Culture Features Restaurants

Meet The Chef Who Treats His ‘Anti-Restaurant’ Like His Own Pad

Photo: Greg Rannells

When the idea of a restaurant formulates in my mind it goes straight to the dish. What’s the dish I always order when I go to a certain spot? What menu cornerstone makes my mouth salivate like a cartoon coyote at the sight of a blue-feathered cuckoo?

But what if the carte du jour was always changing at a restaurant? Imagine the menu will always change every day no matter what. That’s something Chef Ben Poremba experiences on the daily — and he LOVES it.

Poremba, owner of the Bengelina Hospitality Group, runs six different restaurants in St. Louis, Missouri. If you ask him which one of his spots mean the most to him, he’ll gladly tell you it’s The Benevolent King.

His customers fondly refer to it as the anti-restaurant.

What’s the Anti-Restaurant?

Photo: Greg Rannells

The “anti-restaurant,” a nomme de guerre created by his customers, refers to how chef Poremba runs the Benevelont King.

“I wanted to open a restaurant that’s basically the food I cook at home,” he explained.

The ever-changing menu is created by Chef Poremba every day, where his impulses dictate the offerings. He describes the take on Moroccan cuisine as whimsical because that’s where the dishes stem from — a whim.

When he decides what he wants, he’ll come in that morning before service begins to print out the new menu for that service.

Like his own home, Poremba hangs pictures of his son along the walls of his restaurant. On another wall, there is a rack that stores the restaurant’s equipment like blenders and meat grinders.

“[It’s] just kind of like a home where it’s like your domestic kitchen design,” he said. “I will put produce on the pass, and there’s a spice shelf right in the middle of the restaurant.”

Poremba even says the lounge area at the Benevolent King is nearly identical to the one in his living room.

“Everybody sees me, I see everybody, people will just come up and talk and I can shout to guests from the kitchen to across the room,” he laughed. “Unfortunately, or fortunately, they get my best days and not so best days!”

Before each service, he and his general manager battle over who controls the music.

“I created a few playlists that I love that include anywhere from traditional Moroccan music, to contemporary Israeli music, American pop, electronica, salsa — it’s just one big party and it’s very personal,” he explained.

Photo: Greg Rannells

Running a restaurant where the menu is never the same day-after-day has to be tough though, even if it’s an outlet for Poremba’s culinary expression.

“From the service perspective, it’s driving the staff crazy. The food can have different garnishes, and two orders of the same thing will often come out looking different depending on the time you come in. I want to keep it true to cooking at home. It’s all ingredient driven.”

For example, the other day Chef Poremba’s menu included a charred eggplant spread. Today, however, he felt like serving grilled octopus with a chermoula sauce.

With an incredibly small kitchen, the Benevolent King only has room for two chefs and a dishwasher. Poremba says it’s only about 100 square feet, laughing at the possibility of it probably being the smallest kitchen in America.

The restaurant’s structure is pretty different than the other, more traditional, restaurants Poremba opened. He admits it was tough handing the everyday reigns of the other spots over to someone else at first, but in the end it’s what made him happy.

“I missed cooking what I wanted to cook, the foods I enjoy for leisure,” he tells us.

Chef Ben Poremba

Photo: Greg Rannells

Born in Isreal, Poremba learned the art of crafting cuisine from his mother – who herself was a chef and culinary instructor for 40 years.

The Benevolent King is actually dedicated to Poremba’s mother who is a frequent visitor and “guest chef” at the restaurant.

“I love her food and her flavors,” Poremba tells us. “My mom decided she was going to help out. She’ll show up five minutes into service with an amazing eggplant dish.”

“I decided to stop by and you should serve this,” she’d tell him…which her dutiful son does.

Even though it’s grown from his passion, the Benevolent King is still a business. Poremba says the menu will still continue to evolve and change, but he’s working hard to implement a smoother structure for his staff. Regardless, he’s enjoying the hell out of his unfettered cooking experience.

Alcohol Beer Drinks News Toasty

Anheuser-Busch Sends Emergency Drinking Water To Hurricane Harvey Victims

Many companies are pitching in to help those affected by the catastrophic damage that Hurricane Harvey has caused southeastern Texas and Louisiana. For their part, Anheuser-Busch, makers of Budweiser Beer, is delivering three truckloads — over 155,000 cans — of emergency drinking water to help communities in the Gulf Coast area.

An initial truckload was sent from their Cartersville brewery in Georgia and delivered to the American Red Cross in Baton Rouge on August 28 with help from Mockler Beverage, one of Anheuser-Busch’s wholesaler partners. Two additional truckloads are being sent to an American Red Cross facility in Arlington, Texas, which are scheduled to arrive in the coming days.

The Cartersville brewery halts production periodically throughout the year to prepare canned drinking water so as to be ready to help American communities in times of need.  This clean, safe emergency drinking water was already canned and ready to be shipped when the Red Cross issued an urgent request to support communities hit by Hurricane Harvey.

Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coast early Saturday with winds over 100 mph and devastating floods in some areas. The American Red Cross prepared over 50 shelters to support thousands of potentially displaced people.

Anheuser-Busch has three facilities in Houston: one large brewery, its craft partner Karbach, and the Longhorn glass bottle facility.  These three facilities together have approximately 1,100 employees and all are safe.

The company has a longstanding tradition of providing water and supplies to those affected by natural disasters nationwide. In 2016, Anheuser-Busch produced and shipped emergency drinking water to communities hit by natural disasters, including the California wildfires, the Louisiana floods, and Hurricane Matthew. Since 1988, the St. Louis-based brewer has provided over 76 million cans of drinking water to aid disaster-stricken areas.


Man Is Shot, Killed By Police In A Failed KFC Robbery


An officer-involved shooting at a St. Louis, Mo. Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant ended with the responding officer fatally shooting a robbery suspect.

At approximately 6:00 p.m. Sunday, an eyewitness reported a robbery-in-progress at a KFC.

While the bystander was on the phone with police dispatch, they were able to contact a police officer, in person, who was monitoring a Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. march, across the street from the KFC. The officer who was contacted is identified as a sergeant with 13 years of service as a St. Louis police officer.

In an initial statement after the shooting occurred, Lt. Col. Lawrence O’Toole from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department reported as the officer approached the KFC window, the suspect identified as 52-year-old Crayton “Big West” West by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, raised a handgun at the officer. As the officer approached the restaurant door, he ordered the suspect to drop the weapon. Once the suspect refused to drop the weapon the officer fired twice, striking him with both shots.

Attorney Brian Millikan, who is representing the officer involved, who has not yet been identified, explained that the officer was in fear of his own life and acted in self-defense. Millikan added that if the officer had not reacted quicker the suspect would have shot him, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

“He didn’t have any choice,” Millikan said of the officer.

According to reports, West was pronounced dead at the scene. West’s record showed a repeated criminal history including robbery and sodomy charges. Cash from the robbery attempt and a gun were recovered at the scene. The officer was not injured.

This is just the latest story in a recent string of officer involved fatalities that has gained national attention. One of the most frequent arguments surrounding officer involved shootings is that more law enforcement officers need to be equipped with body cameras.

The St. Louis Police Department has been issued approximately 90 body cameras to staff. However, the officer involved in this shooting was not equipped with a body camera.

Officer O’Toole said there were several other eyewitnesses, along with surveillance camera footage from inside the restaurant that may be used in a pending investigation.

Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce will have to review all video evidence to determine whether it can be released publicly.

Photo: Google Maps


Dude Named Bud Weisser Tried Sneaking Into Budweiser Factory, Didn’t End Well


Late last week, a man was arrested for trespassing in the St. Louis-based Budweiser Brewery. That man’s name was Bud Weisser.

The 19-year-old arrestee had entered the brewery after 6pm on Thursday, Fox 2 Now reports. Security officers found him and told him to leave the property. After an altercation, however, the officers were forced to call the police.

Weisser was taken into custody where he was issued summonses for resisting arrest and trespassing. Other than his fierce desire to be inside the property, Bud Weisser doesn’t appear to have any connection to Budweiser beer.

In 2014, the teenager had also broken into a gas station. Where some blood had been left behind after he climbed through a broken window in his attempt to escape. Weisser had turned himself in and was charged for the crime after DNA matched his blood at the scene.


Top 10 Dating Trends for Foodies Across America, According to a Dating Site


Lucky for us hungry data gatherers, the folks at “offline dating” site HowAboutWe have just released a visual compilation of the dating network’s first 1 million dates recorded.

The results? Enough information for us to get an idea of top food dating trends across the United States, noting the top 10 cities in the country with the highest percentage of dining dates and a little bit about each. You can imagine our excitement when Philly cracked the top 10, and BYOB was a key selection when choosing a date in the city. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia fans are proud today.

Here’s a look at the rest of the data:


1. Atlanta: ⅓ of all date ideas in Atlanta suggest getting a bite to eat. Artisan pizza is a hot trend.


Admittedly, when I think pizza, I think New York or Chicago. Yet while Atlanta isn’t the first thing on my mind when I think of wood-fired pizzas topped with fresh local ingredients, I’m not complaining. Kudos to all those singles feasting on gourmet savory pies.


2. Philly: BYOB date spots have a higher response rate than other dining dates in Philly.


Bringing your own PBR and Two Buck Chuck to your favorite Italian date spot? Stay classy my friends.


3. Boston: Bostonians are 3x more likely than average to suggest tapas on a first date.


Boston is known for its wealth of history and culture, so it’s no surprise that taking out a date for tapas, a Spanish tradition, is more common in this city. Note: In Spain, Tapas consist of appetizers usually eaten during the time between the end of the work day and dinner, as well as weekdays around noon. Tapas are seen as dishes that encourage people to socialize and mingle, so we can see why they’d be an excellent option for a date.

Picthx tapastryrestaurant


4. Austin: Food trucks are more popular in Austin than in any other city, accounting for 1 in 5 dining dates.


We can jump on this bandwagon food truck. Ranked as one of the World’s Best Cities for Street Food by Food & Wine, Austin steals the show when it comes to getting grub on wheels.


5. New York: New Yorkers love a progressive meal: 28% of their dining dates involve multiple stops.


New York restaurants alone bring in a projected $31.9 billion in sales and for a city famed for it’s vast collection of ethnic enclaves, we understand why it would be difficult to settle on just one spot.


6. Chicago: 1 in 11 dining dates in Chicago is veggie-friendly, the third highest in the country.


I suppose this means that Chicago is the place to be if you’re trying to find your veggie-eatin’ soulmate. Consequently, the Foodbeast Staff would probably be single for eternity if we lived there.


7. Los Angeles: There are more breakfast dates in Los Angeles than in any other city.


We’re thinking that this has more to do with late-night hookups making breakfast the default date of choice, than an actual preference for bacon and eggs. Hey, we don’t judge. There’s a reason LA alone has two Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles.

Picthx Roscoe’s


8. D.C: Cupcakes are extremely popular in D.C., accounting for 1 in 7 of their dining dates.


Cupcakes are the top choice for eats in D.C, as 14.1% of dates involve feasting on this petite towers of icing. But really, who doesn’t like cupcakes? They’re like the bacon of desserts and if you don’t like bacon… smh.

H/T Our Kitchen


9. St. Louis: Going out for tacos is suggested 3x more often in St. Louis than in any other city.


Busch Stadium is the most popular date spot in St. Louis, because sharing a hotmess of tacos while cheering on your team screams sexy.


10. San Francisco: S.F. has more brunch dates than in any other city, accounting for one-third of their dining dates.


Apparently, San Francisco is chock full of genius singles. It’s about time we’ve recognized brunch as the most important meal of the day. When else is it socially acceptable to get boozy at 12 noon off delicious mimosas while simultaneously munching om french toast and gruyère sandwiches? SF, we see you.

Picthx Chow

H/T HowAboutWe