The James Beard Foundation has announced finalists in its 2010 awards -- the news was trickling out via Twitter, live from a breakfast at the Palace Cafe in New Orleans -- and a number of Minnesotans have made the cut.

Michelle Gayer, at her Salty Tart bakery in the Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis. Star Tribune file photo.

The state has its first finalist in a national restaurant/chef category. Michelle Gayer, baker/owner of the Salty Tart in Minneapolis, is one of five finalists in the Outstanding Pastry Chef category, which is presented to a "chef or baker who prepares desserts, pastries or breads, who serves as a national standard bearer of excellence." To qualify, the nominee must have been a pastry chef or baker for the past five years. Other nominees include Nicole Plue of Redd in Yountville, Calif.; Mindy Segal of Mindy's HotChocolate in Chicago; Kamel Guechida at Joel Robuchon at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas; and Amanda Cook at CityZen at the Mandarin Oriental in Washington, D.C.

For Best Chef: Midwest, three of the five finalists are Minnesotans: Alex Roberts of Restaurant Alma, Isaac Becker of 112 Eatery and Lenny Russo of Heartland.

Alex Roberts of Restaurant Alma. This is his fourth James Beard Foundation Award nomination. Star Tribune file photo. 

Isaac Becker of 112 Eatery, at his new Bar La Grassa in Minneapolis. This is Becker's third James Beard Foundation Award nomination. Star Tribune file photo.

Lenny Russo, in the kitchen at Heartland in St. Paul. This is his first James Beard Foundation Award nomination. Star Tribune file photo.

The two other nominees in the category are Colby Garrelts of Bluestem in Kansas City, Mo. (a four-time nominee) and Gerard Craft of Niche in St. Louis, Mo. (a two-time nominee). Last year, Tim McKee of La Belle Vie became the first Minnesotan to win the Best Chef: Midwest award. The award is presented to "chefs who have set new or consistent standards of excellence in the respective regions." To qualify, chefs may be from any kind of dining establishment and must have been a working chef for the last five years; the three most recent years must have been spent in the region where the chef is presently working. The Midwest region includes Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri.

The state is also very well represented in the media awards division. Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl of Minnesota Monthly picked up two nominations, in the Writing on Spirits, Wine or Beer and and Food-Related Columns categories (she's been nominated seven previous times, and won has four Beard medallions). Andrew Zimmern of the Travel Channel's "Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern" was nominated in the TV Food Personality category -- his first -- along with Alton Brown and Rick Bayless. And St. Paul-based American Public Media's "The Splendid Table" was nominated in the Audio Webcast/Radio Show category, an award it has won twice before.

Minnesota Monthly staff writer Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl. Photo by Nathan Grumdahl.

Andrew Zimmern, host of "Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern" on the Travel Channel, and a columnist with Mpls.St.Paul magazine. Star Tribune file photo.

In their St. Paul studio, host Lynne Rossetto Kasper, center, with "The Splendid Table" crew, from left: Sally Swift, Jennifer Luebke and Jennifer Russell. Star Tribune file photo.

As previously announced, Wayne Kostroski, co-owner of Cuisine Concepts (Franklin Street Bakery and Bar Abilene) has been named the James  Beard Foundation's Humanitarian of the Year for his work as the founder of Taste of the NFL.

Cuisine Concepts co-owner Wayne Kostroski. Star Tribune file photo.


Media winners will be announced on May 2, and restaurant/chef winners will be announced on May 3rd in New York City. For a complete list of nominees, go here.