Marco Zappia, Hai Hai Winners at 2019 Charlie Awards

The annual Twin Cities restaurant awards show was Sunday at the Pantages

marco zappia and daniel del prado of colita/Martina; photo by kevin kramer

The 2019 Charlie Awards dished out coveted white plates to top food and drink talent in the Twin Cities on Sunday evening.

The winners included some nationally recognized corners of the local restaurant industry, but also put a spotlight on up-and-coming talent. Currently a contestant on the reality TV cooking competition Top Chef, Justin Sutherland (Pearl and the Thief, Handsome Hog, Madison Restaurant Group) won Outstanding Chef. Marco Zappia, the cocktail mastermind at both Martina and Colita, won the Beverage Innovator award—adding to recent honors from Esquire and Forbes. And Hai Hai—which got national nods from Esquire, Eater, and Thrillist—nabbed Outstanding Restaurant.

Among the honorees from newly opened Twin Cities-area restaurants were Rising Star winner Joshua Walbolt of Lat14 (read our interview here), Outstanding Baker/Pastry Chef winner Christina Kaelberer of Edwards Dessert Kitchen, and Outstanding Bartender Sean Jones of Fhima’s.

Held at the Pantages Theatre in downtown Minneapolis, the night featured the hosting talents of Jason DeRusha (WCCO, Minnesota Monthly) and Joy Summers ( Aside from the humor and pomp of the night, near the end of the show Charlie Awards co-founder (and Minnesota Monthly contributor) Sue Zelickson received a Lifetime Achievement Award. In her acceptance speech, she praised the restaurant industry’s current rise and offered the wish that it keep growing forever. Proceeds from the night benefited nonprofit meal-delivery service Open Arms of Minnesota.

The 2019 Charlie Awards Honorees

Outstanding Service: Meritage

Outstanding Restaurateur: Luke Shimp – kindRED Hospitality (Red Cow, Red Rabbit)

Outstanding Restaurant: Hai Hai

Outstanding Baker/Pastry Chef: Christina Kaelberer – Edwards Dessert Kitchen

Outstanding Chef: Justin Sutherland – Pearl and the Thief, Handsome Hog

Rising Star: Joshua Walbolt – Lat14

Beverage Innovator: Marco Zappia – Martina, Colita

Outstanding Bartender: Sean Jones – Fhima’s

Best Brewery: Lift Bridge Brewing Co.

Entertainment Restaurant Venue: Can Can Wonderland

Outstanding Caterer: Chowgirls Killer Catering

Hidden Gem: Birch’s on the Lake

Community Hero: Nathan Sartain – Saint Paul College

Lifetime Achievement Award: Sue Zelickson