Cleveland-Heath Alex Henry

Alex Henry is the new executive chef at Cleveland-Heath.

One of St. Louis' rising star chefs has taken the helm at Cleveland-Heath.

Alex Henry, who made a name for himself at Nixta in Botanical Heights and was named a semifinalist for Eater's national Young Guns awards last year, has stepped into the role of executive chef at the acclaimed restaurant in Edwardsville, Illinois.

Henry says he'll stay true to Cleveland-Heath's commitment to locally sourced, seasonally inspired fare; in fact, he hopes to drive that ethos home even more.

"I kind of want to push the envelope a little further than it’s been to where almost every single thing is going to be locally sourced, with the exception of things like salt and sugar," he says. "I'm trying to get it to where we’ll have some seasonal menu changes every two to three weeks to try to keep up with how fast some of the produce seasons change."

Over the past few months, Henry has added his touch to the menu with new dishes like local roasted beets with goat cheese and herbs and smoked local summer squash served with salsa macha, miso-popcorn purée, croutons and herbs. With the use of salsa macha, the traditional Mexican sauce made with peanuts, sesame seeds and dried chiles, the latter dish highlights the cooking style, heavily inspired by traditional Mexican fare, that has earned Henry local and national attention. He moved to the U.S. from his hometown of Merida, the capital of Yucatán, Mexico, as a kid, and spent summers there learning how to cook with his grandmother. 

With time, Henry says he plans to layer more traditional Mexican ingredients and techniques into the menu at Cleveland-Heath. His first order of business, though, is getting to know all of the nearby farmers that supply produce for the restaurant.

"I’m excited to meet a bunch of different farms on this side of the river that I hadn’t worked with in the past," he says. "There’s a few really small ones that just aren’t big enough to deliver stuff over to the city, so just making those new connections over here is pretty exciting."

Clandestino, the pop-up dinner series Henry launched in St. Louis earlier this year, is currently on hold while he focuses on his work at Cleveland-Heath, but he says he hopes to return to the project in the future.

Cleveland-Heath, 106 N. Main St., Edwardsville, Illinois, 618.307.4830, clevelandheath.com

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