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Charlies Award Coverage

The Twin Cities culinary scene has a lot to celebrate and that’s just what we plan to do—just a little bit later than usual—on February 25, 2018, to be exact.

The Charlie Awards came about when philanthropist and food reporter Sue Zelickson attended the Ivey Awards for local theater, and wondered out loud why the restaurant industry didn’t have something like that to honor its hard-working performers. Fortunately, the person she said it to was Scott Mayer, who produced the Iveys at the time. The two formed a committee to bring that cache to the Twin Cities food and beverages community. Now in its seventh year, the awards still honor the tradition started by Charlie’s Café Exceptionale, a restaurant that after a 49-year run, closed its doors in July of 1982. It still remains a beacon of fine dining and exceptional service. It attracted celebrities of its time and had a rabid following for its potato salad. 

While the focus of the Charlies is on celebrating the exceptional talent in the Twin Cities food scene, there’s another equally important component to the celebration. Proceeds from the event go to Open Arms, an agency that delivers home-cooked meals to people with life-threatening illnesses. The nonprofit was started in 1986, just four years after Charlie’s Café served its final steaks.

Stay tuned to this page in the coming months for more information on the Charlies, such as how to vote for your favorites, how to buy tickets for the event and after-party and how to sponsor or volunteer. 

On tap for the seventh annual event, we’ll be bringing back the ProStart students, signature cocktails, entertainment and recognition of the hardest-working, most creative people to ever cook a meal, make a drink, or donate time to worthwhile causes. The 2018 event will be at the Pantages, but to keep you out of the cold, the afterparty will be next door at the newly revamped Seven. 


What about Bob?

Bob Warner is the kind of guy who gets to the carving station at the end of the buffet line, notices that the chef’s knife is dull, and runs to his car to get his sharpener. You can blame it on the fact that he was the Midwest rep for Dexter for a number of years and knows the value of a sharp knife. But it’s really that he’s just a really thoughtful person. (He also talks to all the servers and isn’t shy about asking for tours, much to his wife’s chagrin.)

He’s also the kind of guy Foodservice News wanted on its team when it partnered with the founders of the Charlie Awards to reengage sponsors. Bob’s official title is sponsorship director. “It’s so different from tangible sales,” he says of the Charlies. Everyone in the industry knows what smallwares are, but not everyone is familiar with the award ceremony that celebrates the foodservice industry. Bob plans to change that.

He retired a year and a half ago from Dexter, after the long hours spent behind the wheel of his car became hard on his knees. But he still had the energy and the need to do something to make a difference in the restaurant industry. Enter the Charlies.

As a people-person, Bob likes the opportunity to connect back with some of the contacts he had as a sales rep, and also meeting the movers and shakers in the industry, such as General Mills, Land O'Lakes and BT, the voice of God (Brian Turner, a popular radio personality who has been one of the announcers at the annual award ceremony since its creation).

For anyone wanting to take a proactive stance and contact Bob directly, you can reach him at 612-670-5254 or bob@charliesexceptionale.com

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