Editor’s note: Democrat food writer Faith Bemiss will be presenting a new series called “Meet the Chef,” profiling local chefs, cooks and bakers. Ivory Grille’s Executive Chef Todd Selck is the first in the series.
Inside the Hotel Bothwell in downtown Sedalia, Ivory Grille Executive Chef Todd Selck is serving upscale, fresh gourmet meals with ease and expertise in what he describes as “a happy kitchen.”
Todd is a 2003 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, in Hyde Park, N.Y., and he’s been working professionally for 11 years.
“I’ve just always loved cooking,” he said. “And cooking with family and friends. Finally I decided the career I was in, I was doing very well, but I just wanted to do something different and it was time to go. I went to culinary school and here I am.”
Before coming to Sedalia, Selck was the sous chef at other establishments.
“I was the sous chef at Truman Medical Center (in Kansas City) for two years, and for five years I was the executive sous chef at the Spa at Norwich Inn, in Norwich, Conn.,” he said. “It’s a very high-end exclusive place.”
Selck said his specialty is savory foods and at the Ivory Grille he serves up a variety of fresh meats and seafood.
“Here we use hand-cut steaks, fresh, never frozen. Our salmon is fresh, our scallops are fresh,” he said. “That’s the big thing, fresh, local ingredients when possible. I’m really into working with local farmers, and we try to get local with our distributors.”
Many of his ingredients are purchased from the local Mennonite and Amish communities and often his specials feature fresh green beans and squash, when in season, from local markets. Fresh seafood is flown in, Selck said.
“Today I ordered salmon,” he said. “And it will get here tomorrow, and it will have been caught Tuesday or Wednesday. So it’s two to three days for me to get it here from when it was caught.”
Selck said his most popular dish is a 17 spice, cocoa marinated pork loin.
“And those pork loins are actually local, from Missouri,” he added. “I think the grower is up around St. Joe, and that comes in fresh, not frozen.”
He also makes real mashed potatoes, not boxed or bagged potato flakes.
“And all of our sauces we make here in-house are fresh, we don’t buy any sauces,” he added. “All our soups are homemade daily.”
A customer favorite is a carrot ginger soup.
“It’s one that wasn’t very popular starting, but has become popular,” Selck said.
The soup’s popularity has been due to the wait staff trying it and word of mouth, he added.
“It’s sweet and kind of earthy and it actually has some maple pecan flavor in it,” Selck said. “In the summer we do a lot of cold soups with melons and cucumbers, gazpachos. And we do a lot of seasonal specials.”
When planning specials or entrees Selck works with his staff and said everyone has a voice.
“The staff, we all work together,” he said. “We have a very good, tight team, excellent people. They make it happen, I’m basically kind of the coach. I cook, but they are there as my team that makes it all come together. It’s not just me. And that’s not only the kitchen, but the wait staff too. We have a happy kitchen.”
Selck said his kitchen staff has an international flare on food cultures; one staff member is from Samoa and one from Russia, and sometimes this influences menu decisions. Pork Lo Mein Stir Fry was one such item.
“I’m learning from them and they are learning from me,” he said.
Specials for Friday evening will be Seafood Pasta Tuttu Mare, shrimp, scallops and tilapia in a tomato wine sauce over linguini. On Saturday, the special will be grilled baby rack of lamb with sour cream-chive twice baked potatoes and collard greens. Dessert for both days is banana bread covered with Bananas Foster. In the Oak Room Lounge, an appetizer of mussels steamed in garlic, butter and white wine with garlic toast points will be offered.
The Ivory Grille is open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch, Tuesday through Friday and 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday for dinner. For more information call Chef Selck at 829-0060.