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Friday, May 17, 2013

Being Happy While You Cook and Learning to Love Bourbon: A Q&A with Joseph Hemp V of Robust

Posted By on Fri, May 17, 2013 at 6:00 AM

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What are your favorite St. Louis restaurants, not counting your own? If money is no object, I really love what they're doing at Little Country Gentleman right now. Mike [Randolph] and Dale [Beauchamp] are just knocking it out of the park over there. [The first time I went], they ended up coursing us the grand tasting menu intead of the six courses [we'd ordered]. We tried. I died at ten courses. [My wife] was done by six or seven. It was the greatest meal I've had in a long time.

Any time I can, even if it's just for a plate or two, I'll go in [Little Country Gentleman] and grab something. They did this kale soup over the winter, kale three ways: puréed kale, fried kale and braised kale, it was the greatest fucking thing I've had in forever.

Keeping it simple, I like to go to Mai Lee. Qui Tran is amazing. He's an awesome, awesome guy. He's such a humble, awesome guy. Last week, I was sick. I went there and got some pho. Everything's right as rain.

See Also: - Ian Froeb's RFT Review of Little Country Gentleman (2012) - Qui Tran Lives the American Dream and Continues His Mother's Legacy at Mai Lee

Which St. Louis chef most impresses you? Kevin Nashan over at Sidney Street Café. Mike Randolph. Gerard Craft. Gerard's crew, everyone in that family is great at what they do, and they're in their positions for that very reason. Brian Moxy [Pastaria] is a rock star. Nate Hereford [Niche] is phenomenal.

What Lou Rook [Annie Gunn's] taught me is what I've tried to keep as my mantra: simple food done well. There wasn't anything crazy about Lou's plates. It was all starch, veg, protein -- always the same so you could pump out 400 a night, no problems. But it was always quality food, the greatest things of the season. He taught me how to make pickles and chutneys to make that season last even longer.

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