Bar
Robin Wheeler
While the Mediterranean approach has changed over time, Slay's commitment to her staff hasn't. On a busy morning, prepping for the Clayton lunch rush, her staff smiles when she walks into the kitchen. They joke with her. She puts an arm around a server she hasn't seen in a while and verifies that she's OK. It's no wonder that much of Slay's staff has been with her for more than five years -- a rarity in the restaurant business.

"I try to surround myself with good people who don't dread going into work and seeing this one or that one. I wouldn't have them working here." She laughs. "They all feel pretty much the same way. If someone starts getting any kind of attitude, I'll sit them down and say, 'Look, you want to be here or you don't. We all have our own problems. But when we're here, we're here, and we'll have fun. If I can help you with your problem, I will, but otherwise leave it out there. This is hard enough work. You need to have fun.'"

click to enlarge Chef's Choice: Lisa Slay, Remy's Kitchen & Wine Bar
Robin Wheeler
Even though her role as "Culinary Driving Force" for Remy's and Big Sky Cafe (Mallett's other restaurant) keeps her from being in the kitchen full-time, she still spends time in Remy's kitchen when it's busy and is always tasting, watching and bringing her sense of fun. Sitting in Remy's dining room, you'll find it impossible not to notice the laughter coming from the semi-open kitchen.

"You didn't hear me banging my tongs? Or yelling out about the baseball game? A few times I've yelled, 'Grand slam!' and everyone's like, 'Lisa!' But the ballgame's on!"

True to her St. Louis roots, Slay is a huge Cardinals fan. She also loves spending time barbecuing in her backyard. "On Sundays I can hang by the pool. It's Sunday Funday! You never know who's going to show up at my house. My family's always coming over. We hang out and cook. Love to barbecue."

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