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Milwaukee chef honored with 2022 James Beard Best Chef Midwest award


This night the annual James Beard Restaurant and Chefs Awards ceremony happened on the Lyric Opera in Chicago. 

The ceremony was the primary in two years (following the cancellation of the awards in 2020 and 2021). It was additionally the primary to happen following a sobering audit of the James Beard Foundation, which prompted the group to take measures to maneuver ahead with elevated self-awareness, transparency and variety. Among the modifications put in force was a dedication to retool its awards standards, basing choices on whether or not candidates have proven a “demonstrated commitment to racial and gender equity, community, environmental sustainability, and a culture where all can thrive.”

It’s additionally the primary awards ceremony to have taken place because the restaurant world was shaken to its core by the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, marking what’s going to doubtless go down in historical past as essentially the most difficult interval skilled by the hospitality business on the entire.

As a outcome, the tenor of the ceremony was visibly extra inclusive. It was additionally more and more celebratory, because it marked the return of an annual celebration of the culinary arts throughout a time when hope and optimism are nonetheless each day drivers for cooks, restaurant homeowners and restaurant workers throughout the nation and past.

During the awards ceremony, Chef Dane Baldwin of The Diplomat was honored with the James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef Midwest, marking Milwaukee’s first JBF win for Best Chef Midwest since 2014.

Baldwin was visibly stunned to listen to his title known as out. During his acceptance speech, he admitted that he didn’t attend the awards with the expectation of bringing residence a win. But his gratitude was evident as he expressed real because of these closes to him:  his supportive spouse Anna, his daughters Stella and Eloise, and “everyone who’s ever taken a chance on me.”


Baldwin has been working within the meals business because the age of 15. He is a field-trained chef with expertise at eating places starting from Bacchus, Barossa, the Milwaukee Art Museum and Mr. B’s Steakhouse, the place he served as government chef earlier than opening his personal restaurant, The Diplomat, in 2017.

At the Diplomat, Baldwin has made his mark with an eateery that is inclusive, welcoming and delightfully versatile. Comfortable sufficient for a weeknight, however solely worthy of an important day, The Diplomat stands out for its menu of craveable dishes, that are concurrently new but comfortingly acquainted.

Lentil salad
Lentil salad from The Diplomat

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You’ll discover ingenious takes like hushpuppies constructed from eggplant; a bacon lentil salad visually offered like a bowl of ramen; and deceptively simple choices (like roasted rooster) which showcase Baldwin’s expertise for consistency, simplicity and the uncanny – but magical – capacity to conjure beloved meals reminiscences with each chunk.

Roasted Chicken
Roasted Chicken from The Diplomat

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Baldwin’s award was particularly candy as he stood in opposition to a slew of equally gifted cooks together with Karen Bell of Bavette La Boucherie (Milwaukee), Jorge Guzmán of Petite León (Minneapolis), Gregory León of Amilinda (Milwaukee),  Sean Sherman of Owamni (Minneapolis) and Yia Vang of Union Hmong Kitchen (Minneapolis).

The full listing of James Beard winners in all classes shall be posted at jamesbeard.org.

Baldwin stands amongst quite a few different Wisconsin cooks who’ve made the journey from the James Beard semifinals into the finals.


Sanford D’Amato, founding father of Sanford, blazed new territory when he broke into the New York scene and made a reputation for himself in New York, a metropolis largely dominated by French-born cooks within the 1970’s. Years later, after shifting again to Milwaukee, he additionally made his mark as the primary chef in Wisconsin to win the distinguished James Beard Award, which he did in 1996, incomes the title of Best Chef within the Midwest.

Justin Aprahamian, who bought Sanford from D’Amato in 2012, is Milwaukee’s most up-to-date Best Chef Midwest Award winner. He was nominated 4 occasions earlier than reaching his win in 2014. His win was preceded by Adam Siegel‘s 2008 honor as Best Chef Midwest for his work at Bartolotta’s 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 residence the award in 2001.

Wisconsin natives who’ve been recipients of James Beard Awards embrace Paul Bartolotta, who was the primary chef to win a James Beard in two areas. The first was in 1994 when he headed up the kitchen at Spiaggia in Chicago; the opposite was in 2009 for his work at Ristorante di Mare in Las Vegas. Kenosha native Tony Mantuano additionally gained the award for finest chef Great Lakes for his work at Spiaggia in 2005.

In addition to chef-based awards, eating places together with the now-shuttered Milwaukee basic, Watts Tea Shop, the Cream City’s serbian gem, Three Brothers and the house of the butter burger, Solly’s Grille, have all introduced residence the prize for American Classics. Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge additionally has the excellence of being a 2013 semifinalist within the class of Outstanding Bar Program.




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