Brothers take to video to rave about toasted ravs


Bill Motchan

Jon, Jeff and Jacob Waldman taste the toasted ravioli at Pasta House for their T-Rav Tasters blog and video series.


The Waldman brothers are on a noble quest. The three have set their sights on finding the best toasted ravioli in St. Louis, then sharing their findings with the world.

Jeff, Jon and Jacob Waldman have the dedication and skill for their task. On March 10, their T-Rav Tasters blog and video program went live on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook, and they have 25,000 followers on the social media platforms.

It’s all part of their mission to create awareness for the St. Louis dish and help the local restaurant industry emerge from a bleak 2020, said Jeff Waldman, leader of the trio.

“We thought it would be great for restaurants that are independent local businesses coming out of the pandemic,” said Waldman, the oldest of the brothers at 34. “Viewers can see the inside of the restaurant and hear about the qualities of the toasted ravioli. So the idea was to get people excited about coming back into the restaurants. It was perfect timing to start.”

T-Rav Tasters on the web is hosted by the sports and entertainment blog Korked Bats (, which has a national following of nearly 40,000. Waldman doubles as a sales rep for the company. The idea for a toasted ravioli rating blog had been frying in his mind for a long time.

“I think it was five or six years ago when I started taking notes about toasted ravioli at different restaurants,” he said. “I actually started doing little ratings, and I even wrote down ‘T-Rav Tasters’ and I told my friend Austin Huff about the idea.”

Huff, a former classmate of Waldman at the University of Missouri-Columbia, is a radio personality at US99 country radio (WUSN 99.5 FM) in Chicago, and the founder of Korked Bats. Huff loved the idea and told Waldman to go for it. The next step for Waldman was recruiting his brothers.

Jacob Waldman, 26, a CPA, remembers the sales pitch over a bonfire in Jeff’s backyard.

Jon, Jeff and Jacob Waldman taste the toasted ravioli at Pasta House for their T-Rav Tasters blog and video series. (Bill Motchan)

“He said basically, ‘You get to come eat toasted ravioli, drink beer and laugh,’ so we said OK,” Jacob said.

Jon Waldman, 30, who works in marketing, said he and his brothers are uniquely suited to the task.

“Austin thought the three of us guys could put something together that would be kind of funny,” he said. “We’ve been pretty much doing this job all of our lives anyway, so it was seamless.”

Jeff said: “I’m the oldest brother, and my two younger brothers always kind of fall in line with whatever I sign them up for. They know my buddy Austin, and they love the Korked Bats brand and so, they were like, ‘Cool — eat toasted ravioli? We really do that already. Drink some beer? Do that already, too. Us goofing off? Sure.’ It just kind of checked all the boxes. So it was a fun thing to do.” 

Waldman said the Korked Bats audience has been enthusiastic about their series, and the restaurants are thrilled to get exposure and, ideally, build new business.

“It’s the positive feedback from people that has kept us wanting to do more, because we really do enjoy it,” he said. “The restaurants give us free T-ravs and free beer, and we have fun with the crew, as well. And that’s also a theme that you’ll notice in the videos. For example, we try to get as much face time for their chefs and their owners as we can, because we want people to feel like it’s their local restaurant, too.”

The Waldmans belong to Congregation Temple Israel, where each celebrated his bar mitzvah and likely had toasted ravioli celebrating the events.

The target of the brothers’ pursuit: toasted ravioli. (Bill Motchan)

They have a built-in rapport that is evident in watching the T-Rav Taster episodes, which are posted every other Wednesday. So far, the Waldmans have tasted classics at restaurants including Rigazzi’s, Anthonino’s Taverna and Farroto’s. They are especially excited about an upcoming tasting that features their longtime favorite, Pasta House.

The episodes are largely unscripted. Jeff Waldman said they just go with the flow, but they did make the decision after the first couple of episodes to use a structure and hire a professional videographer to improve production values.

During recording of the Pasta House episode at the restaurant’s new 8831 Ladue Road location, the Waldmans opened the shoot by offering some history of the business and how many meals they have eaten there, which is in triple digits. Then they got down to business with beer and toasted ravioli. 

The tasting covers criteria such as sauce, taste, presentation and structural integrity. They perform a couple of strange tests, too, such as dunking a toasted ravioli in beer. Take after take, the brothers crack wise and chomp on toasted ravioli.

Jen Duerfahrd, marketing director for Pasta House, said the T-Rav Taster visit would help generate awareness of the restaurant’s new Ladue location and, of course, for their toasted ravioli.

“I think T-Rav Tasters is great for St. Louis,” she said. “And I have three boys, so I can relate to this.”

Her comment came right after Jacob Waldman stuffed seven toasted ravioli into his mouth.

Although much of the content is played for laughs, the Waldmans are serious about their love of toasted ravioli and spreading the word to people outside St. Louis who aren’t familiar with them.

At left, Jon, Jeff and Jacob Waldman shoot a T-Rav Tasters segment outside a Pasta House location. (Bill Motchan)

“Toasted Ravioli Awareness (TRA) is very important to us,” Jeff Waldman said. “People need to know what St. Louis is known for foodwise, other than the way we awkwardly cut our bagels.”

T-Rav Tasters also will ideally help grow the Korked Bats brand, he said.

“Also, we’re trying to help local businesses, because we come from that small local business background, it’s in our blood in the Waldman family,” Waldman said. “My grandfather started Laurie’s Shoes back in 1951. So small family businesses are important to us, and supporting local restaurants was an important piece of this for us, too.”

The Waldman brothers’ T-Rav Taster videos can be found on YouTube (@korkedbats).