Designated last year as Creative City of Gastronomy by UNESCO (branch of the United Nations that designates World Heritage Sites), San Antonio is lauded as the Texas dining town with the greatest element of surprise
in regards to killing it with exciting fine dining venues as well as deeply satisfying, quality-driven, “Tex-Mex” delights.
Exemplifying San Antonio’s duality of historic bravery and craftsmanship, Steve McHugh, Owner and Chef of Cured At Pearl, infuses everything he offers with artistry, integrity, and gratitude. These symbolic ingredients transcend deliciously in the distinct name and a-z creations of Cured At Pearl.
CW Magazine was lucky enough to grab a moment with four-time James Beard Award Finalist (Best Chef Southwest) Chef McHugh for some intimate insight on San Antonio and the inspiring story behind Cured.
“Time is so vital to all facets of life. The concept and philosophy of Cured is one that is really rooted in time-honored processes.”
– Cured At Pearl, Chef and Owner, Steve McHugh
Cured and Cured
“Working in San Antonio just after leaving New Orleans, I got the life-changing diagnosis of Lymphoma. After defeating my battle with cancer, I set out to open my own restaurant in the community that reached out to help me during that trying time. ‘Cured,’ is endowed with a name that speaks to my feat of recovery, as well as the artisanal cured meats that are the cornerstone of the menu.”
The pearls of Cured
“With Cured, it was important to me to focus on the purity of natural ingredients and a hands-on, unadulterated methodology that enhanced my healing process. This ‘from-scratch’ focus finds its way through our seasonally dynamic menu, down to our handcrafted cocktails, bitters, pickles, and mustards. One of our driving philosophies of the restaurant is appreciation, gratitude, and celebration of life, so we’ve found a way to implement a bit of ‘gastronomic giving’ by donating $1 from every charcuterie board ordered to a different charitable organization every quarter. Each September, our annual ‘Cured for a Cure’ dinner invites acclaimed guests from across the country to raise around $40K each year for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.”
“My philosophy as a chef as always has been one of complete utilization. We buy whole animals. I don’t want to buy a 300-pound pig and place half of it in the freezer because I can’t use it in time. Salting and curing parts of the animal allow me more time and more outlets for the meat. Time is so vital to all facets of life. The concept and philosophy of Cured is one that is really rooted in time-honored processes. As for reclaimed materials, it is important for us to reuse items on the condition that it has to make sense to our overall design and food, a symbiotic connection.”
“My wife, Sylvia, and I wanted to create a restaurant where we would want to eat. We took inspiration from our travels, the places we’ve visited, the places we’ve lived, the food we love, and brought that all together. I grew up on a farm in Wisconsin, which inspired the farmhouse fare at Cured. The concept of farm-to-table was never even a ‘concept’ for me – it was how I ate every day growing up – it was just a part of daily life. So it was a natural progression to make my menu one that is locally-sourced, smart, sustainable and seasonal.
My belief has always been to let the inherent qualities and purity of ingredients come first – to accentuate without overpowering them. That translates to the way I go about food and the way I went about restoring Cured’s 110-year-old historic space.”
Holiday Season Nostalgia
“Every year for Xmas my mom would make Grasshopper Pies and I always looked forward to it. Both my mom and dad had a sweet tooth and I inherited it.”