MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Minneapolis chef and Young Joni owner Ann Kim accepted the James Beard award for Best Chef: Midwest Monday night.

“This is unbelievable because I’m standing here on this stage and it’s something I never thought could be in the realm of possibility. My journey has not been easy, it has not been linear and it has not been traditional,” Kim said during her acceptance speech.

RELATED: Mpls. Chef A Finalist For Nat’l Culinary Award With ‘Young Joni’

Kim came to Minnesota from Korea when she was 4 years old and grew up watching her mom cook in their Apple Valley home.

Kim didn’t go to culinary school. In fact, she had an Ivy League education. Kim left a career as an actor to open pizza joints. She appeared in productions at the Guthrie Theatre and Children’s Theatre Company, including “Cinderella” in 1999 and the 2001 show “Dragonwings.”

She owns three restaurants: Pizzeria Lola, Hello Pizza and Young Joni. Kim brings her Korean-American upbringing into her dishes, which include more than just pizza.

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