CHICAGO – Despite the excitement and red carpets, Minnesota didn’t bring home any James Beard awards at the ceremony Monday night.
Best Chef Midwest went to Gerard Craft of Niche in St. Louis. Three local finalists — Lenny Russo of Heartland Restaurant in St. Paul, Michelle Gayer of the Salty Tart in Minneapolis and Paul Berglund of the Bachelor Farmer in Minneapolis — were finalists in that category, which honors practitioners “who have set new or consistent standards of excellence” in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas.
Spoon and Stable, in downtown Minneapolis, was the first Minnesota eatery to be a finalist for Best New Restaurant in the United States, but it lost to New York City’s Batard. Other finalists were Central Provisions in Portland, Maine, Cosme in New York City, Parachute in Chicago, Petit Trois in Los Angeles and the Progress in San Francisco.
Gavin Kaysen, chef/owner of Spoon and Stable, received a shout-out from the stage by presenter and restaurateur Daniel Boulud, for the silver medal the U.S. Bocuse d’Or team won in Lyon, France, earlier this year. Kaysen was coach for the team.
Shea Inc., a finalist for best restaurant design, 76 seats and more, for its work with Spoon and Stable, lost to Soma Architects, for its work on Workshop Kitchen & Bar in Palm Springs, Calif.
Since 2003, when Roger Johnsson of the former Aquavit became the first Minnesota chef to be nominated for a James Beard Foundation award, nearly 50 Twin Cities chefs, pastry chefs, restaurants, restaurateurs and industry professionals have been recognized — as semifinalists, nominees and winners.
The so-called “Oscars of the food world” celebrated its 25th anniversary by moving the annual black-tie gala from New York City to a sold-out Civic Opera House in downtown Chicago.
The awards’ focus on Middle America isn’t going away any time soon. In April, the foundation announced that it would hold its 2016 and 2017 awards events in Chicago.