Pastaria executive chef Ashley Shelton will head to Annie Gunn’s

Pastaria executive chef Ashley Shelton will make the move to Annie Gunn’s on April 2.  She’ll assume the role of chef de cuisine under Annie Gunn’s executive chef Lou Rook III, as reported by the Post-Dispatch. Shelton has been Pastaria’s executive chef for the last four years, as well as Sardella executive chef from April 2017 to October 2018.

Shelton has never been far from Annie Gunn’s, even when she was named a James Beard semifinalist for Rising Star Chef of the Year for her work at Pastaria in 2017 and Best Chef: Midwest for her work at Sardella in 2018. In addition to working at Annie Gunn’s before Niche Food Group, she said she’s remained in touch with them over the years.

“They did approach me about [a job] a while back, and we started talking about it,” she said. “Eventually it morphed into something that I was really excited to do.”

Read More // Ones to Watch 2016: Ashley Shelton at Pastaria

The gravity of a move from Italian to American traditional fare is not lost on Shelton, who wants to keep the essence of Chesterfield’s long-established restaurant intact.

“I know what Annie Gunn’s is at its heart, in its core,” she said. “I don’t think their menu needs to be changed, but it’s time to evolve, like every restaurant does.”

Shelton said she hasn’t worked with the Annie Gunn’s team on developing new dishes yet, but she does anticipate adding new pasta offerings.

Niche Food Group owner Gerard Craft was not immediately available for comment. 

Adam Rothbarth is a staff writer at Sauce Magazine.