ânº Yours Truly was snuck into SLeeK last week to watch filming of ‘Secrets of a Chef.’ The crew of the PBS series set up in the kitchen after hours and über chef HUBERT KELLER filmed during the day; thus the restaurant’s dinner service was uninterrupted. For one segment, the 5-foot tall smoker’s shelves were stacked with salmon and bacon which, show producer MARJORIE POORE explained, would be contrasted with a studio shot on how to use a simple stovetop smoker. The episodes should air on KETC in January. Waiting patiently for the crew to clear out was newly dubbed executive chef STEVE CARAVELLI. The excitement of high rollers dining in the private dining room has not worn off on the young chef; it remains a stark contrast to his previous posts as sous chef at Niche and instructor at L’Ecole Culinaire.

ânº Flashback to an era of chrome when you make your way to the newest eating spot in Maplewood, Deluxe Restaurant. The restaurant at 2733 Sutton Blvd. opened Sept. 12, serving American comfort food and featuring live music. While construction seemed to take forever (Deluxe was first mentioned in Spicy Bits back in December), chef/owner JIM RUSSELL and manager SUZANNE MILLER are thrilled to be showing guests a good time and good eats in their retro- themed joint.

ânº Where Hampton and Watson merge on The Hill, DAVE BRUNO has opened Bruno’s American Grill and Pub. The menu has all the standards for great prices, and the new bar is gleaming; it’s where the Chinese buffet was set up in the most recent prior establishment (others will recall when it was a Slay’s restaurant). At the recent grand opening, Dave dedicated the small stage to TERI KOCH-ROEDEL, a singer and karaoke host who passed away earlier this year. Teri had worked at Panama Red’s, Bruno’s prior place downtown.

ânº There will be lots of wine at this year’s St. Louis Wine Festival being held in Forest Park Saturday, Sept. 27, from noon to 7 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. Specifically there will be 150 Missouri, domestic and international wines to choose from for your 10 tastes that come with the entrance fee of $25, with an additional 10-taste coupon for $5. The setting by the Grand Basin can’t be beat!  Enjoy selecting those tastes from 20 wine exhibitors, check out the seminars, and take in the musical entertainment by St. Louis divas KIM MASSIE and ERIN BODE.

ânº Even more wine: Once again, MICHELLE ADAMS is welcoming Tuscan winemaker NICOLA BISCARDO to host the annual Fall into Italian Wine Dinner Sept. 22 at her restaurant, Ricardo’s Italian Cafe in Lafayette Square. The highlight will be the third course of Beef Pastissada, a Veronese beef stew, to accompany the 2000 Marchesi de Biscardo Amarone della Valpolicello Classico. Call 421-4833 to make reservations for this incredibly well-priced event: four courses with wine pairing for $28 plus tax and gratuity.

Got something for Spicy Bits?  Write to Amy Peck Abraham at spicybits@laduenews.com.

P.S. There are many reasons Yours Truly will be spending a lot of time downtown during the Taste of St. Louis. The event’s culinary director, DAVIDE WEAVER, has increased the number of participating restaurants to 35, drawing from as far west as Chesterfield’s Stoney River Legendary Steaks and as far south as Onesto Trattoria and Pizzeria in SOHA, the neighborhood SOuth of HAmpton Avenue. In the tented Taste of Lumiere, there will be formal seating and table service from a menu that combines items from the four restaurants in the casino complex. Weaver also has changed the format for the St. Louis Bread Co. Top Chef Competition from bleachers and an outdoor stage to inside a suspended tent with large mirrors above the chef’s stage so those seated can see the chefs at work and the dishes as presented to the judges. Yours Truly will be judging the semi-finals on Saturday! 

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