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Third time's the charm at the third annual Charlie Awards

Sameh Wadi of Saffron and WSK accepts the Charlie Award for Outstanding Chef
Sameh Wadi of Saffron and WSK accepts the Charlie Award for Outstanding Chef
Joy Summers

On Sunday, chefs, restaurateurs, and bartenders got dressed up in their finery to attend the Twin Cities' annual Charlie Awards -- a celebration of the best in the restaurant business.

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Diane Yang, Sameh Wadi celebrate their awards with friend Joy Altmann
Diane Yang, Sameh Wadi celebrate their awards with friend Joy Altmann
Joy Summers

The evening opened with music, and without much delay the awards were handed out. Last year's Outstanding Pastry Chef winner Michelle Gayer took to the stage to announce the recipient of this year's award. "Someone who really inspires me," said Gayer. "She's a mom, like me and... she makes me feel normal." It was an emotional moment as she announced Diane Yang of La Belle Vie.

La Belle Vie would soon have another representative take the stage, as the team was selected to receive the Outstanding Service award. Bill Summerville accepted the award as he was serenaded by "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" by Billy Joel.

Dan Oskey of The Strip Club Meat and Fish
Dan Oskey of The Strip Club Meat and Fish
Joy Summers

Next the award for Outstanding Bartender was announced, and Dan Oskey from the Strip Club Meat and Fish seemed flustered as he went to receive the award. He turned to friend Birk Stefan Grudem of Hola Arepa and said, "Is this why you got me here? I thought I was just getting free tickets. This is so crazy."

During the award interludes, there were swinging songs from Davina and the Vagabonds, and a cameo appearance from Garry Geiken, who played the "original foodie" in the one-man show I Love to Eat earlier this year. The masters of ceremony were radio personalities Brian "BT" Turner from KTWIN and Mark Wheat from the Current.

Travail's Bob Gerken adorns his cupcake with baubles
Travail's Bob Gerken adorns his cupcake with baubles
Joy Summers

As with every year, the show moved quickly and afterwards, winners and attendees gathered inside the IDS Crystal Court to celebrate. The line for the bar was predictably long, so attendees took to the many tables of customizable cupcakes.

Charlie Awards signature cocktail and potato salad
Charlie Awards signature cocktail and potato salad
Joy Summers

At the edge of the room, the culinary schools whipped up several dishes for attendees to sample as servers circulated with small bites of the signature potato salad from Charlie's Exceptionale (the restaurant for which the awards are named).

Birk Stefan Grudem and Christina Nguyen share a moment with Sameh Wadi
Birk Stefan Grudem and Christina Nguyen share a moment with Sameh Wadi
Joy Summers

As always, the folks from the industry enjoyed a rare night outside of their restaurants and enjoyed seeing each other and letting loose -- as evidenced by the photo above, in which the Outstanding Chef photo-bombed last year's Outstanding Food Truck Dish winners from Hola Arepa.

Congratulations to all the winners:

Lifetime Achievement: Lucia Watson of Lucia's
Outstanding Restaurant: Butcher and the Boar
Emerging Food Professional: Tyler Shipton of Borough
Outstanding Pastry Chef: Diane Yang of La Belle Vie
Outstanding Service: La Belle Vie
Outstanding Bartender: Dan Oskey of the Strip Club
Outstanding Restaurant Design: Burch
Community Hero: Tracy Singleton of Birchwood Cafe
Outstanding Neighbor: Birchwood Cafe
Outstanding Food Truck food item: Hot Indian for their Indo Frites
Outstanding Dish: Corner Table's crispy pork belly
Outstanding Local Craft Brew: Hop Dish IPA, Lift Bridge Brewing


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