Best Local Chef - 2003
It's only fitting that Steve Gontram earn accolades with the word "local" in them. First, he's a native St. Louisan who trained at the California Culinary Academy and worked at Wolfgang Puck's Bay Area restaurant, Postrio. Second, when he returned home to launch Harvest in 1996, Gontram built the entire restaurant's concept around the use of locally grown and produced ingredients. Hence: Illinois horseradish mashed potatoes, Ozark Forest mushroom reduction and sweet and sour Ste. Genevieve eggplant -- just a few of the countless examples from Gontram's daily-changing menu. Third, whereas famous chefs have cooking shows to tape, cookbooks to write, mass-marketed condiment lines to supervise and, almost always, more than one restaurant to oversee, a best local chef like Gontram stays so focused on making just one great restaurant that he actually doesn't serve lunch so as to give patrons the best at dinner. It's Gontram's Harvest, but for seven years now we've been the ones reaping what he's sown.