Thursday, August 16, 2007


My friend and I went for a student dinner at L'Ecole Culinaire the other evening. It wasn't exactly L'Ecole Ordinaire but it was not world class either. Of course, I understand that they are students. Yes, for people learning about food, it was quite good.

What occurred to me after I was done is that the cuisine of a cooking school in a certain city will necessarily reflect the the cuisine of the city that that school is in. So, in St. Louis the cuisine is what it is. We who live here and eat out here know what the food in St. Louis restaurants generally tastes like...with many exceptions, of course. But mainly it is a meat oriented, not whole grain, not health-oriented cuisine. I wish so much that it were more health-oriented. St. Louisans seem to think that healthy can't taste yummy. That is just not so.

People who travel extensively know that food in other cities tastes differently...some better, some not as good. I think that L'Ecole Culinaire is producing good chefs/restaurant people/caterers and hospitality people who will work well in St. Louis. When these newly minted chefs move to other cities, they may need additional training in order to produce the foods that people in other cities are embracing.

As most St. Louisans know, the Midwest (with the exception of Chicago) is where trends trickle to after both coasts have enjoyed same trends for months and sometimes years. Oh, don't get all bent...St. Louis has many wonderful things to recommend it.

I was struck lately, after a trip to Seattle, at how many vegetarian restaurants there are NOT here in St. Louis. Yes, great restaurants, like Trattoria Marcella and others, will make a wonderful vegetarian meal. But is there even one all vegetarian restaurant besides Eternity Deli (which is good but sometimes not open)?? No. There isn't. In Seattle, I counted nearly 20 totally vegetarian restaurants. Cafe Flora in Seattle is world class strictly vegetarian and very healthy AND is well supported by the community having been in business for over 15 years.

See, that's what I mean. I wish that L'Ecole Culinaire would teach more healthy, vegetarian, vegan and whole grain cooking. Whining....I miss the Sunshine hoo.

Wake up everyone...healthy eating is not just a trend. I believe it's here to stay. Look at the bucks places like Whole Foods and Wild Oats are pulling in. Trend? I don't think so.

A nice part of the evening at L'Ecole Culinaire was a delightful couple my friend Steve and I had the pleasure of dining with...another Steve and his lovely wife Jan. They were great.

And, yes, of course, thanks to L'Ecole Culinaire for the meal. I am always thankful when I am blessed with a gift. My hope is that my comments would only serve to raise the level of total quality of any meal I have in my home city, St. Louis.


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