The Crystal Cajun Cook-Off, one of the premier events leading up to the city's Mardi Gras celebration, was held Jan. 26, in the City Hall rotunda downtown. The contest featured 10 amateur and 10 professional chefs slugging it out in the kitchen for the title of best Cajun/Creole Dish. When the dust settled, Lumiere Place/River City executive chef and LN Cooks columnist JOHN JOHNSON top honors in the pro category, while chef GEORGE MACDONALD came out on top in the amateur division. Congrats to both chefs!

Also up for some serious congratulations is local microbrewery Perennial Artisan Ales. The brewery's Abraxas seasonal, a delicious stout brewed with ancho chilies, cacao nibs, vanilla beans and cinnamon (and one of our personal favorite ales!) recently got a coveted 100-point designation from Beer Advocate co-founder JASON ALSTROM.

Mission Taco Joint, the new eatery from ADAM and JASON TILFORD of Milagro and Tortillaria fame, is set to open later this month in the U-City Loop in the former home of Delmar Lounge. While the pair have been giving the restaurant itself a thorough overhaul, including a mural from local artist ANGIE CORNISH, they've also been busy staffing it with some prime local talent. We've been told that JOEL CLARK, who most recently was working the bar at Sanctuaria Wild Tapas, has been brought on as bar manager; while ALEX LAKIN, late of Salt in the CWE, has come onboard as general manager.

Area locavores now have another way to get their groceries: GreenBEAN Delivery, a company that offers home delivery of local and organic produce and groceries in select Midwest locations, has now added St. Louis to its list of participating cities. Learn more about the company and its services at

MX Movies, the new movie theater at the MX Building downtown featuring first-run flicks and culinary goodness courtesy of chef JOSH GALLIANO, has officially opened its doors. The theater boasts 345 seats in three digital theaters and a menu of cocktails, microbrews, apps and larger dishes, as well as traditional movie theater food served to you at your seat. Check out the details at

The St. Louis culinary scene got some national recognition from a couple of national sources recently. New York Post columnist PAUL BRADY singled out several local restaurants and microbreweries in a recent column titled Beyond The BBQ In St. Louis. The list includes new eateries Pastaria, Nico and Seoul Taco; and microbrew hangouts Tap Room and Six Row Brewing Company.

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