MEET THE COMPETING CHEFS OF THE STELLA ARTOIS CHEF BATTLE ROYALE
CHEF MATTHEW DUBOIS
The Scottish Arms
Matthew DuBois moved to Saint Louis, from Liechtenstein, in 1997. He discovered that he had a passion for cooking at a young age cooking in the kitchen with his mother. He got his first kitchen job at 15 working in a Lebanese kitchen, were he learned to love the industry. After graduating from Rockwood Summit, he attended Saint Louis University with the intention of going to Dental School. He quickly realized that he had very little passion for in his studies, and still had a strong interest in cooking and hospitality. After college, Matthew met several excellent chef mentors, and focused his scholastic attention to cooking. He has had the privilege of working as executive chef at The Wild Flower, Bella Vino Wine Bar and Tapas and currently at The Scottish Arms.
CHEF CANDICE POSS
Cork & Barrel Chophouse
Candice Poss has cooked for many celebrities. Many, many celebrities throughout the years… but don’t expect her to name drop. She’d much rather have you brag about her food.
Born and bred in the Magnolia State, Poss was scrambling eggs in her Grandma’s kitchen at the tender young age of four. By nine, she graduated to perfecting biscuits – a true southern staple. And barely out of her teens, she landed a line cook position at the prestigious Old Waverly Golf Course, in West Point, Mississippi where she quickly worked her way up to pastry chef. There she wowed hundreds of A-list actors and athletes with her sweet treats and it wasn’t long before the Moonrise Hotel in St. Louis wooed her away to work at Eclipse Restaurant.
She started as Sous Chef at Eclipse and less than four months later, she was promoted to Executive Chef. But it wasn’t until she landed at Cork & Barrel that, she says, she really felt like she was home, “I’ve never worked in akitchen like this before. We have the best team I’ve ever seen.”
“Her first task?” Owner Jill Ragan said, “We had her completely rewrite our menu, infusing her southern charm into our spectacular steaks and chops, which are perfectly seared on our Big Green Egg.” And being from the south, you better believe she knows a thing or three about seafood. Her award-winning shrimp and grits is bursting with low country love. And her beet and burrata cheese pizza is, well, almost too gorgeous to eat. Good luck finding a favorite dish because Poss truly pours her heart and soul into each-and-every bite.
CHEF DAVID SANDUSKY
BEAST Craft BBQ
Chef & Pit Master David Sandusky abandoned fine-dining in 2007 for the more-relevant BBQ sector, finally bringing his "Craft BBQ" concept to the ultra-competitive St. Louis BBQ scene in late 2014. With a chip on his shoulder, and something to prove, David tapped into his "All Killer. No Filler." culture & mentality to create "BEAST Craft BBQ Co."
David Sandusky has earned several honors, while BEAST has raked in a "truck-load" of awards, including "Best BBQ in St. Louis" by the readers of the RFT & GO! Magazine, and "#20" on Ian Froeb's "STL 100" list.
CHEF LIZ SCHUSTER
West End Grill & Pub
“My family has always celebrated life, mourned loss, shared stories and found each other – through food. To my family, food was not just about sustenance, it was our way of communicating with each other”, says the Executive Chef and owner of Tenacious Eats.
Growing up amidst German-influenced cooks and a family-owned bakery, some of her fondest childhood memories are of learning to cook from her grandparents.
“I can remember making Concord grape jelly with my grandmother in her Benton Park kitchen. Picking grapes from her age-old Concord grape vine. Squeezing and smashing the grapes. The beautiful scent of grape and sugar bubbling on her kitchen stove. Those smells evoke powerful memories of love, shared heritage, and the seeds of future generations.”, says Schuster.
Although her culinary career has carried her in many different directions, Chef Liz has found a new home as Executive Chef at West End Pub & Grill in the historic Central West End neighborhood. With the adjoining Gaslight Theater, the West End Pub & Grill is a place to nourish the mind, replenish the body, and nurture the soul with live plays, musical gatherings and Chef Liz's famous movies-for-foodies Tenacious Eats events that have grown in popularity year after year.
CHEF TREVOR PLOEGER
Eleven Eleven Mississippi
Chef Trevor Ploeger is the 2017 Stella Artois Chef Battle Royale Champion, returning in 2018 to defend his title. During High school Trevor got his first job in the restaurant industry at one of the “nicer restaurants” in his hometown. He was drawn in immediately - working his way up from dishwasher to line cook. After graduating high school, Trevor went on to culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu in Minneapolis, MN. Shortly after graduating he moved to St. Louis and got a job with Sunset 44 Bistro. He worked his way up to Sous Chef and after a few years was given the title Executive Chef.
When Trevor left Sunset 44 he was in search of new experiences. It was then that he joined the culinary team at Harrah’s Casino as Sous Chef. A year later he was given the opportunity to work with a close friend at Old Hickory Golf Club. He started out there as the Sous Chef, working with both the bistro and banquet side, and worked his way up to the title of Executive Chef.
Later on Trevor was contacted about a job at Vin de Set where he was hired as the Sous Chef. Soon after, owners Paul and Wendy Hamilton promoted him as the Executive Chef at sister restaurant Eleven Eleven Mississippi, where he has been now for 2 years.
CHEF THU REIN
Thu Rein was born in 1988 in Burma, now commonly known as Myanmar. In 2007 he decided to pursue a new life in America, and began his career in Indianapolis. While there, he was able to take high school classes although he was still learning English at that time. After about two years, Thu Rein left Indianapolis for St. Louis where his uncle lived. He became involved in a United Nations organization that helped him find work and through this organization, he took a job as a dishwasher at The Crossing Restaurant.
Before long, Thu Rein expressed an interest in doing more than dishes. He watched the salads being made, and thought that he would be able to learn how to prepare them. He asked owner Jim Fiala if he could try, and it wasn’t long until Jim realized that Thu Rein had a knack for learning new skills, and excelling in them. After salads, he learned fish and grill where he became an invaluable help to the chef. Jim also gave Thu Rein chances to learn more by placing him in his other restaurants, Acero, Liluma and The Terrace View, where he honed his kitchen skills further.
In 2017, the Executive Chef position became available and it was an obvious choice for Jim to give Thu Rein this opportunity. In the past year, he had been exemplary in every way and was a true inspiration to all the people he encountered. On a personal note, Thu Rein married his hometown sweetheart, lives in a home he purchased, and has become a U.S. Citizen!
CHEF ALEXANDER SALKOWSKI
Sidney Street Café
Growing up in North County, Chef Alexander Salkowski, was a graduate of Hazelwood West High School, started as a wear washer at the since closed “Mack’s Bar+Grill” operated by Ali Jones (Rapper - St. Lunatics), eventually working his way to serving up pizza and wings. From that point on Alex moved around St. Louis working at restaurants such as Over/Under Bar+Grill, Imo’s Pizza and 360 Rooftop. By this time, knowing cooking was more than just a job, Alex started the Culinary Arts and Baking programs at Forest Park Community College where an assignment from class turned into a job interview, and eventually a job, with James Beard award winner Patrick Connolly at basso. After Connolly’s leaving, Alex started working at both basso and The Restaurant (now Boundary) under Executive Chef Rex Hale. After some time with Rex, Alex worked a short time as Sous Chef at J. McArthur’s (now Snax) until working with friend and fellow Cheshire alum Dan Sammons at Demun Oyster Bar (now Barrio.) Currently Sidney Street Café on the Sauté station is where Alex calls home working under Chef Bob Zugmaier and James Beard Award winner Kevin Nashan.
CHEF JACK MACMURRAY
Chef Jack MacMurray III, graduated is a 1992 graduate of the Academy of Culinary Arts as a silver medalist. Upon graduating, Chef Jack worked as Executive Chef at Sonnenalp Resort: Blu’s Restaurant in Vail, Co. from 1993 - 2001. He then came to St. Louis to work at Crazy Fish, Annie Gunns, Wild Horse Grill, Old Hickory Golf Club, Sage Urban American Grill, Kirkwood Station Brewery, Schneithorst’s, Joe Buck’s Downtown St. Louis, Chandler Hill Winery, Candicci’s and now he is at the reigns at The Boathouse in Forest Park.
Chef Jack has cooked for President Ford on 3 different occasions, has won many BBQ Championships, is a 2009 Mardi Gras Cajun Cook off Champion, 2010 Taste of St. Louis Chef Battle Royale Champion and has been a cooking instructor for 15 years at Dierbergs School of Cooking and Kitchen Conservatory.