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Anton Grothoff: Creative cooking inspires local chef

by Gerry Tritz | January 17, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.
Ethan Weston/News Tribune Chef Anthony Grothoff cracks an egg on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022 at High Rise Bakery in Jefferson City, Mo. Grothoff is the chef at the bakery. He got his culinary degree from St. Louis Culinary Institute.


For Anton Grothoff, cooking is the ideal outlet for his creativity.

As the chef at High Rise Bakery, located at 118 E. High St. in Jefferson City, he leaves the baked goods to others while he oversees an eclectic range of dishes for breakfast/brunch.

Grothoff changes the menu routinely, looking to offer elevated dishes in a casual dining atmosphere. Among them: Croque Madame, steak poutine, chorizo street tacos, even rabbit hash.

"The biggest thing is I get to be active and creative every day," he said. "Cooking is a form of art. You can make a plate look super pretty. I just enjoy making people feel happy, I guess. I like making their day if they have a bad day. A meal can turn your day around so fast."

The Taos native graduated from the St. Louis Culinary Institute in 2014 and worked in upstate New York before returning to Mid-Missouri to be closer to his family.

He worked in Columbia before landing a job at The Grand Cafe, where he cooked for 3½ years before taking a job across the street at High Rise Bakery.

Both restaurants are owned by Ben Huhman, a talented chef in his own right, Grothoff said. He said Huhman gave him a chance to shape High Street Bakery's menu from the start.

"He gave me free rein on the menu, which is different from most owners," he said. "But I proved myself over at the Grand, so he trusted me. And it's going very well so far."

His rabbit hash dish includes potatoes, squash, arugula and a white truffle hollandaise sauce.

"I try to take the classic brunch items and give it the next step elevation in fanciness, I guess," he said.

The restaurant also offers daily changing grab-and-go items like salads, sandwiches, breakfast bread, parfaits and fruit.

His favorite thing to make at the restaurant is bulgogi tacos topped with kimchi. It's a dish that's been off the menu for a while but will be returning when the menu is updated.

He also likes cooking when the restaurant is rented out for events such as dinners, cocktail parties and business meetings.

"It gives me a chance to get out of the brunch thing all day, and get a little creative in a different way," he said.

One difference between a home cook and a chef, he said, is the experience.

"I do it every day, for almost 200 people a day. A trained chef will have smooth knife skills, higher expectations."

In culinary school, he said, he was taught not to waste anything.

"Our trash can was a clear bucket," Grothoff said. "He could see what we were throwing away. If it was too much, he would dump it out on your table and say: 'Go through it, rinse it off and make a stock out of it.'"

When he's at home, his favorite thing to cook is homemade pasta. The one thing he would like to master at some point: sushi.

He's been inspired by the Seoul Taco food truck in St. Louis, which sells Korean tacos. His dream is to have his own food truck.

"That would be fun," he said. "It would be a nice way to travel, to get to go to events, meet people. You don't have to be stuck in a building every day. I could cook next to a concert and enjoy the live music while I'm cooking."

His idea would be to pick up local ingredients in one town and add them to the menu in the next town the food truck visits.

Restaurants have slim profit margins, and COVID-19 generally hasn't helped. But that doesn't dissuade Grofhoff.

"It's the passion that goes behind it that makes it all worth it," he said.

  photo  Ethan Weston/News Tribune Chef Anthony Grothoff prepares hash on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022 at High Rise Bakery in Jefferson City, Mo. Grothoff is the chef at the bakery. He got his culinary degree from St. Louis Culinary Institute.
 
 
  photo  Ethan Weston/News Tribune Chef Anthony Grothoff prepares hash on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022 at High Rise Bakery in Jefferson City, Mo. Grothoff is the chef at the bakery. He got his culinary degree from St. Louis Culinary Institute.
 
 
  photo  Ethan Weston/News Tribune Chef Anthony Grothoff preps red cabbage on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022 at High Rise Bakery in Jefferson City, Mo. Grothoff is the chef at the bakery. He got his culinary degree from St. Louis Culinary Institute.
 
 

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