Counter Intelligence: James Beard and culinary diplomacy

  • Article by: RICK NELSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 20, 2013 - 2:31 PM

Two Minneapolis chefs are on their way to the Oscars of the food world.

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Jack Riebel, nominated for his first James Beard award

Photo: Tom Wallace, Star Tribune

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Two Minneapolis chefs are on their way to the Oscars of the food world.

Jack Riebel of Butcher & the Boar (1121 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., www.butcherandtheboar.com) and Michelle Gayer of the Salty Tart (920 E. Lake St., Mpls., www.saltytart.com) are both in the running for the prestigious Best Chef: Midwest award from the James Beard Foundation.

The award recognizes chefs who “set new or consistent standards of excellence” in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas. It is one of 10 regional chef honors awarded annually by the culinary foundation.

It’s Riebel’s first James Beard nomination and Gayer’s third; she was a 2002 and 2010 nominee in the Outstanding Pastry Chef category. They are competing against two-time nominee Justin Aprahamian of Sanford in Milwaukee, three-time nominee Gerard Craft of Niche in St. Louis and six-time nominee Colby Garrelts of Bluestem in Kansas City, Mo.

Not many pastry chefs have been nominated in a regional best chef category, but in 2013 there are two: Gayer and Joanne Chang of Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe in the Best Chef: Northeast region. Like Gayer, Chang was also an Outstanding Pastry Chef nominee, in 2011 and 2012.

A previously announced Minnesota winner: Kramarczuk’s (215 E. Hennepin Av., Mpls., www.kramarczuk.com). The northeast Minneapolis landmark has been christened one of the foundation’s “America’s Classics,” honored for their “timeless appeal and are beloved for quality food that reflects the character of their community.”

Minnesota media also made the nominee roster. Mpls.St.Paul magazine writer Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl is in the running for the M.F.K. Fisher Distinguished Writing award for her profile of Wisconsin cheesemaker Mary Falk.

Producers Daniel Klein and Mirra Fine of “The Perennial Plate: Real World Food Tour” (www.theperennialplate.com) are competing in the Video Webcast, On Location category.

“Bizarre Foods,” produced by Andrew Zimmern and Colleen Needles for the Travel Channel, was nominated for Outstanding TV Program on Location. And Zimmern was nominated in the Outstanding Food Personality/Host category.

Media winners will be announced May 3 and chef and restaurant winners will be announced May 5 in New York City. (Full disclosure: I serve as a volunteer on a James Beard Foundation committee.) Find a complete list of nominees at www.jamesbeard.org.

Pizza, and Africa

Hello Pizza (3904 Sunnyside Rd., Edina, 952-303-4514), the casual slice shop (along with subs and salads, beer and wine) operated by Ann Kim of Pizzeria Lola (5557 Xerxes Av. S., Mpls., www.pizzerialola.com) is serving lunch and dinner daily.

On Saturday, Global Kitchen (6000 Shingle Creek Pkwy., Brooklyn Center, 763-651-0211) is becoming Jambo Africa, a restaurant, lounge and coffee shop featuring the flavors and customs of Kenya and Liberia.

Food diplomacy

Lenny Russo, chef/co-owner of Heartland Restaurant & Farm Direct Market (289 E. 5th St., St. Paul, www.heartlandrestaurant.com), is spending half of April visiting Slovenian chefs and farmers in a U.S. State Department-sponsored program. The venture will be chronicled on “Seasoned by Americans,” broadcast on Slovenia’s top-rated TV channel. Follow Russo’s travels at Startribune.com/tabletalk.

 

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