Pasteria, Sardella Exec. Chef Ashley Shelton Wins National Honors
St. Louis, MO/September 19, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) – One of the best young, innovative chefs in America is St. Louis’ Ashley Shelton. That’s according to New York-based restaurant review site Zagat.com. The Zagat editors have been doling out restaurant evaluations since they began publishing a restaurant guide in 1979. For the last six years, Zagat’s 30 Under 30 has honored hundreds of exceptional, young hospitality professionals in major markets all over the country. St. Louis is not one of the cities featured in their regularly published 30 Under 30 lists. According to Zagat’s editors, this first-time national list represents “some of the best, brightest, and most badass hospitality players from coast to coast.” It also gives the publication the opportunity to shine the spotlight on some of the nation’s better young chefs who are working outside of the 15 culinary cities generally featured by Zagat.
At just 28, Shelton is Executive Chef of Gerard Craft’s two adjacent restaurants, Sardella and Pastaria (both at 7734 Forsyth in Clayton). In fact, Shelton met Craft in Florence, Italy while working on her masters in Italian cuisine. At that time, she interviewed for a position at his upcoming Pasteria, and won the post. Since working her way up to Executive Chef at Pasteria, Shelton has earned other national accolades, including being named a James Beard Foundation semifinalist earlier this year for “Rising Star Chef of the Year.” In 2016, she was one of 19 chefs named to Eater’s “Young Guns” list, which spotlights young professionals who are considered “extraordinarily talented restaurant industry trailblazers.” Since then, Shelton has also been named Executive Chef of Craft’s Sardella, which he opened last year in the footprint of his flagship restaurant Niche.
Shelton was the only chef, and one of only two hospitality nominees from Missouri to make Zagat’s semi-final list of 60. (The other was Andrew Olsen, the 29-year old bar manager from Bluestem in Kansas City.) Both Shelton and Olsen were among the 45 finalists in June, but only Shelton went on to make the 30 Under 30 list. Of the honorees, Zagat editors write, “These gastronomic game changers are redefining the way we eat, drink and interact with food and beverages across the U.S.”
One of the most striking things about Shelton is her infectious enthusiasm for preparing amazing food. In her profile by Zagat, Shelton says cooking was a way to stay close to her mother, whom she lost at age 14. The philosophy she’s developed since beginning her culinary career (at Annie Gunn’s) at the age of 17, that an upbeat attitude and a happy culinary team make better food, has served her and St. Louis area diners well. This latest feather in Shelton’s cap will no doubt be one in a continuing series of honors for this happy chef.