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The Charlies: Meet the 2020 Finalists

Check out the finalists in 12 categories first here, and then from your seat at the Pantages Theater, Sunday, February 9, starting at 3:30 p.m. The recipients of the Charlie Awards are chosen by their peers, plus a committee of previous winners and finalists, in three rounds of voting.

Be sure to find out who the winners are by purchasing your tickets to the award show and afterparty at Seven Steakhouse (right next door to the theater) by clicking on the Charlies button on the Foodservice News website, www.foodservicenews.net, or by emailing info@charliesexceptionale.com or calling 612-767-3229. We’ll be expecting you!


Outstanding Bartender

He or she possesses the skillset 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.


Katy Dimick

Hola Arepa’s bar manager, Katy Dimick, entered the craft side of bartending as one of the members of the opening team at Parlour. After three months of traveling in Europe, she returned to Minneapolis and joined the bar team at Hola Arepa. Her love for bartending extends beyond cocktails, and this year she won the Somm Slam, a sommelier competition hosted at Monello in Minneapolis. Along with two friends she met while bartending at Volsteads, Dimick founded The Queens Cocktail Club, a creative team of female bartenders who host pop-up bar events around the Twin Cities which push the boundaries of creativity by using local seasonal ingredients, with proceeds benefiting various charities.


Trish Gavin 

Trish Gavin has been a woman of the bar for two decades, starting back when there were very few female bartenders. Increasing the visibility of women behind the bar as well as educating young bartenders in the way of spirits, wine and the industry in general, has been her mission.  Gavin has competed and placed in more than 20 local and regional competitions such as Bombay Sapphire Most Imaginative Bartender and the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Classic. Gavin currently directs the beverage programs at Lat 14 Asian Eatery and Lemongrass Thai. She has worked at a number of notable restaurants, such as Heidi’s, Heartland, Brasserie Zentral and most recently directing the beverage program at the Hewing Hotel.



Tyler Kleinow 

The only male out of our three finalists, Tyler Kleinow was a senior bartender and industry leader at Marvel Bar—one of Esquire magazine’s 21 best bars in America for 2018—for seven years, developing relationships with local producers and peers alike. He also runs a consulting brand that focuses on creating new products with local distilleries and sets up systems for new and re-branded bars. Most recently, he left his position at Marvel Bar to join the team at Meteor as head bartender. Meteor opened in late December in the old Stand Up Frank’s location in north Minneapolis.




Outstanding Brewery

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


56 Brewing

56 Brewing’s motto is “we make beer we like to drink,” which translates into a collaborative group of beer enthusiasts who pay extra attention to their microbrewery and taproom in Northeast Minneapolis.  Their selection of beers are backed by local ingredients, sustainability and countless hours of “research” (somebody’s gotta do it). But as good as the beer is, the big draw is an open patio facing community gardens, pinball, trivia games, jazz, food trucks and a family-friendly vibe, where even dogs are welcome (as long as they use their inside bark).


Dangerous Man Brewing Co.

Dangerous Man Brewing Co. is a destination taproom brewery in Northeast Minneapolis focusing on high-quality, small-batch production beers. Husband-and-wife team Rob Miller and Sarah Bonvallet opened it in 2013, but while the couple set the foundation for the business, Bonvallet credits the staff with what elevates Dangerous Man: “Our employees have created a volunteer program that is 500 humans strong, built two community gardens that produced more than 1,000 pounds of food this summer for the local food shelf; they are highly educated in the world of craft beer, they welcome anyone from anywhere, they are innovators in the beer scene, everyday problem solvers, and the best team of humans I have had the pleasure to work with.” And they like beer.


Surly Brewing Co.

Surly Brewing is a 50,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility with a brewhouse, beer hall, full-service kitchen, pizza place, massive beer garden and events center. Not settling is what drives the Surly story: “It’s what drove us to convert a Brooklyn Center abrasives factory to a brewery in 2004. It’s what drove Surly’s owner, Omar Ansari, to go bar to bar, asking them to carry our beer. It’s what drove us to earn medals from the Great American Beer Festival and Best Brewery in America honors. It’s what drove us to change a Minnesota law that had been on the books since Prohibition that prohibited brewers from selling their own beer onsite,” according to the company. There’s no settling on the beer either, but there’s plenty of space to settle in for a day or night of drinking and eating.


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.


Crave Catering & Events

As a division of Kaskaid Hospitality, Crave Catering & Events is able to draw from an extensive array of menus from some of the Twin Cities top restaurants, including: Crave, Union, BLVD, Avenida, Urban Eatery and Burger Burger. Its COO, Pauline Hoogmoed (pictured), is well situated to execute a detailed catering experience. She’s been in the hospitality industry for 30-plus years working in catering, event production and planning as well as running Catersource Magazine, Conference & Tradeshow for many years. She thrives on exceeding clients’ expectations and learning something new from each event, and she has instilled this drive in her team as a core value.


D’Amico Catering

Over the past 25-plus years, D’Amico Catering, started by brothers Richard and Larry D’Amico (pictured), has earned a reputation for impeccable service. As a catering company with restaurant roots, D’Amico knows incredible food, gracious service and a sense of “famiglia” are the heart of a memorable dining experience. Boasting an impressive lineup of proud, professional, restaurant-tested chefs and event planners who are the spark for new ideas and the gatekeepers of quality, they consistently deliver cuisine that is diverse, dynamic, innovative, relevant and on-trend. D’Amico has participated as caterer of choice in some of the Twin Cities’ most significant cultural, corporate and philanthropic events.


Fabulous Catering

Eden Fitzgerald, right, who handles the special event planning duties, and Dawn Drouillard, the chef, are the fabulous duo behind Fabulous Catering, whose mission is to provide “the most beautiful and stunning food experience possible” with an emphasis on quality, professional service and the freshest available ingredients. Drouillard learned to cook professionally in local restaurants in Grand Marais and at the original Loring Café. The two realized that the Twin Cities needed fresh, lively and beautifully presented food, thus launching Fabulous Catering in 1999. Fitzgerald’s philosophy of service is to focus on the whole experience, and she’s not happy “until the client gives her a hug at the end of the event.”


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. 


Remy Pettus 

Remy Pettus, chef/owner at Bardo, discovered the emotional potential of food when he did a two-day unpaid stage at French restaurant, A Rebours. After three months of working for free, he landed his first paid job as a banquet prep cook at a country club in Minneapolis under Chef Ferris Schiffer.  His first restaurant job was at Vincent A Restaurant. He left to attend the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, in March 2006, and was soon named group leader three out of his four semesters, conducting his externship at Moto Restaurant. He graduated third in his class of 78  in October 2007, and in the spring of 2009 Pettus worked at Charlie Palmer’s flagship restaurant, Dry Creek Kitchen, in the heart of wine county. He also developed and conceptualized a new restaurant in a historic theater in the western suburbs of Minneapolis which sat on 11 acres of land. He built more than 1.5 acres of production gardens and orchards including a 28-tree maple tapping operation, and led on-site foraging. In 2015, he opened Eastside in Minneapolis, then went on to open his own restaurant, Bardo, in 2017.


Chef Jack Riebel 

Jack Riebel, a St. Paul native with 25 years in the hospitality industry, is owner/chef of the iconic Lexington Restaurant. Riebel came into his own while at Goodfellow’s from 1990 to 2002. He then went on to lead the team as executive chef at La Belle Vie in Stillwater. He returned to Minneapolis and led the kitchen at the Dakota for six years. In 2011, Riebel designed and opened Butcher and the Boar which quickly became a downtown Minneapolis favorite. A James Beard nomination for Best Chef: Midwest followed, as well as a spot on The Wall Street Journal’s Top 20 Modern Meateries in the United States, published in 2013. Riebel led an extensive renovation to the historic Lexington Restaurant on Grand Avenue. In addition to his role at The Lexington, Riebel recently opened The Cook and The Ox in Terminal One of the MSP Airport. 


Yia Vang  

Yia Vang was born in a refugee camp in Thailand before his father and mother moved the family to the U.S. in 1988. He is founder of Union Hmong Kitchen, a Twin Cities-based Hmong pop-up restaurant that is currently doing a residency at Sociable Cider Werks. As the host of “Relish,” an original online video series by Twin Cities PBS, he makes the food he grew up with more accessible to people of other cultures while also passing traditions down to the next generation of Hmong Americans. He began to find his own voice in showcasing Hmong food working in kitchens throughout the Twin Cities. His belief is that Hmong food isn’t a type of food, but a philosophy. Hmong food is not defined by its product, it’s defined by its process. He believes that the melding of many cultures plays a role in the cultural DNA of the Hmong people. “Our history is intrinsically woven into the food we eat,” he says. “Every dish has a narrative, and if you follow that narrative closely enough, you understand the people.” Vang also brings flavor, fire and a passion for storytelling through food. His first brick-and-mortar restaurant is planned to open in 2020.


Outstanding Coffeehouse

Places to buy coffee are ubiquitous, but our outstanding coffeehouse is infused with style, character, sociability, and free Wi-Fi, while serving a darn good inventory of coffee, tea and snacks.


Five Watt Coffee

Five Watt Coffee was founded by Lee Carter and Caleb Garn in 2014, two guys with similar coffee philosophies. Their baristas are known for building relationships with the customers and remembering their names and their regular drink order. Don’t be surprised if you receive a high-five across the bar—coffee is about connecting people. A unique feature of the four-unit chain is Radio Five Watt, a locally focused music, arts and culture internet radio station that streams online 24 hours a day from the Northeast Minneapolis Five Watt Coffee shop. “Our goal is to be a catalyst of community and connectivity in a city rich with talent…broadcasting the best and the newest of local music, to podcasting bits from our arts and culture community,” notes an explanation on the website.



Megan Greulich Schoonover, pictured, is co-owner and operator of Groundswell, with her husband, Jason, and Alisha Gilbert. Schoonover takes on the extra chore of general manager at the neighborhood-driven cafe, bakery, coffee shop and beer and wine bar in St Paul. Her baked goods have been recognized both locally and nationally, and she has appeared on the Food Network, “The Jason Show” and other Twin Cities television outlets. In addition to creating a cozy environment for people to set up their laptops, there are happy hour, trivia nights and art popups. Groundswell has partnered with HWY North, which collaborates with local artists who sell their jewelry pottery and prints in the coffeehouse.


Spyhouse Coffee Roasters

Spyhouse Coffee Roasters is a Twin Cities roaster and retailer that cultivates relationships with people who share their passion and vision to source, roast and serve exceptional coffees. In 2000, Spyhouse first opened in the Whittier neighborhood, one of Minneapolis’ oldest and most diverse neighborhoods. From this start as a small, independent coffeehouse, Spyhouse has grown not only physically by adding five locations and a roasting facility, but by expanding its mission: to source, roast, brew and serve the customer an exceptional coffee while educating that customer on the entire process, from origin to consumption.

Spyhouse strives to build strong producer partnerships, so it can support those who work on the farms and innovate to combat the challenges that climate change brings. Locally, it believes that making time to engage with one another in meaningful ways is key for healthy dialogue, relationships, and communities.


Community Hero

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


Emily Hunt Turner

Emily Hunt Turner is a civil rights attorney with a background in architecture, law and public policy. She is the founder and CEO of All Square—a social enterprise centered on a craft grilled cheese restaurant and professional institute that invests in the lives and minds of formerly incarcerated individuals. Prior to All Square, Hunt Turner spent five years as an attorney for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, tackling issues of fair housing and housing segregation. Earlier this year, All Square was named to Time magazine’s 100 Greatest Places.


Cathy Maes

Cathy Maes has been working at an executive level to alleviate hunger in Minnesota since 2008, and is a tireless advocate for the less fortunate. Loaves and Fishes’ board of directors recruited Maes in 2013, challenging her to find innovative ways to serve more meals to more Minnesotans in need. In her tenure, she has guided prudent expansion alongside creative programming efforts with 1.3 million meals served in 2019, four times the amount in 2013. Her team launched a visionary new meal program called “The HUB” after learning that small Minnesota nonprofits that offered residential programming did not have affordable options for healthy meal service. Today, Loaves and Fishes is working with more than 65 partnering groups in order to broaden access to healthy food in Minnesota. Maes is a Center for Integrative Leadership Fellow at the University of Minnesota, and was named the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits’ 2019 Transformational Leader. In addition, she has served as executive director of the ICA Food Shelf, vice-chair of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits’ Board, and as an elected school board member for Minnetonka Public Schools. 


Jacquie Berglund

Jacquie Berglund founded Finnegans Brew Co. and Finnegans SBC, the first beer company in the world to donate 100 percent of its profits to fund fresh produce for those in need. Through the creation of both Finnegans SBC, and its nonprofit counterpart, Finnegans Community Fund, Berglund has championed an innovative, market-based approach to addressing and raising awareness about food insecurity in communities across the Midwest, and in the process has generated more than $1 million in impact through profits, partnerships and successful events. Finnegans is the second longest running social enterprise that donates 100 percent of profits, after Newman’s Own Foundation. She has built a team of eight full-time dedicated staff and 15 part-time staff as well as engaged thousands of volunteers and supporters to move the mission forward.


Hidden Gems

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.


Erté & the Peacock Lounge 

Erté & the Peacock Lounge, located in the heart of the Historic Arts District of NE Minneapolis, has a  Euro/American theatrical ambiance in both the lounge and dining room. Under the culinary direction of chef/owner Adam Milledge, pictured, the menu is focused on scratch-made, locally sourced, creative cuisine with a nod to the classics. The extensive wine, beer and strong vintage cocktail offerings are a perfect fit for the art deco space.  Now in its 19th year of operation, this family-owned restaurant has stood the test of time. Adam and Kelly Milledge purchased the restaurant in the fall of 2018, and are continuing the legacy while imparting their own twists to both the menu and the space. The ghosts from the past, however, are still present, albeit only friendly ones.


Mama’s Pizza

It’s been 55 years in the making of pizzas and pasta, and the next generation of siblings, Geri, Tony and Gina Mudzinski, are continuing the tradition of a small neighborhood restaurant that attracts a crowd for good old-fashioned Italian cuisine. The latest generation continues to use the same recipes as their uncle, a former St. Paul police officer, did when he started the restaurant on Rice Street all those years ago. The servings are humongous with an abundance of melted cheese, and when the server brings you a to-go box, there’s a layer of sauce lining the bottom of it. Nice touch. So are the bibs that are a must when you tuck into a saucy pile of spaghetti and meatballs, plus the small complimentary ice cream cone that tops off a great meal. 


Victor’s 1959 Café

Located on Grand Avenue South in Minneapolis, Victor’s 1959 Café may be the most highly decorated café in the Twin Cities, maybe the world. Graffiti covers the walls, counters, other graffiti and almost any surface that isn’t brick or flowered tablecloths. Owned by Niki Stavrou, who learned to cook from her Cuban husband, the café serves “Revolutionary Cuban Cooking” and has its own line of sauces for continuing the authenticity at home.  It’s small, as Hidden Gems tend to be, but in non-wintery months, strategically placed planters create a patio-dining experience, just short of Havana. It’s been featured on TV’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” and has attracted a loyal fan base. 


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.


Katie Elsing

Katie Elsing was kickstarting her culinary career from a formative age, working at various restaurants in her hometown of Sauk Prairie, Wisconsin. After high school, she moved to Minneapolis to enroll in culinary school. Her externship under Diane (Yang) Moua sparked a love for pastry, and her tenures include head pastry chef at Pig & Fiddle, Dakota Jazz Club and Icehouse. After eight years of leading pastry teams in fine-dining restaurants, she decided to branch out and try the bakery side of the industry. As executive pastry chef at The Lynhall since its inception in 2017, Elsing has led her team with an inclusive, compassionate approach. Her work ethic and passion are undeniable, and her award-winning creations are evidence that the proof is in the pudding.


Marc Heu

Marc Heu was born and raised in France. As the owner and executive pastry chef of Marc Heu Pâtisserie Paris in St. Paul, Heu’s pastries are inspired by traditional French desserts with modern and artistic interpretations on taste and form. He graduated from Lenotre Paris in 2018 with honors in his program, the “Grand Bachelors of Pastry.” He continued his education by earning certifications in chocolate, high Viennese and ice cream, learning from the world’s top pastry chefs. In addition, he interned at Pre Catalan, a three-star restaurant in Paris. He has also worked at Stohrer Paris, the first French pastry shop ever created, under the mentorship of Executive Pastry Chef Jeffrey Cagnes. He thinks of Minnesota as his “beloved adopted home state.” 


Steve Horton

Steve Horton founded Rustica Bakery a decade ago and is a three-times James Beard Award Semifinalist, for Outstanding Pastry Chef (2013 and 2014) and Outstanding Baker (2015). Horton is utilizing his experience and connections from growing Rustica to launch Baker’s Field Flour & Bread. Years of experience working with dozens of flours to make hundreds of breads has inspired him to connect farmers, millers and bakers to create exceptional flour and bread. He founded Baker’s Field and partnered with Kieran Folliard at NE Minneapolis’ Food Building because “good flour is hard to find, even in The Mill City.” Baker’s Field also bakes naturally leavened breads from its location as well.


Outstanding Restaurant

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



At his second Minneapolis restaurant, Colita (the acclaimed Martina was first), Chef Daniel del Prado focuses on the incredibly diverse flavors of Mexico, and the cooking technique of smoking, found in traditional barbecued food from all over the world. Through the ancient process of nixtamalization, Colita makes the masa for every tortilla and tostada fresh daily with imported corn from Oaxaca. The bar program, led by Beverage Innovator Marco Zappia, utilizes traditional fermentations in each cocktail from across the Yucatan, and including a rubber ducky in one frothy concoction. The décor in the busy, buzzing restaurant transports you south thanks to a border of cacti.


Popol Vuh

Offering creative and elevated Mexican cuisine, Popol Vuh in Minneapolis is directly translated to “book of the People” from its native K’iche, which is part creation myth, and part folklore—a statement of our relationship to the Earth, the animals and the people with whom we connect and coexist. Popol Vuh focuses on quality ingredients, raw wood fire, and refined but simple preparations. Chef Jose Alarcon, right, uses the seasons and his travels through Mexico to guide the menu. Craft cocktails featuring mezcal and tequila welcome guests with warm hospitality. As a first-time restaurant owner with Popol Vuh and Centro, Jami Olson, left, also serves as general manager. After a long stint in the film industry, she aligned her entrepreneurial desires with her passion for the hospitality industry. Aside from her innate working knowledge of her craft and her highly driven personality, she is also an incredible purveyor of hospitality, which is vital to the industry. 



Tenant, a small restaurant in South Minneapolis that serves an exquisite six-course tasting menu, may be the masterwork of the most modest chefs in Minneapolis—make that the world. The two chef owners don’t welcome publicity, but it hasn’t hurt their bookings—scoring reservations to their intimate dining experience involves a long wait. The cost is $60 per diner with an optional $30 beverage pairing. A credit card holds the reservation and a fee is charged for no-shows. The dining room is centered on a small counter that views the kitchen, with a few additional tables seated at different times throughout the night. The meal is served by the chef/owners, which makes it personal and unique. The food is upscale, the atmosphere casual, and the music loud. While the menu is fixed, the guest occasionally can weigh in on the turntable vinyl selection.


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.


The Blue Plate Restaurant Company

The Blue Plate Restaurant Company’s unique collection of restaurants across the Twin Cities specialize in comfort food with a twist that delight loyal guests and are the pride of the neighborhoods they serve. Co-owners Stephanie Shimp and David Burley, pictured above, were servers at Nicollet Island Inn 25 years ago, while planning their own restaurant, Highland Grill. They expanded their collection of neighborhood restaurants to become the Blue Plate Restaurant Company, which includes Highland Grill, Groveland Tap, Longfellow Grill, Edina Grill, 3 Squares, The Lowry, The Blue Barn (Minnesota State Fair), The Freehouse, Mercury Dining Room and Rail and Shindig Event Center. Shimp lived and breathed the idea of passionate hospitality before it was a thing. The idea of saying no to a guest is simply not in her DNA. Burley served on the board of the Minnesota Restaurant Association. As a transformational leader, he also provides active guidance concerning legislative rulings affecting the restaurant industry and offers a pragmatic voice from the restaurant owner’s perspective.


Craft & Crew Hospitality

David Benowitz, right, is president and COO of Craft & Crew Hospitality, a growing restaurant group in the Twin Cities, and Luke Derheim serves as operations director. After graduating from the business school at the University of Kansas, Benowitz quickly realized the corporate world didn’t move fast enough for him, so he joined his father in the restaurant business. He teamed up with Derheim to open Al’s Place a retro speakeasy above Stanley’s NE Bar Room.  Other restaurants in the Craft & crew’s portfolio include The Howe Daily Kitchen & Bar, Pub 819 The Bar Draft House and The Block. Over the last 16 years, Benowitz and Derheim have opened or re-concepted seven unique bar/restaurants while building and establishing the Craft & Crew brand as a leader in this community. The brand is known for its comfort food and hospitality, not only to human diners, but to their dogs, who have their own canine friendly menu on the patios.  


Yum! Kitchen and Bakery

Patti Soskin, pictured, the owner of two locations of Yum! Kitchen and Bakery, has been in the restaurant business since she was 16, beginning as a server at The Pantry in Edina.  She worked as a manager of Pronto Ristorante and later as the GM for Dayton’s Restaurants, Marketplace Foods and Catering, Leeann Chin and Goodfellows. In the late ‘80s, she owned Patti’s, a contemporary fine-dining restaurant in Golden Valley, and served as a consultant to the Parasole Group for several years. Yum! is an innovative, upscale fast-casual concept that serves beer and wine, plus food made from scratch. It has a following for its two restaurants, one in St. Louis Park and the other in Minnetonka. Soskin served on the Board of College Possible. 


Rising Stars

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.


Jametta Raspberry

Jametta Raspberry, executive chef and owner of House of Gristle, found her culinary calling while raising her two children. She attended Le Cordon Bleu and The Art Institute of Minneapolis, and for 15 years worked her way around a variety of kitchens throughout the Twin Cities. Raspberry eventually noticed a lack of representation of black women as chefs and decided to break out on her own and start an independent catering business. She began selling oxtails out of her home using social media as a marketing platform. Because of her determination and hustle, she eventually became an assistant chef at the Governor’s residence and a personal chef. She founded House of Gristle LLC in January 2019 as a way to express her culinary talents and to show the world that black women historically have deserved a seat at the culinary table. She intends to continue redefining the new American cuisine by crossing cultures and breaking barriers.


Kate Sidoti

Kate Sidoti, owner of Brim with her husband, Patrick, grew up in a house where everything was made from scratch, allowing her to start cooking and baking at a young age. Unlike other kids her age, Sidoti would scour the library for books on health and nutrition. Following her studies in environmental science in New Zealand, she decided to pursue her passion for cooking and healthy living by obtaining a culinary degree from the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City. She worked as a caterer in New York before moving to Park City, Utah, where she worked as a private chef and caterer for high-profile individuals and exclusive industry events. It was during a break from work in Minneapolis that she literally ran into her now husband, and the two started dreaming up the concept for Brim together, featuring healthy bowls.


Britt St. Clair

Britt St. Clair started working in restaurants at 15. She moved to Minneapolis in 2011 to go to the Art Institute International of Minnesota for her culinary degree. After graduating, she worked at a number of places in the Minneapolis area, including Eli’s East, Create Catering, D’Amico Kitchen, Parma 8200, Barbette and Nighthawks. In 2015, she helped open Birdie, a chef’s tasting-menu restaurant focused on seasonal vegetables. Combining her travel experiences with inspiration from local produce, she and the team created a 10-course menu every week. She currently is the chef de cuisine at Grand Café in Minneapolis, working with Chef Jamie Malone. 


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.


Good Day Café

Golden Valley’s mainstay Good Day Café was founded in 2007 on the premise of creating “10-mile food”—food and service worthy of driving 10 miles to enjoy. The popular breakfast spot is run by the founder’s sons, David and Michael Webb, along with their mother, Nancy. The menu is made-from-scratch food delivered to your table by servers who are experienced and friendly, just what you need before that cup of coffee.



Nighthawks Diner + Bar

To demonstrate its commitment to service, Nighthawks Diner + Bar, the “Humble Roadside Diner on the South side of Minneapolis,” served up Andrew Pickar as an icon of its outstanding service. Pickar has been serving the general public for the past 25 years for establishments such as D’Amico Cucina to Rainbow Chinese. His path to your table started in the coffeehouse, Muddy Waters, swinging joe and rice krispies bars and selling single smokes for 25 cents. When the chefs he was carrying food for —Tim McKee, Tammy Wong and J.P Samuleson, to name a few—couldn’t be at the guests’ table to talk about their creations, “it was put on my shoulders to weave the story of each chef’s dishes with descriptions to make your mouth water,” he says. He greets every shift as an opportunity to have fun and make memories for his customers and coworkers.



Everything at Tria in the North Oaks suburb, from the seasonal, fresh food and polished, friendly service to the warm, inviting ambiance, is designed to deliver these simple—but not so easy—qualities. Inspired by French Americana, Tria’s approach to seasonal ingredients is adventurous. Staff is knowledgeable, professional and friendly, while welcoming their guests as though they are dining in the staff’s own home. Tria’s dining room and award-winning patio is open every day for dinner and for brunch on Sundays. 

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