by Nancy Stiles
The Precinct (1900 Locust Avenue; 314-588-8899) has hired chef Jason Hector after Ben Welch left to pursue his own projects. There won't be huge changes, but look for a renewed focus on nighttime dining.
See also: The Precinct Launches Revamped Menu
Hector, who is originally from Arkansas, moved to St. Louis in 2006 with his wife. He began his career at a convention center in Arkansas and Pinnacle Country Club, which is on the LPGA tour. He has since worked at Monarch and as sous and executive chef at Herbie's Vintage 72 (405 North Euclid Avenue; 314-769-9595). Hector describes his cooking background as "modern comfort" and likes to present dishes that are approachable, but unique.
"St. Louis is meat and potatoes, so that's my wheelhouse," Hector tells Gut Check. "I don't want to throw steak on a plate -- I want put something out there more unique, but that you still can recognize."
Hector has actually worked with Welch before, so he doesn't think he'll have to make many changes to the menu. Welch come on in March after disappointing reviews and revamped the offerings; one of his best contributions was the smokehouse brisket.
"I'm one of the chefs that wants to hear from the guests. I learned that strongly from the country club and also Herbie's," he says. "I don't want someone to think of a place that I work at as a special-occasion place -- I want to make it appealing for a person to come in two or three times a week. I enjoyed doing that at Herbie's, and I look forward to doing it here."
Gut Check is always hungry for tips and feedback. E-mail the author at Nancy.Stiles@RiverfrontTimes.com.
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