Here’s who made it to the final round—none of our bakers/pastry chefs (oof, they were robbed, memo to New York: you need to fly here and eat bread)—but proceeding to the final round of Best Chef Midwest with a chance of victory are two of our own, namely Paul Berglund of Bachelor Farmer, and Lenny Russo of Heartland. They are up against some very, very stiff competition: Kevin Willmann and Kevin Nashan both of St. Louis, and Justin Carlisle of Milwaukee.
My hot take now? It’s probably between Kevin Willmann and Lenny Russo – though if both Minneapolis/St.Paul and St. Louis judges split their votes between their hometown sons, Justin Carlisle could walk away with it. In any event, these are all great chefs and a great honor—congrats to you all. And go get some dinner at Heartland and The Bachelor Farmer, why don’t you!
There were three other finalists from Minnesota, in broadcast and journalism. Mpls.St.Paul Magazine’s favorite son Andrew Zimmern, up for both best food personality and best blog, AndrewZimmern.com. Feel like celebrating AZ’s great Twin Cities history? Why not check out his Bizarre Twin Cities, a still-useful tome.
Minnesota’s own ever-charming, ever-dapper Raghavan Iyer has blazed a trail through North America as one of our greatest communicators about the joys of Indian food—we love his cookbooks, and are blessed locally to be able to take his classes, how wonderful that he was nominated for his video webcast on how to cook Indian.
Also, guess what, I am nominated. Me! For the Craig Claiborne Distinguished Restaurant Review Award for last year's reviews of Spoon & Stable, Revival, and Il Foro. Now, let me ask you, have you ever thought about what terrific journalism, and what distinguished restaurant reviews we publish at Mpls.St.Paul? They are seriously distinguished, folks—and if you subscribe you can get them in print way before anyone on the internet sees them. With beautiful pictures!
Of course I don’t produce these alone: Lots of thanks to my comrade in arms in restaurant criticism, the beautiful, far-seeing, and fun Stephanie March; to our fearless leader and insightful creative director Jayne Haugen Olson; and to my editors Kelly Kegans and Chris Clayton for giving me the time, space, support, and resources to produce such distinguished criticism as is a national finalist. Yay!!
Finalists for the media awards will be announced April 26, with the restaurant awards announced on May 2. Good luck everyone!