Two top Twin Cities chefs were named finalists for the James Beard Foundation Awards, the food and drink industry’s most notable annual honors.
After emerging from a pool of semi-finalists that included 15 Minnesota names, Jorge Guzman of Surly Brewing Co. and Steven Brown of Tilia were given the recognition on Wednesday, when the James Beard Foundation made the announcement at an event in Los Angeles and via its social media channels.
Guzman and Brown were both named nominees in the Best Chef: Midwest category, the first such honor for either of them. Guzman was previously named a semifinalist in 2016. Brown was a semifinalist in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
The Beard’s Midwest region includes Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas. Other semifinalists from this year who were not named nominees included Jim Christiansen of Heyday, Thomas Boemer of Corner Table, Erick Harcey of Upton 43, Ann Kim of Young Joni and Lisa Carlson of Chef Shack Bay City, Wisc.
Minnesota had five semifinalists in five different national award categories – Esker Grove for best new restaurant, Alex Roberts of Restaurant Alma for outstanding chef, Diane Yang of Spoon and Stable for outstanding pastry chef, Michelle Gayer of Salty Tart for outstanding baker and Marvel Bar for outstanding bar program – but none were named nominees. The state has never had a national winner.
The nominees were determined by a pool of 500-plus voters, including critics, writers, editors, culinary educators and past winners. That pool will now vote on the nominees. The top vote-getter in each category will win the award and receive the Beard medallion at the gala awards ceremony in Chicago on May 1.
You can find a complete list of finalists here.