Awards season begins
The James Beard Foundation launched its 2014 awards Wednesday by announcing semifinalists in chef and restaurant categories.
Minneapolis made a strong showing on the national front: Isaac Becker of 112 Eatery for Outstanding Chef, Steve Horton of Rustica for Outstanding Pastry Chef, Marvel Bar for Outstanding Bar Program and Restaurant Alma for Outstanding Service. Eric Seed, owner of Haus Alpenz in Edina, is included in Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional.
Six Twin Citians are included in the Best Chef: Midwest category, which honors chefs who "set new or consistent standards of excellence" in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri. (The Beards divide the country into 10 regions and bestows a Best Chef award in each of them.)
Local semifinalists are Paul Berglund of the Bachelor Farmer, Steven Brown of Tilia, Doug Flicker of Piccolo, Michelle Gayer of the Salty Tart and Jamie Malone of Sea Change, all in Minneapolis, and Lenny Russo of Heartland Restaurant & Farm Direct Market in St. Paul.
Find the complete list of semifinalists at www. jamesbeard.org.
The Beards began in 1990 and are frequently shorthanded to the "Oscars of the food world."
Restaurant and chef nominees — the top five vote-getters among semifinalists in each category — will be announced March 18 from Chicago, along with nominees in the Beard cookbook, design and journalism categories (voters include past chef winners, along with critics and editors). Winners will take the stage of the David H. Koch Theater in New York City's Lincoln Center on May 5.
Teaming up on Lake Minnetonka
Some long-dormant restaurant real estate on the shore of Lake Minnetonka in downtown Wayzata is about to come roaring back to life, in a major way.
Randy Stanley, a longtime Parasole Restaurant Holdings kingpin, is taking over the former home of NorthCoast, Portofino and Sasha's and launching 6 Smith (294 E. Grove Lane, Wayzata).
Stanley has recruited chef J.P. Samuelson (Figlio, jP American Bistro, D'Amico Cucina, Bobino) to run the kitchen.
Samuelson said his lunch and dinner menus will appeal to a wide audience: small plates for grazers, a steakhouse section featuring less-traditional cuts of locally sourced beef, "a big lobster element" and modern takes on retro classics, all served at 300 seats on the restaurant's main floor, bar and dockside patio.
"It's going to be simple food, made using great ingredients that we treat with respect," said Samuelson.
Upstairs, a 110-seat rooftop patio with a separate kitchen will have what Samuelson describes as a seasonally focused "lobster shack meets burger joint" sensibility.
What isn't on the menu: Samuelson's signature pastas and pizzas. "Yeah, it's a departure," he said with a laugh. "Not that they won't occasionally pop up as small plates. But the idea that this is an American restaurant, for a lack of a better term, really appeals to me."
Construction is underway — the gutted and reconfigured space is being designed by Architectural Alliance of Minneapolis — with a May 19 opening date.