Clint McCann may have one of the most impressive culinary resumes in the Springfield, Missouri area. The executive chef for Best of Luck Beer Hall and its parent company, Good Spirits & Co., worked with celebrity chef Roy Yamaguchi for several years, serving as sous chef at Roy’s Pacific Rim in Bonita Springs, Florida, and executive chef of Roy’s New York in Manhattan, New York. McCann has honed his craft at restaurants on the east and west coasts – and everywhere in between – even working seasonal jobs in Alaska and Idaho and taking a three-month tour of the south’s best barbecue. Now, he’s slinging expertly crafted sandwiches and shareables at Best of Luck, the buzzy new beer hall concept in downtown Springfield.
McCann is no stranger to the Springfield scene – he spent time as the executive chef at Bijan’s, the trailblazing downtown seafood concept that closed in 2010. When he moved back to Springfield last year, he saw an article about Blackwell Hall, a Good Spirits & Co. project that was slated to open in late 2018. McCann was familiar with other Good Spirits projects including Scotch & Soda and The Golden Girl Rum Club, and jumped at the chance to get involved. “They really know the industry and what goes into good hospitality,” he says. “I immediately knew I wanted to work with them.” The Blackwell Hall project has since been paused, but McCann stuck around. Now, he’s responsible for one of the most consistently satisfying menus of 2019, exploring the outer reaches of traditional bar fare with locally-sourced bratwurst, creative deviled eggs and a fried chicken sandwich that has left more than one guest clucking with delight.
What is your favorite ingredient to cook with and why? The burgers and the sausages [at Best of Luck] are really worth trying. The beef for our burgers is from Black Gate Farms [located in Van Zant, Missouri], and Circle B Ranch [located in Seymour, Missouri] does our sausages. There is a huge difference between that meat and industrially-raised meat. I actually went and toured the Black Gate facility, and it’s a very nice, tidy system. Ingredient-wise, I’m really into the local meats being sustainably raised here in Missouri. I’m also using [Fordland, Missouri-based goat farm] Terrell Creek Farm cheese, which is fantastic. All of these local ingredients are my favorite.
What's your perfect day of eating in Springfield? What I do for breakfast right now is I go to The Coffee Ethic. They do this ham and Swiss roll that is incredible, and I’ll have it with a cortado. For lunch, I’m really into the mom-and-pop ethnic places. Hong Yen for Vietnamese food – their noodle dishes are great. Tacos El Gordo is fantastic, and so is Cesar’s Old Mexico. So, I would have three lunches [laughs]. For dinner, you gotta go to Progress, right? I think their tasting menu is great – they make these carrots cooked in beef fat that are fantastic. Jersey [Schmitz] runs a great wine program, too. Then, if I still have it in me, I’ll come back to Scotch & Soda for a cocktail – usually a Sazerac.
Who are Springfield chefs you admire at the moment? This might not be a specific chef, but one of the things I really admire about Springfield are the mom-and-pop ethnic places. I think those are great. People pour a lot of their heart into those restaurants.
What do you like to cook at home or on your day off? I made butternut squash curry the other day, which was fantastic. Overall, I make a lot of Asian food – noodles, pho. Also, anything you can make in an Instant Pot. I was working in Idaho at 7,000 feet for a while, and things just didn’t happen right – things didn’t boil correctly, for example. The Instant Pot fixed that, and I’ve been hooked ever since.
What’s your favorite comfort food? It’s gotta be another curry. Any Asian coconut milk-based curry.
What is your first food memory? Standing on a chair, stirring gumbo, cooking with my mom. I was born in Minnesota, but my mom was born in Louisiana, so Southern food was a thing in our home.
How do you approach R&D for Best of Luck? When I started with this menu, I wanted to surprise and delight a little bit. I wanted people to hear “beer hall,” but be able to enjoy some nontraditional beer food. For example, we have pretzels that are made by a local artisan bakery, but we have some surprising items on the menu, too. I wanted the menu to be easy to get your head around – shareable, snackable, craveable. The menu offers a little bit of whimsy, and nothing takes itself too seriously.
What’s the most intriguing dish you’ve made recently, and why? You should really try our roasted heirloom carrots. The carrots are from Urban Roots Farm, and we make the garam masala yogurt here. It’s just very simple, and the ingredients speak for themselves.
Best of Luck Beer Hall, 313-B S. Jefferson Ave., Springfield, Missouri, facebook.com/BestofLuckBeerHall