Executive Chef Kris Janik
and welcome to my first blog as Executive Chef at Robust Wine Bar. I am a
recent acquisition to this kitchen in particular, but I am no stranger to
kitchens in general.
culinary travels began in southern Illinois growing up on a small farm. We grew
a lot of our own vegetables and raised some cattle – hogs, rabbits, chickens
and sheep. Some of these efforts went directly to the table for dinner and
because my sister and I were both in 4-H for many years, some were for showing
at fairs. I think those experiences, along with watching Julia Child, Justin
Wilson, Martin Yan and Graham Kerr on PBS really fueled my passion for cooking
at an early age.
first jobs in the industry were a little less than glamorous though. At 15, I
was making pizzas at a gas station down the road from where I grew up. Shortly
after, I was cooking in a diner. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in
cooking to give a try for a year or two. It really helps in learning
organization and speed. A few years later, I moved to the west coast to attend
culinary school, did my internship at one of the best restaurants in town, and
also had my first experience in fine dining.
Fast forward a few years and I found myself back in St. Louis working in
some of the best kitchens this city has to offer including Monarch, Niche, and
Franco to name a few.
Now, at Robust, I’m running my own kitchen and it’s great.
As far as philosophy, I think that being true to the ingredients is
important. I'm not the type of chef that tries to force ingredients together.
Not to say that I'm not adventurous, but there is definitely something to be
said for tradition.
I like to think of myself as more of a craftsman. I feel I'm honing my
craft by honoring traditions, old sayings that I’ve heard over the years, like
"what grows together, goes together",
and by cooking what I know over and over again. A chef
once told me that it takes making something a 1000 times to master it. Not sure
about 1000 times but I understand what he meant. With fine craftmanship comes
art and I believe chefs can be artists.
The new Fall menu has been out for about a week and is going well. When
I think of fall and winter, I think of Thanksgiving, fires, my grandmothers
kitchen, fallen leaves. I felt the
fall menu should be something warm, both in temperature and flavor – cinnamon,
clove, hard squashes, roasted meats, rich soups and stews. Some of my new favorite items include
the Pâté de Campagne, Chicken Liver Mousse with Dried Fruit
Compote and the Pork Tenderloin with
Root Vegetable Gratin, Stewed Mustard Greens, and Bacon and Maple Reduction.
The food should complement wine, as well as satisfy.
And with the help of my kitchen staff, I think we have succeeded.
I would like to personally
invite you to taste our new menu, enjoy some fine wine, and experience it for
yourself. We hope to see you here soon!