by Nancy Stiles
Kevin Nashan, acclaimed executive chef at Sidney Street Cafe (2000 Sidney Street), announced this week that he's opening a new restaurant called Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co. down the street at 1831 Sidney Street. We talked to the James Beard nominee about lobster rolls, not eating locally and splitting his time.
"It's been kind of in the works for a while now, and this is just a restaurant that I've always kind of wanted to put together," Nashan tells Gut Check. "I just think it's a fun opportunity for us to do something that's a little different that I don't think has really surfaced in St. Louis. It's like when you say, 'Why do you do something?' I don't know -- sometimes it just picks you."
Nashan points out that he has lived in New Orleans and spent time on the East Coast in Maine and Maryland, so lobster, crab, chowder, gumbo and the like has seeped into his cooking style over the years.
"Someone said, 'It's not farm-to-table local!' I'm like, do you realize what you just said? This is a lobster crab shack -- where's the closest ocean here?" he says. "It's obviously not locally sustainable. I'm not doing this to say we're doing local/organic/this/that. We source it from really good people and I've spent a lot of time doing it. You just want the best products."
The goal right now is for a mid-July opening, barring any unforeseen complications. The interior isn't finished yet, but Nashan describes it as "shack-y." He found an antique American flag made out of wood that will go on the wall, and another decoration will be his father's 1947 Venus Stereo record player.
"It's going to scream America, hopefully!" Nashan laughs. The menu will include lobster rolls, oysters, chowder and lots more, including an interesting dessert program, which features soft-serve ice cream and snow cones.
Fans of Nashan's Sidney Street shouldn't be worried -- he says he's built such a good staff around him that nothing will change.
"People are like, 'If you're not there, who's cooking?' The same people who are cooking when I am there," he says. "When you do anything in life, there's always people that help the whole process succeed. So Sidney Street isn't about Kevin Nashan -- it's about Sidney Street. There's 41 movable parts that make it all happen."
Nashan and his wife Mina took over Sidney Street in 2003; they've since won many accolades and awards, including James Beard nominations and Best of St. Louis awards from RFT. He recently celebrated ten years at Sidney Street with chefs from all over St. Louis and the country.
"I would not tell you I'm nervous about putting more on my plate," Nashan says. "It's going to be awesome, and we've got a great crew we're putting in place, and a lot of people have been with me for a long time, so it's a good growth opportunity for them and our company."
Gut Check is always hungry for tips and feedback. E-mail the author at Nancy.Stiles@RiverfrontTimes.com.
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