Back in the Libertine's (7927 Forsyth Boulevard, Clayton; 314-862-2999) kitchen, a chef named Josh toils day in and out, feeding the bread starter, making housemade butter and cooking up a mean porchetta. No, it's not Josh Galliano. The Libertine's other Josh, executive sous chef Josh Poletti, serves as second-in-command at the acclaimed restaurant, and some of the other chefs in town say he's one to watch.
Poletti worked his way up at some of the city's best kitchens (Harvest, Monarch, Niche) before landing the gig as Galliano's right hand man. And while his name is less famous than his boss', people are starting to take notice.
Tonight, Poletti will team up with some of the city's other sous chef for the "Unsung Heroes Dinner" at Cielo. Dinner starts at 6 p.m., and tickets cost $65 per person. Ahead of his performance tonight, Poletti agreed to sit down and answer some questions for this week's Chef Chat.
What is one thing people don't know about you that you wish they did? I'm very loyal.
What daily ritual is non-negotiable for you? Always got to feed the starter. Bread comes first.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Invincibility.
What is the most positive trend in food, wine or cocktails that you've noticed in St. Louis over the past year? So many craft cocktail programs have done really well in this city.
Who is your St. Louis food crush? Ryan McDonald [at Juniper]. That's an easy one.
Who's the one person to watch right now in the St. Louis dining scene? Nate Hereford. He just got promoted to executive chef at Niche. I'm really excited to go see what he's doing.
Which ingredient is most representative of your personality? Lemons. They can be so tart, but they're great when they're sweet. Everything needs a dash of lemon.
If someone asked you to describe the current state of St. Louis' culinary climate, what would you say? Booming and friendly. There's friendly competition all over the place. The camaraderie amongs chefs is pretty awesome.
Name an ingredient never allowed in your kitchen. Margarine never has a place in this kitchen. I agree with John Perkins [of Juniper] 100 percent on that one.
What is your after work hangout? Taste.
What's your food or beverage guilty pleasure? Chocolate milk.
What would be your last meal on earth? Anything Josh [Galliano] cooks for me. I don't care what. I know it will be amazing.