Savor For Students – Benefiting LFLA Students

CLICK HERE to purchase tickets

Join us for the inaugural Savor for Students Grand Tasting, as we gather at The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis to meet and mingle with the city’s finest chefs — and raise much-needed funds for LIFT FOR LIFE ACADEMY. Attendees can engage and interact directly with the chefs as they delight in memorable tapas-style bites showcasing the best of the local restaurant scene. For those lucky foodies who attend, tastes will be highlighted by selections from Kevin Nashan, recently named best chef in the Midwest by the prestigious James Beard Foundation.

Savor for Students was conceptualized by Melissa Lee, Executive Assistant Manager – Culinary/Food & Beverage for The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis, and a supporter of LIFT FOR LIFE ACADEMY. Her invitation to the chefs was simple: “Please help us to make a difference in the lives of children in St. Louis. With your support, we can ignite the passion in these young hearts, and encourage and inspire them to pursue their dreams.”

Admission to this inaugural culinary event is priced at $99 per person and includes tastes, musical entertainment and a one-of-a-kind chance to mingle with great chefs and foodies from throughout the region. Beer, wines and spirits are also included in the ticket price.

We invite you to accompany us in this delicious and meaningful non-profit endeavor.



Kevin Nashan

Raised in Santa Fe, Kevin Nashan grew up in the family that owned La Tertulia, a beloved northern New Mexican restaurant founded by his Hispanic grandfather. After graduating from St. Louis University, he enrolled in New York’s Culinary Institute of America, which led to an internship at Commander’s Palace under Chef Jamie Shannon and, later, an immersion in French cuisine under the guidance of celebrated Chef Roland Liccioni at La Français in Chicago. In 1998, Kevin moved to Spain’s famed three-star restaurant, Martin Berasategui, returning to New York after a year to take a position at Daniel, working under the watchful eye of Chef Daniel Boulud. He later returned to his adopted hometown of St. Louis to purchase Sidney Street Café — named 2013 Restaurant of the Year by St. Louis magazine.

Kevin seamlessly incorporates his wide variety of culinary experiences, as well as his French training, New Mexico heritage and tenure in Spain, into his dishes. In 2014 he opened his second St. Louis restaurant, The Peacemaker. He won a James Beard Award for Best Chef: Midwest in 2017, after being a finalist in the category in 2014 and 2016 and a five-time semifinalist as well. He has cooked for President Barack Obama, won the 2013 Cochon 555 Barbecue competition in St. Louis. , and competed in Esquire Network’s show “Knife Fight” in 2014. When he’s not in the kitchen, you can find Kevin training for triathlons and ironman competitions (he’s done six!).

Nathaniel Reid

Nathaniel Reid is the owner and chef of Nathaniel Reid Bakery in St. Louis and also works as a consultant and educator for domestic and international brands. Nathaniel has held Pastry Chef positions for many luxury brands, including The Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis. In June 2012,Dessert Professional magazine recognized him as one of the Top 10 Pastry Chefs in America, and in 2010 he was selected as winner of the U.S. Pastry Competition and named Pastry Chef of the Year. In 2009 Nathaniel received the “Golden Scoop Award” for the best chocolate confection in America. A graduate of the Le Cordon Bleu, Paris with a Grand Diploma in Culinary and Pastry Arts, he specializes in contemporary bakery creations with a European flair.

Jesse Mendica

Jesse, a Webster Groves native, started in the business at 16 years old working at her hometown favorite, Two Nice Guys. She quickly realized that along with the fun and excitement of working in a kitchen came great reward and pride. The feeling never left her, and she strives to share her love of playing with food, laughing, and enjoying hard, dirty work with everyone who will listen. Prior to leading the kitchen at Olive + Oak, Jesse worked as Executive Sous Chef at the award-winning Annie Gunn’s restaurant, known for its rustic farm-to-table fare. Here she developed her own style, using the best possible ingredients to create approachable, tasty food for her guests. In 2007, Jesse joined her team from Annie Gunn’s to cook at the prestigious James Beard House, and, in 2012, she burst onto the scene as the only female competitor in the St. Louis Sous Chef Iron Chef Competition. Since opening Olive + Oak, she has been named to St. Louis magazine’s “Dream Team” and was a semi-finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef: Midwest award.

Simone Faure

New Orleans-born pastry chef and couture cake artist Simon Faure got her start at The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans and later became Executive Pastry Chef for The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis. Simone’s love of pastry, fashion and pop culture has shaped her distinct style and caught the attention of regional and national publications. She was named Top Pastry Professional by Martha Stewart Weddings and can be seen whipping up whimsical spring desserts on Food Network’s Spring Baking Championship, and on Cake Wars. Her signature Chocolate Heels, Handbag Cakes and flavorful French macarons can now be found at her award-winning bakery La Pâtisserie Chouquette, where she is Co-Owner and Pastry Chef. Simone’s work has been highlighted inAmerican Way magazine, The New York Times and The Washington Post, as well as Better Homes and Gardens andMartha Stewart Weddings.

Eric Heath

Eric Heath began his cooking career at the Desert Edge Brewery in Salt Lake City, applying for a bar-back position, and then accidentally ending up in the kitchen. After attending the Culinary Institute of America, he worked at some of the greatest restaurants Napa has to offer, including JoLe, Go Fish and Farmstead, learning from the famous Seamus Feely. He left Napa to take a Sous-Chef position at the Henry’s Fork Lodge, a premier fly fishing destination in Idaho, and in 2011 opened downtown Edwardsville’s Cleveland-Heath with Jennifer Cleveland. Eric applies his culinary talents in the kitchen as Chef and has been a multi-semi-finalist for the prestigious James Beard Foundation awards.

Jayshree Nathoo

Jayshree Nathoo is a renowned Indian event planner and culinarian who brings her talents to St. Louis for special dining events. Based at The Ritz-Carlton, Orlando, her work has dazzled at Indian weddings in Missouri, California, Florida, Colorado, Georgia, New York., Pennsylvania, Louisiana — and internationally as well. Jayshree has traveled extensively, has lived in both Europe and Africa, and has specialized knowledge of Indian and Pakistani cuisine – including delicacies from diverse regions within these countries. She participates in Florida’s Epcot Food and Wine Festival and Naples Food and Wine Annual Festival.

Kevin Willmann

Born into a farming family in Greenville, Illinois and trained in the culinary arts on the Florida Gulf Coast, Chef Kevin Willmann brings these experiences together at his beloved Farmhaus restaurant in St Louis – where menus take advantage of the local seasonal bounty while incorporating treats and treasures from the northern Gulf of Mexico. Chef Kevin and his wife Jessica lead their talented team to show patrons a relaxed neighborhood restaurant experience with exceptional culinary precision. Kevin was named one of Food & Wine Magazine’s “Best New Chefs” in 2011 and received nominations for “Best Chef Midwest” from the James Beard Foundation in 2016 and 2017. He also was featured in the 2016 title “Reel Masters –Chefs Casting About With Timing and Grace.”

Qui Tran

Qui Tran and his family left war-torn Vietnam in 1978. They immigrated to St. Louis in 1980, and five years later Qui’s mother opened the first Vietnamese restaurant in St. Louis. Qui grew up in the family business and has worked his way around the kitchen and the front of the house since he was 13 years old. Now, he is the face of successful Vietnamese restaurant, Mai Lee. He is also preparing to unveil a new dining establishment this summer. Called Nudo, the new restaurant will celebrate the joys of Pan-Asian cuisine.

Melissa Lee

Founder of Savor for Students, Melissa Lee serves as Executive Assistant Manager – Culinary / Food & Beverage for The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis. She grew up in southern Ireland, where her family owned and operated multiple Cantonese restaurants, and by the age of nine she worked side-by-side with her father, learning this cuisine. She chose to pursue a culinary career, joining Marriott International in Dearborn, Michigan in 2001, transitioning to a role as a cruise chef aboard the Queen Elizabeth 2, and then returning to the U.S. in 2004 as a banquet kitchen supervisor and trainer for The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City.

Melissa later joined The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island and The Ritz-Carlton, Orlando Grande Lakes, steadily increasing her responsibilities and winning numerous leadership and culinary awards along the way. In August 2012, she accepted the position of Executive Chef for The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis where her talent in the culinary arts continues to tantalize and inspire all individuals touched by her passion. The best dish Chef Melissa has ever made? “A childhood favorite: Cantonese style duck, and Napa cabbage, with a sweet soy glaze – trained by my Dad.”

Jeanine Edmonds-Mott

Jeanine Edmonds-Mott grew up in Pennsylvania reading cookbooks like novels. After pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and working in an office for several years, Jeanine returned to school, earning an Associate’s Degree in patisserie and baking from the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute in 2005. Her experience with The Ritz-Carlton has included positions at Maestro at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner, and at The Ritz-Carlton hotels in Philadelphia, South Beach and New Orleans, where she worked with St. Louis’ own Chef Simone Faure. In 2009, Jeanine arrived at The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis as Pastry Supervisor. In 2015, she was promoted to Pastry Chef. She currently leads a strong pastry team for the hotel and also has personally advanced to the level of desserts for The Grill and stunning showpieces for brunches and special events.


Ticket-holders are invited to spend the night at The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis and enjoy a relaxing and luxurious stay following the event. A special event room rate is offered at $199 USD plus tax, based on availability. To reserve, please call 800-960-7056. Room rate includes overnight parking on June 29.


Are there ID or minimum age requirements to enter the event?

No. However, you must be 21 or older with a valid ID to order alcoholic beverages.

What are my parking options for the event?

Complimentary self-parking is available in The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis parking garage.

What can I bring into the event?

No outside food and beverage is allowed.

How can I contact the organizer with any questions?

For additional information, please contact The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis at 314-719-1433.

What’s the refund policy?

Tickets are non-refundable as all proceeds go to support LIFT FOR LIFE ACADEMY.