MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Four Twin Cities chefs and one restaurant have been named finalists for the most prestigious award in the culinary industry: The James Beard Foundation Awards.

Spoon and Stable pastry chef Diane Moua is up against national competition for Outstanding Pastry Chef. She was a 2018 nominee in that national category as well.

North Loop tasting menu restaurant Demi has a shot at being named Best New Restaurant in the country. Moua also serves as executive pastry chef for Demi, as well as Bellecour in Wayzata. All three restaurants are run by another James Beard award-winner, Gavin Kaysen.

Moua’s pastry has received national attention for some time. She was the pastry chef at acclaimed restaurant La Belle Vie, and was profiled by WCCO’s DeRusha Eats for a semi-finalist nod.

Demi received four stars from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and was named Best Restaurant of 2019 by Minnesota Monthly Magazine.

In the regional category, all three local chefs are making a return visit to the final round of the James Beard Awards: Steven Brown from Tilia in Minneapolis (also St. Genevieve and Guilia); Jamie Malone of Grand Cafe (and Eastside); Christina Nguyen from Hai Hai (and Hola Arepa) are all finalists for Best Chef: Midwest.

Brown was a nominee in 2017 and 2018, while Malone and Nguyen were both finalists in 2019. They’ll compete against Michael Corvino from Kansas City and Michael Gallina from St. Louis.

Media finalists were also announced Monday, and multiple Beard-award winner Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl from Mpls.St. Paul Magazine was honored in the Jonathan Gold Local Voice category. Credo Nonfiction was honored for Visual and Audio Technical Excellence for an episode on wild rice.

The announcement of the Beard Awards finalists was delayed due to the COVID-19 crisis, which has shuttered restaurants around the country, leading to massive job loss except for those needed to execute takeout and delivery. The Beard Foundation will announce media winners on May 27, and they’re hoping to have an in-person awards ceremony for chefs and restaurants in Chicago on Sept. 25.

Jason DeRusha

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