For Executive Chef Alex Hayworth of YaYa’s Euro Bistro in Chesterfield, a huge part of ensuring the quality of the food on his menu is ensuring the quality of the ingredients. That means selecting the best of what’s fresh and readily available regionally. But local doesn’t mean “shortcut.” Hayworth also pays visits to producers all over the region and beyond to learn more about how his product is raised or harvested. It’s all part of how the chef creates vibrant Mediterranean fare that’s “Americanized” with components that are familiar and comforting.
“I like to go to these farms and talk to the farmers and see how everything’s raised, to see that everything’s clean and the animals are well cared for,” he says. “Animals that are cared for thrive, and that keeps the prices down.” Hayworth has worked hard to build relationships with seafood purveyors all over the country as well to keep the freshest catch coming every day.
“[We] know what day it was caught, and was it a three-day trip or a five-day trip? Was it caught on the first day or the last day? We keep track of these things; we talk to the guys on the boat to see what they have,” adds Assistant General Manager and Sommelier Scott Winn. “They get it from the boat to St. Louis, no stops in between, so when it gets here it’s less than 24 hours out of the water.”
YaYa’s salmon exemplifies all this: fresh-caught, carefully broken down, served with housemade stock, Moroccan gastrique, farro and a side of not-as-exotic local spinach sautéed in butter. Even something as seemingly straightforward as chicken and potatoes gets extra care and attention. One of Winn’s favorites on the menu is the pan-seared half chicken (from Benne’s Chicken Farm) with Yukon potatoes, that are peeled, boiled and cooled, broken down and then fried so they’re crispy on the outside and soft inside. “It’s a wow dish,” he says. “I feel good about serving this food,” says Winn. “It’s great to feel passionate about what you’re doing.”
And, just like that eponymous grandmother, Scott makes guests feel at home, too, with interactive wine dinners that let educated consumers test their taste buds: A David vs. Goliath Wine Challenge Dinner on October 20 pits world-famous wines against lesser-known wines from mom-and-pop wineries. Diners must take their best guess about who the “giant” is in each match-up. On November 7, area sommeliers compete to see who reigns supreme in YaYa’s Iron Sommelier competition. Ten food courses are served with eight wine pairings with dinner guests picking the best pairings. Call the bistro at 636-537-9991 for reservations.
Try three of Chef Alex Hayworth’s finest dishes at the Cooking School on Tuesday, Sept. 12, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen and Lighting Gallery. The chef will demonstrate three dishes from the YaYa’s Euro Bistro menu.
The Cooking School Menu
Wood-Fired Prosciutto Pizza: Sweet and savory, tarte and yeasty—this pizza hits all the right notes with apples, prosciutto, and mozzarella, provolone and blue cheese layered over apple-pear jam. Once the pizza comes out of the oven, Chef Hayworth tops the warm pie with local honey, whole grain mustard, and micro arugula. Wine pairing: Chateau Ferry LaCombe Mira Rosé
Flat Iron Steak: Marinated in herbs, the flat iron steak takes on flavor and tenderness. The chef serves it on sweet corn and roasted red pepper with chili butter on the side. Wine pairing: Ironstone Reserve Old Vines Zinfandel
Hickory Grilled Salmon: Moroccan spices go perfectly with this fresh salmon. “We use turmeric, ginger and other Middle Eastern flavors so you get the flavor of Middle East without it being overwhelming,” Chef Hayworth says. The spices are integrated into a warm gastrique that finishes the dish; butter-sautéed spinach and farro are served on the side. Wine pairing: Paza Cilleiro Albarino