The so-called “Oscars of the food world” are taking place tonight in Chicago, and two Twin Cities chefs are among the five nominated for the Best Chef Midwest award: Paul Berglund of the Bachelor Farmer in Minneapolis, and Lenny Russo of Heartland Restaurant & Wine Bar in St. Paul.
If one of the them comes home with the coveted Beard medallion, it will be the first time in five years since a Minnesota chef won the award. Previous winners include Isaac Becker of 112 Eatery in 2011, Alex Roberts of Restaurant Alma in 2010 and Tim McKee of the former La Belle Vie in 2009.
Berglund and Russo are sharing the category with Justin Carlisle of Ardent in Milwaukee and two St. Louis nominees: Kevin Nashan of Sidney Street Cafe and Kevin Willmann of Farmhaus.
The Minnesota contenders are no strangers to the proceedings. Russo was previously nominated in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015, and Berglund was previously nominated in 2014 and 2015.
The awards begin at 6 p.m. at the Civic Opera House. Minneapolis will be well-represented at the gala post-party, where three chefs will be cooking: Jamie Malone and Erik Anderson of the upcoming Brut, as well as pastry chef Diane Yang of Spoon and Stable.
Follow along with the live stream of the event at jamesbeard.org/awards or watch for my tweets @RickNelsonStrib #jbfa.