Acclaimed pastry chef Tyler Davis is stepping back into the world of savory cooking with a series of dinners that will explore his African-American ancestry and present soul food in an elevated form.
The pop-up dinners, under the name Elevated, will happen once a month and will run from January to September of next year. They'll be hosted in a new space from Garcia Properties that will open Jan. 1 on Kingshighway in St. Louis.
The idea was born out of Davis' curiosity. The chef, formerly of The Chocolate Pig and Element, began researching recipes for the fall season and came across some recipes from people who were brought to the U.S. from Africa. He learned that many of their meals were vegetable-centric, used a lot of braising and utilized crops that Davis hadn't even heard of before.
"Because I didn't really know too much about how my people ate back in the day or things like that, I just started doing more research and it kind of led me to this revolution, and revelation, that I need to share this with other individuals," Davis says.
He says that Elevated will serve "modern soul food."
"What I'm gonna do is take the classic kind of techniques and classic recipes, but make them a little more localized by using ingredients here in Missouri," he says.
Davis will also blend the influences of cultures that African Americans often came in contact with, such as Native American, Irish, Caribbean and West African influences. The menu also promises to be vegetable-forward, much like the meals of his ancestors. Certain dinners will also include collaborations with artists, jazz musicians and other chefs of African American and Latinx descent.
Although Davis is best known by St. Louis diners as a pastry chef for his work in the industry for the past few years, he began as a savory chef and is excited to step back into that part of the kitchen.
"I'm still very passionate about it," he says. "I don't want people to forget that, you know, that's how I started, and that's kind of how I made my name and then stepped out of my comfort zone and started doing pastries."
His dinners will seat about 20 to 25 people and include between five and six courses. Overall, Elevated dinners will center on being communal.
"I want to be extremely experiential. Whenever I do these dinners, I want it to be a very, very community-oriented thing," Davis says. "I want this to be something that brings people people together."
When they become available, tickets for all nine events will go up at once. Davis estimates that they will be about $95 per person, and will be available on Eventbrite. You can watch his website to see when tickets go on sale.