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Charlies Finalists Announced

Thank you to everyone for their nominations and to a panel of past winners who joined us at the Hilton Minneapolis in early November to help narrow down the robust list to three finalists in 13 categories. Some past winners also voted via email. 

The Charlie Awards, now in its 8th year, celebrates the best and most creative in food and drink in the greater Twin Cities area. Named after fine-dining landmark Charlies Exceptionale, it’s the brainchild of philanthropist and journalist Sue Zelickson and Scott Mayer, who also started the Ivey Awards for local theater. Deserving individuals and establishments are singled out for this honor by their peers, which is what makes the award even more valuable.

The winners will be revealed on stage at the Pantages Theater, January 27, 2019, starting at 3:30 p.m. The award show is a celebration of the industry with live music, sketch comedy, video and local culinary stars presenting and accepting the coveted Charlie Plate. Immediately following the ceremony is a high-energy afterparty at Seven Steakhouse next door. 

Mise en Place’s Pat Weber will again lead the team of volunteers and past winners who contribute to the impressive spread. Cooks and servers include students from the ProStart Program, which trains future restaurant workers. Proceeds go to Open Arms. Visit Charliesexceptionale.com for tickets. Or call 612-767-3224 for information.

In alphabetic order, the finalists are:

Outstanding Service
A restaurant or foodservice business that excels at hospitality by having a personality, and not just a pulse; at being so consistently welcoming and warm that people feel more at home there than in their own home. 

  • 112 Eatery
  • Joan’s in the Park
  • Meritage


Outstanding Restaurateur
Not all the magic happens in the kitchen. This category is for the owner with at least five years in the industry, who excels at running a restaurant, keeping it profitable and relevant and who is an influencer in the community and an inspiration to his or her staff.

  • Thomas Boemer and Nick Rancone, Twist Davis Group (Corner Table, Revival, In Bloom)
  • Tim Niver, Mucci’s, Saint Dinette, Meyvn 
  • Luke Shimp, kindRED Hospitality (Red Cow and Red Rabbit)


Outstanding Restaurant
An eating establishment that continually hits on all cylinders with innovative and craveable food, inspired atmosphere and memorable service.

  • Grand Café
  • Hai Hai
  • Martina


Outstanding Baker/Pastry Chef
A working baker or pastry chef with at least five years of experience who is an artist when creating the staff of life or the masterpieces of desserts and morning pastries.

  • Christina Kaelberer, Edwards Dessert Kitchen
  • Carrie Riggs, Alma
  • Diane Moua, Soigné Hospitality (Spoon and Stable, Bellecour) 


Outstanding Chef
A working chef with at least five years in the industry, who shows consistency, relevancy, creativity and isn’t resting on his or her laurels. The chef of the moment, so to speak.

  • Ann Ahmed, Lat 14/Lemon Grass Thai 
  • Justin Sutherland, Pearl and the Thief/Handsome Hog
  • Karyn Tomlinson, Corner Table 


Rising Star     
An under 30 or so, up-and-coming foodservice professional whose talent and hard work guarantees he or she will make their mark on the Twin Cities community and go on to even greater contributions.

  • Rikki Giambruno, Hyacinth 
  • Josh Walbolt, Lat 14 
  • Shannel Winkel, The Bird


Beverage Innovator
A professional who is doing innovative work with wine/beer/spirits, either as a brewer, mixologist, sommelier, craft soda producer or other libation-centric work.

  • Adam Gorski, Young Joni 
  • Tyler Kleinow, Marvel Bar
  • Marco Zappia , Martina/Colita 


Hidden Gem
An out-of-the-box restaurant, food truck or catering service that often flies under the radar of the mainstream media, but is a favorite with the neighborhood or foodie fans.

  • Birches on the Lake in Long Lake
  • Lyn 65 in Richfield
  • Primo Plates & Pours in Long Lake


Community Hero 
A compassionate, strong person who uses his or her skills and platform to better the community, either through charitable acts or mentorship.

  • Rose McGee, Sweet Potato Comfort Pie
  • Nathan Sartain, St. Paul College
  • Rhys Williams, The Good Acre 


Outstanding Caterer
A consummate professional who runs a catering company and sets up festive and delicious spreads for groups, with imagination, creativity and attention to every detail.

  • Breaking Bread Café & Catering      
  • Chowgirls Killer Catering
  • D’Amico Catering


Outstanding Bartender
He or she possesses the skill-set to be an expert in both human nature and concocting  new and classic drinks, along with the ability to draw people out and guide their beverage journey with diplomacy and grace. 

  • Paul Hennessy, The Bachelor Farmer 
  • Sean Jones, Fhima
  • Scott Weller, Parlour


Best Entertainment Restaurant Venue
Sometimes called eatertainment, this outstanding venue never forgets food is first, drinks are first and fun is first. (Can be kid-friendly or focus on the 21+ crowd.)

  • Can Can Wonderland
  • The Dakota
  • Icehouse


Best Brewery
A brewing company that makes innovative beer or hard cider, has a social component, whether it’s a conscience or conscious effort to engage customers in a stellar product.

  • Indeed Brewing Co.
  • Lift Bridge Brewing Co.  
  • Summit Brewing Co.

In addition, the Lifetime Achievement award will go to one worthy individual “who has made a unique contribution to the local foodservice community as a mentor, influencer and/or innovator.”

More on each finalist in January.  

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