jr's gourmet chef-owner juwan rice photo by izaiah johnson

Ones to Watch 2021 // Juwan Rice

Juwan Rice: A Life in 9 Courses

*Menu subject to change at a moment’s notice due to global health, societal needs, climate, creativity, spontaneity and passion.

Hors d’oeuvres
Juwan Rice started making cookies and cupcakes for schoolmates and his mom’s coworkers, a project that turned into JR’s Gourmet, a catering business that he licensed at the age of 14.

Even as a teenage caterer, Rice already had business cards.

At Parkway North High School, he took every food-related course available before moving on to South Technical Institute for his junior and senior years so he could learn more about the food industry, cook in a commercial kitchen and receive mentoring from chefs around St. Louis.

First main
Fresh out of high school, Rice started at Bait (a Sauce Best New Restaurant in 2019). At Bait, he worked as pastry chef, but when the restaurant’s executive chef left, he stepped into the role of executive sous chef, manning the kitchen while also taking care of the restaurant’s food orders.

Palate Cleanser
When the pandemic started and Bait shut down during St. Louis’ stay-at-home orders, Juwan revisited his dormant JR’s Gourmet project, catering small events and private dinners.

Second main
As Covid concerns escalated, Rice launched Feeding the Frontline, a crowd-funded service project that enabled him to help feed the brave and exhausted frontline workers of St. Louis. With help from his mom and his church’s kitchen, he fed more than 2,000 health care workers hearty, healthy and home-cooked meals throughout spring and summer 2020.

Cheese course
In October 2020, he participated in chef Nico Shumpert’s Taste Buds dinner series as he transitioned back into curating intimate, Covid-friendly, fine-dining experiences with JR’s Gourmet.

Assorted desserts (coming in 2021)
Rice has plans to purchase a 6,000-square-foot property in Tower Grove South that will involve commercial kitchen space for rent plus studio space for photographers. He also wants to buy a food truck to have available for rent so chefs can do mobile pop-ups, something he sees as the pivot entrepreneurial chefs need right now.

He’s turning 20 in August. Seriously.

Tags : People