2016 James Beard Award Finalists Lenny Russo and Paul Berglund

Moveable Feast: MnMo editor Rachel Hutton and MPR Classical’s John Birge talk about the Minnesota finalists for Best Chef Midwest category

Lenny Russo, Heartland
Chef Lenny Russo at Heartland. Photo by Todd Buchanan.

Held on May 2nd in Chicago, the James Beard Awards are annual prizes presented for culinary excellence. Minnesota has two individuals in the running for Best Chef Midwest: Lenny Russo and Paul Berglund. Both are very competitive contenders, according to MnMo editor Rachel Hutton.

Russo has spent nearly forty years in the food scene, working at the Loring, W.A. Frost, and opening his own restaurant, Heartland. This fine-dining eatery focuses on locally sourced ingredients, just like Russo has throughout his entire career. His advocacy for fresh food has had a large impact on regional farmers and producers.

Berglund is newer in the Twin Cities, but has made a large impact during his short time here. As the head chef of the Bachelor Farmer, he also focuses on local food, even growing his own veggies in the restaurant’s rooftop garden whenever possible. The Bachelor Farmer is also expanding under Berglund’s leadership, adding a café with a casual vibe but just as much flavor as the food next door.

The Minneapolis chefs’ nominations signify the legitimacy of Minnesota’s growing food culture. Twin Cities’ flavors are being tasted, and recognized, on a national scale.

Listen to the full segment at Classical MPR.

Read more: MnMo food critic Jason DeRusha explains why Gavin Kaysen, standout chef and owner of Spoon and Stable, wasn’t nominated for the award.