by Ian Froeb
Gerard Craft of Niche (1831 Sidney Street; 314-773-7755) is one of five finalists for the 2012 James Beard Foundation Awards in the category "Best Chef: Midwest." This is the third time that Craft has been a finalist for the award, following nominations in 2009 and 2010.
Craft was in a meeting when he heard the news: "It was exciting," he tells Gut Check.
The Beard nomination follows last week's news that Niche is one of the 100 top U.S. restaurants, according to a survey from the website Opinionated About Dining.
"It's all awesome to hear," Craft says of the accolades. "I think our team has been working so hard the past year. I think we've all been trying to push ourselves. We don't need the awards, but it's a nice pat on the back."
Craft's fellow finalists are Justin Aprahamian of Sanford in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Colby Garrelts of Bluestem in Kansas City, Missouri; Tory Miller of L'Etoile in Madison, Wisconsin; and Lenny Russo of Heartland in St. Paul, Minnesota.
The winner will be announced at the awards gala in New York City on Monday, May 7.
In addition, Salt was a semifinalist for the "Best New Restaurant" category but didn't make the cut to five finalists.
Related: Survey Ranks Niche Among Top 100 Restaurants in U.S. (March 15, 2012) Gerard Craft of NBC's Today Show: Video (February 27, 2012)\ Niche, Pastaria by Niche Headed to Clayton (January 6, 2012)
This post was updated from its original version to include comment from Gerard Craft.