Three area chefs will be traveling outside of Missouri this autumn to show off their cooking prowess in different venues. Howard Hanna, executive chef and co-owner of the Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange, will be one of the featured chefs of the State Room restaurant in Michigan on November 9 and 10; the event is part of the restaurant's visiting chef series. The State Room is on the campus of Michigan State University in the Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center.
Julian Restaurant's chef-owner Celina Tio will join other celebrity chefs in Los Angeles on September 21 when the American Association of Retired Persons hosts its annual Life@50+ Expo; one of the expo events is an opportunity for award-winning chefs to work together to feed the homeless community that lives in and around the downtown Los Angeles neighborhood known, historically, as Skid Row.
Fat City also checked in with Jonathan Justus, chef-owner of the celebrated Justus Drugstore in Smithville, who will be one of the featured chefs at a "gastronomic tour of American regional cuisine" at a dinner — held in honor of Steve Plotnicki's new guidebook, Opinionated About U.S. Restaurants 2011 -- scheduled for next week at Tom Colicchio's Craft restaurant in New York City.
So what is chef Howard Hanna's connection to Michigan State University? "None, really," Hanna says. "But John McClure, the chef-owner of Starker's, did the series last year and he suggested me for this year's series. I haven't created the menu for the dinner yet and I need to get on that right away, since I'll be bringing some ingredients with me and I'll need to source other ingredients there. And I'll be working with student chefs that night. I need to take that into consideration, too."
The dinner at Craft — an all-star chef affair with Jonathan Justus right in the mix — will be a family-style supper, featuring Trey Foshee from George's at the Cove in La Jolla, California; Andrea Reusing of Lantern Restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Scott Anderson of Elements in Princeton, New Jersey; Gerry Hayden of Southold, New York's North Fork Table; Gabriel Rucker of Le Pigeon restaurant in Portland, Oregon; Bruce Sherman from Chicago's North Pond; Sisha Ortuzar of New York's Riverpark; Linton Hopkins from Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta; and Craft owner Tom Colicchio. Craft's Jenny McCoy and North Fork Table's Claudia Fleming are creating the dessert course.
Jonathan Justus is preparing one of the entrees for the night's fifth course: Majinola American Kobe Penny Kress Pillow ribeye served with horseradish dijon parsley sauce and house-made duck egg penny cress-stuffed pasta.
"As it happened, we had planned to be closed next week for vacation anyway," Justus says. "We were traveling to Montreal. We still are, with a stop at Craft." Justus is bringing Missouri beef and regional ingredients for the main beef course.
On a completely different note: Fat City asked Justus for an update on the plans — announced earlier this year — to turn the old Universal Studios Exchange Building at 1700 Wyandotte into a dining venue called Universal: A Modern American Brasserie.
""The plans are stalled right now," Justus says. "We have not been able to interest investors in the concept, although I still believe there's a good chance it can happen. I think it's a really great idea with a lot of potential."