By Jason DeRusha

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Nine Twin Cities chefs and four restaurants have been named semifinalists in the most prestigious awards given to the nation’s restaurants and chefs. The James Beard Foundation announced the long list of nominees, finalists will be named on March 27 and the awards will be given in Chicago on May 6.

In the most competitive national categories, six different local chefs and restaurants will compete.

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Best New Restaurant: Popol Vuh. This Northeast Minneapolis restaurant takes a modern, fine-dining look at Mexican cuisine.

Rising Star Chef of the Year: Rikki Giambruno, Hyacinth, St. Paul. Giambruno is a native St. Paul resident who left New York to open an Italian restaurant on Grand Avenue. Rising Star Chef is for chefs age 30 or younger.

Outstanding Pastry Chef: Diane Moua, Spoon and Stable. Moua was a national semifinalist in 2016, 2017 and last year she made it to the finals as a nominee.

Outstanding Restaurant: Restaurant Alma, Minneapolis. Alma was a semifinalist in 2012, its chef and owner Alex Robarts was a semifinalist as Outstanding Chef in 2018.

Outstanding Restauranteur: Brenda Langton and Timothy Kane; Spoonriver, Minneapolis. Langton is one of the pioneers of the vegetarian restaurant movemement in the Twin Cities with Café Brenda, this is her first-time as a Beard Award semifinalist.

“My husband and I have worked side by side for all these years and to be nominated together is really an honor,” said Langton. “We’ve been at it a long time, I’m all about trying to be a part of this community and help make a change for healthiness and sustainability, it’s so exciting,” she said. “I’m ecstatic.”

Outstanding Wine Program: The Bachelor Farmer, Minneapolis. Known for its unique approach to a Northern latitude wine program, The Bachelor Farmer has never been a semifinalist in this category.

There are 10 regional categories for best chef, and it’s that category where Minneapolis and St. Paul chefs really shine in these nominations.

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Best Chef: Midwest

Thomas Boemer, In Bloom, St. Paul (a semifinalist in 2016, 2017, 2018)

Steven Brown, Tilia, Minneapolis (semifinalist 2012, 2013, 2014, a nominee in 2017, 2018)

Daniel del Prado, Martina, Minneapolis (first-time semifinalist)

Ann Kim, Young Joni, Minneapolis (semifinalist 2017, nominee in 2018)

Jamie Malone, Grand Café, Minneapolis (2014 semifinalist for Sea Change, 2018 semifinalist for Grand Café)

Christina Nguyen, Hai Hai, Minneapolis (2018 semifinalist)

Karyn Tomlinson, Corner Table, Minneapolis (first-time semifinalist)

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Semifinalists are selected from an open call for entries by the Restaurant and Chef Committee of the Beard Awards, based on eligibility and regional representation. The list of semifinalists is voted on by more than 600 judges from around the country – including leading regional restaurant critics, food and wine editors, culinary educators and past James Beard Award winners.

Jason DeRusha