Posts Tagged ‘Russell Ping’

Art work for the new cafe.

These pictures were some of the first things that I picked out for the new space. I didn’t really think about it when I was picking them out, but I guess that in an abstract way they describe my cooking style: Midwestern roots mixed with California Fun… and a bit of a quirky sense of humor.

“Papaw on the Farm”

This is my Grandpa Ping (Papaw) on one of the farms that he managed. My Dad grew up in Milan, IN on a cattle farm. My Dad’s bragging right is that he went to the high school that the movie “Hoosiers” was based on. We have passed by this farm many times on the way to visit my Grandparents, but I’m told that the old pictures do it the most justice.

My Grandma (Mamaw) was the cook, and known for her biscuits. This was the fried chicken, bacon fat on the stove, loaf of white bread at every meal kind of cooking to sustain the farm crew at lunch every day.




“Peterson’s in Palm Springs”

This is my Mom’s family on a trip to Palm Springs in the 1960’s. My Mom grew up a few miles from the beach in Southern California. A pool in the backyard and avocado orchards close enough to pick and mash on your toast in the morning.

My Grandparents (Grammy & Grandad) were always entertaining. My Mom & Aunt would help Grammy cook for days before big parties. My favorite story is when my Grandfather placed a bottle of champagne at the bottom of the pool… whoever gets it out keeps it. I can’t remember all of the details, but it ends with a guy in a full suit diving in the pool for his prize. I can just imagine a scene out of Mad Men, a guy in a black suit & skinny tie taking a dive.



This is our dog Muggins. This picture just makes me laugh. For those who think that this is a mean looking mutt, know that he is more of a Ferdinand The Bull in true life.





“Pigs on a Roof”

This is a picture of one of the houses on the way to the beach from my Grandma’s house in La Jolla. These pigs have been perched on the roof of this bungalow for two generations of walks to the beach. Everyone in our family has some form of “pig on a roof” in their home.





“Chicken Wire Napa”

This is from a trip to Napa that Em & I went on last summer. After a few days of eating great food and drinking great wine we were ready to pack up and move there. We took a couple hundred pictures of scenery, food, etc. but this was one of our favorite photos from the trip. This is the chicken coup at Frog’s Leap Vineyard.

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Well if we had any doubts about moving into a new space, our current space has politely been telling us to get the heck out over the last two weeks. Last Saturday started out with an early morning call from my morning baker, “Um… I just walked in and the thermostat say’s that it’s over 90° in here.” Followed by a second phone call from Diane (Kitchen Manager) as I was on my way in to asses the air conditioner problem.

“Hey Russ. Have you had your coffee yet?”

“No, I’m on my way in. Is the air conditioner working yet?”

“No, and now the grease trap is backing up.”


Over the last two weeks the air conditioner has frozen up, the grease trap & drains have backed up twice, the espresso machine has died, a refrigerator died, and the freezer went into cardiac arrest but was revived by the repair man.

I am convinced that the ceiling will fall in before we officially move out of the space. Luckily, we have a great team that realizes that the show must go on. All of this has happened and everyone adapts to the situation and makes it work without a hitch.

It will be a little sad to move out of our original home, but I’m sure whenever it starts to get sentimental the toilet will erupt, or the walls will cave in and I will get a quick kick back to reality.

OFFICIAL OPENING DATE (If the inspectors are nice) – June 4th!

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What a difference a week makes. We were finally given the go from the Fenton Fire Marshall on Tuesday and construction is fully underway at the new spot.


So, what is the new place going to look like? Here is a glimpse of a few things going into the new space.

The “Farmhouse” table (or the Bill Mulford): I have always wanted to have a large gathering table meant for large groups or patrons to share and get to know one another. Em’s Dad (Bill) is pretty crafty with wood so I asked him to start on this project when we knew that we were moving into the larger space. This handcrafted piece will be a perfect centerpice of the new spot.

Lighting: I am kind of a nerd when it comes to restaurant lighting. Whenever Em & I walk into a new space I’m always pointing out fixtures that I like or don’t like… She trys to act like she as interested as I am. Here are a few of my picks:


Chairs: We have been doing a bit of DIYing with the chairs, and have a lot of work to do. The idea is to use the chairs at the cafe & find new ones for a mis-matched look. All of them will be painted out black. I have never been much of a resale/antique shopper, you certanly do have to look through a whole lot of crap before you find something worth while. We found these at a shop in Shrewsberry last week for $5.00, not too shabby once they got a few coats of paint.

Range: More than likley none of you will see the kitchen, so this is my new toy.

It is great to start to see things come together in the new space. The word from the contractor is that we only have about 3 weeks of construction left! Looks like the roller coaster is heading down the frist hill. I’ll be sure to keep everything posted as we progress and experiment with new recipes.

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Things are in full swing with the new café opening in early June. One of the perks to gaining a liquor license is frequent mid-day beer and wine tastings… It’s rough, but someone must do it. Today, After being short-handed on a crazy day and hearing that my brand new hood was damaged in transport, I would have been fine with a bathtub hooch tasting.

Anyway, one of the things that I have been learning about a lot lately is beer. You can probably tell from my past posts that I am more of a wine guy, but after talking to a few St. Louis craft brewers I am intrigued.

Last week we did a tasting with Perennial Artisan Ales (South City) and I was impressed. Perennial is new to the St. Louis beer scene and their philosophy of seasonal local ingredients definitely lends itself to the culinary world. The folks at perennial categorize their beers as mostly Belgian style, but they add some funky techniques and interesting ingredients that definitely make the suds unique.

Perennials Hommel Bier would probably be my choice for an everyday beer. Similar to an IPA, Hommel is loaded with hops. This will make a great pair with the chili rubbed bacon bread sticks during happy hour at the Café.

We also tried the Black Walnut Dunkel. The brewers use hundreds of pounds of Missouri walnuts in the brewing process which leaves the beer tasting like bottled banana bread.

Em and I are planning on visiting Perennial’s South City tasting room soon to try some of the other specialty brews on tap. I’m not sure who is carrying Perennial’s products, but if you come across it be sure to give it a try.

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Dark Chocolate Dipped BerriesChocolate Turtle Mini Cake Whipped Cream & White Chocolate Strawberry Cake

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Let the work begin! I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to see a dumpster.

It took about 3 weeks to get the “ok” to start demolition, and about 30 minutes for the construction guys to destroy the old drop ceiling in the space.

I got word this morning that we have permits from St. Louis County so now it’s just up to the Fire Marshal and we can get started on the next phase of construction.

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Thanks to M&D for a great birthday dinner! Wish I would have had the camera there to take pictures of the big-ass burgers and bacon deviled eggs. Old fashioned cherry dump cake with roasted walnuts could not have been more perfect.

My folks always throw the perfect dinner party.

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