Despite the earlier snowstorm, honorees and guests packed the main floor of the Pantages Theatre Sunday at the Charlie Awards to honor the local food and beverage community.
So who were the real winners of the hospitality business over the past year?
We were, the hungry and thirsty crowd who have spent time and money at these establishments during the past year.
As for those who received the actual awards, that would be the following:
Lifetime achievement: Phil Roberts and Peter Mihajlov of Parasole Restaurant Holdings, Inc.
Outstanding service: Tria Restaurant & Bar
Outstanding restaurateurs: Stephanie Shimp and David Burley, Blue Plate Restaurant Co.
Outstanding restaurant: Popol Vuh
Outstanding baker/pastry chef: Katie Elsing, Lynhall
Outstanding chef: Jack Riebel, the Lexington and the Cook & the Ox
Rising star (under 30): Jametta Raspberry, House of Gristle
Outstanding bartender: Trish Gavin, Lat 14
Outstanding brewery: 56 Brewing
Outstanding caterer: D’Amico Catering
Hidden gem: Victor’s 1959 Cafe
Outstanding coffeehouse: Spyhouse Coffee
Community hero: Emily Hunt Turner, founder and CEO of All Square (the grilled cheese restaurant that relies on the formerly incarcerated for staff)
Among the noteworthy comments made on stage during the evening were these:
• As Dan Schwarz of Liftbridge Brewery and Jessica Lenard of Finnegans each popped open a beer can before starting their intro to the Outstanding Brewery award, Schwarz said, “That’s how we start a speech.”
• Nancy Monroe, editor of Foodservice News, announcing the requirements for the new-this-year- award, said, “ ... our Outstanding Coffeehouse is infused with style, character, sociability and free Wi-Fi ...”
• Sean Jones of Fhima’s Minneapolis, presenter for the Outstanding Bartender award, noted his drink for the Charlie Awards started with cognac, which was the preferred choice for awards named after Charlie’s Cafe Exceptionale restaurant, rather than potato salad, one of the restaurant’s most famous — and requested — recipes.
• A statement from the winner of the Outstanding Caterer was memorable for its phrasing: “I’m Larry D’Amico and I’m a foodie.”
• Chef Vincent Francoual, wearing a beret and scarf, looked in fine French form as he announced the Outstanding Baker/Pastry Chef award. He reminded attendees, “Whatever you may say about sugar, sugar is good for you” and “Gluten is good for you. I don’t care what they say about it.” He also referenced immigrants in the hospitality industry. “It’s one thing to say they are good people. It’s another to help them.”
• That was emphasized by José Alarcon, chef of Popol Vuh, who indicated with its Outstanding Restaurant award, “This is to all the immigrants who came to the Twin Cities.”
• Dan “Klecko” McGleno, the master baker formerly of Saint Agnes Bakery and now of Grandma’s Bakery, read poems from his recent collection. After reciting one about his Hispanic workers, he concluded with “I stand with Mexicans” as he walked off the stage.
• Roberts and Mihajlov of Parasole spoke via a video, where Roberts noted that their 43-year business partnership was not predicted. “I told him, ‘This marriage will never work. You’re Catholic and I’m an a------.”
The Charlie Awards, now in its ninth year, is a production of Foodservice News, with support from the founders of the event, Sue Zelickson and Scott Mayer. A portion of the proceeds from the event went to Open Arms, which delivers meals to those with life-threatening illness.