10 Questions for...Gerard Craft
Since opening Niche in 2005, Gerard Craft has been a poster boy for St. Louis's dining scene, earning a Food & Wine Best New Chef nod in 2008 and spawning a mini-empire that now includes Taste by Niche, Brasserie by Niche and Pastaria. Craft comes to Chicago tonight to prepare a collaborative dinner with (Michelin-starred chef) Andrew Zimmerman at Sepia, where the pair will alternate between courses. (One of Craft's: pork belly with preserved trout sauce, honey-radish purée and sorrel). He tells us more about that dinner (for which seats are still available—call 312-441-1920), Paul Kahan and (of course) hot dogs in the survey below.
Name Gerard Craft
Occupation Executive Chef and Owner of Niche, Taste by Niche, Brasserie by Niche and Pastaria
Welcome to Chicago! Why are you here?
I am in town to cook a modern Midwest dinner with Andrew Zimmerman. I think we both have a mutual respect for really celebrating the ingredients that are around us. Andrew and I worked together to develop the menu, and we will be alternating courses using the first of spring ingredients. Andrew is an amazing chef, and we are so excited for the opportunity to cook with him!
Did you have any fears/anxieties/nervousness about coming to Chicago? Explain.
Love and respect all of the chefs in Chicago so I am just hoping to do my city proud and show everyone what our city has to offer. We've established a pretty tight-knit community of chefs in St. Louis that are really pushing the dining scene forward and creating a cool collaborative culture, and I’m very proud to be a part of that. We come up to Chicago, though, a couple of times a year, and we always leave with new ideas.
True or false: You will be eating at Avec while in town.
Absolutely true! I always try and hit it right when they open.
The Chicago hot dog—yes or no?
What does Chicago have that your home city doesn't have?
Paul Kahan! That man is a genius!
What does your home city have that Chicago doesn't have?
The Cardinals! Sorry Guys!
Tell us an interesting story from your childhood.
When I was pretty little, I went to a marine biology camp in California. I was a pretty picky eater, but during a cooking class, we went to the beach and harvested kelp berries for muffins. It really opened my eyes.
Tell us a funny/interesting/frightening tale about your company.
There was one time while we were opening Pastaria when a cook starting making fun of another cook for the way he was chopping wood. He grabbed the hatchet and said, "This is how you do it," and put it straight into his own hand. He is lucky he still has it.
If I had just one more day in Chicago, I’d use it to...
...eat at way more places!