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Robert St. John

Restaurateur, author, enthusiastic traveler, & world-class eater.

Cereal Killers

August 9, 2016


My love affair with cereal has lasted 54 years.

These days I mostly eat oatmeal, which is considered a healthy “warm cereal,” but I have never been too old to eat kid’s cereal, and I still eat plenty of it when I’m not dieting.

My children are in their late teens and have already grown out of the “kid cereal” phase. Though even when they were in elementary school, they mostly ate “grown-up cereal.” Their old man was the one eating the kid’s cereal. Why? Because Cap’n Crunch tastes WAY BETTER than Shredded Wheat.

Ten years ago, a total stranger could have taken a peek into our cereal pantry and tried to guess which cereal box belonged to a certain member of the family they never would have guessed correctly. The Count Chocula, Frosted Flakes, Honey Smacks, Lucky Charms, Cap’n Crunch and Corn Pops all belonged to me. The Mini Wheats, Special K, and Raisin Bran belonged to the wife and kids.

One of the most surprising articles I have read lately stated that millennials don’t like cereal. That baffles me. When I was in my 20s, cereal was the go-to apartment breakfast, and often a late-night snack.

In that piece millennials stated several reasons why they don’t like cereal. “It’s not filling,” and “It makes me sad,” were a couple of the explanations. Get a life. Cereal has never made me sad. Cereal is a happy food. Try eating a bowl of Count Chocula and then drinking the leftover chocolate milk that has been magically created in the bottom of the bowl and not have a smile on your face. It’s impossible.

Several millennials stated that “it’s too sugary” and “it’s expensive,” and I can buy those reasons. The most common reason millennials state as to why they don’t eat cereal is because it’s “inconvenient.” Seriously? After cinnamon toast, cereal is the easiest thing to eat in my home— bowl, spoon, Frosted Flakes, and milk. It’s that easy. If I’m feeling adventurous, I’ll add sliced banana to the mix.

Not to sound like the grumpy old man, but, pardon me while I make a grumpy old man statement— cereal is easy, what are these kids thinking? I’ll tell you what they’re thinking. They are thinking that a protein bar or a smoothie is much easier.

Granted, there’s not much prep time involved in opening a protein bar wrapper. But making smoothies is an involved— and sometimes messy— process.

Cereal is awesome and someone needs to tell these millennials about it. Cereal is so awesome that a restaurant just opened in Times Square that serves nothing but cereal.

Kellogg’s NYC opened earlier this year and it’s no joke. Two top chefs— a veteran of Milk Bar and a Per Se alum— developed the menu, and the place has been a huge hit.

Before this recent diet, Honey Smacks were one of my go-to late-night snacks (part of the reason I am currently on a diet). But my Honey Smacks bowl is filled only with milk. At Kellogg’s NYC, they serve Honey Smacks with toasted pecans, banana chips and real honey, and they give several options on the dairy component— whole, skim, soy, or almond milk, and Greek yogurt.

Some other offerings at Kellogg’s NYC that I would order are Fruit Loops with lime zest, marshmallows, and passion fruit jam, and Corn Pops with blueberry jam, lemon zest, and a pinch of salt.

Several years ago my wife thought I might be inching my way out of the kid’s cereal phase. I was about to turn 50 and got on a kick of eating Post Honey Bunches of Oats with peaches— possibly the best cereal ever made. It was almost like a grown-up’s cereal. Anything with nuts in it can’t be classified as a kid’s cereal. It wasn’t sugary, but best of all it had freeze-dried peaches in it. My son and I always fought over it and we couldn’t keep it in the house.

Someone must have notified Post that the cereal was so good it was turning kid’s cereal eaters into real cereal eaters and they discontinued it. They make one with strawberries and it’s okay, but it’s nowhere near as good as the peach version. That cereal was so good I would consider buying it on the black market in bulk. If anyone has any old boxes laying around the house, tweet me.

In the meantime, I’ll be hanging with the Cap’n and the Count.



Grillades and Grits

2 lbs                Veal top round cut into two-inch strips

2 tsp               Kosher salt

1 Tbl               Black pepper, fresh ground

1 /2 cup         Bacon grease (or canola oil)

3 /4 cup         Flour

3 /4 cup         Onion, diced

1 /4 cup         Shallot, minced

1 /2 cup         Celery, diced

1 tsp               Garlic, minced

3 /4 cup         Green bell pepper, diced

1 /2 tsp          Dried thyme

3 cups            Chicken broth, hot

1 cup              Tomatoes, peeled, large dice

1 /2 cup         Red wine

2 tsp               Hot Sauce

1                      Bay leaf

1 tsp.               Salt


Place one to two tablespoons of the bacon grease in a large heavy skillet and place on high heat. Season meat with one teaspoon of the fresh ground pepper and the kosher salt. Place the meat in hot skillet. Once browned, remove meat from the skillet.

Place the remainder of the bacon grease into skillet. Once melted, lower heat and slowly stir in flour. Cook three to four minutes. Add onion, shallot, celery, peppers, thyme and garlic. Continue to cook roux mixture for four to five minutes. Using a wire whip stir in the hot chicken broth, red wine, bay leaf and tomatoes and bring to a simmer.

Add veal back to the mixture and cook over a very low heat for two to three hours, stirring occasionally. When meat is tender stir in hot sauce, the remaining black pepper and salt.

Prepare garlic cheese grits during the last 30 minutes of cooking. Spoon grits onto a serving dish and top with grillades. Yield: eight servings


Garlic Cheese Grits

1 Tbl              Bacon grease or oil

1 Tbl              Garlic, minced

1 tsp              Salt

2 cups           Milk

2 cups           Chicken broth

1 cup             Grits

1 tsp              Creole Seasoning

1 tsp              Hot Sauce

8 oz               Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

4 oz               Cream cheese

Melt bacon grease over low heat in a 1 1/2 quart sauce pot. Add garlic and salt and cook for one to two minutes being careful not to brown the garlic. Add milk and broth and increase heat. Bring to a simmer and slowly pour in the grits. Lower heat and cook grits for 15 minutes, stirring often.

Add remaining ingredients and stir until cheeses are melted. Serve immediately.

Yield: eight servings

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