MN Chefs Make Short List For James Beard Awards

Among the locals who were named finalists for the James Beard Awards are Paul Berglund of the Bachelor Farmer, Michelle Gayer of Salty Tart, and Lenny Russo of St. Paul’s Heartland Restaurant and Farm Direct Market.

Minnesota’s culinary scene is once again well-represented on this year’s short list of finalists for the James Beard Awards, a prestigious program often likened to the Oscars of the food industry.

The full list of finalists was released Tuesday. It includes several Minnesota restaurants and chefs.

Local nominees for the “Best Chef: Midwest” category include Paul Berglund of the Bachelor Farmer, a restaurant in Minneapolis’ North Loop neighborhood; Michelle Gayer of Salty Tart, a bakery housed in Minneapolis’ Midtown Global Market; and Lenny Russo of St. Paul’s Heartland Restaurant and Farm Direct Market.

In addition to Minnesota, chefs from Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas are eligible for the “Best Chef: Midwest” category. In all, six finalists were named in that category—meaning half of the contenders hail from Minnesota.

Meanwhile, Minnesota native Amy Thielen was nominated in two categories. Her cookbook, The New Midwestern Table, is up for an award, and so is her Food Network cooking show, Heartland Table.

A locally produced program called The Perennial Plate is vying for an award in the “Video Webcast, On Location” category, and The Splendid Table was nominated in the “Radio Show and Audio Broadcast” category.

The official James Beard Awards ceremony will be held May 5 at the Lincoln Center in New York. Several Minnesota restaurants and chefs that had previously been named semifinalists did not make the cut when the short list was released Tuesday.

Last year, several locals ended up winning awards in media and specialty categories, although neither of the two Minnesota finalists for Best Chef: Midwest took home an award.

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