Updated: Jan. 25, 8:30 a.m. | Posted: Jan. 24, 10:09 a.m.
Five Minnesota chefs and two establishments were announced as semifinalists for the annual James Beard Awards, one of the restaurant industry’s most prestigious honors.
Marc Heu, of Marc Heu Pâtisserie Paris in St. Paul, was nominated for Outstanding Pastry Chef.
Daniel del Prado, of Porzana in Minneapolis, was nominated for Outstanding Chef.
Oro by Nixta in Minneapolis was named in the Best New Restaurant category, while Meteor in Minneapolis was named in the Outstanding Bar category.
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Three chefs — all women — were named in the Best Midwest Chef category: Ann Ahmed of Khâluna in Minneapolis, Christina Nguyen of Hai Hai in Minneapolis and Karyn Tomlinson of Myriel in St. Paul.
“I think that's an incredible testament to the women-led restaurant culture we've had here,” said Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl, a writer and food critic who’s won six James Beard Awards herself.
She called Daniel del Prado’s opening of Porzana “the most accomplished opening I have ever experienced.”
“What do I think his chances are? I don't know. He’s up against the big guns. He’s up against San Francisco, New York City and Los Angeles. They have more voters than we have, but I think we should all just take a bow,” Moskowitz Grumdahl said. “This is huge recognition.”
She has higher hopes for Oro by Nixta, the brainchild of chef Gustavo Romero Veytia.
“The flavors are just unbelievable — such deep, interesting, Mexican-derived, Indigenous flavors. All the tortillas are slightly, subtly different,” Moskowitz Grumdahl said. “I think he has a decent chance of winning because the stuff that he’s doing is groundbreaking.”
Other chefs named for Best Midwest Chef category with Minnesota connections include Lisa Carlson and Carrie Summer, of Chef Shack Bay City in Bay City, Wis.
In Fargo, N.D., Nikki Ness Berglund and Ryan Nitschke, owners of Luna, Sol Ave. Kitchen and Nova Eatery in the Fargo-Moorhead area, were named for Outstanding Restaurateur. Nichole’s Fine Pastry & Café was named a finalist for Outstanding Bakery, and Andrea Baumgardner of BernBaum’s was named in the Best Midwest Chef category.
Sanaa Abourezk of Sanaa’s Gourmet Mediterranean in Sioux Falls, S.D. was also named for Best Midwest Chef.
The awards are presented annually and date back to 1990, and first awarded in 1991. They were named for James Beard, a chef, author and pioneering creator of television cooking shows.
The nominees will be announced on April 3, and winners will be celebrated at the awards ceremony in June at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.