27 months. 17 dinners. 2 anonymous chefs. This is a City in a Jar exclusive interview. We’ve gone Rogue.
One late evening in January, Jessica and I had the opportunity to meet these two talented chefs at a local watering hole to discuss food, St. Louis, and what exactly it means to be Rogue.
rogue — n. a playfully mischievous person. These two chefs are just that. Both mischievous, both highly praised in the St. Louis culinary scene, and both hoping to turn the concept of food as we know it on its head.
Rogue has four rules, with the first rule being most important — you do not reveal the secrets of Rogue. The anticipation of being selected by this secretive duo to attend a dinner is highly addicting. Going into your first experience, you are shocked to find out who exactly is behind this movement, and why on earth anyone would run a secret “underground” dining society.
“St. Louis has a lot of room to grow as far as food goes. America is at a crossroads when it comes to their national food identity. This so-called “farm fresh” idea we’ve developed is becoming what we would call “American cuisine.” With that being said, we are here to re-invent your culinary experience. We don’t follow any rules or regulations. We take an idea, go one step further, and then flip it. We want to be outside our comfort zone. Each time we try to figure out how can we do something that no one has ever encountered. Everything from the tasting menus, guest list, music, and atmosphere are all done with a purpose to create the ultimate dining experience.”
Each event means a different location, and sometimes they aren’t the most ideal kitchen set-ups. “Let’s just say we’re lucky if we have gas to cook with.” From the Kirkwood Train Station, a photography studio, and even an old church, nothing is too out of the ordinary for Rogue. “Each location is different, and patrons don’t know where they are going until just a day or two before the event. It’s exciting that way.”
The food is nothing short of gourmet, with a twist. Each dinner centers around a certain theme; tasting menus highlight the evening in a playful way. They’ve served “baked” Alaska with oregano ice cream, duck yolk ravioli, and even foie gras cannoli — nothing is too out of left field for this pair. “We never practice or pre-plate our food. We create every dish from start to finish, with the help of a few, trusted volunteers to help plate and execute. Our goal each time is to serve great food. We want people to love and understand what exactly it is we are putting in front of them. We do a lot of prep work and research before each event. We’ve learned a lot, and hope our patrons do, too.”
As the Rogue movement continues to grow in St. Louis, you can be sure it will always remain under its veil of secrecy. “We are word of mouth only. No advertisements, no direct invitations, strictly donation based. We do this because we love it, and hope those who come to our dinners do as well.”
All photos courtesy of Rick Forrestal.
To find out more information about joining the Rogue experience, follow them on Twitter: @rudse. You can also read the chefs’ cryptic blog to see their notes on each dinner.
Keep craving what you love —