Hollywood has the Oscars (nicknamed for someone’s statuesque uncle)

College sports have the Heisman (named for the founding organization’s athletic director)

Music has the Grammys (named after the gramophone)

And the Twin Cities has the Charlies (named in honor of the area’s original fine-dining spot, Charlie’s Exceptionale)

The Charlie Awards are our version of the Academy Awards for the greater metro-area’s foodservice community. And on February 25, 2018, 28 finalists will be in the audience of the Pantages Theater in downtown Minneapolis waiting to hear who will be called up on stage in nine categories to take home the coveted Charlie plate.

This is our chance to celebrate both the diversity in the Twin Cities restaurant community as well as its excellence. And at the same time support the good work being done by Open Arms, a nonprofit meal delivery service that prepares and delivers nutritious meals to people fighting life-threatening diseases. Proceeds from the awards program Afterparty and VIP dinner go towards Open Arms’ mission.

Your ticket to the awards ceremony supports your industry while providing an entertainment-packed hour of singing, comedy and short presentations. To find out more about the hosts, click here. Afterwards, we’ll adjourn next door to Seven Steakhouse to party. Helping chefs prepare the plates of food will be the ProStart high school students who are studying to be the next generation of culinary workers and chefs from the ACF, under the guidance of Pat Weber. They’ll be drinks, music and an opportunity to mingle with present and past winners.

Your $25 ticket is your passport to both the show and Afterparty. Tickets for the VIP dinner at Open Arms on March 12 PLUS the awards show and Afterparty are $125. For ticket information, click here.

The finalists in each of the categories are:

The 2018 Charlie Awards Finalists

in alphabetical order


Outstanding Service

A restaurant or foodservice business that excels at hospitality by being consistently outstanding and welcoming, and having an inviting and fun personality that makes people feel more at home than when they are at home.

Good Day Café; Manny’s; Mucci’s


Outstanding Restaurateur

Not all the magic happens in the kitchen. This category is for the owner of the restaurant with at least 5 years in the industry, who excels at running a restaurant, keeping it profitable and relevant and who is an influencer in the community

Ann Kim and Conrad Leifur: Young Joni, Pizzeria Lola, Hello Pizza; Brent Frederick/Jacob Toledo: Jester Concepts (Borough, Parlour, Monello); Alex Roberts – Alma/Café Alma & Brasa


Outstanding Restaurant

A restaurant that continually hits on all cylinders with creative and exceptional food, atmosphere & service

Bellecour; Café Alma/Alma; Heyday


Outstanding Baker/Pastry Chef

A working baker or pastry chef with at least 5 years of experience who is an artist when creating the staff of life or the masterpieces of desserts and morning pastries.

Katy Gerdes – Angel Food Bakery; Emily Marks – Bachelor Farmer; Solveig Tofte – Sunstreet Breads


Outstanding Chef

A working chef with at least 5 years in the industry, who shows consistency, relevancy, creativity and isn’t resting on his or her laurels. The chef of the moment, so to speak.

Lisa Carlson – Chef Shack; Jamie Malone – Grand Café; Hide Tozawa – Kyatchi


Rising Star    

An under 30, up-and-coming foodservice professional whose talent and hard work guarantees he or she will make their mark on the Twin Cities community and go on to even greater contributions

Adam Eaton – Saint Dinette; Yia Vang – Union Kitchen; Josh Walbolt;  Benjamin Moenster – Borough/Parlour;


Beverage Innovator

A professional who is doing innovative work with wine/beer/spirits, either as a brewer, mixologist, sommelier, craft soda producer or bartender.

Bang Brewing; Brie Roland – St. Genevieve; Nick Kosevich – Can Can Wonderland/Bittercube


Hidden Gem

An out-of-the-box restaurant, food truck or catering service that often flies under the radar of the mainstream media, but is a favorite with the neighborhood or foodie fans.

Marla’s Caribbean Cuisine; Moroccan Flavors; Quang Restaurant


Community Hero

He or she uses their skills and platform to better the community, either through charitable acts or mentorship

Lachelle Cunningham & Michelle Horovitz – Breaking Bread Café (Appetite for Change); Pat Weber, owner of Mise en Place consulting (volunteer extraordinaire for Charlies, Cookie Cart, etc); Rose McGee (sweet potato pie ministry)


In addition, we will be awarding the Lifetime Achievement award to one worthy individual “who has made a unique contribution to the local foodservice community as a mentor, influencer and/or innovator.”