VICIA!

*FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE*

Michael and Tara Gallina of Rooster and the Hen Announce New Restaurant Project Vicia, In Cortex

St. Louis, (June 14, 2016) – Tara and Michael Gallina, who relocated to St. Louis last year after Michael served as chef de cuisine at the James Beard award-winning restaurant Blue Hill at Stone Barns, today announced plans to open their first restaurant in St. Louis – Vicia (pronounced vi-cee-ya) – located in the Cortex Innovation Community’s @4260 building on the corner of Duncan and Boyle streets in the Central West End.

With plans for an early fall opening, Vicia will serve lunch and dinner and focus on   vegetable-forward cuisine driven by local farmers, with an emphasis on wood-fired cooking. 

“The farming community in and around St. Louis has really blown us away,” said Michael Gallina. “After visiting a number of local farms we were inspired to create a concept that celebrates the bounty of the Midwest, from root to flower. Our menu will be a reflection of the relationships we’ve built with farmers, artisans, and craftspeople across the region, changing every day to reflect what’s available.”

The 2,500-square-foot restaurant and bar is expected to seat 50 inside, with an additional 1,500-square-feet for a planned outdoor dining space. 

“We are thrilled to add the next piece of a comprehensive puzzle in building a thriving, dynamic community here at Cortex,” said Dennis Lower, president of Cortex. “The Gallina’s share the same commitment to innovation that all Cortex residents have and we look forward to having them as an active part of the district.”

“Vicia” represents the Latin genus for one of the most common cover crops grown in Missouri, vetch – a symbol to the Gallina’s of the relationship between what goes on above and below the soil and how that impacts everything that touches our plates. 

“From the moment we first visited the Cortex community we knew something really big was happening here,” said Tara Gallina. “Its dedication to innovation and creativity truly represents the way we view food and dining, and the growth planned for the area captured our imagination. We are excited to call Cortex home and create something truly unique in St. Louis.” 

A St. Louis native, Michael Gallina moved back to his hometown in the fall of 2015 after spending the past 15 years working at some of the top restaurants in the country in both San Francisco and New York. He spent the majority of his career working alongside acclaimed chef and author Dan Barber at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, where the Gallina’s met and Tara was an integral member of the service team as both a captain and bartender. 

They were married last summer and since relocating to St. Louis, the couple have hosted a series of sold-out pop-up dinners under the name Rooster and the Hen as a way to get to know their new community. 

“Through our dinners we have been able to organically introduce ourselves to the chefs, farmers, artisans and diners that make up the diverse and close-knit fabric of St. Louis,” said Tara Gallina. “It has been wonderful to share our passion for food and service on an intimate level and allow people to get to know us. We have received the warmest welcome and we can’t wait to join the growing and exciting restaurant community with our new, permanent home.”

The Gallina’s plan to announce more details regarding the project throughout the summer months on their website and across various social media channels. 

For more information:

info@viciarestaurant.com 

www.viciarestaurant.com

Twitter/Instagram: @viciarestaurant

Lache Pas Boucherie: Our weekend celebrating the life of a pig

Sunset over the bluffs in Florissant, MO

Sunset over the bluffs in Florissant, MO

We reap what we sow and eat what we cook.
We sing, we dance... We laugh and cry.
We celebrate life and honor death,
We are both the funeral and the festival.
We stand on the shoulders of our past,
Walk with deliberate steps in this present,
Looking with hope towards our future.
We are the evolution of our forefather's efforts,
A provision of inspiration for our children's campaign.
We are Cajun and Creole,
Friends and Family
We are the Farmer and the Chef,
The Butcher and the Baker,
The Musician and the Artist,
We are Community
This is our crop
Our food
Our music
Our art
Our culture
This is who we are.
We will not give up.
We will not let go.
-Lache Pas Boucherie et Cuisine

It is hard to put into words what exactly Lache Pas Boucherie is and what it means to Michael and I after having experienced it, but the words above from the Lache Pas founders capture it perfectly. 

We were invited to participate in a weekend celebrating community. The power of taking part in slaughtering an animal, preparing every part of it, and serving it to your fellow community. Unless you are a hunter, have grown up on a farm, or worked on one, it is likely you have never experienced the taking of a life of something you are about to eat, or at least we hadn't. While it may seem barbaric and gruesome at first pass to the outside, it is actually quite sensitive and respectful to the sanctity of life. 

The team behind Lache Pas Boucherie, led by Toby Rodriguez, hails from Lafayette (pronounced Le-fey-ette) Louisiana, the heart of Arcadiana and cajun-creole culture. Their ancestors have fed their communities through a traditional practice known as a boucherie, which literally translates to butchershop in french, but references the slaughter of a pig and its immediate butchery. Using almost every single part of the animal, the community would come together to prepare dishes such as head cheese, boudin, smoked ham, and fraisseurs, a rich stew made with the pigs organs. 

This event was no different, except the community in this case was a cross-section of chefs from the St. Louis area. Lache Pas is traveling the country on a two year tour, bringing the boucherie experience to every city they can as a way to pass on this tradition to chefs and educate them on the value of using the whole animal. Their tour kicked off in Nashville a few weeks back, and we were lucky enough to be their second stop. 

We all gathered at a private farm in Florissant, Missouri on Saturday to meet each other and share in a meal prepared by the Lache Pas crew. It was a beautiful evening watching the sunset over the bluffs, chowing down on rice, beans, and a spicy stew of local beef. Beers were shared, stories were told, and we all felt more connected and ready to share in the celebration to follow. Everyone setup camp across the property and in our own way, built our new community. 

The Boucherie is really treated as a ceremonious occasion, along the lines of a funeral and celebration of life. The red wattle/berkshire cross pig that was the sacrifice for us all was supplied by the Backes family of Circle B Ranch. At 8 am, we all gathered in a shaded area, alongside fields of wheat and under crab apple trees, to witness the death of the pig. Toby spent over twenty minutes in the trailer with the pig calming him down. We all stood in complete silence. When the moment was right, Toby used a stunner to quickly and humanely kill him. And from that moment on, it was a fast flurry of activity, pulling him onto the funeral board and quickly draining and preserving its blood to be used for boudin noir. 

The pallbearers raised the pig, and we all followed as they carried it to the slaughter field. The entire community took part in scalding and removing its hair.  A long wooden table, covered with every tool imaginable, was at the ready for Toby, and right before our eyes, he masterfully went straight to work. With the pig sprawled out on the table, everything was so calm and fluid, it felt more like observing surgery from the gallery than any other butchering demo we've been apart of. The chefs were broken up into teams based on the dish they would prepare, so they were at the ready when their part was ready to head to the cooler, Toby yelling out "Boudin!" and passing the liver to Michael and the team. 

The Boucherie is not about creative interpretation. While the community is a group of chefs who all have their ideas and options about the way to work with a pig, this was about tradition, so everything needed to be followed to the exact letter of Toby's recipes. And you know what, they all fell in line and were more than happy to take orders for a change. 

Everything was prepared in an outdoor kitchen carefully laid out by the Lache Pas crew. Large caldrons sat atop gas stoves. A wooden smokehouse that starts as a flat box unfolded to become a full size chamber for cold smoking. And what many know as a caja china, is to them a cajun microwave, an iron box that you lay in large cuts of meat and seal with a box of coals on top. Seeing as how the crew is made up of carpenters, they naturally welded a grill on top of the cajun microwave to truly capture all the heat produced. 

Over the course of the weekend things proceeded on "cajun time". A Boucherie is many things, but it is not fast. You don't rush a ham. And you most definitely don't rush a roux. We were all forced to slow things down, disconnect from our outside lives, and really just enjoy each others company. As special as it was to witness the butchery of the pig and take part in the preparation of the food, it really struck us that the most powerful part of the Boucherie was the connectivity you felt to your community. These experiences are few and far between in our daily lives. .

The culmination of the event was a feast, prepared by everyone, and served to a diverse audience of diners that purchased tickets to the Boucherie. These diners help support the efforts of the Lache Pas crew and make it possible for the chefs to participate at no cost. While not a true fundraiser, the people who attend these dinners really make it possible for this whole concept to exist. 

We could list out all the courses and delicious morsels of pig that we served and feasted on, but that's not really the point. The point is that on Sunday a pig was alive, and by Monday evening, it was served in its entirety, ensuring nothing was wasted and complete and total respect was given to its time on earth and what it provided us. 

It was an honor to join the Lache Pas community. We will always carry the philosophy and memory of what we experienced together. We walked away with a new set of friends, and a community to call our own.   

To learn more about Lache Pas Boucherie and where they are headed next, visit their website http://www.lachepasboucherie.com

Feast And Fire at Sidney Street Cafe Collaboration Dinner

When we first met chef Kevin Nashan after arriving in St. Louis we knew that he would become an integral person to us in the local food community. He is so vibrant, full of passion for creating delicious food, and just having a great time while doing it. His two highly successful restaurants in  town, Sidney Street Cafe and Peacemaker, have become inspiring spots for Michael and I. So it was a no-brainer when we got together that at some point we needed to cook together. 

After brainstorming for months, we all felt that the beautiful urban garden that SSC has created (and just so happens to be in their parking lot) would make for a very cool and one-of-a-kind setting for an evening of al fresco dining celebrating the best of what's around us. Kevin threw out that he wanted to build some fire pits, which was right up our alley, so we knew we were on to something good. 

The way the entire Urban Garden Dinner came together was truly special, and the creativity put forth by Kevin and his team in building a series of wood-fired ovens blew us away. We kicked off the evening with snacks prepared by the chefs at the various grill stations, including fresh and grilled oysters, grilled pita and spit roasted duck, white asparagus gazpacho with trout roe, and tomato tartare topped with lardo. It was a hot evening so we refreshed everybody with sangria (a Nashan family recipe!), a chamomile gin and tonic, and vinho verde. 

Guests sat down for dinner at communal tables dressed with flowers and herbs from the garden. Michael prepared the first course, a salad that celebrated the best of local fruits and vegetables like strawberries, peas, squash, garlic scapes, and rhubarb with buratta and pistachios. Kevin and crew served the most beautiful spring paella, cooked over a fire pit, topped with crawfish, rabbit sausage and a bounty of peas. Sides of oven grilled asparagus and ramps were shared family style. 

The night concluded with fermented strawberry snow cones and a liquid nitrogen ice cream station, manned by pastry chef Bob Zugmaier, where he dipped an umami mushroom ice cream in a chocolate magic shell. The perfect ending to a perfect night!  

Michael share's his vision for future restaurant, cooking inspiration in Q&A

From New York back to the Midwest: One on One with Michael Gallina, Chef/Owner, Rooster and the Hen St. Louis

Michael chatted with Beyond the Plate, a blog chronicling food and beverage trends for Symrise, about his inspiration to become a chef, his journey to get there, and his philosophy for our future restaurant. Here are a few excerpts:

On Finding Inspiration: “I like to let what’s happening around me at that very moment dictate what I have available to cook with, and let the rest of the dish evolve from there. Having a relationship with local farmers practicing organically isn't just about cherry-picking their best ingredients, but creating a dialogue where you can let them tell you what they really need you to buy."

On His New Restaurant: "A lot of it goes back to where I find inspiration, and really letting the local farmers in Missouri and parts of Illinois shape our cuisine. We are very focused on flipping the idea of ‘meat and potatoes’ and taking a more vegetable-forward approach to our menu. 

We celebrate meat and will not be vegetarian, but we plan to work with whole animals so that will frequently mean meat will take the form of vegetables cooked in animal fats, garnishes of braised off cuts, and charcuterie. That is definitely a departure from traditional restaurants in St. Louis, but we feel confident in the evolution of the food scene here and feel that many diners are excited for a more sustainable and delicious way of eating. 

With a menu that changes as frequently as ours will, we will really be able to celebrate each ingredient to it's fullest and encourage people to keep coming back to see what's new"

Click here to read the full article

Talking food waste and "meat and potatoes" on KWMU

We were thrilled (and slightly nervous) to be invited by Heather Hughes, Managing Editor of Sauce Magazine, to speak with her and host Steve Potter on Sound Bites, a segment that airs as a part of 90.7 KWMU St. Louis on the Air. Being huge fans of public radio, this was an honor and a very cool experience. We discussed the feature article that Heather wrote for the April issue of Sauce on food waste that included Rooster and the Hen.

The conversation allowed us to share our thoughts on the food and farming system, how we hope to create positive change through our cooking, and our philosophy on making vegetables the star of the show by flipping the concept of "meat and potatoes".

To listen to our interview, click here and scroll down for the "listen" box. 

Food Waste reaches the cover of Sauce Magazine

The topic of food waste is featured in the April issue of Sauce Magazine and we couldn't be more proud to be featured in the article discussing how we see chef's playing a role in supporting the entire farming system as a way of reducing waste. Coming from Blue Hill at Stone Barns and being a part of the WastED project that was championed by our chef Dan Barber, this is a conversation that we have been deeply inspired by and are passionate about continuing in our new home in St. Louis. 

Whether it's working with cover crops like rye or clover that sustainable farms need to grow in order to support the soil, off cuts of meat, or ugly and less attractive (but still delicious!) produce, there are a variety of ways that we in the restaurant community can take otherwise wasted ingredients and turn them into a valued part of our cuisine, as well as a valued product for farmers. We have strived to introduce these concepts through dishes served at our pop-up dinners and look forward to expanding upon these ideas at our future brick and mortar restaurant. 

If you live in the St. Louis area, we encourage you to pick up a copy of Sauce magazine at your favorite coffee shop, restaurant, or market. Otherwise, the issue is available digitally and you can read our article here. http://issuu.com/saucemag/docs/april_2016/37?e=4759280/34532013 

Check out our pullet egg with weeds and donko shiitake mushrooms on the cover!

This Is Not A Restaurant weekend takeover

If you've ever been to Brennan's in St. Louis' Central West End, then you know it is home to some of the world's finest whiskey's, and offers one of the only cigar lounges in the city. What you may not know is that tucked above cozy bar is an eclectic co-working space called the BHIVE. 

As they put it "The BHIVE is a 3,000 square foot space with a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality that caters to both creative entrepreneurs and sophisticated night owls. By day the BHIVE lends itself to daily private workspace, meetings and luncheons.  By night, the space is a place for speakers, networking events, and entertaining". 

So what better place to host a pop-up dinner! Chef Frank McGinty has taken the reins to create This Is Not A Restaurant, a series of dinners that feature creative, avant garde, and delicious dining experiences in the BHIVE. We were stoked to be approached by Frank to join in on the fun and have signed on to take over the space the weekend of March 18-20.

On Friday and Saturday we will host Soil + Fire: An evening with Rooster and the Hen which will feature a multi-course tasting menu celebrating the emergence of spring and cooking with fire. The moveable feast will take advantage of all the intimate nooks and crannies hidden throughout the old building, pull from Brennan's impressive wine cellar, and of course feature some of that amazing whiskey. Two seatings will be held each night, with 14 seats available at the chef's table, so tickets are sure to go fast. 

We're taking a totally different approach to our Sunday spot, hosting Not Your Mama's Casserole...A Modern Midwestern Supper. This casual, family style meal will let us have some fun with family recipes and St. Louis traditions. Think party potatoes, broccoli and cheddar, whole roasted ham, all with a modern, locally-driven twist. Local craft beer will be poured and the record player will be spinning. Bring your friends (even your Mama!) for a good time. 

Tickets for the evening will go on sale in early march through www.definitelynotarestaurant.com. Be sure to enter password 86travs to access the page. Keep an eye on your inbox for a pre-sale notice so you don't miss out on these awesome dinners. 

Sausage, Beer, and St. Louis Love

If you didn't make it to our pop-up dinner at Schlafly this past Monday, you certainly missed a good time. We have been planning this dinner since we set our sights on St. Louis and it was a blast to bring it to life. A true celebration of all the great things happening in the St. Louis food world right now. It was an evening of Schlafly beer (even our very own brew, see here), artisan cured meats from Salume Beddu, some of the best bread in STL from Union Loafers, and pastured, off-cuts of meat from Bolyard's Meat and Provisions. 

Cocktail hour kicked off with Kolcsh and Cider, charcuterie, fresh cheese and rye bread. A 3-course tasting menu followed that highlighted vegetable-forward winter ingredients, a bread made from the spent grains of our beer collaboration, and finished with a coffee stout float packed with ice cream and pecan sorghum caramel. Long tables made it feel like a beer hall. A view into the Bottleworks factory from the Crown Room brought the brewing process to life. What a special evening. 

Here's a peek at the evening:

Rooster and the Hen featured in the March "The Chef Issue" of Feast Magazine

Nick and Leslie Goellner of The Antler Room at the end of our collaboration dinner in Kansas City. 

Nick and Leslie Goellner of The Antler Room at the end of our collaboration dinner in Kansas City. 

It felt like christmas morning heading over to our local coffee shop in Shaw to pick up the latest copy of Feast Magazine, where Michael and I are featured as part of their annual chefs issue. Some of the best, brightest, and talented chefs who are working to move the food scene in the midwest forward are highlighted throughout the issue. We are excited to be included alongside our friends from The Antler Room in Kansas City. 

Feast write Nancy Stiles traveled cross-state to cover our dinner in KC and chatted with us about everything from our time in New York, food and farming philosophy, and what we hope to contribute to the St. Louis food scene. Some great photos were also snapped from our dinner with Nick and Leslie. If you live in around Missouri be sure to pick up a copy, otherwise the issue is available for viewing online here:

http://www.feastmagazine.com/dine/features/article_23cad1a4-db29-11e5-add1-4b0e0c726d37.html

 

It takes a village to host a pop-up dinner!

(All photos courtesy Whiskey and Soba)

When we set out with the crazy idea that we would quit our jobs, move to St. Louis, and hold a series of pop-up dinners to introduce ourselves to our new community, we knew it would be a challenge. Now that our first dinner is under our belt, we can say with certainty that is one of the most challenging things that either of us have done. But also really, really fun.

It takes a village to put on a pop-up dinner, and we called upon every chef, restauranteur, farmer, small business owner, family and friend that we have to make it happen. The sprit of St. Louis is of genuine support and hospitality, and we couldn't have done it with out everyone's help. For that we are forever grateful. 

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For our first dinner, we selected beautiful and unique Bowood Farms to set the stage for our first introduction to the St. Louis dining scene. Bowood is part plant nursery, part retail, part cafe, and provided us with a bright, green, and warm space. Guests entered through large iron gates, walked through a gravel, plant-lined walkway, and were greeted by Michael who was tending to the firepit. Cabbages were cooking directly on the charcoal, and pork shoulders which had been roasting over the indirect heat of the coals were just coming off and heading back into the kitchen. 

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Inside the lush retail space guests were sipping on the Forager's Fizz, a gin based cocktail with Missouri elderberry juice, vermouth, and Rosemary from Bowood's greenhouse. Trays of bright pink watermelon radishes draped with lardo from Boylard's Meat and Provisions were passed to get everyone ready for the meal ahead.

While everyone gathered round the bar, Michael and his team of magical elves were putting the finishing touches on the edible table scape that would serve as our first course. We used Bowood's clay and ceramic planters and saucers to hold delicate baby vegetables from farmer Greg Pusczek of Freshki's Farm, and guests were able to run through a variety of dips made from turnip and carrot tops, seasoned yogurt, and herb pesto. Whole heads of lettuce, harvested that morning from Bowood's high tunnels, were carefully stuffed with slices of Salume Beddu soppressata. 

Once things got going we all found our groove and the evening went beautifully. Wines from small, interesting producers around the world were poured, vegetable driven courses were shared amongst friends old and new, and a winter warming chestnut old fashioned capped off the evening and prepared all for the cold winds that met them on their way home. 

We had such a great time getting to know our supporters, new friends in the chef community, and passionate and excited eaters from all over St. Louis. We felt a huge sense of relief that we made it through out first dinner with the confidence that we made the best possible choice in starting this new adventure here.  It may take a village to put on a pop-up dinner, but it's a village we are so proud to be a part of.

We look forward to sharing more stories and photos from our upcoming dinners.

Cheers!

Tara & Michael

Winter 2016 Pop-Up Dinner Schedule

Rooster and the Hen is excited to kick off the new year with a series of pop-up dinners in St. Louis (and beyond)! 

Each of our dinners will share a taste of our vegetable-forward cuisine, food and service philosophy, and vision for what we hope to bring to the St. Louis dining scene. Think "beet and potatoes", cooking over charcoal, custom brewed beers, preserved winter vegetables, and off cuts of locally raised meats. We have been so fortunate to be able to meet and collaborate with some of the communities most exciting chefs, brewers, venues, and farmers, and look forward to more projects as the year goes on.

The following are our scheduled pop-ups. Each dinner will feature a unique tasting menu driven by what is locally available to us and revealed to guests upon arrival. Number of courses and price point will vary each dinner. 

Monday January 11th: Rooster & the Hen @ Bowood Farms St. Louis http://www.bowoodfarms.com/

Monday January 18th: Collaboration w/ The Antler Room @ Blvd Tavern Kansas City http://www.blvdtavernkc.com/

Monday February 1st: Rooster & the Hen @ Eva's Attic St. Louis http://junipereats.com/evas-attic/

Monday February 22nd: Rooster & the Hen @ Schlafly Bottleworks St. Louis http://schlafly.com/bottleworks

March 5th & 6th: Collaboration w/ Home Team BBQ @ Charleston Wine + Food Festival http://charlestonwineandfood.com/

Consider today's announcement a save the date, we will be releasing tickets to our first dinner at Bowood Farms on January 2nd, a link will be posted on our site under Pop-Up Dinners and Events.

Stay tuned for future ticket sales as the dinners get closer!

Tara & Michael

A peek into our dinner at The Drake Hotel in Toronto

Michael and I had an awesome time in Toronto. It was a first visit for the both of us, and the team at The Drake Hotel could not have been more accommodating. The hotel is very hip and cool, in a artist-driven part of the city along Queen Street, and attracts a very young, educated, and foodie crowd. 

We didn't have a lot of time to explore the city, but some highlights included a walk through the cultural diverse Kennsigton Market, Chinatown, and a fantastic dinner at Bar Isabel, with drinks to follow at their sister Spanish restaurant Bar Reval. A late night visit to a Korean-meets Philly-meets Toronto spot OddSeoul didn't disappoint either. You could eat your way around the world in Toronto in a matter of two days.

Our dinner was the first opportunity to really spread our wings and share our cuisine and philosophy with a brand new audience. It was a 5-course tasting menu that celebrated all things pork, but that really made the vegetable the star. We cooked for 125 guests and felt really good about how delicious and well executed the food came out. It's always a challenge working in a new environment with new people, new ingredients, and a new space, but the amazing thing about cooking is that at the end of the day we all speak the same language, and the Drake team were a tremendous help.

If you get the opportunity to travel to Toronto, we highly recommend a stay at the Drake. It keeps you connected to the urban part of the city, rooms are very cool and comfortable, and there are a number of cafes, bars, and restaurants on site to keep you happy and full!

First course: Broccoli stem/Yogurt/Rye/Pig Ear

Second Course: Cauliflower/Smoked Tomato/Speck/Cheddar

Third Course: Potato/Egg Yolk/Clams/Yeast

Fourth Course: Pig Parts/Pickled Apple/Radicchio/Whey

Fifth Course: Concord Grape/Milk Ice Cream/Pig Lard and Whole Wheat Crust

The Drake Hotel chats with Chef Michael Gallina

We are thrilled to be traveling to Toronto next week to cook a pop up dinner series at The Drake Hotel with Chef Ted Corrado. It will be our first time visiting Toronto and a great opportunity to kick off our first project together as Rooster and the Hen. 

Michael chatted with Ivy Knight, food writer and host of the dinner series, to talk about our recent news and his experience working at Blue Hill. 

Read the interview

Spots are still available for the dinner, reserve yours here

The Gateway City is calling us home!

Michael and I could not be more excited to start this next adventure in our lives and head to St. Louis. We are so thankful for all the encouragement with our new project, Rooster and the Hen, and we look forward to using this site as venue to share what we're up to, so please check back for updates!

We will be making the drive from New York to St. Louis with our loyal companions, our dogs Louie and Abby, in early November and plan to take a little time off to catch our breaths, spend time with family and friends, and gear up for what's next. We haven't even made it to STL yet and already the welcome is so warm, what an incredible feeling! 

Tara & Michael