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Charlie Awards Unite Local Foodies In Spirited Competition

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(credit: CBS) Jason DeRusha
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – This weekend will see the biggest awards in the local food scene. The Charlie Awards not only honor the best chef and best restaurateur in the Twin Cities, but they also honor the best dishes in certain neighborhoods.

In this week’s DeRusha Eats, Jason DeRusha checked out Charlie’s Potato Salad, and scouted some of the ten finalists.

It is a diverse group of local chefs and restaurants — from the St. Paul Coffee Shop Cahoots to the 55-year-old Arden Hills steakhouse Lindeys, both squaring off for best menu item in St Paul and the east metro.

In South Minneapolis, it’s Corner Table’s southern-inspired flavors (confit crispy pork belly) against a 25-year-old black bean dumpling from Rainbow Chinese.

Sue Zelickson founded the Charlie Award’s three years ago, and named the awards after Charlie’s Café Exceptionale, which for 50 years was the Twin Cities’ most talked-about eatery. Jim Surdyk’s parents actually met at the restaurant, and now Surdyk’s liquor and cheese shop is a cornerstone of the local food scene.

The legacy of Charlie’s goes beyond its potato salad, but at the Charlie Awards, cooks from Hennepin County Medical Center will serve that delectable dish.

Those chefs vote for the biggest awards — best restaurateur, best chef, best maître d’, best design of a restaurant.

The Charlie Awards are at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at the Pantages Theatre in Minneapolis. Tickets cost $35 for the show and the 5 p.m. afterparty at IDS Crystal Court.

A portion of the proceeds benefit Open Arms of Minnesota, a non-profit that cooks and delivers free meals for people in need.

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