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A Charlie Awards Partnership and Keynote News

I attended my first Charlie Awards show in 2013, just a few months after joining Foodservice News, and I still laugh when I think about Sameh Wadi’s initial utterance on stage after being announced as the Outstanding Chef award winner. He quickly followed up the expletive with, “They told me there was fried chicken, so I came.” 

Wadi’s sheer delight in being recognized by his peers in the local food and beverage industry was evident and I found myself thinking how lucky I was that attending and covering the awards was part of my new job. That memory and numerous others accumulated from attending the show, after party and chefs’ dinner every year since are why I’m especially delighted to share that Foodservice News is taking over production of the Charlie Awards from founders Sue Zelickson and Scott Mayer.

The two started the Charlies in 2011 to “honor and celebrate our local food and beverage professionals who continually give so much to our community in numerous ways,” Zelickson says. “After six successful and meaningful years, we are moving to a new level. We are proud and excited to partner with Foodservice News.” 

We’ve got more details on the partnership in this issue (page 16) and will have plenty of exciting announcements on the way in the coming weeks and months as we continue to build upon an already top-notch awards program and event. 

And don’t worry, you’ll still see Zelickson and Mayer as they serve as consultants and on the Charlies advisory committee. 

Hospitality Minnesota also has an exciting announcement to share, as Gavin Kaysen will be the keynote presenter at this year’s Minnesota Hospitality Conference and Expo on October 5. The chef and owner of Spoon and Stable in Minneapolis and the recently opened Bellecour in Wayzata will share his story of growing up in Minnesota and going on to work in kitchens in California, Switzerland and London before joining Cafe Boulud in New York City and then eventually returning to his home state

Kaysen’s message of leadership, success and a passion for excellence is undoubtedly applicable across all segments of the hospitality industry and I’m excited to hear his take on this ever-changing business. My guess is serving as head coach for Team USA in the famous Bocuse d’Or international culinary competition in 2013 and 2015 also has yielded a lesson or two.

That already seems like a lot of news for one issue, but we have so much more for you this month. Want to know how to keep a restaurant company running for 40 years? Always be open to change.

“You’ve gotta change the concept to fit the customer profile,” CEO and co-founder Phil Roberts tells me in this month’s main cover story detailing the evolution of Parasole Restaurant Holdings and its multiple Twin Cities concepts. The company has its eyes on expansion while it also attends to its existing restaurants. Anybody for rooftop beer pong?

Nancy Weingartner Monroe digs into this month’s multi-unit focus with stories on the Mongolian restaurant owner in Wayzata serving up sushi and Mexican food (not together), and in a sit-down with Doug Flicker and Amy Greeley learns about their second joint restaurant venture, Bull’s Horn Food & Drink.

We’ve also got more on St. Paul’s first food hall, Keg & Case Market, expected to open this summer in the Schmidt Brewery complex. Plus, servers highlight the life lessons they’ve learned from working in restaurants in this edition of Server Speak. I know my time in the trenches taught me plenty, including how to find my happy place in the midst of a customer’s tirade because their food was taking too long to arrive. 

It’s a packed issue—enjoy! 

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