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An exclusive French association has added Gavin Kaysen's Minneapolis restaurant Demi to its ranks — but it's not Michelin.

The 20-seat tasting-menu restaurant from Kaysen's Soigné Hospitality is among the newest members of Relais & Châteaux, a prestigious global network of 580 independent hotels and restaurants.

"Being accepted into the Relais & Châteaux family at this point in my career is a huge honor," Kaysen said in a statement. Demi was the only independent restaurant selected for the association this year and is the lone Minnesota member. The closest to the Twin Cities — until now — was Canoe Bay in Chetek, Wis.

Of its nearly 600 members, about 100 are stand-alone restaurants. In addition to what the association calls being "creators of emotions and artisans of flavor," the chefs are committed to supporting local producers with an eye toward biodiversity and seasonality. At the heart of the association is members' adherence to the "five C's": character, courtesy, calm, charm and cuisine. The group is also committed to preserving local heritage and the environment.

The process to become a Relais & Châteaux member is rigorous and includes being evaluated on more than 300 criteria, anonymous visits and interviews. Started in France in 1954, the association comprises independent hotel and restaurant entrepreneurs who are "passionate about their craft and deeply committed to forging warm, lasting relationships with their guests," according to its admission standards. Ten other properties join Demi as part of this year's Relais & Châteaux class; Demi and Little Palm Island Resort & Spa in Little Torch Key, Fla., are the only U.S. representatives.

Kaysen said that by working with New York chef Daniel Boulud, whose restaurant Daniel is also a member, he's kept the possibility of this distinction on his radar.

"To be the only independent restaurant accepted this year really took me by surprise. I am honored to represent the Midwest with this distinction," he said. "It shows our commitment to excellent cuisine, our focus on generous hospitality and the effects it can create."

Demi, located at 212 N. 2nd St., opened in 2019 and was an immediate hit with diners and critics. The restaurant garnered a rare four-star review from the Star Tribune, which also named it the restaurant of the year: "It's a complete joy, a revelatory sensory experience that's unlike any other in the state." The Relais & Châteaux team was equally charmed, calling it "[a break from] the codes of traditional gastronomy … an astonishing piece of dining theater."

Demi offers a seven-course tasting meal Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and an 11-course experience on Fridays and Saturdays. Reservations, which open on the first of the month for the following month, are still in high demand.