No other local food personality — critic, chef, or otherwise — enjoyed the same curve in her career trajectory as Amy Thielen did in 2013. After a decade of paying her dues in the kitchens of venerable Manhattan restaurants and developing recipes for national magazines, Thielen decided to relocate somewhere a little closer to her roots in small-town northern Minnesota. She collected a James Beard Award for her writing in the Star Tribune in 2012 and went on to write and release her first full cookbook, The New Midwestern Table. The book eventually spun into her own Food Network show, Heartland Table, which we can all thank for changing the national perception of our home state as a hot dish wasteland. Both as a writer and presenter, Thielen has a style that is affable without being corny, familiar but fresh, and her food absolutely speaks for itself. Her pot roast with pistachio salt has made it into the cold-weather supper rotation in homes across the country and the lemon-vodka cream she recommends as a dressing for young green beans will compel even the most gardening-averse home cook to try a hand at growing their own.