The “Academy Awards of the food world” announced its prestigious list of finalists on Tuesday, giving several nods to Minnesota chefs and restaurants. The final list of James Beard Award nominations cut the long list of semifinalists down to the top five in each category.
It started out as a distraction — a way for Amy Thielen to put off writing the multitude of papers waiting for her and instead, immerse herself in the flavors she adored to cook for the friends she loved. It’s almost funny then, that she finally gave into her cooking when she had the fewest distractions possible.
I now think of chocolate chip cookies as wintry fare, but in childhood, I vividly remember them belonging to summer: They were stored in a clean gallon ice cream bucket with a vicious plastic snap top, into which we kids dug repeatedly, blindly, fishing around until we felt the melting eye of a chip before tearing off outside with a few in hand.
Compared to Southern fried chicken, Midwestern-style fried chicken offers different joys. Both are a treat, of course, but when I recall the pan-fried chicken of my Midwestern youth, I remember the gravy being the star.