Alex Roberts of Restaurant Alma in Minneapolis was named Best Chef: Midwest in the 2010 James Beard award competition on Monday evening.
Two of the other finalists in the competition -- Isaac Becker of 112 Eatery and Lenny Russo of Heartland -- were from Minnesota, as well.
The Oscars of the food world also honored Wayne Kostroski, co-owner of the Franklin Street Bakery in Minneapolis, as its 2010 Humanitarian of the Year for his work in hunger relief as the founder of Taste of the NFL.
Minnesota media members won, too: Andrew Zimmern of the Travel Channel's "Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern" and Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl of Minnesota Monthly won Beards at the media and book awards event.
Last year, Tim McKee of La Belle Vie became the first Minnesotan to win the Best Chef: Midwest award.
That award is presented to "chefs who have set new or consistent standards of excellence in the respective regions." To qualify, chefs may be from any kind of dining establishment and must have been a working chef for the last five years; the three most recent years must have been spent in the region where the chef is presently working. The Midwest region includes Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri.
The state has its first finalist in a national restaurant/chef category. Michelle Gayer, baker/owner of the Salty Tart in Minneapolis, is one of five finalists in the Outstanding Pastry Chef category, which is presented to a "chef or baker who prepares desserts, pastries or breads, who serves as a national standard bearer of excellence."
To qualify, the nominee must have been a pastry chef or baker for the past five years.