Liz Schuster of Tenacious Eats Deliciously Marries Meals With Movies
Most artists start with a sketch, but St. Louis chef Liz Schuster begins by popping in a movie.
The chef and creator of Tenacious Eats understands the importance of developing five-course menus for her immersive dining experience that not only complement the films she screens alongside dinner but also improve them. From the music greeting audience members to the cooking demonstrations during the movie, Schuster aims to create a unique experience with each film.
The inspiration for Tenacious Eats menus sometimes plays on the literal, like a box of chocolates for the dessert course during “Forrest Gump.” Others take more finesse. Schuster says that for one of her favorite movies, “Beetlejuice,” she immediately knew that a Tenacious Eats prawn dish was necessary to mirror the monstrous shrimp that assault diners. The gray, bucolic scenery in the Tim Burton classic seemed like it would lend itself to regional foods from upstate New York, but Schuster just couldn’t make it work. After rewatching the classic scene in which the dinner guests sing Harry Belafonte’s “Day-O,” the solution dawned on her. “It’s Calypso!” she recalls. Suddenly, what could have been a darker menu turned into something as bright and energetic as the movie itself.
Though she often works with exotic ingredients, Schuster prioritizes sourcing locally whenever possible. “You just maintain your relationships with your farmers and take the time to go out and visit the farms,” she insists. These partnerships, like the one Schuster has with her produce supplier Greg Pucsek of Freshski’s Farm, mean she finds not only the best products but also inspiration from the farmers themselves. “Greg knows my menu style — he sees my menu. He’ll bring extra things with him that I didn’t even think of,” she says.
This dedication to buying only the best for her diners means that menus change. If the only choice for seafood is buying from a less-than-reputable fish monger, Schuster nixes it. But for Tenacious Eats fans, going into the culinary unknown with a film they already love makes even hesitant diners open their minds and mouths to new things.
Though she started in Meyer’s Grove with seating for only 50 guests, Schuster and her crew now host most events in the Tenacious Eats Banquet Center at 5700 Leona Street. The October 29 Tenacious Eats event for “Hocus Pocus” is sold out, but tickets for November 19’s “Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory” dinner are available online.
Featured image courtesy of Tenacious Eats | Facebook.