Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Centro, chefs, cochon555, Django, Gateway Market Cafe, George Formaro, giant beards, James Beard Foundation, Lincoln Cafe, Matt Steigerwald, medals, vegetarian
Another Monday is upon us, greeting some of us with in warm wash of sunshine on our shoulders (which reportedly makes people happy), and climbing on the backs of others. Whatever, it’s just Monday (although I hear Tuesday is just as bad), and it will pass. It’s funny how even though many of us who are employed in the food industry consider ACTUAL Monday as our perceived Saturday or Sunday, Monday still holds in it’s grubby little paws the same lack of appeal and hardships as it does for those of you who are kicking it Monday through Friday style. It could have something to do with trying to keep up with the weekend festivities that the rest of the “normal” work force are partaking in while also trying to keep our “shit” together as we work the busy, grueling (well, I hope it’s busy and grueling for everyone) Friday and Saturday shifts…and some of you REALLY lucky folks get the benefit of working Sunday Morning duh duh duuuuuuh…..Brunch. What’s the point? I forget, honestly. Something about the Equal Opportunity nature of Monday’s wiles. Um…lost it.
I heard from a local source that it is again time for The 2011 James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards nomination process to begin. This is an exciting time of the year for Chefs around the country, as getting a JBA is akin to winning an Oscar for your food. (I was planning on making some kind of beard joke here, but that would be disrespectful to one of the greatest culinarians…ever). (ok, I am just going to go ahead with the joke).
Personally, I don’t get very excited about the James Beard Awards, as I will never be on that level and the chances of a chef from Our Fair City nabbing the Best Chef award from the grips of someone from a larger city in our region (IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD, WI) are more than slim. It’s still fun to watch and speculate. Kansas City, Minneapolis, Madison, and Milwaukee all have some great chefs, so what do we have? Here are the guidelines for the award, from the James Beard Foundation web site:
Chefs who have set new or consistent standards of excellence in their respective regions. Candidates may be from any kind of dining establishment and must have been working as a chef for at least five years with the three most recent years spent in the region.
I think two-time Cochon555 winner Matt Steigerwald of Lincoln Cafe in Mount Vernon, Iowa is going to be my first pick. Chef Steigerwald has decimated the competition at Cochon and managed to get a 5 star review in the Datebook. He has definitely set both new and consistent standards in our region (especially in Iowa), and meets the time in service constraints. His staff is knowledgeable, respectful, and super nice. At Cochon 2008, Chef Steigerwald’s people made me a great vegetarian dinner from the ingredients they were using for the competition dishes. Great Stuff.
Second Choice, George Formaro. George has done more to change the face of dining in Des Moines more than any other chef/business owner in the last decade. He is the drive behind such local favorites as South Union Bread Cafe, Django, Centro,Jorge’s Tacos (at the Downtown Farmer’s Market), and Gateway Market not to mention that his South Union Bakery makes the bread served by most of the better restaurants in central Iowa. I would really like to see George step back from his enormous machine and take a year to operate ONLY one small (fifty=ish seats) restaurant. I would wager that it would be quite an experience for diners and Chef Formaro alike.
Those are my choices for this year. Who are yours? Discuss.
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