> A big congratulations to Niche general manager BRYAN LIPA, who has accepted a position as captain at chef Thomas Keller’s world-famous French Laundry in Yountville, Calif. Lipa, who has been at Niche since 2009, says experiencing boss GERARD CRAFT’s focus on cuisine and hospitality has been invaluable. “If it wasn’t for Gerard, this opportunity wouldn’t have been possible,” Lipa says. He’ll remain at Niche until May.

> Cielo at the Four Seasons Hotel is getting onboard the locavore train. Chef FABRIZIO SCHENARDI has introduced a 100 percent Missouri beef burger to the menu. The dish features two 4-ounce sliders made with Angus beef and Berkshire bacon from Jones Heritage Farms in Jackson, Mo., which also supplies the pork chops on the menu. The lettuce and tomatoes on the burgers are locally sourced as well.

> The Clarksville Station Restaurant at Overlook Farm in Clarksville is sponsoring a guest chef series, where some of the area’s top chefs work with Clarksville executive chef TIM GRANDINETTI to come up with creations using the freshest ingredients. Chef LOU ROOK III of Annie Gunn’s kicked off the series March 12. Next up is Chef KEVIN NASHAN from Sidney Street Cafe on April 9, and Chef JAMIE TOCHTROP of Stellina Pasta Cafe takes his turn on May 21. For reservations for the series, call (573) 242-3838.

> We told you last month that local chefs ANTHONY DEVOTI of Five; KEVIN WILLMAN of Farmhaus; and JOSH GALLIANO of Monarch were in the running for Food & Wine Magazine’s The People’s Best New Chef: Midwest. Well, the results are in, and our local contingent lost out to Chef LEE RICHARDSON of Little Rock, Ark. Congratulations to all of the St. Louis contestants—you’re our champs!

> We’ve learned that executive chef THEODORE WATT has returned to run the food operations at The Gardens at Malmaison in St. Albans after three years at St. Louis Country Club. Watt previously worked at Malmaison from 2005 to 2007.

> Jim Edmonds 15 Steakhouse will be hosting a happy hour and dining out event to benefit Springboard on Thursday, April 7. The happy hour will be from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., and $10 will get you appetizers and choice of drink. The three-course dinner is $50 per person, and seating begins at 6:30 p.m. For dinner reservations, call 588-8899 and mention Dining Out For Springboard. Half of the proceeds will support Springboard, a local nonprofit that provides arts integrated education programs for area children (springboardstl.com).

> Congratulations to Hacienda Mexican Rest aurant, which has been named Best Mexican Restaurant in Missouri by Officialbestof.com. A two-minute segment is going to be filmed at the restaurant for future broadcast on the Travel Channel on April 7. For more info on how to get in on the action, go to hacienda-stl.com.

> This Friday, April 1, the First Unitarian Church at 5007 Waterman Blvd. in the CWE will be hosting a different take on the traditional Friday fish fry with Unfish Fry, featuring all vegetarian fare. For more information, call 361-0595.

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