Apronomics: Liz Schuster of Tenacious Eats
Who doesn’t love to hunker down on the couch with a meal and a movie? Elizabeth Schuster, executive chef and owner of Tenacious Eats, strives to elevate that experience by pairing films with a multi-course fine dining experience in a setting that stimulates all the senses. “I call it tasteo-vision or smell-o-vision,” she says. “You’re aurally and visually stimulated by the film, and we’re adding the elements of taste and smell.” The events cost $65 per person; for dates and times, check tenaciouseats.com.
The pairing of food and film was natural for this chef, who not only has cooked at The Scottish Arms, Chase Park Plaza Hotel, Racquet Club Ladue, and other establishments, but also has a film degree from Columbia University. “I never thought I’d be using my undergrad degree,” she says. “I’m obsessed with films, and being able to combine two mediums I love is so much fun.”
It was during her time as executive chef at The Scottish Arms that the seed for Tenacious Eats was planted. “My sous chef and I were watching Eat, Drink, Man, Woman, which is pure food porn, and we had to have the food we saw on the screen, so we paused the movie to get Chinese food,” she says. She then brought the idea of a food and movie pairing to The Scottish Arms. “We showed Short Order, and the media folks and restaurateurs who attended were literally licking their plates. It was a visceral experience.”
The audience’s positive response led Schuster to work on a business plan, and she started Tenacious Eats in 2012. Menus must make sense on their own, and while some movies feature food, many do not. “The majority of films we do are cult classics and fun movies everyone loves, and there’s usually not a whole lot of food in them, but there might be food references, or I sometimes construct dishes based on themes or characters,” Schuster says. When Tenacious Eats presented The Royal Tenenbaums, for example, each course represented a Tenenbaum family member. For The Breakfast Club, courses represented elevated, inventive riffs on what each student’s lunch might be.
Although Schuster says it’s impossible to pick a favorite film/menu pairing, one top contender is what she did for The Jerk. She teamed up with Sanctuaria chef Wil Pelly to offer, among other things, pizza in a cup, a house-made corn dog, and escargot with morel butter and roasted shallots. “That’s my favorite as far as our moxie and tenacity go—who would ever think to put a corn dog and escargot on a menu together?”
[spongebob scallop mousseline with caribbean rum crema]
8-10 white mousseline scallops
3 whole eggs
3 egg whites
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 packet powder gelatin
3 T. turmeric
1 garlic clove
Juice from 1 lime
1/2 t. white pepper
1/4 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. black lava salt
» Place scallops on paper towel and pat dry.
» Transfer to food processor, add all wet ingredients and gelatin, and pulse twice.
» Add turmeric, garlic, salt, lime juice and white pepper.
» Process for 5 minutes.
» Pour into mold or brûlée ramekin.
» Bake in water bath at 300 F until set.
» Sprinkle with black lava salt to serve.
caribbean rum crema
3 c. coconut milk
1 very ripe banana, mashed
1/2 c. honey
1 t. grated nutmeg
1/2 c. dark rum
Salt, to taste
» Add dark rum to medium sauce pot.
» Slowly raise heat until rum flames. Let alcohol burn off, then quickly whisk in coconut milk.
» Simmer on low for 10 minutes.
» Add mashed banana, nutmeg and honey.
» Simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
» Pour hot liquid into blender or food processor and blend.
» Add salt to serve.
» Drizzle over scallop mousse.
Photos: Bill Barrett