James Beard Semifinalists – Four Beard Nominees for Best Chef Midwest, and One Rising Star
ST. LOUIS, MO/February 16, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) – St. Louis has a long history of great culinary offerings. The metro area is rich with restaurant variety when it comes to cuisine, scale, style, and innovation. The Gateway City is both a launching pad and a landing zone for great chefs. And let’s face it, St. Louis diners love great food. So it’s always an honor, but never a surprise when the chefs and restaurants dedicated to feeding us are honored on a grand scale. And this week, six were named as James Beard Foundation Award semifinalists.
The James Beard Foundation was established to celebrate, nurture, and honor chefs and other culinary professionals who make America’s food culture more diverse, sustainable, and of course, delicious. And so the JBF Awards were established in 1990 to recognize culinary excellence and achievement. Many consider it the highest level of recognition in the culinary world. This year, there were more than 24,000 entries in 21 restaurant and chef award categories. Five chefs in the St. Louis area are among the JBF Award semifinalists announced this week.
St. Louis’ 2017 JBF Award semifinalists:
Rising Star Chef of the Year: This annual honor is awarded to a chef age 30 or younger who displays an impressive talent and who is likely to make a significant impact on the industry in years to come. This year, Chef Ashley Shelton of Pastaria in Clayton is among the semifinalists.
Best Chef Midwest: This honor is awarded regionally to chefs who’ve set new or consistent standards of excellence. St. Louis is in the Midwest region, which includes Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. To be eligible for the Best Chef Award, candidates can work in any kind of dining establishment, but they must have been working as a chef for at least five years, with the three most recent years spent in the region. This year, five St. Louis area chefs are semifinalists. They include: Executive Chef Jesse Mendica of Oak + Olive (Wesbster Groves), Executive Chef/Owner Kevin Nashan of Sidney Street Cafe (Benton Park), Executive Chef/Owner Mike Randolph of Público (University City Loop) and Executive Chef/Owner Kevin Willmann of Farmhaus (Lindenwood Park).
Chef award winners will be announced in Chicago on May 1st. In January Gioia’s Deli (the Hill) won the James Beard Foundation’s America’s Classics Award, which recognizes regional restaurants distinguished by their timeless appeal, and quality food that reflects the character of their communities.