by Cheryl Baehr
Cinnomin Brothers laughs about her departure from politics. "I just got tired of all the late nights, early mornings and drinking." It's an irony that isn't lost on the Renaissance St. Louis Grand Hotel (800 Washington Avenue; 314-621-9600) pastry cook -- the service industry is known for its "play-hard" ways, but Brothers insists that the political scene was far worse.
Brothers had always been interested in cooking, tinkering around with recipes in her family's kitchen and carving up all of the fruits and vegetables she could get her hands on. Her career path, however, was on a much different track: first, working for a national voter registration drive and then getting a position with the Missouri Democratic Party.
Eventually, Brothers knew it was time to follow her true calling, so she enrolled in Forest Park Community College's pastry program. Now, as one of only three pastry cooks at the Renaissance, Brothers is responsible for all of the hotel's baked goods and confections. When not at the Renaissance, Brothers can be found working at I Scream Cakes in exchange for tattoos and writing articles on fist-bumps in a local magazine. She took a break from her eclectic interests to share her thoughts on the St. Louis food and beverage scene, her love of Adam's Smokehouse and on a pastry chef's most reviled ingredient.
What is one thing people don't know about you that you wish they did? I am kind of an open book, so there isn't much people don't know about me. One thing I can think of is that I really enjoy the science in pastry. Most people think that I am just super creative, but I am really applying an artistic touch to some serious chemical processes that I depend on.
What daily ritual is non-negotiable for you? Creating and organizing my prep list so I can enjoy an efficient work day. Having an outline of the order that I want to accomplish my prep will take two hours off my day sometimes and gives me time to play with ideas.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Tasting by smelling would be an awesome superpower, because it becomes hard sometimes to taste so many sweet things in a day when perfecting a new recipe or concept.
What is the most positive trend in food, wine or cocktails that you've noticed in St. Louis over the past year? I like the use of fermentation and fermented goods. I think the exposure to ways of eating in other parts of the world make us better prepared as culinarians to adapt to inevitable changes in agriculture. Plus, I really like sour-tasting stuff.
Who is your St. Louis food crush? I don't know that I have one right now but I have had so many ribs from Adam's Smokehouse that I'm barbecued out for the moment.
Which ingredient is most representative of your personality? I think high-gluten flour. It sounds weird, but all I could think of is that I feel strong and flexible.
If someone asked you to describe the current state of St. Louis' culinary climate, what would you say? I would say that the St. Louis culinary climate is in an important stage of growth where a lot of restaurant owners and chefs are expanding and conceptualizing where to go from here. We just experienced an extreme amount of change with places opening and closing in the last year, so now is the time for the survivors to figure out what they are going to do next.
Name an ingredient never allowed in your kitchen. Margarine.
What is your after work hangout? Stella Blues, Silver Ballroom, or Heavy Anchor.
What's your food or beverage guilty pleasure? Fries!
What would be your last meal on earth? My last meal would be bloody steak, a lobster roll, fries, medium-rare beef and tendon pho, and a tongue burrito from La Vallesana. If it's my last, I'm going out from overeating.