• Congratulations to Gerard Craft, chef/owner of Niche restaurant!  On Monday he was chosen to be one of five finalists in the Best Chef Midwest category for a James Beard Foundation Award. The winners will be announced at a gala ceremony May 4 at Lincoln Center in New York, followed by an incredible reception with food prepared by 22 of America’s greatest female chefs. Tickets for the event and the complete list of finalists are available at jbfawards.com.

• While the name screams dessert, owner Wes Kinsey wants everyone to know that My Daddy’s Cheesecake serves omelets, waffles, pancakes, soups, salads and sandwiches too! The bakery cafe opened last week at 6451 Clayton Road in the DeMun Pointe building. There are six patio tables outside, and inside the rotating cake display entices kiddos and moms alike with its 20 cheesecake varieties. The place opens early daily with the bakery cases full of muffins and pastries. But since it’s open until 10 p.m. on weekends, the spot is also just right for dessert after the Muny or a movie at the Hi-Pointe. This is the second location for My Daddy’s; the original is in Cape Girardeau.

• Erin Bode was the headliner for last Saturday’s grand opening of the St. Louis Jazz Cafe at 1500 St. Charles St. Owner Arnold Charleston has tucked a small proscenium stage into the 100-seat dining room of the former Red Moon restaurant. When jazz artists are performing live on the weekends, the cafe becomes a supper club with seatings at 6 and 9 p.m. The kitchen serves upscale comfort food with a Creole influence. But since chef Emma Cox made such dang good barbecue ribs for her tryout, that’s what headlines the menu, along with some serious steaks and chops. Lunch and dinner are served six days a week and on Sunday there is an a la carte jazz brunch. Check out the entertainment calendar at stlouisjazzcafe.com.

• Store manager SARAH VICKERS has organized a Local Food Fair to be held inside The Market at Busch’s Grove on Saturday, March 28, from 1 to 4 p.m. There will be demos and tastings throughout the swank grocery store by local food producers, including Sunny Creek Farm, Mound City Nuts, Stinger’s Honey, Lone Oaks Organics, Bethlehem Valley Winery, Kakao Chocolate, and Verendura Botanicals. St. Louis University will also sell its brand new cookbook, with all proceeds going to the SLU scholarship fund. A special treat will be Bill Arnold of Blue’s Hog BBQ, firing up the grill. Sarah told Spicy Bits: “We’d love to see people coming to see one another and get to know their local food producers.”

• Just back from the Food Network’s South Beach Food & Wine Festival, Josh Roland was but one chef enlisted for the Pig Roast on the Roof to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Hosts Amos Harris and Natalie Semchyshyn had Josh, exec chef at F15teen, and chef Wes Johnson bring two La Caja china roasting boxes to the roof of their loft. Heavier still were the three hogs, 120 pounds each!  Lifting out the crackling crisp pig after three hours in the box of hot coals wowed the crowd needless to say, the meat was devoured. Wes, formerly of Shaved Duck, has been selected by Joe Edwards to be chef de cuisine for his new Eclipse restaurant.

•  Now that you have a serious hankering for pork…head out to Hermann this weekend for a sausage competition and exhibition. The 29th Annual Wurstfest takes place March 28 and 29 at Hermannoff Festhalle and Stone Hill Winery Pavilion.

Got something for Spicy Bits?  Write to Amy Peck Abraham at spicybits@laduenews.com.

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