by Cheryl Baehr
Jumping from interior design to the world of pastry wasn't that big of a leap for Julie Weldele. "I've always been artsy," she explains. "Pastry was just a different medium."
It was this creative spirit and penchant for aesthetics that led Weldele to a casual cake-decorating class. She was instantly hooked on the craft and honed her talent for sweets while working with acclaimed mentors in some of the city's top kitchens: Christy Augustin, Simone Faure and Nathaniel Reid. When the opportunity came up to head the pastry program for both Scape American Bistro (48 Maryland Plaza; 314-361-7227) and Crepes Etc. (52 Maryland Plaza; 314-367-2200) in the Central West End, she jumped at the chance. "It allows me to have the best of both worlds. I get to do plated desserts at Scape, which I love, but I also get the feel of running my own bakery at Crepes Etc."
Weldele took a break from making her soon-to-be-famous cinnamon rolls to share her thoughts on the St. Louis food scene, her rituals, and why she's been compared to a Sour Patch Kid.
What is one thing people don't know about you that you wish they did? I'm a country girl at heart. During the summer I spend as much time as possible down at our lake house in French Village. It's my favorite place -- I even met my husband there. There's nothing better than floating in the water on a hot summer day with a beer in my hand.
What daily ritual is non-negotiable for you? Writing out my to-do list. I can't function without it. There is nothing like crossing off a completed task.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be? I am pretty short, so I would love to have extendable limbs.
What is the most positive trend in food, wine or cocktails that you've noticed in St. Louis over the past year? We have so many great artisans in St. Louis. It seems as though there is constantly a new coffee shop, bakery or bar that offers housemade, locally sourced goods.
Who is your St. Louis food crush? Josh Galliano. My husband and I went to the Libertine for our anniversary recently, and it was amazing! The dishes were so thoughtful. I could eat that green bean casserole every day. Oh, and the maple budino -- I practically licked the plate!
Who's the one person to watch right now in the St. Louis dining scene? This is going to sound a little biased, but Joe Everett. The way he swooped in and took over Scape when Eric Kelly left back in April was seamless. He is really trying to make the restaurant his own, and we are thriving because of it.
Which ingredient is most representative of your personality? I don't know about ingredient, but I have been compared to a Sour Patch Kid. First I'm sour, then I'm sweet.
If someone asked you to describe the current state of St. Louis' culinary climate, what would you say? We are thriving! There are so many amazing chefs that are making great food and getting national attention.
Name an ingredient never allowed in your kitchen. I'd like to say peanut products, but unfortunately with the peanut-butter cookies and the banana-cream pie -- new and improved version coming soon -- I use peanut butter quite a bit. There are just so many people with allergies out there, it almost doesn't seem worth it -- not to mention I can't stand the smell.
What is your after work hangout? I'm a bit of a homebody, so I rush home after work to hang out with my husband and dog, and watch TV.
What's your food or beverage guilty pleasure? Ice cream! No matter how full I am, there is always room for ice cream. Oh, and pretzel M&Ms. Drink-wise it would be Dr Pepper -- I'm a bit of a DP junkie.
What would be your last meal on earth? I have thought long and hard about this. Braised beef, white cheddar grits, collard greens, and for dessert, an ice-cream sundae bar.