Jennifer Prost Gierhart
Location: St. Louis, MO
Jennifer Prost Gierhart has paired together two of her distinctively different passions — food and business.
“Love what you do, and it won’t feel like work,” said Gierhart, president and owner, LaChef, a cutting-edge, high quality catering company based in St. Louis.
Since the age of 5, Gierhart knew she wanted to work in the food industry. Watching and studying Julia Childs, Gierhart began whipping up her first of many concoctions. Eventually, she attended and graduated from Missouri State University with a degree in Hospitality Restaurant Management and a minor in Dietetics. Gierhart was on her way to pursuing her dream: to own a catering company.
Working her way through numerous roles in the food and catering industry, she started Hart Catering Company and purchased LaChef Catering and merged the two, known today as Hart Catering d/b/a LaChef. She kept all of LaChef ’s employees in addition to her Hart employees.
“Keep your good staff and know when to weed out the weak ones,” Gierhart said. “Trust your instincts and don’t second guess because they are usually right 99% of the time.”
Since starting her company in 2016, Gierhart has gained respect by both her employees and customers as a leader in the community.
“At the beginning of 2018, business was booming with weddings, graduations, anniversaries, holiday parties and corporate events booked for 2018 and 2019,” she said. “Then in the matter of one day in 2020, all events were canceled or put on hold due to Covid-19 mandates.”
In lieu of closing her doors or laying off employees, Gierhart stepped up to help the community by catering box lunches to hospitals and other front-line workers. She was able to accomplish this impressive feat by reaching out to the public, through interviews with the media and social media posts, stating any money donated would go directly to the costs to purchase the food and keep her workers employed. Gierhart raised over $20,000 in donations, yet LaChef did not profit nor did she earn a paycheck during this time.
In addition to her philanthropy, Gierhart has been acknowledged for many awards including: St. Louis Magazine A List Awards for Best Caterer 2017 and 2018, and ranked top 20 St. Louis Caters in St. Louis Business Journal for 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Her passions at such a young age which she never gave up has helped her fulfill her dreams of not only being a business owner but creating a high-end and successful catering company.
“Take every opportunity to make new connections, you never know when they will turn into great customers or employees. Our mission is to exceed the expectations of our clients in food, service and special event trends,” Gierhart said.
She added, “On behalf of everyone at LaChef, we look forward to serving you.”
Jennifer used to be a competitive dancer and was the captain of her dance team in high school for three years.