The nominations for the Oscars of the food world, the James Beard Awards, came out this morning, and the winners are: Lots of us! Like Isaac Becker, Lenny Russo, and Alex Roberts, all of whom are nominated for Best Chef Midwest. I’m so proud of all of them, and especially of Russo and Roberts’ local-ingredient focus; I consider their nominations not just a win for them, but for all the Minnesota farmers they work so closely with. Minnesota has some of the greatest ingredients in the world—best pork, best dairy, so many amazing vegetables—and due to the hard work of talented visionaries like Russo and Roberts, our greatness is becoming visible to the world!
And Michelle Gayer Nicholson of the Salty Tart! We’ve never had a Best Pastry Chef nomination before, so that’s huge. Stop by the Salty Tart in the Midtown Global Market and pick up a pan of take-and-bake brownies to celebrate!
And Lynne Rosetto Kasper and Andrew Zimmern! Lynne was nominated for her American Public Media Group/MPR show “Splendid Table,” which of course is put out right here in St. Paul by a talented group of wonderful Minnesotans, including the endlessly energetic Sally Swift. Andrew was nominated for his show “Bizarre Foods,” which is also produced right here in Minnesota by a talented and committed crew (congrats Molly!). Both Lynne and Andrew are inspirations, proving that you can live in Minnesota and change the world and have a life of exotic adventure, too. Hooray!
And of course, me! I got two nominations for my writing at Minnesota Monthly. One is for an excerpt of my wine book, “Drink This,” which ran in the December Minnesota Monthly. For this category I’m up against my good friend Jonathan Gold, also known as the only person in the history of mankind to win a Pulitzer Prize for food writing, and Lettie Teague of Food and Wine magazine, one of the best wine writers in the history of American letters. Phew!
My other nomination is for my favorite thing I’ve written in two years, about my son and his strange appetite, “The Doughnut Gatherer.” For this one I’m up against Colman Andrews, one of the founders of Saveur and another giant of American food letters, and Rachel Wharton at Edible Brooklyn.
All in all: Hooray for all of us! Counting Wayne Kostroski, who is being given an award for his charitable work in creating Taste of the NFL, that makes nine nominations total for our great state, which I’m guessing puts us in the top five foodie states, up there with New York, California, and Louisiana. It’s fashionable in some circles to pooh-pooh Minnesota’s food culture, but not today; we’re getting the national recognition we so richly deserve.
If you want to raise a glass to all of this, bring one of your own to my reading tonight at the Arden Hills public library at 7 p.m. Till then, it’s a happy day! Congrats everyone!