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MN Restaurant Association Honors Best of the Year

John Schiltz, with his wife Chris, set a festive mood for the restaurant association's annual holiday party.

Nothing screams, “holiday party” like John Schiltz’s red-and-green polka-dot suit jacket and snowflake tie. Sure, it wasn’t even Thanksgiving yet, but the owner of Lake Elmo Inn and the president-elect of the Minnesota Restaurant Association was a neon announcement that it’s never too early to celebrate the holidays and the association’s 2017 slate of honorees.

This year’s event was held at downtown Minneapolis’ Lumber Exchange Event Center. Emceeing the annual bash for the second year in a row was Stephanie March of Mpls.St.Paul Magazine and the Weekly Dish on myTalk radio 107.1.  Walk-around heavy hors d' oeuvres, a silent auction and the awards ceremony preceded the real partying downstairs at Pourhouse.

Adding to its accolades, Spoon and Stable in Minneapolis’ North Loop was awarded Restaurant of the Year. Chef/Owner Gavin Kaysen accepted the award on behalf of the 82 employees who work there, and who make it so special. He did admit that his young son was going to be disappointed when he returned home with his plaque, because he was expecting his dad to win a helicopter.

Katherine Hutchinson, a teacher at Park Center Senior High, was named Prostart Educator of Excellence. Prostart is a program of the National Restaurant Association and its local chapters to train high school students to be the next generation of restaurant workers. “No one works harder than the restaurant industry than teachers,” she told the large crowd. “Which is why we get along so well.”

Larry D’Amico of D’Amico and Partners introduced the newest inductee into the Minnesota Hospitality Hall of Fame, Sue Zelickson, radio host, columnist, philanthropist, food and the co-founder of the Charlie Awards. Zelickson who is more comfortable handing out praise than receiving it, said she should be sharing the spotlight with another family member, her son Barry, the recipient of a national award from the International Association of Amusement Park and Attractions for his concept, Thrill Factory. Zelickson said at 83, she now has the longevity (and permission) to “pick up a phone and call a chef and they do what I ask.”

Mike “Pinto” Pantaleo of Reinhart Foodservice, left, honoree Sue Zelickson and Larry D’Amico.

Peggy Rasmussen, David Fong Sr. and Reuben Palm pose with the newest inductee into the Hall of Fame, Sue Zelickson. Peter Mihajlov, right, who is already in the Hall of Fame, was honored as Legislative Advocate of the Year. 


Also honored were:

Pub 500 for Restaurant Neighborhood Award

Ryan Burnet of the Barrio Restaurant Group as Restaurateur of the Year

Miguel Urrutia, executive chef of Pittsburgh Blue for Faces of Diversity Award

Peter Mihajlov of Parasole Restaurant Holdings as Legislative Advocate of the Year

The Coca-Cola Company, Allied Vendor of the Year.

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