The 2014 James Beard Foundation Award semifinalist nominations came out this week, and although several St. Louis chefs are on the list, Quincy Street Bistro's Rick Lewis is the only one up for Rising Star against chefs from all over the country.
We called up Lewis who graciously talked to us during a busy lunch service. "I'm just trying to put out a good product for families and I don't know -- I guess people are starting to appreciate that or something!" Lewis laughs.
Lewis took the reins at Quincy Street Bistro about two years ago after Josh Galliano's Monarch closed. His future in-laws opened the restaurant with a partner, but it "didn't pan out," so Lewis came and introduced the locally sourced, from-scratch cooking that is so important to him.
He says he's really surprised by the nomination, but very honored. His phone's been blowing up with well-wishers since the nominations were announced, including his mentor, Galliano. "He didn't say congrats, he said, 'Holy shit!'" Lewis says.
"Everybody's hootin' and hollering and congratulating each other because there's a lot of guys nominated from St. Louis, which is totally awesome," he says, including his friend Kevin Nashan of Sidney Street Cafe.
The Rising Star award goes to a chef 30 or younger who "displays an impressive talent and who is likely to have a significant impact on the industry in years to come." This year's semifinalists include chefs from New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Denver and more.
"I'm still kind of shocked. It's just crazy to me because a lot of those places are nicer, fine dining restaurants," Lewis says, "and we're just a blue collar neighborhood joint that's just trying to put out good food. It's very cool."