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Cheers! Ligaya Figueras looks back at seven years covering St. Louis dining

Ligaya Figueras, executive editor at Sauce magazine, joined "Cityscape" for her last Sound Bites segment.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

For 14 years, Sauce magazine has provided St. Louis readers with food news, tested recipes, and reviews of the best places to shop, drink, and dine.

Working first as a freelancer, Ligaya Figueras was first published in Sauce in January 2008. She then became a staff writer—and finally, the magazine’s executive editor. In that position, she joined “Cityscape” many times for the show’s monthly Sound Bites segment, in which she explored St. Louis dining with the people who know it best.

On Friday, however, Figueras joined “Cityscape” for the last time; to commemorate her seven years at Sauce, we asked her about important changes and trends in the St. Louis food scene.

“Everybody that knows me knows how much I love the magazine,” Figueras said. “It’s very much a privilege to work there…it’s phenomenal to be able to cover food and dining and St. Louis.”

Nonetheless, Figueras is moving on to a new journey: in Atlanta, where she’ll join the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as its food and dining editor.

Several articles in Sauce revealed Figueras’ own love of food and of writing about food. Her piece “Shaken,” about top St. Louis bartender Joel Clark, was a special experience, she said. Writing the article about Clark, who lost his sense of smell after a fall, took nine months to research. “I’m just very grateful that he was that open and really let me, and readers, into what was a very difficult journey for him—and still is,” Figueras said.

Another personal highlight was a piece called “From Poland with Love,” in which she documented her quest to make authentic pierogis for her father.

Over her seven years at Sauce magazine, Figueras has seen St. Louis turn from flyover food country to a city very firmly on the map of important American cuisine. She’s seen the coming and going of food trends strange and delicious, including the ‘pickleback’— a beer, a shot of moonshine, and a chaser of pickle juice, to which she only said, “That happened.” And Figueras also presided over a distinct shift in baked goods: from cutesy cupcake to exquisite cronut and back to the donut, both standard and Strange.

After so many years of following food trends, Figueras identified the ‘cronut’ and similar combinations as the worst. “There are so many mashups happening—and if I can just be a little bit critical, it sort of annoys me. Just make one dish or the other!”

Asked what is special about St. Louis dining, Figueras sighed. “There is such a value here. What you’re going to pay for a three-course meal in St. Louis, you’re going triple somewhere else. I don’t know if diners realize how lucky we are to have that.”

If St. Louis diners do realize their luck, it’s in part due to Figueras and her work at Sauce magazine. Cheers, Ligaya!

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