Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis Introduces The Mississippi Dinner Series
By Rachel Huffman
The Mississippi River has inspired generations of Americans, from explorers such as Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to Blues musicians such as Robert Johnson and Memphis Minnie to noteworthy authors such as Mark Twain and Tennessee Williams.
Now, with three Four Seasons properties making their homes along its banks, the great river is the inspiration for a set of collaborative dining experiences in St. Louis. The Mississippi Dinner Series will launch on June 16, helmed by Kelley Schmidt, the new executive chef of the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis.
Schmidt has built his culinary career with Four Seasons, expanding his skill set in every new position and adapting his cooking style in every new location. He took his first job at Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale while attending Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts – Scottsdale, and from there, he moved to Four Seasons properties in Dallas, Denver, O’ahu, Boston, New Orleans and, finally, St. Louis.
“I’m super excited to work with chef Gerard Craft at Cinder House and the team at Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis,” Schmidt says. “I’ve never been to St. Louis, but it’s always fun to experience a new city. Most of my moves have been done without much research, but if there’s a baseball team, I’m happy! In addition to the St. Louis Cardinals, I’m looking forward to learning about the vibrant history of the region and contributing to the flourishing food scene.”
As executive chef, Schmidt will oversee the entire food-and-beverage program at Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis, from room service to special events. “In my role, I aim to create a story for the hotel,” he says. “Whether guests are visiting St. Louis for the first time or the 20th time, I want them to have a unique and memorable stay with us, and I think that food plays an important part in that.
“In the hospitality industry, we sell experiences,” he continues, “and Four Seasons, in particular, sells experiences that evoke genuine emotions.”
In New Orleans, Schmidt worked with David Harrower, executive banquet chef of Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans, who will join Schmidt in the kitchen for the first event of the Mississippi Dinner Series.
Showcasing the artistry of the visiting chef, the interactive dining experience will begin on the terrace, which offers a sweeping vista of the Mighty Mississippi and the Gateway Arch. Here, you can enjoy chargrilled oysters, ceviche and a French 75 in the open air.
“People often expect a French 75 to be made with gin, Champagne, lemon juice and sugar,” Schmidt says, “but we’re going to pay homage to the French origins of Louisiana and prepare the signature cocktail with cognac. It’s a surprising spin, but when you’re in New Orleans, you want to drink a French 75 with cognac – and I dare you not to fall in love with it.”
After taking your seat in the dining room, dig into New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp. “The shrimp are stewed in barbecue sauce with a ton of black pepper,” Schmidt explains. “This is one of my favorite dishes in New Orleans.”
Schmidt plans to serve the shrimp with bread, so you can sop up all that delicious sauce.
The St. Louis team will also prepare feijoada, a Brazilian bean stew with beef and pork. “Their recipe includes brisket, pork belly, mango and collard greens,” Schmidt says, “which is delicious and satisfying.”
But wait, there’s more! Harrower will serve suckling pig porchetta, which will be paraded through the restaurant in true New Orleans-style. The savory, fatty, moist pork roast will be paired with cast-iron jalapeño cornbread drizzled with cane-syrup butter.
The meal will finish on a sweet note with churro ice cream sandwiches – and a surprise. “In New Orleans, customers often receive lagniappe, which means ‘a little extra,’” Schmidt says. “So, we’re going to give a little extra at the end of the evening, which guests can enjoy immediately or take home.”
To enhance the New Orleans vibe, there will be live music – think jazz, funk and pop – playing throughout the night.
“After a really good trip, the feeling of a place stays with you,” Schmidt says. “I want the Mississippi Dinner Series to create feelings and memories that stay with guests.”
The second event in the Mississippi Dinner Series will take place on Sept. 22, when Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis will collaborate with Four Seasons Hotel Minneapolis.
Each experience is $125 a person, including a signature cocktail, hors d’oeuvres and dinner. An optional wine pairing is also available upon request. Secure your seat on OpenTable today.