What is “Modern Midwest”? There were certainly things at last night collaborative dinner between Sepia’s Andrew Zimmerman and St. Louis chef Gerard Craft (Niche, Pastaria, etc.) that aren’t native to the midwest— from scallops to chocolate— though many others that are, from nettles to pork belly. For Zimmerman and Craft, it seems to be not only bringing in local ingredients but reflecting who we are in the midwest— this was a meal with signs of a long winter (like the deeply nourishing, meaty amuse of nettle tea topped with a dash of schmaltz) and the first hints of spring poking up in the form of spring garlic and English peas. For Zimmerman, who met Craft at Cochon Heritage Fire and rekindled the friendship last year when both were James Beard Award nominees, it was also a chance to make use of Sepia’s year-and-a-half-old private dining room, a few doors north of the restaurant (but separated by an alley), as a space for events like this that create a meeting place for the food culture of the entire midwest. “If we did this in the restaurant, we’d basically have to buy the place out, which is a lot of seats to sell,” Zimmerman explains. “Here, we can do forty seats on top of dinner tonight, which gives us a a lot more freedom to do something interesting.” Check out our behind the scenes look at this dinner in our slideshow.