Top Chef Ultimate Grill-Off: Meet Competitor Eric Brenner of Alumni
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.
With numerous awards, competitions and restaurant endeavors under his belt, Chef/General Manager Eric Brenner is tough competition. Dozens of St. Louis kitchens have been lucky to be under his direction, including the late Moxy Bistro. After acting as “chief culinary officer” for BOLD Organics in Manhattan, a company that makes gluten and dairy-free pizzas, Brenner is back in St. Louis with his newest creation, Alumni, an ode to St. Louis located downtown.
What was your first job in the food industry?
Helping to clean up at a friend’s family restaurant after the dinner rush for free pizza. Learning the basics at 14.
What inspires your style of cooking?
Whoever I am cooking for. I am inspired by the people walking in the door and the staff that I share my passions with.
Do you have a favorite seasonal ingredient you love using this time of year?
I heard a mentor say that cooking in summer is like falling off a log. Just get good stuff and let it sing. I love the cherries I have been seeing this year.
What’s your favorite food memory?
Too many… but I can remember my first walk through the street markets in Paris. Never seen such reverence for food.
Besides your own kitchen, where else do you like to eat in St. Louis?
Little Saigon in the CWE is my jam. Love the consistency, lightness, freshness and friendliness.
You’re competing in Top Chef, a grill-off! What’s your favorite thing to grill at home?
I actually grill very little, being such a city boy. But I do love grilled vegetables for ratatouille and the like.
Got any surprises up your sleeve for Top Chef? We’d love a hint!
Here’s a hint: we won’t be grilling…
See Chef Brenner compete at Top Chef on August 18. Get your tickets online now!
One of the newest additions to the downtown dining scene, Alumni is Brenner’s twist on the culinary quirks and traditions that make St. Louis great.