Last week the James Beard Foundation (JBF) announced its list of semifinalists for the chefs and restaurants portion of the awards from which the final nominees will be announced on March 18, 2013. Winners will be selected in New York City the first weekend in May at the annual spring awards gala.
I will be there with bells on. No single organization that I can think of has done as much to promote and honor food, farms, chefs, winemakers, bakers, restaurants, pastry chefs, designers, etc., as the James Beard Foundation. Awards are hard, discerning winners is easier than narrowing semifinalists down from the thousands of culinarians worthy of consideration. Anyone who thinks this is a popularity contest is ignorant of the massive amount of work that goes on year-round to determine the lists. No one gets it right all the time in terms of nominees, there are way too many deserving of listing, but at end of process, the winners chosen in NYC are the best and brightest in our industry.
This year Minnesota is represented in nine categories. Our chefs from eight restaurants are nominated for Best Chef: Midwest, one of the 10 regions the JBF divides our food-nation into. The Midwest region includes Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri.
Semifinalists in Best Chef: Midwest include:
Mike Brown, Bob Gerken and James Winberg of Travail Kitchen and Amusements in Robbinsdale
Steven Brown of Tilia in Minneapolis
Mike DeCamp of La Belle Vie in Minneapolis
Doug Flicker of Piccolo in Minneapolis
Michelle Gayer of the Salty Tart in Minneapolis
Jack Riebel of Butcher and the Boar in Minneapolis
Lenny Russo of Heartland Restaurant & Farm Direct Market in St. Paul
Sameh Wadi of Saffron Restaurant & Lounge in Minneapolis
Isaac Becker (112 Eatery), Alex Roberts (Restaurant Alma), and Tim McKee (La Belle Vie) have all won the award over the last six years. Russo is fast becoming our state’s Susan Lucci—he was a nominee in 2010, 2011, and 2012. Michelle Gayer was nominated for the Outstanding Pastry Chef category in 2002 for her work at Charlie Trotter’s and again in 2010 for her work here in Minnesota.
Lucia’s was nominated for Outstanding Restaurant, Tim McKee of La Belle Vie in Minneapolis was nominated as Outstanding Chef. Steve Horton of Rustica in Minneapolis was given a nod for Outstanding Pastry Chef. In the Rising Star Chef of the Year category, Jamie Malone of Sea Change was recognized. Sapor Café and Bar got a nod for Outstanding Service. The Outstanding Bar Program nominee list includes Marvel Bar in Minneapolis. Kim Bartmann of Bryant-Lake Bowl, Barbette, Red Stag Supperclub, Pat’s Tap, and Bread & Pickle, received a nomination in the Outstanding Restaurateur category, and Eric Seed of Haus Alpenz in Edina got a nomination for Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional.
Kramarczuk’s in Northeast Minneapolis will receive a coveted American Classics award at the annual gala. Congrats to them.