James Beard awards and the Minnesota contingent

  • Article by: RICK NELSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 8, 2013 - 2:53 PM

A good time was had by the Minnesota contingent at the Oscars of the food world.

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The meat counter at Kramarczuk's.

Photo: TOM SWEENEY, Star Tribune

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Minneapolis had a featured role in the 2013 James Beard Awards on Monday evening at New York City’s Lincoln Center.

At the Oscars of the food world, Kramarczuk’s (215 E. Hennepin Av., Mpls., www.kramarczuk.com) was officially declared one of the James Beard Foundation’s “America’s Classics,” an honor bestowed upon “restaurants with timeless appeal and that are beloved for quality food that reflects the character of their community.” If that doesn’t describe Kramarczuk’s, what would?

After being introduced by longtime Kramarczuk’s fan Andrew Zimmern, owner Orest Kramarczuk — accompanied by his son Nick — gave what may go down as one of the longer speeches in Beard history, and also one of the most heartfelt. It was an incredibly sweet moment, and a well-deserved tribute to one of Minnesota’s culinary giants.

Two Minneapolis chefs were among the black-tie crowd. Michelle Gayer of Salty Tart (920 E. Lake St., Mpls., www.saltytart.com) and Jack Riebel of Butcher & the Boar (1121 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., www.butcherandtheboar.com) were first-time nominees in the Best Chef: Midwest category. The award, one of 10 regional Beard categories, honors chefs in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas, and Zimmern announced the winner: seven-time nominee Colby Garrelts of Bluestem in Kansas City, Mo.

Several local faces were honored at Friday evening’s media awards. Zimmern won (for the second time) for Outstanding Personality/Host for his “Bizarre Foods America” series on the Travel Channel, and Daniel Klein and Mirra Fine, hosts and producers for “The Perennial Plate,” won for Video Webcast/On Location for their episode “Real Food World Tour.”

It was also a banner night for women. Three female chefs were among the 10 regional chef award winners, the greatest number in my memory: Stephanie Izard of Girl & the Goat in Chicago for Best Chef: Great Lakes, Melissa Kelly of Primo in Rockland, Maine, for Best Chef: Northeast, and Jennifer Jasinski of Rioja in Denver for Best Chef: Southwest.

In addition, Merry Edwards of Merry Edwards Winery in Sebastopol, Calif., was named Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional. Maguy Le Coze of New York City’s Le Bernardin was crowned Outstanding Restaurateur, the first woman to be named in that category. And the Lifetime Achievement award went to 93-year-old San Francisco restaurateur and chef Cecilia Chiang, “the Julia Child of Chinese food.”

The elbow-to-elbow post-show reception featured food and drink by a parade of nationally known chefs, some with Minnesota connections. Twin Cities native Gavin Kaysen of Cafe Boulud in New York City (and the Beard’s 2008 Rising Star Chef of the Year) prepared a beautiful South Seas take on sea urchin, and former Aquavit chef Marcus Samuelsson (who won this year’s Writing and Literature award for “Yes, Chef: A Memoir”) was doling out delicious jerk-seasoned pork belly with cowpeas.

The evening’s best quote went to chef Dan Barber of New York City’s Blue Hill, which won the Outstanding Restaurant award (presented by an exceedingly glamorous Martha Stewart). In his acceptance speech, Barber was describing how his restaurant is the summation of the work of so many individuals, including general manager Franco Serafin, who is “so charming that he makes our guests feel charming, which they are so often not.”

For a complete list of winners, go to www.jamesbeard.org.

 

Follow Rick Nelson on Twitter: @RickNelsonStrib

 

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