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Culinary Karma

Oct 31, 2016

Steve McHugh’s relationship with his restaurant appears to be influenced by a series of happy accidents. The connecting thread of coincidence began in 2010 when Steve and wife Sylvia were exploring Pearl. They peered through a construction fence and there in the noise and the dust, was the brewery’s old Administration Building. They were charmed by its beauty and Sylvia remarked, “Wow, that would make a great restaurant.” Fast forward to 2013: Steve launches Cured, his award-winning restaurant, in that very building.

Exterior of Cured restaurant

Renovation led to two more serendipitous discoveries. The building’s original pressed tin ceiling had to be pulled out, because it was covered in lead-based paint. The interior architects, Urbanist Design, salvaged some panels and began contacting the few companies in the U.S. still making pressed tin ceilings, looking for a firm capable of replicating the 112-year-old metal sheets. The W.F. Norman Corporation in Missouri assured the design team that exact reproduction would not be a problem. Their records showed that they’d made the Administration Building’s original ceiling in 1904 and still had the pattern dies in storage. They pressed the new panels on the same machines that did the job the first time, then sent a crew to Texas to install the ceiling that crowns Cured today.

Serendipity No. 2: pulling out circa-1960 sheetrock to expose the structure’s longleaf pine wallboards revealed “Steves” hand-painted on some of the planks. Granted, that indicates that the boards came from San Antonio’s venerable Steves and Sons lumber company (still in business, by the way, since 1866). But it also fortuitously marks McHugh’s claim on Cured as “Steve’s” place.

Interior beam of Cured restaurant

Happy accidents aside, there’s nothing coincidental about Cured’s success. Steve and his team have introduced San Antonio to the delights of house-cured charcuterie and dishes that are more common in Europe than South Texas. In fact, the restaurant often welcomes a contingent of foreign-born Spurs players, who come for the “exotic” dishes that remind them of home: terrines, pates, bone marrow, smoked duck ham, lamb heart and other delectable oddments that locals have also embraced. Which is not to say a less adventurous diner can’t revel in a bacon-beef cheeseburger, grilled flatiron steak or pan-seared snapper. View the menu here.

Meat and beans meal from Cured

Perhaps the synchronicities were meant to be. It’s pleasant to think that the cascading coincidences were set in motion to bring Steve, Sylvia and their talented, dedicated team to this place and time, where they’re welcoming guests, feeding them exceedingly well and, coincidentally, doing good in the community. Since opening, Cured has dedicated to charity one dollar for every charcuterie board served. Recently, the boards generated $5,100 for the USO. Quarterly gifts average $4,500 to $5,200 and have benefited an eclectic roster of recipients: Coastal Conservation Association, San Antonio Food Bank, Kids 4 Kids with Cancer, among other, usually local, organizations.

Steve McHugh also shares his Irish luck through his own annual fundraiser for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS), which is dedicated to finding cures for blood cancers. Steve’s “Cured for a Cure” dinner brings in guest chefs to create a five-course feast that raises about $43,000 in one night of revelry. It’s a big “thank you” from Steve for the help he received from the LLS during his treatment for non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2010. He’s been cancer-free ever since. Cured, indeed.

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