COMPLIMENTS OF MISSION TACO JOINT
Jason Tilford is resurrecting Milagro Modern Mexican favorites with the ghost kitchen, Holy Mole.
Milagro Modern Mexican may have closed its doors in 2018, but fans of the innovative Webster Groves restaurant never fully let go. That became evident to chef Jason Tilford when he saw a recent social media post asking people to describe their favorite food experiences.
"A friend posted on Facebook asking people what is the most memorable meal they'd ever had," Tilford says. "People were commenting with places from all over the world, and then there were two people who said that dishes from Milagro — the salmon with plantain mole and the ceviche — were their favorites. As soon as they mentioned them, everyone was saying, 'Oh my god; I miss that ceviche.' From there, it started brewing in our heads that we have an outlet, and there is a desire for the food. Let's do it."
Earlier this month, Tilford resurrected these Milagro Modern Mexican fan favorites, and more, as the ghost kitchen Holy Mole (milagromodernmexican.com)
. The chef, who co-owns Mission Taco Joint with his brother, Adam, is thrilled to be offering people the chance to revisit some of the Milagro dishes they loved, and is equally thrilled to be cooking them again.
"It's funny, because about a month ago we had a meeting with all of our Mission general managers, and I made them a six or seven course dinner of the stuff we used to do at Milagro," Tilford explains. "It lit a fire, and I thought, man, I really miss doing this. I think chefs are creative people by nature, so I think we sometimes get bored and need a creative outlet."
Holy Mole is operating out of the Mission Taco Joint central kitchen in Webster Groves. True to ghost kitchen form, there is no dining room; guests wishing to order from Holy Mole do so by selecting either pickup or delivery online one day before they wish to receive their food. The dishes are packaged and come with instructions for assembling and reheating. That the food travels so well and is excellent even after being zapped in the microwave is something Tilford is especially proud of.
"We've been getting nothing but good feedback from people wondering how we make this great food that gets heated up in the microwave," Tilford says. "We tested and tested and added a plantain leaf that helps with the steam — in some cases, it's almost better heated that way than in the restaurant because it's so moist and tender. Everyone is asking about adding additional dishes, and we are working on that, but we won't do anything that won't reheat well."
Tilford is gradually rolling out the menu and plans to have everything in place within the next couple of weeks. For now, Holy Mole is serving several Milagro favorites, including three different types of mole, tuna ceviche, roasted poblano salsa and a vegan chile relleno.
Tilford plans to keep up the Holy Mole ghost kitchen indefinitely and is excited to be doing something different in the midst of such challenging times for the restaurant business. As he sees it, he and his crew need this just as much as the guests.
"It makes you almost feel young again, like it's a blast from the past," Tilford says. "I'll be making mole thinking about the time I trained my sous chef at Milagro, and it's like we are right there. It’s been Groundhog Day since March 16; every day is the same, there is fatigue, and everyone is done with it. That's why it's so refreshing to do something new and different. It's nice to still mix in some things that give you a reason to get out of bed."
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