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It's time once again for the James Beard Foundation Awards. The annual ‘Oscars’ of the culinary world recently announced its list of semi-finalists, and St. Louis is represented in a big way. Chefs GERARD CRAFT (Niche); KEVIN WILLMANN (Farmhaus); KEVIN NASHAN (Sidney Street Cafe); JOSH GALLIANO (The Libertine); and BEN POREMBA (Elaia) all are in the running for the title of Best Chef: Midwest. Chef RICK LEWIS of Quincy Street Bistro has been tapped as a contender for Rising Star Chef of the Year, and Taste in the CWE has been nominated for Outstanding Bar Program. Finalists for the awards will be announced on March 18, in Chicago, and the winners will be revealed in NYC in May. Congrats to all, good luck and thanks for representing St. Louis' culinary scene so well!
Congratulations to the folks at Sidney Street Cafe, which just celebrated its 10th anniversary earlier this month. To commemorate the milestone, chef KEVIN NASHAN and his kitchen staff will be partnering with 10 chefs from St. Louis and beyond for a one-of-a-kind dining experience early next year. The roster of chefs is a veritable culinary who's who, and includes GERARD CRAFT of Niche Restaurant Group, KEVIN WILLMANN of Farmhaus and JOSH GALLIANO of The Libertine. The event will be held at Sidney Street Cafe on Jan. 20, with passed apps and cocktails being served beginning at 6:30 p.m. and dinner kicking off at 7:30 p.m. Cost is $195 per person. For the full chef roster and to purchase tickets, go online at brownpapertickets.com.
Another production year in the fields is winding down at Claverach Farm, but there’s a lot to look forward to in 2014 and beyond. For many years, Claverach Farm has had a presence at area farmers markets and as a produce supplier to a few of St. Louis’ popular restaurants, including Sidney Street Cafe, Stellina, Oceano Bistro and Farmhaus, just to name a few. But in more recent years, operations on the Eureka farm have grown and expanded, with great promise for the future.
On July 15, chef KEVIN NASHAN will be hosting a benefit dinner at his Sidney Street Cafe to benefit Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign, a national initiative to end childhood hunger. The dinner will take place from 6 to 10 p.m. and features an impressive line-up of local and regional chefs, including GERARD CRAFT of Craft Restaurants Ltd.; KEVIN WILLMANN of Farmhaus; Top Chef winner STEPHANIE IZARD of Chicago's Girl & Goat; JASON VINCENT of Nightwood in Chicago; and MICHAEL PALEY from Metropole in Cincinnati. Tickets are $150 and are available online at ce.strength.org.
St. Louis restaurants were well represented on the Opinionated About Dining's Top 25 Midwest Restaurants list that was recently released. Niche took the No. 2 slot; Sidney Street Cafe was No. 8; Stone Soup Cottage was No. 11; Brasserie by Niche came in at No. 12; Farmhaus garnered No. 13; and Tony's landed at No. 20; and Harvest rounded out the list at 22. Well done!
St. Louis' food culture will be recognized on the national stage this summer, thanks to Cochon 555, a premier culinary event that will bring together some of the area's very best chefs to see just what they can create with the pig.
The past year has been a busy one for the St. Louis culinary scene. Here are a few of the highlights from 2012:
Since Farmhaus' debut, the restaurant and chef/owner Kevin Willmann have received all manner of local and national culinary accolades. On our last visit, we were reminded of why.
ANDREW JANSEN/ JOURNAL The Scotch Egg at Farmhaus is made with farm fresh eggs, and a made in-house chorizo sausage sitting on a lime crema with house made cr?me fraiche. The grilled tomatillo sauce is made with local tomatillos.
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Once again, St. Louis has been recognized nationally for its culinary prowess. Chefs KEVIN NASHAN of Sidney Street Cafe; GERARD CRAFT of Niche; KEVIN WILLMANN of Farmhaus and JOSH GALLIANO of Monarch all have been named semi-finalists in the Best Chef: Midwest category of the 2012 James Beard Awards. And chef WES JOHNSON’s Salt in the CWE, which opened just last spring, is a semi-finalist for Best New Restaurant. Good luck to all!
◆ Chef BRIAN HARDESTY, who took over the kitchen at Nosh a few weeks ago, has announced he’s dropping the Nosh name in favor of Root. The name is reflective of the new culinary direction Hardesty is pursuing: original takes on classic American cuisine that span the years from the founding of the country until roughly the Great Depression era. Hardesty says to expect lots of game, roasted meat and whole fish preparations. The restaurant (co-located with Starr’s in Richmond Heights) is closed during the transformation, and is scheduled to open for business on Tuesday, Jan. 10.
◆Chef JOHN GRIFFITHS of Truffles is bringing together a veritable who’s-who of local culinary talent for a great cause. Just Like Mom Used To Make will be held Nov. 2 at Truffles, and feature GERARD CRAFT and ADAM ALTNETHER of Taste By Niche; JOSH GALLIANO of Monarch; WES JOHNSON of Salt; BEN POREMBA of Salume Beddu; and KEVIN WILLMANN of Farmhaus. The chefs will be creating a six-course meal of foods inspired by their childhoods, paired with wines by Truffles’ wine director ALEKSANDER JOVANOVIC. Proceeds benefit the ALS Association and Hope Happens. For more info, or to purchase tickets, call 567-9100.
◆Following up on the recent release of their new cookbook, Stone Soup Cottage: A Vignette of Seasonal Recipes, CARL and NANCY MCCONNELL will be hosting a series of cooking classes at their Cottleville, Mo., eatery of the same name. The classes will be held weekly during November and December, and focus on demonstrating a three-course tasting menu and wine pairing. The cost is $45 per person and class size is limited to 20, and like the cookbook, some of the proceeds from the classes will go to the Boys and Girls Clubs of St. Charles County. View the full class schedule at stonesoupcottage.com.
> STEVEN CARAVELLI, executive chef at Araka in Clayton, has moved on. According to Caravelli, the split was a friendly one, and he’s currently searching for his next kitchen gig. Sous chef MICHAEL BURNAU has stepped up to helm the Araka kitchen.
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> Congratulations to KEVIN WILLMANN, chef/owner of Farmhaus, for being selected as one of Food & Wine magazine’s 10 Best New Chefs for 2011!
> 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.
> Our town has been at the center of the culinary universe lately. The James Beard Foundation announced the semifinalists for its 2011 awards last week, and St. Louis was well-represented. Local chefs GERARD CRAFT of Niche, KEVIN NASHAN of Sidney Street Cafe and KEVIN WILLMAN of Farmhaus Restaurant have all been named semifinalists for Best Chef: Midwest, and sommelier GLENN BARDGETT of Annie Gunn’s is a semifinalist for Outstanding Wine Service.
> The best chefs from St. Louis and the surrounding region will put their skills on the line to honor master chef and charcuterie expert FREDERIC ‘FRITZ’ SONNENSCHMIDT (dean emeritus of the CIA) and raise funds for Operation Food Search. Operation Charcuterie!, as it’s being called, will be held at Sidney Street Cafe in Benton Park Sept. 28. Teams will prepare a six-course charcuterie dinner, and the chef roster features a veritable Who’s Who of area culinary talent: GERARD CRAFT of Niche, ANTHONY DEVOTI of Five, JIM FIALA of The Crossing, JOSH GALLIANO of Monarch, STEVE GONTRAM of Harvest, CARY MCDOWELL of Winslow’s Home, KEVIN NASHAN of Sidney Street Cafe, LOU ROOK of Annie Gunn’s, KEVIN WILLMAN of Farmhaus, JONATHAN JUSTUS of Justus Drugstore Restaurant in Smithville, Mo., and MIKE ODETTE of Sycamore in Columbia, Mo. For reservations, contact Chris Valier at Sidney Street Cafe at 771-5777.