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It’s not a chef’s table. The dudes in the tallest (metaphorical) toques at the Four Seasons St. Louis want you to understand, they already have a chef’s table in the Cielo kitchen, and this isn’t that.
What this is, is variously called a “wine table” or a “community table.” It’s a concept most convivial – a private spot, secreted away with the kitchen, where friends and strangers can rent an experience that may involve wine, wine education, classy snackies, and meeting new people.
Groups that reserve the 16-person wine table are encouraged to stand around it, chitchat, drink, nosh, schmooze, canoodle, and generally circulate, explained Four Seasons Assistant Food and Beverage Manager Cory Cuff. They may gather for an informal get-together, or they may be attending a wine class, mixology demo, or the like, which the Four Seasons plans to arrange there.
In addition to the wine, the estimable Four Seasons staff will not skimp on the food at the table. The hotel’s Executive Chef Fabrizio Schenardi plans wine-friendly eats like the Aperitivo Torinese of his mother country. The Aperitivo Torinese is an appetizer buffet in the style of the cafes in Torino, Italy. It’s often stocked with salatini – small, salty appetizers like nuts and olives, he said, and more substantial fare as well (see right).
The table is great for gathering with your fellow urbane winos and for mingling with new people. Like any table located within a large kitchen, it offers a select “insider” feel, too.
The table itself is a big part of the story. In an age when other restaurateurs build dining tables from wood reclaimed from an old barn that once teetered in the vicinity, the Cielo wine table is made from a single, 1,000-lb. slab of salvaged wood from the rafters of a church destroyed by the New Year’s Eve tornadoes of 2010.
It’s a gorgeous hunk of compressed carbon, furnished for Cielo by an area “picker,” as they’re called. From the same source, Cielo has obtained more wood and commissioned craftsmen to craft wine "showcase" fixtures for an adjacent area, that was formerly a room-service staging bay. They will also re-tile the table’s surroundings “in warmer tones,” said Cuff.
The whole concept is a collaborative effort between Schenardi, Executive Sous Chef Marc Kusche (left), Food and Beverage Director Stephen Wancha, Food and Beverage Manager Michael Pechlof, and Cuff.
People have already begun to reserve dates for the wine table, and it will be open for rental by Valentine’s Day for sure, said Schenardi, when Cielo plans to stage a romantic wine-and-dessert buffet in the cozy new corner.
The Wine Table Cielo, at the Four Seasons St. Louis www.cielostlouis.com Call 314-881-2105 to reserve
Below, Pechlof, Kusche, and Schenardi toast the wine table.