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Born To Cook Locally: Clara Moore Does The Impossible In St. Louis

Born Into The Business

Some might say i was born into the restaurant business.

My mother waited tables until the very end of her pregnancy. My first job at 16 as a busser was a comfortable transition into the working world as I had listened to my father talk "shop" for my entire life. I knew the ins and outs of the restaurant world before i even stepped foot in. I tried all aspects of the business, but what eventually caught my attention was cooking. The fires of the kitchen lured me in.

I cut and burned myself for a many years as a line cook until culinary school seemed like a great option. Throughout school the line cooking didn't stop, and I learned a great deal of basic knowledge that continues to serve me to this day.

Doing The Impossible

Armed with the fundamentals and some amazing experience, I wanted more than just cooking. I wanted to cook amazing food made from amazing ingredients: I wanted to cook locally and seasonally. Every time I mentioned this dream it was shut down quickly. "Not possible," "Maybe in California, but not here," "It's too expensive."

After many years of frustration, the opportunity to seize my seemingly unattainable goal was finally right in front of me. I was approached about opening a cafe that would be attached to a grocery store of local products. They wanted as much of the food as possible to come from within 150 miles, and they wanted me to be their chef.

The time between then and now has been a roller coaster of problems and hardships, learning and growing, mostly because there is barely a precedent for running a restaurant in this manner. After three years, I can say my cooks and I have turned those hardships into total triumphs and successes.

Researching, Sharing, And Growing

To help myself understand how to cook seasonally all year round, I devoted a lot of time to the research of old cookbooks. Before the times frozen food trucks and refrigerators in every house, eating seasonally wasn't a choice but a necessity. I have amassed an extensive library of old cookbooks, which includes tons of church cookbooks!

Cooking vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free is very important to me as well, even though I am completely omnivorous. These are challenging ways to cook and a great way to eat.

My passions lie in all things food, from nutrition to farming. I see cooking as a way to communicate, give, cure, share, learn, grow, or just simply spend a great afternoon.

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