Gavin Kaysen named Best Chef Midwest by James Beard Foundation
Photo: Gavin Kaysen by Tom Wallace, STAR TRIBUNE
“Creating a restaurant is not the impossible. But getting a group of people together to believe in you and your vision is a powerful spirit,” Kaysen, a Bloomington native, said in his acceptance speech at the Civic Opera House. “I moved home to create the restaurant. But my main driver was to be with my family, who are all here tonight.”
He thanked his staff and mentor chef Daniel Boulud, and then closed with, “Lastly, let’s just be good to each other. God bless.”
Guests at Bellecour watched the livestream announcement of the Beard awards, and the kitchen crew cheered “and went crazy for a few minutes,” reports Nick Dugan, chef de cuisine. He sent out a treat for all the guests — black truffle pomme dauphine with raclette fondue.
“We’re really excited that Chef won. It brings a little more of the national eye on the food community in the Twin Cities,” Dugan said.
The “Oscars of the food world” have been celebrating American culinary excellence since 1991. Along with a number of national categories, the foundation bestows its medallions in 10 Best Chef regional categories. The Midwest represents chefs in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas.
Kaysen, a first-time Midwest nominee, was joined in the category by Steven Brown of Tilia and Ann Kim of Young Joni, both in Minneapolis, as well as two Milwaukee chefs: Karen Bell of Bavette La Boucherie and Justin Carlisle of Ardent.
He’s the fifth Minnesota chef to be named Best Chef: Midwest, following Tim McKee (then at La Belle Vie, now at Octo Fishbar) in 2009, Alex Roberts of Restaurant Alma in 2010, Isaac Becker of 112 Eatery in 2011 and Paul Berglund (then at the Bachelor Farmer, now at Vestalia Hospitality, which operates Young Joni, Pizzeria Lola and Hello Pizza) in 2016.
Spoon and Stable pastry chef Diane Yang was a first-time nominee for Outstanding Pastry Chef, a rare local nod in a highly competitive national category.
The award went to Dolester Miles of Highlands Bar & Grill in Birmingham, Ala.
Lee Svitak Dean contributed to this report.