Jimmy Hippchen of the Crow's Nest, Part 2



This is part two of Mabel Suen's Chef's Choice profile of Jimmy Hippchen of The Crow's Nest. Part one can be found here. Part three, a recipe from Hippchen, can be found here.

Chef Jimmy Hippchen in the Crow's Nest's kitchen. - MABEL SUEN
  • Mabel Suen
  • Chef Jimmy Hippchen in the Crow's Nest's kitchen.

Did your family cook when you were a child? My mom did. Dinner hit the table at six.

How old were you when you started cooking? My preteen years are my earliest memories of at least trying to make food.

First cooking job? Lee's Chicken when I was sixteen years old in Ellisville, Missouri.

Did you attend culinary school or college? Nope.

What do you eat? Pretty much what sounds good. I don't try to limit myself. I like it all.

What do you cook at home? I like slow cooking a lot -- braising pork or baking bread. To me, it's cathartic. I like foods that take a long time rather than five minutes on the line.

What are your three favorite restaurants in St. Louis (besides your own!)? Niche, the Shaved Duck and Schlafly Tap Room.

The local chef who most impresses you? Nate Hereford [of Niche] just really impressed me as a chef and as a person. His work ethic, his talent and his ability to bring out the best in the people that work with him has made a really big impact on me and my cooking.

  • Mabel Suen

Your favorite food city? St. Louis is where it's at!

Favorite recent food find? At Mosaic during Restaurant Week, we made a spray out of a Szechuan flower bulb and citrus juice. It slightly numbs your tongue and clears your palate.

Most essential ingredient in your kitchen? Salt.

Favorite local food find, and where do you get it? Villarreal Family Farm eggs.

Five words to describe your food. Soulful, fun, playful, hopefully good.

One food you dislike. Button mushrooms.

A food you can't live without. Pork. I love ribs and pork belly.

An ingredient never allowed in your kitchen. Prefabricated heat-and-serve food.

Culinarily speaking, St. Louis needs more... Exposure.

Best tip for home cooks. Taste your food as you cook it. Don't trust your recipe 100 percent.

Favorite after-work hangout. I go home and walk my dog.

Favorite kitchen tool. Spoon, followed by cast iron.

What's next for you? Keep cooking, keep learning and keep having fun.

What inspires you? The season. I eat totally different foods different times of the year -- whatever fits the weather.

Chefs who inspire you. All the chefs I've worked with, without a doubt. On a bigger scale, Thomas Keller for his refinement, Grant Achatz for his creativity and David Chang for his conceptual works.

  • Mabel Suen

Favorite cookbooks? My three go-tos are Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller, The New Best Recipe from Cook's Illustrated Magazine and Baking by James Peterson.

Proudest professional moment? The support I've had for the Crow's Nest is more than I could've ever asked for. Hearing the people I looked up to in kitchens tell me they couldn't wait to eat my food was huge, humbling and kind of terrifying.

Favorite music to have in the kitchen. Hip-hop and reggae.

What's on your pizza? Good mozzarella, good sausage, a pinch of salt and a little bit of olive oil.

What's in your omelet? Chorizo.

What are you drinking? Diet Dr Pepper.

What's the most surprising food you've eaten? I lived in China for a year and had pork brain.

What's the most difficult lesson you've learned in this business? I think it's every cook's toughest pill to swallow to realize you're not as good as you think you are. That's what I've learned.

When did you know the chef's life was for you? Whenever I became chef at the Deacon for the first time. I dropped out of school for the last time and that was pretty much it.

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