from left: shaun martin, sous chef; ashley rouch, general manager; nick bognar, chef and owner and ann bognar photo by izaiah johnson

James Beard Foundation names St. Louis-area restaurateurs and chefs among 2024 semifinalists

Several St. Louis-based chefs, restaurateurs and restaurants were named this morning as semifinalists for the James Beard Foundation’s annual Restaurant and Chef Awards.

Mainlander and Sado were nominated in the Best New Restaurant category. Mainlander, the Modern American supper club co-owned by chef Blake Askew and maître d’ Gordon Chen, has received acclaim locally for its rotating prix fixe menus that draw inspiration from retro dinner party fare and Chen’s Taiwanese heritage alike. Sado chef-owner Nick Bognar is no stranger to James Beard nominations: Bognar was a semifinalist in 2023 in the Best Chef, Midwest, category and received Rising Star Chef of the Year semifinalist nominations in 2019 and 2020. His first restaurant, Indo, was a Best New Restaurant semifinalist in 2020.

Sado was Sauce’s No. 3 Best New Restaurant of 2023, behind Wright’s Tavern and Bagel Union. Michelle Volansky said Sado, “Feels more like a chapter in an unwinding tale rather than a standalone story. It doesn’t quite feel like the peak of what Nick Bognar has to offer as a restaurateur – and that’s the most exciting part."

Michael and Tara Gallina and Aaron Martinez of Take Root Hospitality received a nomination in the Outstanding Restaurateur category for the second year running. Take Root ended 2023 with the announcement that Taqueria Morita will establish a permanent location nearby the group’s flagship restaurant, Vicia.

There were also repeat nominations for Simone Faure’s La Patisserie Chouquette, in the Outstanding Bakery category, for Scratch Brewing as Outstanding Bar, and for Rob Connoley of Bulrush and Loryn Nalic of Balkan Treat Box and Telva at the Ridge as Best Chef, Midwest. Also nominated in the Best Chef, Midwest, category, is Philip Day of Root Food + Wine. The Augusta restaurant was Sauce’s Best New Restaurant of 2021, with staff writer Adam Rothbarth describing it as, “The most exciting kind of restaurant, one that’s always searching and changing, always trying to keep up with the environment around it.”

"We are thrilled for the return of the James Beard Awards – recognizing the outstandingly talented leaders making their mark on American food,” a statement from James Beard Foundation CEO Clare Reichenbach said. “As we’ve heard time and again from honorees, receiving this recognition has the potential to be truly transformative – and so, the Awards remain a vital platform for supporting and elevating the independent restaurant industry as a whole.”

Shortlists for the final round in each category will be announced on April 3, with the awards being handed out at a ceremony in Chicago on June 10.