Chef Ian Vest
Back 40 Kitchen
Define innovation: I feel innovation is an individual taking something that is otherwise normal and putting enough thought into their execution that it becomes something unique. With food, I can obsess over one idea for quite some time until I reach this moment of, “Ah ha”; it is almost like you are waiting for your mind to catch up with the original idea.
Your inspiration: My mentor and good friend James Fiala, owner of the Crossing restaurant near St. Louis, MO. Working with Jim was the first time I experienced fresh pasta, wild ingredients, grass-fed beef, and someone that stood behind me pushing me along just enough.
Favorite food: Epoisses cheese because it’s super funky. I mean really, really funky. I let it sit out until it is room temperature and super creamy. I keep it simple when enjoying this cheese with a baguette or sourdough bread and a glass of dry Vouvray.
Go-to-dish to cook for friends and family: Pasta. For anyone who knows me, they know I am absolutely obsessed with pasta. I like to cook hand-cut pappardelle with chicken Bolognese sauce, house made ricotta and sometimes a fried egg. We have tried to substitute out this dish a few times here at Back 40 and our guests just will not allow us to take this off the menu. Especially one of our favorite diners—a four-year-old regular!
Favorite spin on a classic dish: Peas and carrots. I like presenting many versions of each together on the plate. For example, I blanch sugar and snow peas and present them with a puree of English pea. The carrots are simply glazed with a touch of butter and stock with fresh bay leaf and thyme.
Photos by Bruce Plotkin