Thursday, December 3, 2009

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

Posted By on Thu, Dec 3, 2009 at 4:12 PM

click to enlarge Lisa Slay, Executive Chef of Remy's Kitchen & Wine Bar - ROBIN WHEELER
  • Robin Wheeler
  • Lisa Slay, Executive Chef of Remy's Kitchen & Wine Bar
Unless you moved to St. Louis three hours ago, you know the Slay name, whether from the mayor or from the family of chefs and restaurateurs who have worked in the city for a century. Humble and down-to-earth, chef Lisa Slay of Remy's Kitchen & Wine Bar defies the image of what it means to be a member of one of the city's most well-known families.

Her career began at age twelve, working for her father at Slay's Restaurant on weekends and gradually learning to cook. After half a semester at Southeast Missouri State University on a basketball scholarship, Slay decided school wasn't for her. She returned home months before her father's untimely death. She stayed close to home to be near her mother during this difficult time and worked for her brother, David.

While working with her brother, she forged a working relationship with his bar manager, Tim Mallett. When David Slay moved to California in 1988 and Mallett took over his restaurant space, Lisa stayed on to decide what she wanted to do next. She never left. In 1995, Mallett opened Remy's, giving Slay the opportunity to expand her vision.

"When we opened Remy's, [Mallett] said, 'What do you want to do? Do whatever you're comfortable with,'" Slay explains. "With Remy's I got to design the kitchen, order all the china. I'd opened restaurants with my brother, but Remy's is like my baby.

"Tim and I really clicked early on. He knew a lot about business, and I knew how to cook, so we made a good pair. For the longest time I couldn't imagine doing all of it because the kitchen is so much. It's constant. Even if you have a slow night, you're still busy. I gave him the respect he deserved, and he gave me the respect I deserved, and he pretty much let me do what I wanted."

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