Chef Thu was born in Burma and came to America in 2007 to pursue a new life. With a very limited English vocabulary, he found work through a United Nations organization as a dishwasher at The Crossing Restaurant. Before long, he was anxious to do more than dishes and asked owner Jim Fiala if he could try some prep work. Jim soon realized that Thu Rein had a knack for not only learning new skills, but excelling in them. Chef Fiala placed him in his other restaurants, Acero, Liluma and The Terrace View, where he honed his kitchen skills. In 2017 he became the Executive Chef of The Crossing.

Chef Thu took his first win with Battle Lamb against David Sandusky of BEAST Craft BBQ. His dish was delicate and beautifully balanced - both in color and flavor profile. Taste of St. Louis Executive Chef Vito Racanelli said, "Thu's lamb dish was a true representation of the cross-culture of his own homeland cuisine and the classical training that he has received from Chef Jimmy Fiala."

His second victory was against Chef Matt Dubois of Sidney Street Cafe in Battle Poussin. The dish that he humbly named "Just Chicken" masterfully incorporated a special herb, indigenous to Burma, that was grown in his hometown. Once again, Chef Thu used the familiar flavors of his childhood, crossed with European techniques, and utilized every part of the chicken, even the bones, which he used to make a stock for the dish.

With owner and chef extraordinaire Jim Fiala as his sous chef,the final competition,Battle Seafood & Stella, was against none other than Trevor Ploeger of Eleven Eleven Mississippi, the 2017 Battle Royale Champion. Trevor had created two amazing winning dishes in Battle Duck & Egg and Battle Beef and was certainly going to be a tough opponent to beat.

While Chef Trevor’s dish, a play on a classic fish stew, was excellent, it just slightly missed the mark against Thu's perfectly seasoned monkfish that utilized three different sauces and his very creative and innovative dessert of banana cake and chocolate mousse. 

”I've never seen a chef, in all my years hosting the competition, use as many intricate techniques as Chef Thu Rein Oo. His win was truly “impressive”, said Chef Vito Racanelli. We look forward to seeing Chef Thu Rein Oo back onstage at the 2019 Taste of St. Louis.


The 2018 Chef Battle Royale Championship title for Chef Thu, of The Crossing Restaurant was too many, an unexpected victory.