Kore Wilbert, Chef at Copper Pig, Badly Injured in Freak Kitchen Accident


Kore Wilbert is recovering in the hospital after sustaining severe burns. - MABEL SUEN
  • Kore Wilbert is recovering in the hospital after sustaining severe burns.

Kore Wilbert, head chef at the Southampton neighborhood restaurant Copper Pig (4611 Macklind Avenue; 314-499-7166), is recovering after sustaining severe burns in a freak kitchen accident at the restaurant on Saturday.

According to Copper Pig's owner Nhat Nguyen, Wilbert was cooking a dish for customers when a can of non-stick cooking spray exploded directly in front of him. The explosion sent a fireball of hot liquid flying directly onto Wilbert's head, face and neck, knocking him over.

"We don't know if it was a faulty can or what, because it's not like it was hot," Nguyen explains. "We kept it where we always keep them. It just blew up."

Wilbert was transported to the hospital by ambulance. Though there was no property damage to the Copper Pig, Nguyen made the decision to close the restaurant for the rest of the night.

"We were all really shaken up," he says.

A Go Fund Me campaign has been set up to help Wilbert and his family during his recovery. According to the information provided on the campaign page, Wilbert's job at the Copper Pig is the sole source of income for his family, which includes his wife, Sara, their three children and a fourth child due to arrive in April. It is unclear how long he will remain out of work and whether or not he will need skin grafts or further treatment for his injuries.

Before joining the Copper Pig team at the end of October, Wilbert worked at the now-shuttered Garden on Grand. His resume also includes SSM Hospital, the Mad Tomato and MX Theater. His win at the 2016 Taste of St. Louis Chef Battle Royale has put him on the radar as someone to watch in the St. Louis dining scene.

"I've been in this business for twenty years and I have never seen anything like this," says Nguyen.

We have reached out to Wilbert's family for information on his prognosis and will update as that becomes available.

We are always hungry for tips and feedback. Email the author at cheryl.baehr@riverfronttimes.com.