Celebrity Chef Tour at Sidney Street Café on April 16



Kevin Nashan is excited.

OK, so, this probably won't surprise anyone who knows the owner and chef of Sidney Street Café (2000 Sidney Street; 314-771-5777). Better to say Kevin Nashan is really excited. Better yet to let him say it.

"I'm really excited about everything that's going on" in the St. Louis food scene, Nashan gushes when Gut Check reaches him this afternoon.

That of course includes Nashan himself, Gerard Craft of Niche, Josh Galliano of Monarch and Kevin Willmann of Farmhaus being named semifinalists for the James Beard Foundation's "Best Chef: Midwest" award.

Other reasons for Nashan's excitement? Well, Wes Johnson Salt is a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation's "Best New Restaurant" award. Oh, and both Craft and Johnson are appearing this week (today and Wednesday, respectively) on NBC's Today.

None of which is the reason why we gave him a ring today. No, we want to know about the dinner that Sidney Street will host on Monday, April 16, as part of the Celebrity Chef Tour, a series of events benefitting the James Beard Foundation

Do we even need to tell you that Nashan's excited about this, too?

"It's going to be awesome."

The dinner will bring together eleven highly regarded chefs: the four St. Louis "Best Chef: Midwest" finalists; Kelly English of Kelly English Steakhouse and Restaurant Iris in Memphis; charcuterie whiz Michael Sullivan of Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee; Martin Rios of Martin in Sante Fe; Debbie Gold of the American Restaurant in Kansas City; Alex Lee of the Glen Oaks Country Club in Long Island; John B. Shields, most recently of Town House in Chilhowie, Virginia; and Randy Lewis of the forthcoming Parish Eleven in San Francisco.

Nashan explains that while the exact menu is still being developed, the basic format is set: passed appetizers by English, Lewis and Sullivan, and then an eight-course meal featuring a course by each of the other eight chefs.

As you might expect, such a dinner doesn't come cheap. Tickets cost $190 each, but with eleven chefs, eight courses and passed appetizers, Nashan believes diners will get a lot of bang for their bucks.

"What you're getting, where the money goes, it's second to none," he says.

For tickets and more information about the dinner series, visit the Celebrity Chef Tour website.