6 Questions With Executive Chef Brian Hardesty of Element
On Saturday, Nov. 8, Well Crafted will take over the entire Powerplant Building in Lafayette Square. Occupying the top two floors of this historic powerhouse is Element Restaurant and Lounge, a new American restaurant where collaboration is king.
From working with St. Louis area resources to incorporating local ingredients in each menu item, to constantly brainstorming innovative menu tweaks with the talented team of chefs, Executive Chef Brian Hardesty takes the old adage “Two heads are better than one,” seriously.
We sat down with Hardesty to talk about what’s been brewing at Element and why he’s excited about Well Crafted.
ALIVE: What inspires the menu at Element?
BH: The menu is most inspired by our group of chefs bouncing ideas around, and also seasonality has the most important role in how we structure our menu.
ALIVE: How important is it for Element to incorporate local ingredients and resources?
BH: It is our top priority to incorporate as many local ingredients and resources as we can. It is the most important thing.
ALIVE: What would you like people to know about Element and what sets it apart from other upscale eateries in St. Louis?
BH: Everyone at Element, from our team of chefs and servers to our bar program, all contribute to make Element a unique experience for every guest. I like every employee to offer a perspective that we can incorporate into the menu, the service, the cocktails and the hospitality. We strive to make each guest have the best possible experience that we can provide.
ALIVE: Your website speaks to new concepts, new ideas and an ever-changing menu? How important is it to you to keep up with food trends and modern menu items?
BH: While I think that monitoring food trends around our city and the country is important, I feel it is even more important to follow our own path and not be afraid certain dishes will be accepted. For Element to have a relevant voice in the industry, we need to be confident to go outside of our comfort zone and to be leaders, not followers.
ALIVE: How closely do you work with the beverage director to have drinks pair with menu items? Or, is the cocktail program a completely separate art-form?
BH: Meghan French is the most talented bartender I have ever worked with. I work closely with her as far as being informed on her ideas of where she would like to take our cocktail list or our wine list. I trust her vision. She trusts my vision. In this way, our beverage program and our food program work very organically together. “What grows together goes together,” is the saying. Meghan and I both keep that in mind when developing menus. This is how we can work side by side and have our items pair well without either of us having to step on the other’s toes.
ALIVE: Why are you excited to be involved in Well Crafted and what are you most looking forward to?
BH: Well Crafted is something that I have been looking forward to for a long time. I am excited to bring all of these great businesses together and hear what direction everyone is headed in. One of the best things about this city is our food scene and how it is such a strong community of restaurants that promote each other’s places and do not treat it like a competition. I am excited to hear Qui Tran of Mai Lee lead the food forum and I am super excited to watch Chris Boylard of Bolyard’s Meat & Provisions put on some butchery demonstrations. I can’t wait!
All images courtesy of Element.