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Monday, June 9, 2014

Chef Chat: Colleen Clawson On Being a "Wild Dog" and Her Guiltiest Food Pleasure

Posted By on Mon, Jun 9, 2014 at 11:30 AM

Courtesy Colleen Clawson
  • Courtesy Colleen Clawson

Colleen Clawson certainly has some stories to share. As a veteran of some of the city's best-known restaurants -- Sidney Street Café, Remy's Kitchen and Wine Bar, Big Sky Café -- Clawson has been part of the inner sanctum of St. Louis' hottest kitchens. Just don't ask her to kiss and tell.

Clawson took a break from the development of her first venture, Standard Fare, to chat about the current state of the St. Louis dining scene -- one that she will be shaking up as soon as the global street food eatery (made from repurposed shipping containers) opens. See Also: The Chefs of Iron Fork 2014: Colleen Clawson, Standard Fare

What is one thing people don't know about you that you wish they did? That my nose is really sensitive, and sometimes I feel like a wild dog. I can tell who or what is in a room without seeing them if I know their scent. It's fun, but it can be overwhelming because I can't unsmell things; once the aromas are in the library, they stay. Some things you really don't want to remember.

What daily ritual is non-negotiable for you? Hmmm...Everything is negotiable.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be? The power to hold the idea of absolute nothingness in my mind; and invisibility.

What is the most positive trend in food, wine or cocktails that you've noticed in St. Louis over the past year? Growth. The food scene is blowing up here, and it's an exciting and inspiring time to be cooking. I feel really privileged to be surrounded by a lot of brilliant people. I'm excited to see my peers are engaging life on many different levels of consciousness, health and awareness. That paying attention to the world is catapulting the creativity factor of food to a whole other realm.

Who is your St. Louis food crush? It is a bad idea to kiss and tell...

Who's the one person to watch right now in the St. Louis dining scene? To me, it's important to pay attention to as much as I can, to keep my finger on the pulse of what is going on.

Which ingredient is most representative of your personality? In India they have stainless steel boxes for spices called masala dabbas. They hold a collection of spices and you can change what is put in them anytime you find yourself using a lot of one thing or another.

If someone asked you to describe the current state of St. Louis' culinary climate, what would you say? The climate seems very ripe to me -- a lot of collaboration, cooperation and community happening. People are getting very involved with the places food comes from and working together to make interesting things happen. There are also a lot of underground events and specialty products being done. I think that it is really healthy to step outside of boundaries. It helps keep things robust.

Name an ingredient never allowed in your kitchen. Ego. It's not about me; it's not about you. It's about beautiful food and lovely service.

What is your after work hangout? Where did you say that dance party was?

What's your food or beverage guilty pleasure? I so don't want to admit this. Cheezy Puffs, the kettle cooked ones I only can find at Blue's City Deli. Potato salad and Orange Crush Soda. Oh! And blue freezy pops that come in the long plastic sleeve. And Nutella anything, yum!

What would be your last meal on earth? My Marmee's vegetable soup, her homemade bread with plenty of butter and a glass of whole raw milk.

Follow Cheryl Baehr on Twitter at @CherylABaehr. E-mail the author at

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