"I wanted to open a White Castle in midtown. It would be like an ATM," Bond says. "But it's not a franchise, so I couldn't open it."
His dream burger shack on hold, Bond is cranking out his own take daily as executive chef of the Drop. On Wednesday, Bond talked about life in the tiny Martini Corner kitchen. Tomorrow, he'll share a bit about the latest cocktails and a new small-plates menu.
What are your culinary inspirations? There's a lot of them. Oddly enough, it often comes from where you least expect it. Something will usually trigger a memory of a smell. I'll then start with one specific ingredient. The other day, I was thinking about plum wine — I love plum wine. It's me and 80-year-old ladies that really enjoy plum wine. I never had a plum wine reduction, so I made one. And then I thought, This would go really well with shrimp. Add in some mango chutney for a bit of fruit, and that's the whole plate.
What’s your favorite ingredient? I'm really hung up on different vinegar reductions. We have a balsamic wine reduction and a white balsamic reduction that I could eat like it was candy. I use that on our lamb sliders; that's one of the new small plates that I'm really excited about. Other than that, it's anything really fresh and really good.
What was your best recent food find? I was really excited to find these poblano straws that just perfectly finish off the pork sliders. They just showed up while I was cutting something else.
What’s one food you hate? This sounds sacrilegious coming from a stereotypical small town in Missouri, but I don't like catfish. There were a lot of catfish fry dinners, and I know plenty of people who love them, but it's just not for me.
What’s one food you love? I could literally eat lamb vindaloo for five meals a week. I love the spices. It's so spicy and really delicious. It's hearty and warm. I love the Taj Palace over on 39th Street. Those guys are nearly family. [Laughs.] They're excited when my girlfriend shows up because they know we're looking for a lot of food and a bottle of wine.
What’s your guilty pleasure? White Castle. Their jalapeno cheddar burger. I still love it. The last time I was in St. Louis for a Tom Waits concert, I had to get one. It's probably good that they're in St. Louis.
What’s always in your kitchen? I always have fresh tomatoes. I love the farmers market downtown. The City Market is just amazing. They have great pasta. We had the basil and garlic with ratatouille on top of the noodles. Oh my God, it was incredible.
Besides your own place, where do you like to eat out? Taj Palace. I really love Pot Pie. That place is great. I had a really good meatloaf sandwich there; it was ridiculously good. The potpies are good. I love the spinach and brie tart. I'm excited when I get to go to any great restaurant, whether it's really great bar food or a really nice place.
Where do you like to drink? We go to the News Room quite a bit, and we've been coming here [the Drop] more. I'm an Irish whiskey guy that's been getting in rye whiskeys. Ryan [Miller, the day bartender at the Drop] opened my eyes to that. He'll feed me different types of rye.
If you could steal one recipe in town off any menu, which one would you steal? Lamb vindaloo? [Laughs.] I don't know if that would work here, but it's great.
What’s one book that every chef should read? La Technique by Jacques Pepin. I didn't have really any culinary school training. In order to be able to operate in a commercial kitchen, I had to teach myself a lot of things. So I spent a lot of time learning knife techniques. La Technique was really important. It's also good to always be learning because everybody can teach you something.
Who’s got the best barbecue in town, and what are you ordering? Oklahoma Joe's is the best restaurant. I like the Z-Man a lot and the beans. Craig Adcock's barbecue is sick. There's a reason he did competition barbecue. Anytime I can, I try to sneak into his barbecues. He makes amazing coleslaw with pears and gorgonzola. It's a vinegar style rather than creamy. You could eat it all day.
What's the key to success for cooks at home? Repetition. As far as not having formal training, if you want to make a dish, you have to know what you want to get out of it. All you have to do is keep making it, just not to the point where you're sick of it. Take notes if you have to. I used to do that on lots of recipes. And don't be afraid to try something. You can always make it again.
A chef is only as good as … his food.