Things are changing at Eleven Eleven Mississippi (1111 Mississippi Avenue; 314-241-9999), Paul and Wendy Hamilton's Tuscan-inspired restaurant in Lafayette Square. Evan Benn of the Post-Dispatch first reported that Carl Hazel has left and Wade Waller has taken over as executive chef. Hazel departed April 8, and Waller took over immediately.
"Wade worked for us previously, so it wasn't a big thing for him to come back," Hamilton says. "He was at Cleveland-Heath, and he decided he wanted to come back. It's one of those things where Eleven Eleven is a big operation, and Cleveland-Heath is a small operation. I think when he got there, he just decided he wanted to work somewhere larger."
Hamilton also notes that Waller will have the assistance of Bob Colosimo, the restaurant's current general manager who has been there for six years. Eleven Eleven's new spring menu debuted in March, so Waller will have time to adjust to his new position before he's required to put his own stamp on the menu.
The split was mutually agreeable according to both Hazel and Hamilton. Hazel came to Eleven Eleven from The Scottish Arms, and his intent was always to return to a smaller, more sustainable restaurant environment. He's currently doing consulting work, helping to develop new Spring menus and teach younger chefs. His dream, though, is to someday open his own restaurant.
"I've had a plan for a restuarnat for a couple years now," Hazel says. "I'm looking to do a fairly small 50 to 60-seat venue with a really heavy focus on being eco friendly, local and sustainable."
Hazel describes his dream restaurant as having an in-house garden and a greenhouse and running on solar and wind energy. He envisions growing most of the food needed for his restaurant on-site and sourcing what he can't produce from other local farmers. The restaurant would be heated and cooled using geothermal pumps, and there would be a compost bin outside to reduce waste. He calls this concept "a circle of sustainability."
"In probably the last five or six years St. Louis has gotten into supporting local farms," Hazel says, "and you see farmers' markets popping up everywhere. But I don't think anyone has taken it quite to the level that I want to. I want to take an idea that everyone enjoys and take it even further."
Hazel says he has a location in mind in between Maplewood and the Hill. He also has the financing. Now he just needs time to formulate a business plan.
So while Hazel works on downsizing and sourcing local ingredients, Waller will step up from the intimate atmosphere of Cleveland-Heath to the hustle and bustle of a busy Italian eatery. Best of luck to the both of them!