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Meet the St. Louis chefs, restaurants named James Beard Foundation Awards semifinalists

Six area chefs and one restaurant are semifinalists for the culinary world's top prize.
Credit: Jasper Paul, Botanica

ST. LOUIS — Six St. Louis-area chefs and one restaurant were named Wednesday as semifinalists for the 2022 James Beard Foundation Awards, the culinary world's top prize.

Ben Grupe of Tempus nabbed a nomination in the Emerging Chef category, though he was named a semifinalist in the Best Chef Midwest category in 2018. Grupe opened Tempus for in-person dining in November 2021, after operating as a carry-out only restaurant for a year.

Elise Mensing was named a semifinalist in the Outstanding Pastry Chef category for her work at Brasserie by Niche. Mensing has worked for Gerard Craft's restaurants for more than 15 years, most of them spent at Brasserie.

Four local chefs were named semifinalists in the Best Chef Midwest category this year, including Ben Welch of Botanica, Evy Swoboda of Brasserie by Niche, Craig Rivard of Little Fox, and Rob Connoley of Bulrush. Connoley previously was named a semifinalist in the Best Chef Southwest category for his work at The Curious Kumquat in New Mexico in 2014.

Welch opened Botanica with Six Mile Bridge Brewery owner Ryan Sherring in September 2021. Prior to that, Welch worked as executive chef at The Midwestern Meat & Drink in downtown St. Louis. Craig Rivard opened Little Fox with his wife, Mowgli, at the end of 2019. The restaurant in October was named to the New York Times' "America's Favorite Restaurants" list. Swoboda joined Brasserie by Niche as executive chef in 2021 after working at The Last Kitchen inside The Last Hotel in downtown St. Louis.

Michael and Tara Gallina's Vicia restaurant nabbed a semifinalist nomination in both the Outstanding Wine Program and Outstanding Bar Program categories. Michael Gallina was named a semifinalist in the Best Chef Midwest category in 2019 and 2020, and Vicia was a semifinalist for Best New Restaurant in 2018.

Click here for the full story from the St. Louis Business Journal.

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