Steve's Hot Dogs Steve Ewing

Steve Ewing founded Steve's Hot Dogs in 2011, opening a second (and only remaining) location in 2014.

While doing their part to maintain social distance, home cooks everywhere are honing their skills in the kitchen. Feast consulted with some of St. Louis' finest chefs and business owners for their best advice on how to make easy, wholesome meals using simple pantry staples. Find out how to make the most of your groceries in this Q&A series, which outlines some pro tips for creating nutritious and comforting from-scratch meals, snacks and more.

Steve Ewing is the founder of his namesake neighborhood eatery, Steve's Hot Dogs, which originally debuted in 2011. The beloved South City hot dog and burger joint is currently open for carryout, delivery and patio dining. Steve's is also currently participating in Black Restaurant Week, which kicked off on July 24 and will take place through Aug. 2.

"This is the first time that Black Restaurant Week has come to the Midwest," Ewing says. "I've seen BRW in Houston and they've done a beautiful job of getting people out to expand their restaurant circle – trying new cuisines and really supporting a group of restaurateurs that need the support. This year, perhaps more than ever, this support is vitally needed. As soon as we learned that BRW was coming to St. Louis, we committed to being a partner."

For Black Restaurant Week, Steve's Hot Dogs is running a limited-time special featuring a variety pack of eight half dogs (its top eight sellers), four drinks, four bags of chips, a large side of creamy mac 'n' cheese and four cookies – all for $45. To order, visit the Steve's Hot Dogs website (the special must be ordered online with at least two hours advance notice).

What is the most useful secret-weapon spice or ingredient you like to keep stocked in your home kitchen? My number one go-to in the kitchen is Korean chile paste, sometimes called gochujang. It's an incredibly versatile food. I'll use it in everything from BBQ sauces to stir fry or my morning eggs. It's the perfect addition to a marinade as well. It has a deep, rich tomato-like flavor with a little bit of sweetness and a kick of spice.

What are some of your favorite quick meals to prepare whenever you're having a busy day? As a bodybuilder, I keep it pretty healthy at home. I'll prep a few days' worth of meals in advance so that I'm never caught hungry. I grill a ton. I'll cook up some chicken breasts or fresh fish on the grill, pair them with broccoli – and probably some of my chile paste – and I'm good to go. 

If you could offer readers one tip for grilling at home, what would it be? Plan ahead if you can – even 20 or 30 minutes – so that you can whip up a quick marinade. Marinades add a punch of flavor and keep your meat moist. I usually follow the 3-to-1 ratio for marinades, three parts oil/fat to one part acid and then I toss in some flavor as needed – herbs, chile pastes, spices. 

For your fats you might use olive oil, full-fat yogurt, coconut milk or vegetable oils. Acids could be orange, lemon or lime juice, wine, vinegar or buttermilk. If you're cooking fish, it's a delicate food, so back down your acid ratio a bit or you'll cook the fish before it even hits the grill. 

Can you share a recipe for a quick and easy meal idea? Tortillas are my go-to base for an on-the-run meal. I might throw in some of the grilled meats that I have already prepared at home, or I'll work up egg tacos. I just throw a couple of eggs in the pan with onions, peppers, chile paste (surprise!) and I'm back on the run with a meal that's flavorful and full of vitamins and protein.