Jodie Ferguson, chef-owner, Clara B’s Kitchen Table

Jodie Ferguson has worked in the service industry since college, and after graduating, she apprenticed at the University of Missouri’s University Club before being recruited to work in St. Louis by renowned restaurateur Bill Cardwell. Since then, she’s worked in restaurants, casinos and hotels, admittedly mostly behind the scenes – but that all changed when she was furloughed from The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis in 2020. Ferguson used the opportunity to finally pursue her “retirement job,” opening a diner where she could share food inspired by both her Texas upbringing and her grandmother’s native Louisiana. To get proper support for a brick-and-mortar spot, though, she needed proof of concept, so she started Clara B’s Kitchen Table – named after her grandmother – as a food truck. With Clara B’s, Ferguson is making a name for herself in both St. Louis and southern Illinois, and it’s no surprise why. Everything on her menu is made from scratch, from buttermilk biscuits with duck fat gravy to wood-fired shrimp and grits with andouille sausage, roasted vegetables and a tomato gravy. And from the Texas-style breakfast tacos to whatever special Ferguson is cooking up, you can taste the passion she puts into each bite. “I mean, what’s better than waking up and having fresh biscuits with someone smiling at you?” (Photo by Judd Demaline)

Clara B’s Kitchen Table, clarabs.com