Ones to Watch 2019 // Suji Grant of Niche Food Group

Title: Niche Food Group pastry chef
Age: 32
Why Watch Her: She has pastry down to a science. 

There were no limits in the Grant home. Growing up, Suji Grant ran ragged through the house. She was never reprimanded for using a pencil to sketch all over the walls. She made sailboats out of refrigerator boxes with her dad.

“I just aspire to be as cool as my dad one day,” she laughed. 

A self-employed artist, carpenter and all-around everyman, he’s the reason Grant jumps into learning new things – from studying biology and anatomy at San Francisco State University with the hopes of working in the field to running circles around the Italian restaurant scene in Manhattan, working dogged hours to deliver immaculate wedding cakes to Brooklyn socialites.

Her dad is also the reason Grant got into the food industry. “Every year we make a cake together to celebrate my birthday, and I just fell in love with it.”

Now she’s a pastry chef in the Niche Food Group commissary, where the Grant inventive spirit has made its mark in some unexpected ways – like the focaccia recipe at Sardella, much to Niche Food Group owner Gerard Craft’s amazement. “She didn’t just change it,” Craft said. “She brought in a brand-new recipe.”

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Executive pastry chef Sarah Osborne sees the same kind of innovation. “She made a cassata that we put on the menu – a Nutella, vanilla ice cream cake kind of thing that was over-the-top and really just delightful,” Osborne said. “She has an eye for precision, and she nails the small details every time.”

“I love problem-solving and efficiency, so when I see things that don’t gel, I just have to go for it,” Grant said. And while it’s that penchant for precision that makes her one to watch, we’re looking at the ways she wants to draw outside the lines in St. Louis. 

“I miss all the delivery options in New York, but I think an expansive freezer section would be cool, something that offers house-made pans of lasagna for takeaway,” she said. While she’s still troubleshooting her next leap into something new, we’ll be watching. 

Kevin Korinek is a longtime contributor to Sauce Magazine.