Who needs James Beard when there’s Charlie? That would be the Charlie Awards, the Twin Cities’ answer to that other contest celebrating the best restaurants and chefs.

The ninth edition of the Charlies is Sunday, 3:30 p.m., at the Pantages Theatre, with an after-party next door at Seven Steakhouse (700 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls.).

Twelve awards recognize the local food and beverage industry, with categories for service, rising star and hidden gem. For the first time, an outstanding coffeehouse will be crowned. Vying for the title of outstanding restaurant: Colita, Popol Vuh and Tenant.

Nominations were culled from public votes, and refined with the input of past winners and the staff of Foodservice News, which produces the event. “You’re picked by your peers,” said Nancy Weingartner Monroe, Foodservice News editor.

Independent businesses are favored over chains, Weingartner Monroe explained. “One year Subway was nominated for outstanding restaurant,” she said. “We pull out a few of those. Even if they got 900 votes, they wouldn’t win that category.”

Among the bites that will be served at the after-party is the legendary potato salad from Charlie’s Cafe Exceptionale, for which the awards are named.

Tickets, at $30, are available at 612-767-3229 or charliesexceptionale.com.

Celebration of vegan

Another competition this weekend celebrates the Twin Cities’ recent explosion of vegan food.

Chefs from J. Selby’s, Reverie, Root to Rise, Seed Cafe, Trio Plant-based and Vegan Affairs MN will cook in the 11th Annual Vegan Chili Cook-Off. Rate samples of chili to determine who wins a $150 prize. The event is Saturday, 6 to 9 p.m., at Coffman Memorial Union, (300 Washington Av. SE., Mpls.), and $5 tickets are available at exploreveg.org/chili.

Swiss cheese and more

Start planning now for some exciting dinners to come.

Chef and TV star Elizabeth Falkner is joining Ann Kim at Pizzeria Lola (5557 Xerxes Av. S., Mpls.) for a pop-up promoting the Swiss cheesemaker Emmi. Stop in Feb. 19 from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. to sample Falkner’s specials, which include curry cauliflower pizza with Swiss fondue sauce and vanilla ice cream with a Gruyère crumble. Reservations are available at tinyurl.com/uhzkeoj.

 

Meet the chefs

And Spoon and Stable (211 N. 1st St., Mpls.) has announced its 2020 lineup for its Synergy Series of guest chef dinners. They are: Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo of Los Angeles’ Animal (April 23 and 24), Michael Solomonov of Philadelphia’s Zahav (July 16 and 17), Thomas Keller of French Laundry (Sept. 24 and 25) and Missy Robbins of New York’s Lilia and Misi (Dec. 3 and 4).

In addition to preparing two dinners, the chefs will each give a free talk at the American Swedish Institute. Want to attend them all? Season passes go on sale Feb. 17 at 10 a.m. at exploretock.com/ spoonandstable.

Read full reviews and other restaurant news at startribune.com/dining.