MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Eight Twin Cities chefs and three Minneapolis 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 25 and the awards will be given in Chicago on May 4.

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

Best New Restaurant: Demi. Chef Gavin Kaysen’s tasting menu restaurant is small and serves elegant tasting-menus focused on a uniquely Minnesota approach to food.

Outstanding Bar Program: Colita. This South Minneapolis Mexican restaurant features Marco Zappa’s unique fermented juices which become the base for a one-of-a-kind cocktail list.

Outstanding Chef: Gavin Kaysen returned to the Twin Cities from New York City to open Spoon and Stable. That success led to Wayzata’s French Bistro Bellecour and Minneapolis’ fine dining restaurant Demi.

Outstanding Pastry Chef: Diane Moua, Spoon and Stable. Moua was a national semifinalist in 2016, 2017 and 2019 and in 2018 she made it to the finals as a nominee.

Outstanding Restaurant: Restaurant Alma, Minneapolis. Alma was a semifinalist in 2012 and 2019, its chef and owner Alex Roberts was a semifinalist as Outstanding Chef in 2018.

Rising Star Chef of the Year: Rikki Giambruno, Hyacinth, St. Paul. Giambruno is a second-time semifinalist, 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.

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

Best Chef: Midwest
Steven Brown, Tilia, Minneapolis (semifinalist 2012, 2013, 2014, a nominee in 2017, 2018, 2019)
Daniel del Prado, Martina, Minneapolis (semifinalist 2019)
Jamie Malone, Grand Café, Minneapolis (2014 semifinalist for Sea Change, 2018, 2019 semifinalist for Grand Café)
Christina Nguyen, Hai Hai, Minneapolis (2018 semifinalist, 2019 finalist)
Hai Truong, Ngon Vietnamese Bistro, St. Paul (first-time semifinalist)

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