Chef's Choice, Part 2: Clara Moore of Local Harvest Cafe & Catering



This is part two of Robin Wheeler's Chef's Choice interview with Clara Moore of Local Harvest Cafe & Catering; to read part one, click here.

  • Robin Wheeler

Local chef who most impresses you? Andy White's revamping of the Tap Room has been amazing, and he seems to be smiling every time I see him.

Favorite restaurants elsewhere? Edwardsville - Erato on Main; Washington, D.C. - Dr. Granville Moore's; Baltimore - the Golden West; Chicago - Piece Brewery and Pizzeria; New York - Rack & Soul; Memphis - Tops Barbeque; the deli counter at the Piggly Wiggly in Mississippi.

Your favorite food city? Paris was great, but that is too cliché. New York is great because there is everything you want, all the time. But I think St. Louis is my favorite simply because I know where all the good food is, and most of the people that work there.

Favorite recent food find? The fried chicken at Porter's Fried Chicken. Not exactly a recent find, more like a recent rediscovery as I used to eat it as a kid. The French fries at Terrace View; there's a fried egg on top!

Most essential ingredient in your kitchen? Salt. It's hard to make things delicious without it.

Favorite local ingredient and where you get it? That is almost impossible to answer.

  • Robin Wheeler

Five words to describe your food? Simple. Soul. Balance. Delicious. Unpretentious.

One food you dislike. Canned tuna smells like cat food.

One food you can't live without. Greens. All types.

What's the first rule for your kitchen staff? Come in with a positive attitude and leave a little bit wiser.

Culinarily speaking, St. Louis has the best... unpretentious food.

Culinarily speaking, St. Louis has the worst... late-night food.

Culinarily speaking, St. Louis needs more... women chefs!

Your best tip for home cooks? Fancy ingredients are good, but quality salt, pepper and cooking fat are most important. Make sure they are fresh.

Your favorite after-work hangout? Mostly my house, but if I go out, the Bleeding Deacon.

One person, dead or alive, you'd love to cook for? Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, as long as I could talk with him.

Favorite kitchen tool? My knives.

What's next for you? Working on two books -- one guidebook and one cookbook.

What inspires you? I love feeding people. I love finding new ingredients to work with. I love traditional cuisines.

Chefs who inspire you? Anthony Bourdain, Alice Waters.

Favorite cookbooks? The Joy of Cooking, Culinary Artistry, The Art of Simple Food, Veganomicon, Nourishing Traditions, Summer in a Jar.

  • Robin Wheeler

Proudest professional moment? When I got great south-city chefs and foodies together for the South City Iron Chef three times!

Favorite music to have in the kitchen? A good mix of classic rock, soul and hip-hop.

What's on your pizza? Veggies! Tomatoes, garlic, cauliflower, zucchini, spinach.

What's in your omelet? Just like Duff's California omelet: black beans, tomatoes, mozzarella, avocados, sour cream.

What are you drinking? Schlafly's Irish Extra Stout or a Maker's Mark manhattan.

What's the most surprising food you've eaten? Korean food. Thankfully I had a good guide.

What's the best request you've gotten from a customer? When they tell me they don't need a menu. I love hearing, "Make what you what. I trust you."

Most difficult lesson you've learned in this business? There is always work to do, always unfinished business. You have got to take a break.

When did you know for sure that the chef's life was for you? Apparently when I was in preschool. I drew a picture of myself in the career I wanted, and I drew me as a chef.

{To be continued...}

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