Food & Wine Names Nick Bognar a 2020 Best New Chef

May 13, 2020 at 6:05 am
Indo's Nick Bognar is one of Food & Wine's 2020 Best New Chefs. - MONICA MILEUR
Indo's Nick Bognar is one of Food & Wine's 2020 Best New Chefs.

First came the James Beard Foundation Rising Star Chef nomination, followed by a nod from the organization for Best New Restaurant. Next came the news that GQ named Indo (1641 D Tower Grove Avenue, 314-899-9333) one of its Best New Restaurants of 2020. Global pandemic be damned, Nick Bognar was already having a banner year in terms of critical acclaim.

Now, Food & Wine has weighed in, naming Bognar a 2020 Best New Chef. Bognar shares the prestigious designation with just nine other chefs from around the country and joins an elite class in St. Louis which includes Gerard Craft, Michael Gallina and Kevin Willmann.

Food & Wine released the names on May 12 amid the continuing COVID-19 crisis plaguing the restaurant industry. Noting the trying times, the publication celebrated the class of 2020 as the leaders and innovators who the industry will look to help it rebuild and "thrive in new ways — through their cooking, their resolve, and their vision for what a more equitable future in restaurants might look like."

Bognar in particular is poised to represent the future of the industry. Having grown up in his mother's west St. Louis County restaurant, Nippon Tei, the chef used that upbringing as a jumping off point to pursue his own dreams. After leaving St. Louis, he honed his sushi chops at the acclaimed Uchiko in Austin, Texas, followed by a stint as a sushi chef at E+O Kitchen in Cincinnati, where he designed his first sushi program.

In 2018, Bognar came back to St. Louis to help his mom breathe new life into Nippon Tei. With his help, the twenty-year-old restaurant transformed into one of the city's must-visit establishments.

Last June, Bognar struck out on his own with Indo, the Botanical Heights restaurant that combines his passion and skill for sushi with his desire to celebrate his family's Thai heritage. Whether through his a la carte menu or chef's table omakase tasting experiences, Bognar takes his guests on a thrilling journey to the foods that have so far defined his life and young career.

Diners wishing to have the full Indo omakase experience may be out of luck, as its dining room remains closed because of the pandemic. However, there are still plenty of chances to experience Bognar's food. Currently, Indo is open for curbside pickup Thursday through Sunday from 3-8 p.m. Check out its Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as its website, for the latest information.

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