Today, January 25, the James Beard Foundation announced its 2023 list of semifinalists in a press release. This year, five Twin Cities chefs made the long list, which will be pared down to a list of finalists in March.
Twin Cities chefs in the Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker category are:
- Shawn McKenzie, Café Cerés
Twin Cities chefs in the Best Chef, Midwest category are:
- Ann Ahmed, Khâluna
- Christina Nguyen, Hai Hai
- Karyn Tomlinson, Myriel
- Yia Vang, Union Hmong Kitchen
This is the first time that both Shawn McKenzie and Ann Ahmed have been listed as Beard semifinalists. Café Cerés’ menu is influenced by McKenzie’s culinary travels through the Middle East: She’s known for her babka, tahini carrot cake, and rich chocolate zephyr cookies, among other things. Khâluna is Ahmed’s newest restaurant, a successor to Lemongrass and Lat14. An homage to Laotian and Southeast Asian cuisine, it was one of Eater’s best new restaurants of 2023.
Last year, six Twin Cities chefs and restaurants were James Beard Award semifinalists — from them, Owamni emerged to win in the best new restaurant category, marking a tremendous moment for Indigenous cuisine and traditional foodways.
In 2020, the James Beard Foundation underwent a bitter reckoning with the awards’ integrity and historic lack of diversity — in response, the foundation ran an audit of its selection processes, formed an ethics committee, and diversified its voters and judges. The winners gala will be held on June 5 in Chicago. Find the full list of 2023 semifinalists here.
Disclosure: Some Vox Media staff members are part of the voting body for the James Beard Foundation Awards.