Top Chef Annual Grill-Off: Meet Competitor & SubZero Chef Ian Craig
The Top Chef grilling showdown hosted by ALIVE and Sauce Magazine is less than three weeks away and we expect big things from our six talented St. Louis chefs. To gain some insight into what we might taste at the big event August 18, we asked the grill masters a few questions. The first in a series, today’s Q&A is with Ian Craig of local sushi and burger favorite, SubZero.
Ian Craig began as an art student until he realized his passion for cooking. His creative skills are evident in the kitchen at SubZero, where he has held the Executive Chef title for several years. The menu boasts over 20 burger options, so Craig will be on home territory when the big throw-down happens.
What was your first job in the food industry?
Prep/pantry and even dishwasher at Bistro 51, under Chef Bill Ferris, while attending SIU-Carbondale.
What inspires your style of cooking?
Spice, acid, fat, and alcohol excite me the most about cooking.
Do you have a favorite seasonal ingredient you love using this time of year?
In the summer I love sweet corn and chilies from my garden. The hotter the better. Scorpions, ghosts, tabasco, cayenne, I got’em all….
What’s your favorite food memory?
Summertime in the back yard, opening my dad’s old Weber and seeing that can of Busch in there steaming away with the pork steaks.
Besides your own kitchen, where else do you like to eat in St. Louis?
I’m more of a lunch guy when it comes to dining out in St. Louis. Joy Luck (the menu, not the buffet), Truc Lam or Crystal for pho and bun bo hue, Olio, the Shaved Duck, the Paneer 65 at Mayuri, Barbacoa at El Tortrito store, the Cuban from Tropicana…and I always get the special from Blues City Deli. I also really wish someone would re-open Rossino’s.
You’re competing in Top Chef, a grill-off! What’s your favorite thing to grill at home?
Honestly, I do most of my grilling at work. Occasionally I’ll grill up some steaks, fish or even burgers but I really prefer to BBQ and smoke more at home. Go get some meat, make a rub, fire up the smoker, pick some stuff from the garden, crack a few beers, devote the whole day to it kind of thing.
Got any surprises up your sleeve for Top Chef? We’d love a hint!
If you don’t eat pork, stay at home.
See Chef Craig compete at Top Chef on August 18. Get your tickets online now!
An ALIVE Hot List alumni, Sub Zero Vodka Bar has been entertaining St. Louisans with dynamite cocktails, fresh menu items, and a chic atmosphere for nearly a decade in the Central West End.