Stirring to John Ashbery

In this New Yorker podcast, the great Jane Mayer talks about food, kitchens, and using evening cooking time to let her mind relax and repair amid heavy reporting assignments: 

Certain things were good to stir with, and certain things were not good to stir with … Certain poetry. I used to stir risotto to “The Four Quartets,” which I thought had a very, very good rhythm. But I made the mistake of one day writing that I stirred my polenta to John Ashbery. When I saw John Ashbery, he was very angry at me. He said, “How can you stir at the stove while reading my poetry? How can you do that? That’s a terrible insult.” I said, “No, it’s the highest praise. I go through many things before I choose what to stir with. And it has to fill my mind.” He was really pissed, I have to say. 

C'mon, Poet.

Gerard Craft on Niche's Early Days

From the post:

In 2005, I didn’t know what the midwest was let alone what midwestern cuisine was. Niche opened on the basis and goal to serve simple, quality food in the Benton Park neighborhood in St Louis, Missouri.  We had zero connections upon moving to this city: no friends, family, business ties. I was 25 years old, in a new and unfamiliar city. I ended up wandering around and introducing myself to all of the local chefs. It was then that I met one of my closest friends and colleagues, Kevin Nashan, chef of Sidney Street Cafe- a restaurant a block away from Niche’s current location. 

We opened up our doors to twelve covers, diners who consisted of neighbors in our building, my parents, and people that I called off of the street offering a free meal. At the time we opened our doors to the “public”, we had less than 10 employees, including myself. We had a half-page wine list, because that is what we were able to afford at that time. We had horrible service due to the fact that there were little to no servers or bartenders in St Louis who knew who we were or were willing to take a chance on us. No one knew our name and no one wanted to work for us. I was warned countless times that I was making the biggest mistake of my life. We kept pushing and cutting away at our path.

During my St. Louis Magazine days, Craft — considered by many the most exciting, most important chef in the city — could often be seen manning sample tables at parties and events himself, rather than just sending someone who worked for him. 

Tamara and I have eaten at Niche once — a great special-occasion meal. Craft’s less expensive spot, Brasserie by Niche, is probably our favorite place to eat in St. Louis.

His is a great story of success, earned with a ton of work, good will, and risk.