Tonight, at the 28th annual James Beard Awards in Chicago, Gavin Kaysen of Spoon and Stable in Minneapolis was honored with the James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef Midwest.
Accolades are no stranger to Kaysen, who earned both a Michelin star and the James Beard Rising Star Chef Award while working with Chef Daniel Boulud at Cafe Boulud in New York City. He also earned a Best New Chef nod from "Food + Wine Magazine."
In 2014, after cooking in top kitchens throughout the U.S. and Europe, he did as so many chefs do. He returned to his hometown of Minneapolis to open Spoon and Stable, a restaurant which has played no small part in putting Minneapolis on the culinary map. The restaurant was a finalist for the James Beard Best New Restaurant award in 2015.
Kaysen is one of the founding mentors of the nonprofit ment’or BKB Foundation. He was also part of the team that represented the U.S. at the Bocuse d’Or competition in 2007.
The complete list of James Beard winners can be found at jamesbeard.org.
Wisconsin's rich history of James Beard awards
Milwaukee may not have taken home an award this year. However, our 2018 nominees, Justin Carlisle and Karen Bell, stand among numerous Wisconsin chefs who have made the journey from the James Beard semi-finals into the finals and beyond.
Among those who have taken home the coveted award, there are a number of Milwaukee chefs.
Sanford D'Amato, founder of Sanford, blazed new territory when he broke into the New York scene in the 1970s and make a name for himself in a city largely ruled by French-born chefs. Years later, after moving back to Milwaukee, he also made his mark as the first chef in Wisconsin to win the prestigious James Beard Award, which he did in 1996, earning the title of Best Chef in the Midwest.
Justin Aprahamian, who purchased Sanford from D'Amato in 2012, is Milwaukee's most recent Best Chef Midwest Award winner. He was nominated four times before achieving his win in 2014. His win was preceded by Adam Siegel's win in 2008, when he took home the title of Best Chef Midwest for his work at Lake Park Bistro.
Other winners have hailed from Madison. Chef Tory Miller was the 2012 winner for his work at L'Etoile. His award was the second for a L'Etoile chef, with founder, Odessa Piper, taking home the award in 2001.
Wisconsin natives who have been recipients of James Beard Awards include Paul Bartolotta, who was the first chef to win a James Beard in two regions. The first was in 1994 when he headed up the kitchen at Spiaggia in Chicago; the other was in 2009 for his work at Ristorante di Mare in Las Vegas. Kenosha native Tony Mantuano also won the award for best chef Great Lakes for his work at Spiaggia in 2005.
In addition to chef-based awards, restaurants like Watts Tea Shop and Three Brothers have brought home the prize for American Classics and Bryant's Cocktail Lounge was a 2013 semifinalist for Outstanding Bar Program.
Lori Fredrich (Lo) is an eater, writer, wonderer, bon vivante, traveler, cook, gardener and girlwonder. Born and raised in the Milwaukee area, she has tried to leave many times, but seems to be drawn to this quirky city that smells of beer and alewives.
Some might say that she is a little obsessed with food. Lo would say she is A LOT obsessed with food. After all, she has been cooking, eating and enjoying food for decades and has no plans to retire anytime soon.
Lo's recipes and writing have been featured in a variety of publications including GO: Airtran Inflight Magazine, Cheese Connoisseur, Cooking Light, Edible Milwaukee, Milwaukee Magazine and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as well as on the blog Go Bold with Butter, the web site Wisconsin Cheese Talk, and in the quarterly online magazine Grate. Pair. Share.