> CHAD VANDERLEEST recently took the helm as executive chef at Hanley’s Grille & Tap in West County Mall. Prior to joining chef-owner Jeff Constance’s culinary team, Vanderleest did stints at Jimmy’s on the Park and the former Savor and King Louie’s…The buzz has really kicked in at Pi’s CWE location now that owner Chris Sommers has added a coffee bar and brought in barista ALEX BROOKS all the way from the West Coast to jump-start java operations.
> Round two: Gooey Louie will be baking twice as much gooey butter cake now that owners Kirk and Debbie Stieferman have opened a second location in Ballwin. Their original recipe and some dozen flavored varieties have made their Gooey Louie spot on Chippewa a fave with St. Louis’ GBC aficionados…Mai Lee, the Vietnamese and Chinese food restaurant on Delmar near I-170, is also opening its second location this month—in the Meridian Shopping Center at Hanley and Eager roads…Welcome back, Zia’s! Robyn and Dennis Chiodini recently reopened their restaurant on the Hill after closing it last August because of a fire.
> NOLA NEWS: If you were busy drinking Hurricanes at this year’s Mardi Gras Crystal Cajun Cook-off, you might have missed the announcement that ELIZABETH SCHUSTER and AUSTIN PACKARD of Sky Catering walked away with first place. JACK MACMURRAY III and JEFF SCHAFFER of Sage came in second, and third place went to CHRIS LEE, representing Café Ventana. Among the other celebrated chefs participating in the professional category were ERIC BRENNER, KEVIN WILLMANN and JOSH GALLIANO with wife Audra. Galliano, by the way, just got the go-ahead to start turning dirt at Monarch: he’ll be tending a new garden behind the Maplewood restaurant, along with one on the rooftop.
> High honors: Congratulations to David and Jan Seifert, proprietors of Fleur-de-Lys Mansion in Compton Heights, for being named No. 7 in the ‘World’s Best B&Bs’ category by TripAdvisor! The Seiferts opened the doors to their 19th century mansion just three years ago, but Jan’s caramelized French toast and creamy scrambled eggs with hollandaise sauce (plus the option of private dinners by Dinner Belle) keep attracting gourmand globetrotters…The Missouri Restaurant Association named PAT SHANNON-VANMATRE ‘Restaurateur of the Year.’ The co-owner of Mike Shannon’s Steaks and Seafood received the award at the organization’s local inaugural ball at the Four Seasons.
> If you love Napoletano basil, Roma tomatoes, Marina di Chioggia heirloom squash and Black Tuscan kale, the folks at Bowood Farms want to teach you how to grow your own. On Feb. 20, you can come to the garden center on Olive in the CWE for a free ‘My Italian Garden’ class and learn how to grow a variety of Italian herbs and vegetables. For information, visit bowoodfarms.com.