by Mabel Suen
This is part one of Mabel Suen's Chef's Choice profile of Mike Warhover of Baileys' Range. Part two, a Q&A, will be published tomorrow, and part three, a recipe from Warhover, will be available on Thursday.
Mike Warhover has firmly grounded St. Louis roots, and his humble experience as a line cook in several area kitchens over the past twelve years has led him to the head of the kitchen at restaurateur Dave Bailey's latest venture, Baileys' Range (920 Olive Street; 314-241-8121), which opened last October.
Warhover's résumé begins at Catering Plus and includes Balaban's, Monarch, Harvest, and the now-defunct Central West End restaurants Savor and Terrene. Warhover worked as a line cook practically every weekend for the duration of those dozen years, resulting in his unique managing style. "I have a lot of respect for my cooks because I spent a lot of time doing what they're doing," he says.
His primary philosophical view on food came from his experiences at Harvest, where farmers regularly appeared at the back door with local produce and goods. "It was really interesting to see those relationships transpire," says Warhover. "It's a pleasure to deal with farmers, see their fresh ingredients and then turn them into something that people love."
At Baileys' Range, the ever-popular farm-to-table and green philosophies ring true, evidenced by everything from grass-fed locally sourced meat to biodegradable cups. Warhover says people can expect "fun, really well-thought-out flavors" from his kitchen, like smoked onion rings, the Carolina burger (topped with smoked pork shoulder, barbecue sauce and slaw) and the reigning burger battle champion (as chosen by diners) the Morocco, which features Moroccan-spiced lamb, caramelized onion chutney, feta and arugula.
When creating his menu Warhover simply thinks of what he'd want to eat and brainstorms from there: "Depending on the day, it could be something totally different."