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Meet the 2019 Charlie Awards Finalists

You are all outstanding and on January 27, 14 of you will be making your way to the stage of the Pantages Theater to give a brief—heartfelt, but brief—thank you speech. If you find your name on this list, better give your mom a heads-up.


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 

You’ll find Paul Hennessy behind the bar at The Bachelor Farmer in Minneapolis’ North Loop, always seeking to find the right drink for the right moment for his guests. His deep understanding of cocktails, wine and brandy helps to unlock those worlds for curious diners and to provide thoughtful experiences and warm hospitality to all who join him at the bar.



Sean Jones

Growing up in a family that operated restaurants up and down the East Coast, Sean Jones was washing dishes at the ripe old age of 12 and by high school making the big bucks waiting tables. Before his senior year was finished, he started bartending in upstate New York. At 21, Sean legally tended bar in a seasonal fine-dining restaurant in Boston, where he learned the importance of using fresh ingredients and quality spirits to create a better cocktail. He moved to Minneapolis in 2001 and secured a spot at The Local, and had the good fortune of studying its incredible library of spirits. Over the past 10 years he’s been mentored by the likes of Jesse Held (Parlour) and Toby Maloney (Bradstreet Craftshouse), and worked as part of the incredible hive mind that is Bittercube. Sean currently runs the beverage program at Fhima’s MPLS as well as operating Drop & Dram, a beverage consulting firm based in the Twin Cities.


Scott Weller

With a decade of polishing his bartending skills, Scott Weller has been teaching Parlour’s monthly cocktail classes for 3-plus years, creating a different cocktail menu for every class (that’s a lot of cocktails). His daily inspiration behind the bar comes from his love of cooking, creating with his hands, and putting smiles on faces. Visit him in the North Loop and ask him what his favorite cocktail is and he’ll tell you it’s the one he’s about to make for you. Or just ask for his signature cocktail, Blood of the Wizard, made with bourbon, amaro, fernet, raspberry and lemon.


Beverage Innovator

A professional who is doing innovative work with wine/beer/spirits, either as a brewer, mixologist, sommelier, craft soda producer or bartender.


Adam Gorski

Growing up in Plymouth, Adam’s father taught him the importance of an expertly crafted martini. As the bar director at Young Joni, Adam is the creative lead behind the inspired programs in the main dining room and the back bar. His fresh and fun approach to crafting cocktails especially shines through in the back bar, where the menu is reinvented several times a year. Each menu features 14 signature cocktails creatively built around a theme: Past ones have included Young Joni High School Yearbook, A Field Guide to Birds and Made in Minnesota. Prior to his role at Young Joni, Adam helmed the bar program at La Belle Vie, and tended bar at Bradstreet Crafthouse and Eat Street Social. Adam owns two dogs, Boris and Moe, and four fancy chickens, Bissou, Brioche, Beignet, and Dusty.


Tyler Kleinow

Tyler Kleinow has been a formative part of Minneapolis’s cocktail scene since its nascent days, as an original member of the North Star Bartender’s Guild. His encyclopedic knowledge of cocktail history and distilling practices makes him a phenomenal bartender and a generous resource to friends and colleagues across the industry. Now manager and senior bartender at Marvel Bar—an award winner on the national radar—he’s created new classics out of uncommon ingredients and techniques alike.


Marco Zappia

Marco Zappia is a hospitality professional and a nefarious drink slinger. After a lovely childhood in Minneapolis, he headed to the west coast to Stanford and eventually the patchouli-scented bosom of Berkeley. After realizing his brand of existential nihilism didn’t jive with most Californians, he traveled east to the wine and cheese parties of Bard. He returned to Minneapolis to become a dishwasher and promptly fell in love with the restaurant industry. He’s consulted on a masochistic number of restaurant openings, trained hundreds of bartenders, and designed award-winning programs. He runs Martina and Colita in Minneapolis. Recent public lauding include Forbes 30 under 30, Eater Young Gun Semi-Finalist, the cover of MSP magazine and Esquire’s MPLS Preview. 


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 Company

The co-founders of Indeed Brewing Co. worked for rival newspapers, Nathan Berndt at the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and Tom Whisenand, a photojournalist at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis. At Indeed Brewing Company, they’re cultivating an artfully eclectic lineup of beers from the heart of Northeast Minneapolis and their new home in the Walker’s Point neighborhood of Milwaukee. Indeed’s diverse offerings are anchored by its flagship Day Tripper Pale Ale, driven by new hits like Flavorwave IPA and Mexican Honey Light, and elevated by its Wooden Soul series of wild, sour, and barrel-aged beer. Indeed’s taprooms are warm, welcoming, and home to Indeed We Can, the company’s employee-driven charitable giving program, which donates 100 percent of taproom net profits to an employee-sponsored local nonprofit every Wednesday of the year.


Lift Bridge Brewing Company

Lift Bridge, located in Stillwater, is Minnesota’s seventh largest craft brewery, known for its flagship beers Farm Girl Saison and Hop Dish IPA. Lift Bridge currently distributes in Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota. In 2017 the brewery produced 19,000 barrels. It was founded in 2008 by homebrewers Brad Glynn (now COO), Dan Schwarz (CEO), Trevor Cronk (VP) and Jim Pierson (CFO). Originally brewing only for friends and family, they eventually began brewing bigger batches and sold their first keg of beer in September 2008. In 2010 they moved into their current brewery space, eventually opening a taproom in 2011, the oldest operating taproom in the state of Minnesota. In January of 2018 Lift Bridge announced expansion into a new facility that will be open sometime in 2019.


Summit Brewing Company 

Summit Brewing Company, founded by Mark Stutrud, received the Deubener Award for small business excellence in manufacturing from the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce in May 2004 and the H.E.R.B.I.E. award from the chamber in February 2006. In 2013, the brewery was recognized by the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce with the Minnesota Keystone Award and a Visionary Gold Award by Packaging Digest for innovation. A year later, the brewery received a Gold Award in Minnesota Manufacturing and the Progress Minnesota Award. In addition to being an outstanding business, Summit Brewing Company has received numerous national and international awards and recognition for the quality of its beer.


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

A program of Appetite for Change, Breaking Bread Café & Catering is a community-based nonprofit using food as a tool to build health, wealth and social change. Catering manager Geoffrey Wilson (pictured) is a Minnesota native who recently returned to Minneapolis after years living and working in New York City. He has a passion for food and hospitality. His first job was as a barista at Caribou Coffee at age 16 and he has worked in cafés and restaurants ever since. In addition to making great latte art, Geoffrey is a professional musician and composer, performing shows around the Twin Cities.  


Chowgirls Killer Catering

Heidi Andermack and Amy Lynn Brown founded Chowgirls Killer Catering nearly 15 years ago as a force of two women who believed catering could be sexy. Since then, they’ve grown the company to fit more than 125 other talented people and set the gold standard for organic, sustainable fare and top-shelf events. In 2014, the year of Chowgirls’ 10-year anniversary, they were named two of MSP Business Journal’s Top 50 Women in Business and in 2016 they published their first cookbook, “Chowgirls Killer Party Food,” which received national reviews and media coverage. 


D’Amico Catering 

Over the past 25-plus years, D’Amico Catering has earned and maintained a reputation as the region’s premier caterer, orchestrating more than 76,000 events, with a roster of clients that reads like a Twin Cities who’s who. D’Amico Catering was founded by restaurateurs Richard and Larry D’Amico, whose accomplishments include five prestigious James Beard Awards nominations for their thriving portfolio of restaurants in the Twin Cities and Naples, Florida.

The D’Amico Catering team is comprised of many of the industry’s top culinary chefs and event planners. As perfectionists about what’s on the plate, D’Amico brings incomparable culinary experience and a reputation for impeccable service to the table. 


Community Hero

He or she uses their skills and platform to better the community, either through charitable acts or mentorship.


Rose McGee

Rose McGee is a sweet potato pie philanthropist and creator of the Sweet Potato Comfort Pie approach—a catalyst for building and strengthening community. It was 2014 during the racial disturbance in Ferguson, Missouri, when Rose felt compelled to bake 30 pies, loaded them into her car and drove to Ferguson to offer comfort. Since Ferguson, over 3,000 Sweet Potato Comfort Pies have been made by Rose and volunteers with a purpose. In April 2018, Rose led members of the St. Louis Park Police Department in baking pies in support of their Somali community after the bombing in Mogadishu. She believes “Comfort food is to be served with a healing purpose. During these painful and complex times, why not share the complex, yet sacred dessert of Black culture—sweet potato pie?” 


Nathan Sartain

Nathan Sartain has been faculty and program director of culinary arts at Saint Paul College since 2005, one of the last culinary training programs in the Twin Cities. He is passionate about personal nutrition, public health and regional organic, sustainable fare, and believes chefs have the ability to affect change in the conventional food system by being a conscious consumer. He has worked with food-specific community-based organizations such as Appetite for Change, Youth Farm, Urban Roots, Frogtown Farm, Community Homestead, Cookie Cart and Roots for the Home Team. He often uses these partnerships to create learning experiences and volunteer opportunities for his culinary students. Nathan prides himself in supporting the local food community with a workforce that is fundamentally trained, curious and driven to improve the lives of themselves and others.


Rhys Williams 

Rhys Williams understands what it takes to grow and distribute local food because he has worked in almost every aspect of the food system. With more than 20 years as an organic farmer and almost a decade working as a wholesale buyer, he is able to offer support to growers from seed to sale. Rhys believes that giving a voice to, and creating market opportunities for independent, minority and immigrant farmers is key to strengthening the Twin Cities food system. As executive director of The Good Acre, he has overseen the development of programs that embody the organization’s mission of connecting and strengthening farmers, food makers, and communities through good food.


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 four owners, Christi Atkinson, Rob Clapp, Chris Pennington and Jennifer Pennington, formed Can Can Wonderland as the first arts-based public benefit corporation in Minnesota. That means with every putt, boozy milkshake, tap dance, ping pong battle, and delicious mini donut devoured, Can Can Wonderland is able to give back and economically support the Minneapolis-St. Paul artist community they love. Their building in St. Paul was once home to the American Can Company, thus the name. 


The Dakota

The Dakota is a rare gem in the Minneapolis entertainment scene. One of few establishments to serve a full, chef-driven menu paired with world-class music performances seven nights a week, the Dakota is more than a restaurant and more than a music club; it’s where love of great food and great music come together as a seamless duet. It was opened in October of 1985 by Lowell Pickett, as the Dakota in St. Paul’s Bandana Square. Some years later with the intention to expand, Lowell partnered with current co-owner Richard Erickson and traveled across the river to Minneapolis’ Nicollet Mall. Currently located at Target world headquarters, the Dakota has blossomed in its new home and is now regarded as one of the country’s premier small music venues.



Opened in June of 2012 by Chef Matthew Bickford (Bewiched, Solera, Zander Café) and Brian Liebeck, Icehouse is located in what was originally the loading docks to the old Cedar Fuel and Ice, where more than 75,000 tons of ice was harvested each year and later a part of Icehouse studios, where many audio and video recordings took place. The original brick-and-wood ceiling still remains and was incorporated into the design of Icehouse the restaurant, bar and music venue. Chef Bickford changes the menu with the seasons to reflect the local grow seasons, brines and cures all meats, bakes all breads and pastries in-house. Icehouse regularly hosts a wide variety of performers ranging from the best of the local music scene and a few notable international/national artists from time to time.


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.


Birch’s on the Lake

Birch’s on the Lake, owned by Burton Joseph, has the ambiance of a Wisconsin-style supper club meets an experimental American brewery. The lake in the name is Long Lake, and a patio with a better view is mighty hard to find in the Twin cities, especially one with live music inside on the weekends. Its popularity comes from the fact that it’s both an adult hangout and kid friendly. Burton uses locally sourced ingredients for his seasonal menus and did we mention, they also brew their own beer? 


Lyn 65

Lyn 65 was opened in August of 2014 by Ben Rients as a neighborhood restaurant that proudly serves humble, yet elevated, bar fare influenced by the various cultures around the world. Prior to opening Lyn65, Ben worked for Alex Roberts at Restaurant Alma. Coming from a white-tablecloth background, Ben had to learn to cook the classic bar food from hamburgers to fried chicken sandwiches, and he does so with a bit of a flair which is why tables are filled even on a Monday night in December.


Primo Plates & Pours

Primo, owned and operated by Anthony Oslund, is a quaint, cozy upscale Italian restaurant located in Long Lake that welcomes customers in flip flops or dressed to the nines. Anthony worked for a number of notable Twin Cities restaurants before fulfilling his dream of opening his own restaurant. Phil Dvorak was the consulting chef and Tom Nunnelee is now executive chef. Sauces, dressing and some of their pasta are made from scratch using both local ingredients and those imported from Italy. Primo’s specialty is spaghetti and meatballs, from a recipe that Anthony’s grandparents received as a wedding present from the chef at the restaurant they ate at on the night of their wedding. 


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. 


Ann Ahmed 

Ann Ahmed grew up helping her mother and grandmother, who escaped worn-torn Laos, cook. She’s wanted to own a restaurant since she was 14 and in 2005, her dream came true when she opened Lemon Grass Thai Cuisine in Brooklyn Park. The  colorful and original dishes she served were influenced by her travels around the world, and she quickly gained a reputation for her unique Laotian spin on traditional Thai food. Ann opened a second restaurant to rave reviews in Golden Valley. Lat14 Asian Eatery is inspired by the cuisines and cultures of countries located on the 14th latitudinal parallel—Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and The Philippines. Here, Ann’s goal is to transport Minnesotans to each place through their distinct flavors and dishes.


Justin Sutherland

Hailing from St. Paul, Justin Sutherland spent his childhood in the kitchen learning from his mother and grandmother. Growing up his favorite TV show was “Yan Can Cook” and on his 5th birthday he asked for an Easy- Bake Oven. After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Atlanta, Justin moved back home to hone his skills in some of Minneapolis’ top restaurants, including Meritage and Brasserie Zentral. Sutherland is currently a managing partner of Madison Restaurant Group’s eight restaurants in St. Paul (Handsome Hog, Public Kitchen + Bar, Green Lantern Cocktails & Music, Eagle Street Grille, Ox Cart Ale House and Rooftop, Gray Duck Tavern and Fitzgerald’s on Cathedral Hill). He is also co-owner and executive chef of Pearl and the Thief in Stillwater. He recently competed and won on “Iron Chef America.” Justin is fearless in his craft, is dedicated to discipline and never settles for anything but the best.


Karyn Tomlinson

Born and raised in the suburbs of Minnesota, Karyn Tomlinson, chef de cuisine of highly acclaimed Corner Table restaurant, was exposed to hospitality from a very young age. As the only child of parents who embraced travel, Karyn developed an appreciation of other cultures early on, with some of her earliest memories stemming from time spent in Scandinavia with her parents at age 5. She attended famed culinary school Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, France, and returned to the Twin Cities, honing her skills at Meritage, before shifting to pastries at Borough, where she won a Charlie Award as Outstanding Pastry Chef. While visiting Sweden in 2016, she met Chef Magnus Nilsson of Fäviken Magasinet fame, and arranged to do an apprenticeship at his celebrated restaurant. She returned home in 2017, and was hired by Chef Thomas Boemer of Corner Table, once he learned she was returning to the savory side of cooking. She followed in his footsteps last year to win the Cochon555, declaring her the Queen of Porc.  


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

A Minnesota native, Christina Kaelberer has worked alongside some of today’s greatest chefs across the country, including Jean Georges at Spice Market in New York and Michael Chiarello at Bottega in Yountville, California. She was the executive pastry chef at New York’s famed Rainbow Room and has competed on “Iron Chef America.” Today Christina brings her depth of culinary experience and passion for desserts to deliver a truly one-of-a-kind dessert experience for her guests. Patrons at Edwards Dessert Kitchen can try Christina’s modern twists on classic desserts, such as Curried Scotcheroos, Miso Caramel Pudding and Mango Coconut Crème Pie Puffs. The menu features made-to-order items, seasonal tastings and fresh, ready-and-waiting items as well as vegan and gluten-free desserts.


Diane Moua

Diane Moua is the executive pastry chef at award-winning Spoon and Stable, Bellecour, and Demi in Minneapolis. The second eldest of six children, she’s a first-generation Hmong-American. Her interest in the kitchen, and especially for pastries and cakes, led her to enroll at Le Cordon Bleu in Eagan in 2000. While a student, she interned under James Beard Award-winning Chef Tim McKee at his four-star restaurant, La Belle Vie, where she later worked until joining the pre-opening team at Spoon and Stable. At Spoon and Stable, Diane finds inspiration in classic dessert flavors presented and paired in unique ways. At Bellecour, she elevates classic French pastries and desserts, in the restaurant and the bakery. Diane has received numerous local and national accolades, including a 2013 Charlie Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef and a 2018 nomination for the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Pastry Chef. 


Carrie Riggs  

Carrie Riggs spent years as a preschool teacher, and was on her way to get her master’s degree when she took a life-changing trip to Southeast Asia. There, she found herself drawn to all the French-inspired pastries. When she returned to the U.S., she decided to take a risk and turn her lifelong hobby of baking into a career. Carrie returned to culinary school to study pastry, taking an internship under Niki Francioli at Sea Change. She soon also took over as the pastry chef at both Cafe Maude locations. Then, in 2013, she joined the team at Alma and has run both the pastry program at Alma and Brasa. Carrie is drawn to old-world technique, presented in a way that speaks to the community surrounding her. Her pastries are accessible, and balanced—utilizing whole grains and rustic flavors. She enjoys making everything from intricate plated desserts to rustic sourdough loaves to flaky, buttery croissants and Danishes. 


Outstanding Restaurant

A restaurant that continually hits on all cylinders with creative and exceptional food, atmosphere and service.



Martina’s owner Chef Daniel del Prado was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to parents of Spanish and southern Italian descent. His exposure to the culinary industry began with his mother always making pasta. After moving to the U.S. in his early 20s, Daniel began his culinary career in Colorado—cooking at night and snowboarding during the day. He fell into cooking, as it was one of the few jobs that could support his snowboarding life. Cooking, however, soon because his new creative outlet. When he moved to Minneapolis, he worked in some of the finest kitchens in town, including La Belle Vie and Solera. In 2009 he teamed up with his mentor, Isaac Becker, to open Bar La Grassa. After a very successful year at Bar La Grassa, del Prado worked in Portland, Oregon, and broadened his experience in high-caliber European kitchens. Upon his return to Minneapolis, he again partnered with Becker as the executive chef of Burch Steak and Pizza Bar, which opened in Uptown in 2013. This past year he opened up his first solo venture, Martina, an Argentine and Italian inspired space with a focus on seafood, and Colita, inspired by Mexican cuisine and smoked meats.


Grand Cafe

Grand Cafe is a magical little slice of Paris in South Minneapolis. Jamie Malone, who won the Charlies last year for Outstanding Chef and has been nominated for a James Beard award, is bringing French food back into style with elegance, within the walls of an unexpected, yet soulful 70-year-old bakery space. Grand’s Sweet & Savory Paris-Brest was featured on the cover of Food & Wine’s May issue as 2018’s best dish, and Grand also was selected as one of the best new restaurants. While Grand is considered a neighborhood restaurant, it’s also destination dining for foodies from all over. Grand was recently selected as Esquire magazine’s Restaurant Resurrection of the Year.


Hai Hai

Christina Nguyen is the chef and co-owner, along with her husband and business partner, Birk Grudem, of restaurants Hola Arepa in South Minneapolis and Hai Hai in Northeast Minneapolis. Hai Hai, their newest restaurant which opened in late 2017, focuses on Southeast Asian street food and cocktails. This concept pulls inspiration from dishes that Christina grew up eating and from the couple’s travels around Southeast Asia. In 2018, Christina was nominated as a semifinalist for a James Beard Award in the Best Chef Midwest category. Hai Hai has gotten recognition from national press including Eater’s 18 Best New Restaurants in America, Thrillist’s 13 Best New Restaurants in America, and Esquire Magazine’s 20 Best New Restaurants. Christina was also named Esquire’s Rising Star Chef of the Year in 2018.  


Outstanding Restaurateur

Not all the magic happens in the kitchen. This category is for the owner of the restaurant with at least five years in the industry, who excels at running a restaurant, keeping it profitable as well as relevant, and who is an influencer in the community.


Thomas Boemer & Nick Rancone – Twist Davis Group (Corner Table, Revival, In Bloom)

While Thomas Boemer gets kudos (and awards) for his skill in the kitchen, Nick Rancone is lauded for his knowledge of the factors that influence the diners’ experience, including wine and well-run establishments. When the opportunity arose to buy Corner Table in 2013, Thomas was working in the kitchen part-time and the two bonded over shared philosophy and vision. Their partnership has brought the Twin Cities well thought-out and foodie concepts, including their latest collaboration, In Bloom, in the Keg & Case food hall in St. Paul.


Tim Niver – Meyvn, Mucci’s Italian, Saint Dinette

Tim Niver got his start like many in the restaurant industry, working at 15 for McDonald’s. He’s come a long way. He joined Parasole Restaurant Group for his first management role, had a brief stint in NYC with Smith & Wollensky, and opened the Bellagio before returning to Minnesota to help Marcus Samuelsson open Aquavit as general manager. Tim’s thoughtful approach to running a restaurant has produced notable, service-oriented restaurants that are popular with diners and critics alike. 


Luke Shimp – kindRED Hospitality (Red Cow, Red Rabbit)

Shortly after Luke Shimp left Blue Plate Restaurant Co. in 2012, the perfect piece of property became available in his neighborhood. Luke and his wife Tracy knew they had the potential to create something special together. They decided to create a “modern tavern” concept, with exceptional burgers. Fast forward to 2018, Red Cow has grown to four locations and a new sister restaurant serving elevated Italian dishes has been born. The first Red Rabbit restaurant opened in 2016 in downtown Minneapolis. The second location just opened on Grand Avenue in St. Paul in September of this year. As part of its mission as a restaurant company, a percentage of sales is dedicated to supporting everything from local sports teams to children’s charities to larger nonprofits.


Rising Star

An under 30(ish), 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

A Victoria, Minnesota, native, Rikki Giambruno began his cooking career while attending college in Nebraska. He moved to New York City to attend The International Culinary Center and immerse himself in the city’s restaurant culture. After spending time at a number of NYC establishments, most notably two-Michelin Star Corton, Rikki found a home in Brooklyn working at Franny’s for chef John Adler and owners Francine Stephens and Andrew Feinberg. after becoming a utility player for Feinberg and Stephens, Rikki eventually assumed the role of executive chef at Franny’s. He held that position until the restaurant’s closure, when he decided to move back home to open Hyacinth, the stylish Italian St. Paul restaurant on Grand Avenue. 


Joshua Walbolt

While still in high school, Joshua became a two-time state champion in the ProStart culinary competitions. He was named Top Chef at Walt Disney World’s flagship restaurant, California Grill, in a series of mystery basket challenges in 2015, and has worked in New York City for Iron Chef Morimoto, where he trained in the art of sushi and opened Morimoto Asia in Disney Springs. In 2016, Joshua was chosen as a Top 10 Young Chefs in the U.S. by San Pellegrino to compete in their global talent search. Classically trained in French cuisine at the Culinary institute of America, he is inspired by his Cambodian and Thai roots as well as the other cultures and bold flavors of Southeast Asia. He’s now chef de cuisine at Lat14 in Golden Valley.


Shannel Winkel 

Shannel Winkel was born and raised in a small farming community in Washington, IA. Growing up among farmers cultivated her deep appreciation for locally grown and raised, produce and livestock. She is currently the executive chef of The Bird, where she creates dishes reminiscent of your grandmother’s cooking but in a thoroughly modern way. Shannel’s improvisational style means that she’s not afraid to experiment, combining flavors and techniques to create dishes that are at once familiar and surprising. Last year, Shannel was awarded a scholarship from the James Beard Foundation for Women in the Culinary Leadership Program, where she apprenticed with legendary Miami Chef Cindy Hutson, and assisted Top Chef, season 13 winner, Jeremy Ford, in opening his South Beach restaurant, Stubborn Seed.


Outstanding Service

A restaurant or foodservice business that excels at hospitality by being consistently outstanding and welcoming, and having an inviting and fun personality that makes people feel more at home than when they are at home.


112 Eatery

Chef Isaac Becker’s 112 Eatery on North 3rd Street in Minneapolis is a fine-dining experience that starts with a professional staff catering to your every need, followed by food from an award-winning chef (Best Chef, Midwest in 2011 and semi-finalist for the national Outstanding Chef in 2014 by the James Beard Foundation), and then a proper send off. 


Joan’s in the Park

Joan’s in the Park is like visiting family, with all the warmth and good food and none of the drama. Owners, chef Susan Dunlop and Joan Schmitt, have created a lively, intimate restaurant and wine bar with a delicious twist on New American small plates. Their staff is friendly and professional. The St. Paul restaurant on Snelling Avenue South was honored as the Minnesota Restaurant Association’s Restaurant of the Year for 2018. 



Iconic French brasserie and oyster bar Meritage occupies the ground floor of the historic Hamm Building in the heart of downtown St. Paul. In 2007, Russell and Desta Klein celebrated their marriage in a space that would soon become their restaurant. Meritage (a union of merit and heritage) offers seasonal, French cooking crafted by Chef Klein. From the classically timeless dining room, to the charming outdoor terrace, the space captures the essence of a Paris street café, and the staff has that level of service expected at a crown jewel. 

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