Chef VITO RACANELLI, Jr., has brought Chef CHRISTOPHER LEE into the fold at Mad Tomato in Clayton. Lee has more than 25 years of restaurant experience, apprenticing under such renowned culinarians as Marcel Keraval at Café de France and the late Jean Claude Guilloussou at L’Auberge Bretonne. Lee also has served as executive chef for Kirk’s American Bistro Melange in the Central West End, and was executive chef for In Good Company (which owns Café Ventana, Sanctuaria, Diablitos and Hendricks BBQ). Lee is the two-time champion of the Budweiser Taste of St. Louis Stella Artois Chef Battle Royale for 2012 and 2013. Most recently, he served as banquet room chef for River City Casino.

Hearty congratulations are in order for local chefs GERARD CRAFT and KEVIN NASHAN. As we told you a while back, both were in contention for the James Beard Awards Best Chef: Midwest title. They came close, but lost out to Chef Justin Aprahamian of Milwaukee’s Sanford restaurant, who took home the top prize at the awards ceremony in NYC earlier this month. Thanks for representing us so well, chefs…next year!

It's been announced that national chain Cantina Laredo will be opening a location in Centene Plaza in Clayton. The new restaurant should begin serving up its signature modern Mexican fare—which includes plenty of ocean-fresh seafood and scratch-made salsas—sometime in November.

Congrats to St. James Winery, which took home Grand Champion honors at the recent 2014 Pacific Rim Wine Competition in San Bernadino, Calif., for its Friendship School White wine. St. James came out ahead of approximately 1,200 other wines entered. St. James also won four other Gold / Best of Class awards at the competition for its Moscato, Riesling, Friendship School Red, and Strawberry wines. St. James Winery Peach wine also received a gold medal, and six other wines received silver or bronze medals.

The folks behind LuLu's Local Eatery food truck now have a brick-and-mortar location at 3201 S. Grand Blvd. Look for plenty of the same quality sustainable fare available on the truck.

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