Chef Tim McKee is having a good year. The founder of La Belle Vie and head of Sea Change has his presence liberally sprinkled, like fresh pepper on a creamy bed of pale polenta, all over the James Beard semifinalist long list. McKee himself was nominated as one of the best chefs in the whole darn nation, alongside big shots such as David Chang and Paul Kahan, and McKee’s second-in-commands scored nominations in both the Best Chef Midwest category, which Mike DeCamp got for his work running the day to day at La Belle Vie, and at Sea Change, for which Jamie Malone snagged a nod as a rising star. Sameh Wadi, who got his start in McKee’s kitchen at Solera, is also on the long list for Best Chef Midwest. And if we want to get all Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon on this thing, Jack Riebel, now nominated for Best Chef Midwest at Butcher & The Boar, ran La Belle Vie for a while. La Belle Vie is certainly our local standard bearer for fine cooking—so raise a glass! Perhaps even in person? They’re currently selling tickets for their 15th Anniversary party on Sunday, March 24 for which they’ll be shutting down the restaurant for the night, setting up a caviar bar, a Champagne bar, and, generally, putting on the Ritz. “We’re going to have a passed small plate reception, lobster and truffles and foie gras and all the fun things we’ve had the opportunity to play with over the years, and a whole bunch of alumni chefs who have gone on to make their own mark,” McKee told me. Chefs including Jack Riebel, Tyge Nelson (formerly of the Inn, now at Chino Latino), Jim Christiansen (now of white-hot Union), Sean Smalley (of Smalley’s in Stillwater), Matthew Bickford (Icehouse and Be’Wiched), Michelle Gayer (now of Salty Tart), Sean Q. Meyer, of Napa Valley’s Destination Cellars, and others. “I feel lucky,” McKee said. “A lot of restaurants never get the chance to be 15. Even though we’re going to lose a lot of money on this thing, it’s a party worth having.” If it’s a party worth going to for you, tickets for the March 24 event are $150, and are inclusive of everything (wine, caviar, tip) and available only by calling the restaurant directly, at 612-874-6440. And congratulations everyone!