Every year we look forward to sharing the Feast 50 issue with readers, not only because it’s our anniversary issue, but also because it’s an over-the-top celebration of our city’s remarkable food-and-drink scene. This year, for the very first time, we are proud to present the Feast Awards, which will become a new tradition that makes the Feast 50 issue that much more special.
In the spirit of celebrating the industry experts who are shaping the St. Louis food community, we chose to give the Feast Awards a peer-to-peer judging structure. We approached seven local industry experts and asked them to weigh in on 25 categories ranging from the finest local chefs and restaurants to the very best wineries and breweries and more. The judges established the initial list of nominees, and after their winners were determined, we launched an online poll to give readers the chance to weigh in as well. Though only one of the five nominees in each category could claim the top spot, we have also shared honorable mentions, which indicate close second choices as determined by the judges. In addition to the judges’ winners, we have included the people’s choice winners in each category.
Feast Award Judges:
- Vincent Bommarito III, executive chef and co-owner, Tony’s
- Steve Gontram, owner, Five Star Burgers
- Dan Kopman, co-founder and chief executive officer, The Saint Louis Brewery (Schlafly Beer)
- Cary McDowell, corporate chef, Euclid Hospitality Group
- Matt McGuire, director of service, Craft Restaurants Ltd.
- Zoë Robinson, proprietor, Bobo Noodle House, I Fratellini, Bar Les Frères
- Adam Tilford, co-owner, Tilford Restaurant Group
Click here to meet the judges!
2014 FEAST AWARDS WINNERS:
Chef of the Year
Judges’ Winner: Kevin Nashan (Sidney Street Cafe)
Honorable Mention: Ben Poremba (Elaia and Olio)
People’s Choice: Josh Galliano (The Libertine)
“Kevin is not only a very talented chef, but he is also a really nice guy who cares about his employees and his community.” – Dan Kopman
“I can’t say enough about Kevin. He represents everything that is right with our industry. He is as passionate as the day is long; always challenging himself and his team, and my goodness, does it show. Sidney Street continues to evolve and reset the standard for fine cooking in St. Louis.” – Cary McDowell
Restaurateur of the Year
Judges’ Winner: Chris Sommers (Euclid Hospitality Group)
Honorable Mention: Gerard Craft (Craft Restaurants Ltd.)
People’s Choice: Mike Johnson (Sugarfire Smoke House)
“Chris has a big vision for St. Louis, and he is taking financial risks every day in his businesses, which impacts our city well beyond the success of Pi and Gringo. He encourages others to take those risks and to do so in a way that has economic benefit beyond an individual business.” – D.K.
“Chris picked St. Louis – good for us – to begin his dynasty, and it has grown so quickly – because he’s good.” – Vincent Bommarito III
Culinary Entrepreneur of the Year
Judges’ Winner: Corey Smale (Strange Donuts)
Honorable Mention: David Bailey (Baileys’ Restaurants)
People’s Choice: Ben Poremba (Elaia and Olio)
“St. Louis has an amazing group of culinary entrepreneurs, but no one can hold a candle to Corey Smale and what he’s done with Strange Donuts. From crazy collaborations with St. Louis’ top restaurants to a Strange Donuts video game, he’s really taken guerrilla marketing to a new level.” – Adam Tilford
“Corey and his team have reset the paradigm of social media marketing and strategic partnerships in the St. Louis market. From the addictive video game to the one-off parties they throw, it’s no wonder he’s expanding so quickly. Oh, and by the way, speaking of addictive: The Fat Elvis is a donut gamechanger. Go team Strange!” – C.M.
Chef on the Brink
Judges’ Winner: Josh Poletti (The Libertine)
Honorable Mention: Nicholas Martinkovic (Blood & Sand, Death in the Afternoon)
People’s Choice: Josh Charles (Elaia and Olio)
“Each time I bump into Josh Poletti, I can sense that he’s been diligently learning so many things. He just strikes me [as] having that vibe of an insatiable search for culinary knowledge. Josh Galliano and The Libertine team are so fortunate to have him.” – C.M.
“Josh has worked in some of the top kitchens in St. Louis, and as executive sous at The Libertine under the tutelage of chef Josh Galliano, Poletti has honed his skills and is cooking up great food.” – A.T.
Restaurant of the Year
Judges’ Winner: Sidney Street Cafe
Honorable Mention: Cleveland-Heath
People’s Choice: The Libertine
“It’s so reassuring to see that with constant dedication, patience and a whole lot of love, a restaurant can be propelled into its own. For those who ever questioned Kevin, his brother Chris and his wonderful bride Mina for taking the St. Louis fave and running with it, certainly they have had the last laugh! Proof positive that the ‘family restaurant’ is alive and well in America – and what a gift that we were all able to watch it grow as the rest of the country now takes notice of their finesse and success.” – C.M.
New Restaurant - opened in the past year
Judges’ Winner: Juniper
Honorable Mention: Three Flags Tavern
People’s Choice: Adam’s Smokehouse
“I can’t seem to stay away from [Juniper]. The restaurant is charming, the servers are darling and the food is delicious.” – Zoë Robinson
“John Perkins did an amazing job transforming his former pop-up event space into a comfortable restaurant, and his Southern cuisine only adds to that comfort. Go get a bread basket and some fried chicken soon.” – A.T.
Service in a Restaurant
Judges’ Winner: Niche
Honorable Mention: Tony’s
People’s Choice: Sidney Street Cafe
“I’m admittedly very biased – but Matt McGuire is just fantastic! He has the rare, natural gift of being able to anticipate the needs of his guests, and has a superhuman sense of attention during service. Nobody makes me feel so important.” – C.M.
Judges’ Winner: Christy Augustin (Pint Size Bakery & Coffee)
Honorable Mention: Anne Croy (Pastaria)
People’s Choice: Simone Faure (La Patisserie Chouquette)
“Christy has an exuberance and down-home Southern charm that makes you want to eat oatmeal crème pies all day long.” – Steve Gontram
“Fresh every day, tastes great – the way we all wish we baked.” – V.B.
Bar Program - beer
Judges’ Winner: iTap
Honorable Mention: The Royale
People’s Choice: Bridge Tap House & Wine Bar
“These dudes know beer, and they have a lot of it on tap. On any given day, they are tapping something rare and drawing a huge crowd.” – A.T.
“If you love beer, then you’ll be amazed by iTap’s vast selection of more than 500 different labels from around the world. They always have a fantastic, broad spectrum of styles on tap as well, allowing them to feature a great lineup of fresh, rare or limited-release beers. I appreciate their insistence on pouring their beers in style-appropriate glasses as well. Cheers!” – S.G.
Bar Program - wine
Judges’ Winner: Elaia and Olio
Honorable Mention: 33 Wine Bar
People’s Choice: Robust Wine Bar
“What Andrey [Ivanov] has built there in such a short time is extremely impressive, thoughtful and fun; I always want to know what he is drinking.” – Matt McGuire
“An amazing list, so diverse. Andrey is a marvel.” – Z.R.
Bar Program - cocktails
Judges’ Winner: Planter’s House
Honorable Mention: Blood & Sand
People’s Choice: Taste
“[Planter’s House is] knocking it out of the park. A lot of talent under one gorgeous roof!” – Z.R.
“St. Louis legend Ted Kilgore has built a who’s who team of mixologists at Planter’s House, and the cocktail menu reflects it.” – A.T.
Judges’ Winner: Ted Kilgore (Planter’s House)
Honorable Mention: Jayne Pellegrino (Blood & Sand)
People’s Choice: Kyle Mathis (Taste)
“Ted Kilgore has the old classics down [and] the new stuff mastered. He’s just flat-out good.” – V.B.
“Ted has run the finest cocktail programs in St. Louis for years and trained some of the best mixologists. He is an innovator; he is the man.” – A.T.
“Few people are more deserving of an award. Absolute mastery of his craft.” – M.M.
Judges’ Winner: Andrey Ivanov (Elaia and Olio)
Honorable Mention: Denise Mueller (Robust Wine Bar)
People’s Choice: Brandon Kerne (Bar Italia Ristorante)
“This gentleman is an extreme talent. I say this not only because of his vast knowledge and great palate, but also because he makes wine seem so simple and approachable.” – Z.R.
“Andrey is such an immense talent. He could have turned his intellect toward any number of pursuits, but luckily for all of us, it happened to be wine. That intellect, combined with a frighteningly intuitive palate, makes for simply the most important wine person in our city. He has a tireless curiosity and brings this amazing historical perspective that give both narrative and life to the wine.” – M.M.
Judges’ Winner: Blueprint Coffee
Honorable Mention: Kaldi’s Coffee Roasting Co.
People’s Choice: Sump Coffee
“Blueprint is a great example of a group of young, passionate entrepreneurs making St. Louis a better place, one space and one business at a time. Like the new breweries that have opened, the team at Blueprint encourages me to keep pushing for greater innovation and higher standards in our business. So, while Kaldi’s remains my local coffee shop and its founders and owners are trusted business partners – and Northwest beans are in my cupboard at home – walking into Blueprint is an example of the potential we have in St. Louis.” – D.K.
“This place is a real gem. Great space, great staff, great coffee.” – Z.R.
“In addition to perfecting the art of pour-over coffee and espresso drinks, the talented baristas at Blueprint have figured out how to make ‘third-wave’ coffee service approachable.” – A.T.
Judges’ Winner: Kitchen Kulture
Honorable Mention: Catering St. Louis
People’s Choice: Butler’s Pantry
“Chris [Meyer] and her team are always up to something good. I envy their freedom to continually cook so many diverse things – and they do it so well. Also, [they have] some of the coolest gear at the farmers markets!” – C.M.
Judges’ Winner: Guerrilla Street Food
Honorable Mention: Vincent Van Doughnut
People’s Choice: Seoul Taco
“Guerrilla Street Food’s monster pork burrito is amazing… I don’t know how I eat the whole thing, but I do.” – V.B.
“Brian Hardesty and Joel Crespo run the best and most consistent food truck in St. Louis – their food flat-out never disappoints.” – S.G.
Judges’ Winner: Pint Size Bakery & Coffee
Honorable Mention: Russell’s Café & Bakery
People’s Choice: La Patisserie Chouquette
“Christy [Augustin] makes everything look so fun and easy, and if anyone has ever attempted to produce the things that she does, you will have some clue as to how difficult baking all of those wonderful pastries can be. It is this sense of ease and joy that makes her shop the bright beacon of light that it has quickly become for St. Louis.” – M.M.
“Pint Size doesn’t care about your waistline, and I like that – just delicious old-school pastries and seasonal ingredients.” – A.T.
Judges’ Winner: Companion
Honorable Mention: Red Fox Baking & Catering
People’s Choice: Black Bear Bakery
“Josh Allen and crew have been baking the best bread in St. Louis for a long time now. I am proud to be a longtime customer.” – S.G.
“When Josh Allen founded Companion in 1993, there were few places to find artisan, quality-produced breads. Pandora Bakery on Russell was about the one place in town to find the truth; they were making breads and baked goods of incredible integrity and helped build our town’s appetite for breads of quality. Josh’s timing seemed perfect to walk through the door that Pandora was there to open. And his products quickly became things we simply couldn’t live without any longer.” – M.M.
Judges’ Winner: Marcoot Jersey Creamery
Honorable Mention: G&W Bavarian Style Sausage Co.
People’s Choice: Salume Beddu
“My day always starts with a slice of Marcoot’s havarti or one of their cave-aged cheeses. They have perfected their craft.” – A.T.
“Amy Marcoot makes unbelievable products from an unbelievable herd of cows – just a great story.” – M.M.
Judges’ Winner: Kakao Chocolate
Honorable Mention: Bissinger’s Handcrafted Chocolatier
People’s Choice: Crown Candy Kitchen
“I wish I didn’t know how great this chocolate is; then I could stay away.” – Z.R.
“Bacon brittle and sea salt caramels. What else is there to say?” – A.T.
Judges’ Winner: Chaumette Vineyards & Winery
Honorable Mention: Mount Pleasant Winery
People’s Choice: Stone Hill Winery
“[At] Chaumette Vineyards & Winery, the owner cares – the first ingredient in a good wine.” – V.B.
Judges’ Winner: Civil Life Brewing Co.
Honorable Mention: 4 Hands Brewing Co.
People’s Choice: Urban Chestnut Brewing Co.
“Delicious, quaffable session beers don’t get any better than at Civil Life.” – S.G.
“Anyone who knows Jake Hafner or [who] was introduced to him through 33 Wine Bar isn’t at all surprised by the quality and success of his Civil Life Brewing Co. Jake has always been a sort of heat-seeking missile toward quality. This form of tunnel vision has allowed for the production of some of the most compelling beers in our region, if not the country.” – M.M.
Judges’ Winner: Blueprint Coffee
Honorable Mention: Sump Coffee
People’s Choice: Kaldi’s Coffee Roasting Co.
“Mike Marquard and his team [at Blueprint] asked me and my friend what we wanted to listen to on vinyl as he brewed our coffee. This pretty much sums up his team’s attention to detail. I also like that they sell Stephanie [Fischer’s] wonderful pastries from Comet Coffee.” – C.M.
“Maybe I’m partial because I get to watch them roast a lot of their coffee, but their attention to detail and quality of beans is tremendous.” – A.T.
Specialty Food Shop
Judges’ Winner: Vom Fass
Honorable Mention: Baumann’s Fine Meats
People’s Choice: Global Foods Market
“There’s no other place in town that I could spend hours tasting vinegars, olive oils and Scotch. It makes for an interesting afternoon.” – A.T.
Specialty Wine, Beer and Spirits Shop
Judges’ Winner: Parker’s Table
Honorable Mention: Randall’s Wines and Spirits
People’s Choice: The Wine & Cheese Place
“I’ve known my fellow brother [Jonathan Parker] from Tennessee for as long as I’ve been in St. Louis. I’m always amazed at the diverse selection of just the right products there, from American cheese that rivals the best Italian Taleggio I’ve ever had to high-quality dry pasta to the most sublime Novello olive oils I’ve tasted – and that’s before you get to beverages! Jon’s presence is apparent in every detail of his store.” – C.M.
“Parker’s Table has always been such an incredibly fun place to be, where it seems that anything is possible. It’s this wonderful happening, a place you want to be a part of, a place that just by chance is one of the best wine shops in our area. Jonathan Parker is the ring leader of this bohemian circus – where there is an enormous collection of vinyl records to play, a community center/hub for civic discussion to take place; [it] is part architectural salvage emporium, part toy factory – where he makes Ferris wheels out of coffee cans and architectural-scale models out of wine boxes and has thoughtful, wooden toys strewn all around for kids. This is the sort of thing that cannot be experienced on the Internet or with your phone in your hand. This is one of those places that you can actually interact with people and share an experience.” – M.M.