Local chefs celebrate their James Beard Award nominations

Amy Thielen, recipient of two James Beard Award nominations

Amy Thielen, recipient of two James Beard Award nominations

On Tuesday the news broke that several local chefs were nominated for James Beard Awards. We reached out to everyone to see what exactly one does to toast this honorable recognition. The most common answer? Working. Typical. Here's what they had to say.

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Amy Thielen was still feeling a little overwhelmed by all the well wishers when we spoke with her. Both her cookbook and her television show received nominations. She was at home and made the call to unplug and take some time with her family. "[I'm going to] clean the house and cook a huge dinner," she said.

Daniel Klein
and Mirra Fine are often so busy globe-trotting for their stunning web series The Perennial Plate that we barely even know what time zone they're in. The newlyweds began with a year of Minnesota local eating (with recipes from Chef Klein interspersed) and are now on a world-wide hunt for stories of sustainable eating. Watching their videos, you'll likely find yourself reaching for your passport. Just take a gander at this video they did for their partner, Intrepid Travel's 25th anniversary.

On the day that they received word of their nomination Klein told us that they weren't taking much of a break. "We have our heads down editing more episodes from our travels to Argentina, South Africa, and Ethiopia -- but with a smile!"

Last year, when Salty Tart's Michelle Gayer learned she had been included as an Outstanding Chef Midwest nominee, she happened to be filming a segment at her friend and fellow pastry chef, Zoe Francois's house. Despite a relatively early hour, the two got into the bubbles and toasted Gayer's success (her super suave boyfriend had sent over a congratulatory bottle of Dom). This year was a bit more mild. It was Gayer's day off, so she celebrated by doing a little shopping and then getting right back into the kitchen.

Chef Lenny Russo has been on the semi-finalist list for the James Beard Awards six times now, and this is his fourth nomination. The local food force-for-good didn't have much time to stop and savor the news. "I went straight into a meeting Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and Chef Andrew Zimmern," he said. "We are working together on bringing Minnesota food to the Milan World Expo 2015 next year. We drank non-alcoholic sparkling apple cider and ate some charcuterie and cheese. That's about it. I am on my way now to shoot a promotional video for the City of Saint Paul. I am a little too busy to celebrate."

Paul Berglund of the Bachelor Farmer was just as busy, but a touch more romantic. He's funneling most of his energy right now into the upcoming James Beard Foundation dinner that he's cooking in New York City. "I gave my wife a big hug and a kiss, and then got back to work."

Congratulations to all the nominees. You have our appreciation for your tireless work and for making our dining scene all the more delicious.

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