Esker Grove chef Doug Flicker
Chef Doug Flicker
In national categories, for best new restaurant in the whole country, Esker Grove at the Walker Art Center was nominated! That's by local legend Doug Flicker, and it's a gem—look for a review in the March issue of Mpls.St.Paul, but till then: The James Beard gurus definitely got this one right.
Michelle Gayer at The Salty Tart was nominated as one of the best bakers in the country—she is a national treasure and you should go buy a crackeroon in celebration. If you've never had one of her signature crackeroons, I envy you, this is the coconut macaroon all others on this planet should be judged by. Marvel Bar was nominated for one of the best bars in the country—congrats, barkeeps! Way to keep up the standard. Diane Yang, pastry guru at Spoon and Stable, is nominated for best pastry chef in the country—congrats! Swing by at brunch to see her really shine.
Alex Roberts, of newly re-opened Alma, which I just gave a glowing review to, is up for best darn chef in the whole entire country—that is as big a deal as it gets. Congrats, chef! If I'm not mistaken, no Minnesota-based chef has ever been nominated for this, the big kahuna of all cooking awards, and it's great to see Roberts' terrific efforts recognized.
For Best Chef Midwest, Minneapolis and St. Paul are dominating the category. Big ups to Thomas Boemer, of Corner Table and Revival; Mike Brown, Bob Gerken, and James Winberg, of Pig Ate My Pizza and Travail; Steven Brown of Tilia and St. Genevieve (my 2016 restaurant of the year); Lisa Carlson of Chef Shack, Chef Shack Ranch, and the trucks; Jim Christiansen, of Heyday; Jorge Guzman of Brewer’s Table at Surly Brewing Co.,; Erick Harcey of Upton 43 and Victory 44; and our pizza wizard Ann Kim of Pizzeria Lola, Hello Pizza, and the new buzzy Young Joni. You are all stars! I insist each and every one of you go out and celebrate tonight.
Now, my worries, because I'm a worrier: Do we have too many Minneapolis and St. Paul chefs in the mix? Kevin Willmann of Farmhaus in St. Louis is a cinch to make it to the final round, it's a crime he hasn't yet won, and Justin Carlisle of Milwaukee is another heavy favorite to win, especially because the large city of Milwaukee doesn't have as many ways to split the vote as we will. The short list of final nominations will drop on March 15, so we'll know then.
But, what does this mean for you, the common eater? Go out now and celebrate your favorite restaurants friends—they're winners, and deserve ever drop of adulation. Congrats to all!