Awards season begins

This weekend's 87th annual Academy Awards crowns Hollywood's endless so-called awards season, but in the food world, the accolades are just beginning.

On Wednesday, the James Beard Foundation kicked off its 2015 awards by announcing semifinalists in categories honoring restaurants, bars, chefs, restaurateurs, pastry chefs, bakers, and wine, beer and spirits professionals.

Spoon and Stable (211 N. 1st St., Mpls., is up for Best New Restaurant.

La Belle Vie (510 Groveland Av., Mpls., is in the running for Outstanding Restaurant.

Restaurant Alma (528 University Av. SE., Mpls., is on the Outstanding Service list.

Kim Bartmann, owner of Barbette (1600 W. Lake St., Mpls.,, Bryant-Lake Bowl (810 W. Lake St., Mpls., and six other Minneapolis restaurants, is one of 20 candidates for Outstanding Restaurateur.

The foundation is debuting a new awards category in 2015: Outstanding Baker, honoring the creative forces behind retail bakeries. Two Minneapolis bakers are in the running: John Kraus of Patisserie 46 (4552 Grand Av. S., Mpls., and Steve Horton of Rustica, (3220 W. Lake St., Mpls.,

Eric Seed, owner of importer Haus Alpenz in Edina (, made the cut in Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional.

Nine Twin Citians occupy seven berths 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 bestow a Best Chef award in each of them.)

Local semifinalists include Paul Berglund of the Bachelor Farmer (50 2nd Av. N., Mpls.,, Mike Brown, James Winberg and Bob Gerken of Travail Kitchen and Amusements (4124 W. Broadway, Robbinsdale,, Jim Christiansen of Heyday (2700 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls.,, Doug Flicker of Piccolo (4300 Bryant Av. S., Mpls.,, Michelle Gayer of the Salty Tart (920 E. Lake St., Mpls.,, Russell Klein of Meritage (410 St. Peter St., St. Paul, and Lenny Russo of Heartland Restaurant (289 E. 5th St., St. Paul,

Find the complete list of semifinalists at www.

The Beards, named for author and culinarian James Beard, began in 1990 and are frequently shorthanded to "the Oscars of the food world."

Semifinalists are the first step in the Beard awards process. On March 24, following a round of balloting (voters including critics, food writers and past chef winners), the foundation will announce nominees (that's Beard-speak for "finalists," which translates into the top five vote-getters among semifinalists) in the restaurant and chef categories, along with nominees in the Beard's cookbook, design and journalism divisions.

A second round of voting follows, and winners in the restaurant and chef categories will be presented their medallions at a gala ceremony on May 4 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the first time in the awards' 25-year history that the event has taken place outside New York City.