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Steven Brown, Demi, and Jamie Malone among 2020 James Beard Award finalists

During its ceremony on Tuesday, the James Beard Foundation acknowledged it is possible for nominees like Demi (pictured) to receive recognition and potentially win… without being open.

During its ceremony on Tuesday, the James Beard Foundation acknowledged it is possible for nominees like Demi (pictured) to receive recognition and potentially win… without being open. Star Tribune

The 2020 James Beard Foundation award semifinalists were announced way back in the Beforetimes. 

Lest you’ve forgotten, the Twin Cities got a lot of attention.

Demi was up for Best New Restaurant, as was Alma for Outstanding Restaurant. The foundation continued to consider Hyacinth's Rikki Giambruno a potential Rising Star Chef of the Year (note: He was nominated in this same category last year). Colita was in the running for Outstanding Bar Program, and Spoon and Stable’s Diane Moua and Gavin Kaysen garnered attention for their pastry and cheffing skills (respectively). 

Five Twin Cities chefs were also in the running for Best Chef (Midwest): Hai Truong of Ngon Vietnamese Bistro in St. Paul; Tilia’s Steven Brown; Daniel del Prado at Martina in Linden Hills; Jamie Malone’s Grand Café made another appearance, as did Christina Nguyen of northeast’s Hai Hai.

Much in the world – and the restaurant industry in particular – has changed since those nods, though, including the postponement of the awards themselves. 

The Foundation was quick to acknowledge the difference in circumstance surrounding this year’s nominees than that of their predecessors. “It was clear that those whose work in 2019 led them to be selected as a semifinalist—and perhaps ultimately a nominee or a winner—deserved the recognition they earned,” they said. 

“Some of the restaurants announced today are temporarily closed. Some are operating in another form, such as take-out only or meal relief operations. And some have already announced that they will permanently close.”

“Today we acknowledge the accomplishments of all of the people behind these restaurants, and the need for us all to fight for this industry that employs 16 million people and is a vital part of American culture,” they tweeted this afternoon, before diving into announcing this year’s nominees via a socially distant Twitter livestream.

These stars of our local food world were blessed with nominations in the following categories:

  • Best Chef (Midwest): Steven Brown of Tilia; Jamie Malone of Grand Café; Christina Nguyen of Hai Hai
  • Outstanding Pastry Chef: Diane Moua of Spoon and Stable
  • Best New Restaurant: Demi
  • Jonathan Gold Local Voice Award: Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl (“In Search of Hot Beef”; “Chef Jack Riebel Is in the Fight of His Life”; “Harry Singh on the Perfect Roti, Trinidad, and Life in the Kitchen”)

Take a gander at the full list of this year’s nominees here.

Hang in there until James Beard’s 2020 media awards are announced in the press on May 27, with restaurant winners following on September 25 in Chicago. To tide you over until then, why not peruse a full breakdown of 2019’s restaurant, chef and media award winners, eh?