Best Chef

John Perkins

Staff Pick

When the full extent of what the COVID-19 pandemic was going to do to the St. Louis restaurant community became apparent mid-March, many stepped up to help lead their distraught industry colleagues. Gerard Craft got a crash course in legislative politics, advocating at the national level for the C.A.R.E.S. Act and Paycheck Protection Program. Jason and Adam Tilford led the fight to change Missouri law to allow for to-go cocktails. Michael and Tara Gallina are currently lending their voice to pressure lawmakers to pass a restaurant relief act, and numerous others have simply been bringers of hope with their steady leadership and the way they’ve been taking care of their employees. From this group, Juniper’s John Perkins has emerged as an unofficial shepherd, guiding the city’s hospitality community through the storm with a steady hand, unbreakable wit (his regular emails about Juniper’s specials will always put a smile on your face), honesty about not having all the answers and willingness to change course when he feels like the situation necessitates it. The founder of Meals for Meds, a program that provided meals to frontline workers by numerous local restaurants, Perkins has been a beacon of light throughout these fraught times and a source of strength that cannot be overstated. — Cheryl Baehr

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