By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published May 07, 2018 at 9:01 PM

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.

In winning the award, Kaysen bested Milwaukee nominees Justin Carlisle of Ardent and Karen Bell of Bavette La Boucherie, as well as Minneapolis chefs Steven Brown of Tilia and Ann Kim of Young Joni.

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

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 Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.