Niche chef Craft named finalist for James Beard award

Gerard CraftChef Gerard Craft, owner of Niche restaurant in St. Louis, has been named a finalist for “Best Chef: Midwest” in the James Beard Foundation Awards for 2012.

Craft’s Craft Restaurants Ltd. also owns Brasserie by Niche and Taste by Niche. He was among four local chefs named as semifinalists last month. Craft was a finalist in 2009 and 2010, and a semifinalist last year.

Niche is slated to move this spring from its current location, at 1831 Sidney St. in Benton Park, to Centene Plaza in Clayton. Craft’s new concept, Pastaria by Niche, also is scheduled to open in Centene Plaza in late summer.

Local restaurant Salt was named a semifinalist in the Beard awards' "Best New Restaurant" category last month, but did not make the final cut.

In the “Best Chef: Midwest” category, Craft is competing against: Justin Aprahamian of Sanford in Milwaukee; Colby Garrelts of Bluestem in Kansas City; Tory Miller of L’ Etoile in Madison, Wis.; and Lenny Russo of Heartland Restaurant & Farm Direct Market in St. Paul, Minn.

The Beard Awards are the highest honor for food and beverage professionals working in North America. They cover all aspects of the industry, including cookbook authors, food journalists and restaurant architects. The awards are presented each spring at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City.

Winners in the chef and restaurant categories will be announced May 7.

St. Louis Business Journal by Diana Barr, Associate Editor - Monday, March 19, 2012

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