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'Small Circle' Recipes Help Home Chefs Cook Like The St. Louis Pros

R.J. Hartbeck (at left) and Mary von der Heydt joined Thursday's "St. Louis on the Air" to talk about their "Small Circles" recipe book.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio
R.J. Hartbeck (at left) and Mary von der Heydt joined Thursday's St. Louis on the Air to talk about their "Small Circles" recipe book.

The holiday season often signals a time when people gather together and aim to impress their friends and loved ones with their cooking skills. And now, home chefs can try some recipes not found in the Martha Stewart and Rachael Ray cookbooks. 

R.J. Hartbeck and Mary von der Heydt have launched a series of short cookbooks titled “Small Circle,” each showcasing about 10 recipes from noted chefs around St. Louis. 

The first one features chef Ben Grupe, the former executive chef of Elaia and Olio, who is opening his own restaurant, Tempus, this year. The second, also set for release this year, features Michael and Tara Gallina of Vicia. 

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, Hartbeck and von der Heydt joined host Sarah Fenske to share what inspired the cookbooks and how they’ve gone about curating the notebook-style publications. 

Some might find it intimidating to mimic the creations of a top chef like Grupe, who’s competed in the Culinary Olympics. But von der Heydt assures that the ingredients are approachable and the process isn’t complicated.

“The beauty of the project, I think, is exactly that. [Grupe] is a classically trained world competitor as a food person, as a fine-dining chef; but our challenge to him was, ‘Show us something that you would make for your family and that anyone who cooks could make for their own [friends or family],’” she said.

Each issue costs $15, but patrons have the option of subscribing and getting all four issues for $50. Hartbeck said a goal for this endeavor is to help create food communities in cities where national food publications don’t cover much because of a lack of notable food culture. 

“If we can figure out a way to kind of scale ("Small Circle") up and do that, that's hopefully kind of the goal. We can go to these different places and really shine a light on their culinary community and the fun things that are happening there,” Hartbeck said. 

Listen to the full discussion to learn more about the “Small Circle” recipe book:

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Tonina Saputo. The engineer is Aaron Doerr, and production assistance is provided by Charlie McDonald.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.

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Lara is the Engagement Editor at St. Louis Public Radio.
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