Local mobile donut purveyor Vincent Van Doughnut won big on the recent season premiere of Cooking Channel's Donut Wars earlier this month. Owner BRIAN MARSDEN and his pastry chef assistant, JAMIE HARDESTY, took home first-place honors and a cool $10,000. Their winning confections over three rounds were The Bellagio, featuring a caramel pastry creme filling with chocolate ganache glaze and hazelnut caramel crunch; The Venetian, with a ricotta pastry cream filling and a lemon glaze with pistachios and tarragon; and The Flamingo, a maraschino cherry cake donut with a maraschino cherry glaze and silver nonpareils. Congrats!
BILL KUNZ, owner of Highway 61 Roadhouse in Webster Groves, and TOM COGHILL, owner of Iron Barley in South City, are heading to New Iberia, La., to compete in the annual World Championship Gumbo Cook-off this month. Some 100 teams are expected to participate in the event. ‘Bill and Tom's Gumbo Road Trip’ will kick off with a party at Highway 61 Roadhouse this Saturday, Oct. 5, from noon to 6 p.m., featuring a whole hog cook-off and live music. Good luck and safe travels!
Big congrats go out to MATT SEITER, bar manager at Sanctuaria Wild Tapas in The Grove. His book, The Dive Bar of Cocktail Bars, is one of 10 semi-finalists for Best New Book at the Spirited Awards at the 2013 Tales of The Cocktail, which will be held in July in New Orleans. The list of finalists for the category will be released next month. Good luck!
Gluten-free diets are trendy these days. A raft of celebrities has embraced the gluten-free lifestyle, while bakeries and restaurants are increasingly offering gluten-free choices. Even Bisquick, the decades-old pancake and baking mix brand, now has a gluten-free variety.
The eighth annual TomatoFest will be held Sunday, Aug. 12, from 2 to 7 p.m. at Iron Barley. The event will feature a variety of tomato dishes, tomato dodge ball, tomato art and other tomato-related contests and activities, as well as a live auction at 6 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public. All proceeds will go to support Lift for Life Gym. For more information, call 351-4500 or email email@example.com.
Iron Barley has garnered its share of accolades since opening in the early 2000s, including being featured on shows like Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and Man Vs. Food. The eatery has been on our list to try for quite some time, but somehow we never stopped by for a visit. So recently, we headed down to the South Side to rectify this oversight.
Chef MIKE WARHOVER, late of Terrene and Bailey’s Range, has taken over the kitchen at Modesto, replacing GRACE DINSMOOR, who recently left the restaurant.
Food allergies can wreak havoc on our lives, especially gluten allergies. Gluten is a substance found in wheat, barley, rye, spelt and sometimes oats. What makes it even more ubiquitous is that besides bread products, it is used as filler in many processed foods, or can be a contaminant of normally gluten-free foods in the same processing facility.
> The fifth annual Downtown St. Louis Restaurant Week is slated for Aug. 3 thru 9. This year, 25 of downtown's finest eateries will offer special three-course dinners for a fixed price of $25 per person, plus tax and tip. As part of the promotion, restaurants also will have special Terrazas De Los Andes wines for $7 per glass. And there is an appropriate charity tie-in with Operation Food Search, the largest distributor of free food in the bi-state area. Patrons have the option of adding a $5 “Extra Helping” donation to their dining bill, which last year raised nearly $6,000 to feed the hungry. Instrumental in bringing back the week-long event are The Downtown St. Louis Partnership, SYNERGY Productions LLC, Terrazas De Los Andes Wines and Lumiere Place Casino & Hotels. For more information, visit downtownrestaurantweek.com
• “The kitchen was so small!” That was the first thing that Pi restaurant owner CHRIS SOMMERS said when I asked him about his White House adventure. At the request of the President, Sommers, Pi partner RYAN MANGIALARDO, and ANNE SCHUERMANN traveled to Washington to create what turned out to be a White House staff lunch. Anne said she was stunned when it was White House executive chef CRISTETA COMERFORD who came to the gates to let them in. When they checked out the ovens, it was determined that the 10 thick-crust pizzas would be made in the main kitchen, and the 10 thin would have to be made in a smaller kitchen upstairs. Chris said it was nearly comical trying to share ingredients because only a tiny circular staircase connected the two. The pizza boxes were laid out on the polished wood table in the Roosevelt Room, until someone realized they probably should put something down to protect the famous conference table!