Rob Connoley wears so many hats—chef, restaurateur, forager, author, academic, activist, philanthropist—that I’m tempted to get him a hat rack on his next birthday.
The thing about Chef Rob, though, is that all the hats combine seamlessly into a fascinating journey through the culinary and wider worlds, fueled by a devotion to doing what’s right, not only for his cuisine of choice but for those preparing and partaking of it.
If you’ve visited Rob’s restaurant, St. Louis’ exceptional Bulrush (307 Washington Ave. St. Louis MO. Tel: 314-449-1208. bulrushstl.com), his uniqueness in the gastronomic world is a given: how many other spots can you name that specialize in the cuisine of Missouri’s Ozark region? It’s been a fascinating journey to his current spot and one informed by a love of his native area.
He worked in non-profits and grant writing (he was the Executive Director of Indiana Youth Group – the second oldest group in the US for LGBTQ youth) before opening the restaurant The Curious Kumquat, in New Mexico. This earned him a James Beard Award semi-finalist position (his second one came in 2022, for his work at Bulrush). Eventually, he moved back to St. Louis, where he was born and raised: “I moved…