The James Beard award semifinalist list was announced today, and on the list were some familiar names. The awards were established in 1990 and named for chef, food writer, and celebrated lover of life, James Beard. The awards are the highest honor available to food professionals. Part of why the awards are so prestigious is that they're decided by vote from over 600 culinary professionals.
The Twin Cities are home to a handful of past winners. Each year we seem to pick up a little more notice nationally. This year, we're represented by some fabulous culinary professionals.
And the nominees are ...
For New Restaurant, the Bachelor Farmer, Eric and Andrew Dayton's phenom was recognized. As was the Catbird Seat, which may not be local but is run by Erik Anderson, formerly of Sea Change.
La Belle Vie was recognized for Outstanding Bar Program. The drinks are overseen by Johnny Michaels.
The only nominee from our area that might be used to being nominated, again and again, is Tim McKee as Outstanding Chef. He's earned it, from his work at La Belle Vie to the consulting, menu whisperer-type work, he shows time and again that he knows what people want to eat. His mentoring style of running his kitchens has encouraged many of the chefs we so admire in this city.
Another nominee who has been on the list before is Outstanding Pastry Chef, Michelle Gayer of the Salty Tart. When we contacted her to share our congratulations on the nomination, her response was, "What? Really?" (If you'd like to congratulate her in person, we heard there are
Beard Award-winning chef Alex Roberts's original restaurant, Restaurant Alma (he also runs Brasa in Minneapolis and St. Paul), was nominated for Outstanding Restaurant.
Richard and Larry D'Amico and the D'Amico & Partners were nominated for Outstanding Restaurateur(s).
Manny's Steakhouse was nominated for Outstanding Service.
Sameh Wadi of Saffron and his summer job rolling out the World Street Kitchen truck was recognized as Rising Star Chef.
Our best showing in any category is the Best Chef of the Midwest category, where Steven Brown of Tilia, Doug Flicker of Piccolo, and Stewart Woodman of Heidi's all of Minneapolis were all nominated. Mike Brown and James Winberg of Travail Kitchen and Amusements in Robbinsdale were also recognized. In Saint Paul, Russel Klein of Meritage and Lenny Russo of Heartland were nominated.