Jeramey Jannene

Three Milwaukee Chefs Advance To Best Chef Midwest Finals

Driving forces behind The Diplomat, Bavette and Amilinda could be named best in Midwest.

By - Mar 24th, 2022 03:07 pm
The Diplomat. Photo courtesy of The Diplomat.

The Diplomat.

Three Milwaukee chefs are still in the running for prestigious awards from the James Beard Foundation and form half the field for Best Chef: Midwest category.

In February, the city was revealed to have nine semifinalists, including chefs and restaurants. But the foundation narrowed the field last week, in anticipation of the winners being revealed on June 13. Dane Baldwin of The Diplomat, Karen Bell of Bavette La Boucherie and Gregory León of Amilinda remain.

Baldwin leads The Diplomat, which offers “approachable American fare in a shareable plate format” at 815 E. Brady St. It is his third consecutive semifinal appearance and first finalist nomination. The restaurant opened in 2017. Baldwin previously worked for the SURG Restaurant Group and The Bartolotta Restaurants.

For Bell, it is her second finalist nomination and fifth semifinalist nomination. She leads Bavette, a butcher shop and cafe at 330 E. Menomonee St. The business opened in 2013 and, later this year, will move to a larger space a block away.

León has cooked around the world and at several San Francisco restaurants, but much of the past decade he’s been growing Amilinda in downtown Milwaukee. The Spanish and Portuguese-inspired restaurant started as a pop up in 2013 and found a permanent home at 315 E. Wisconsin Ave. in 2015.

The Best Chef: Midwest category covers Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. But only two of the states could see a winner. The other three finalists are from Minneapolis. Other states commonly considered part of the Midwest — Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio — instead form the foundation’s Great Lakes region.

Milwaukee’s semi-finalists, including the three finalists, are Dan Jacobs and Dan Van Rite of DanDan (Best Chef: Midwest), Joe Muench, Dan Sidner, Amy Kerstein and Jason Kerstein of restaurant group Black Shoe Hospitality (Oustanding Restaurateur), Kyle Knall of Birch (Outstanding Chef), Odd Duck (Oustanding Restaurant), Sanford (Outstanding Hospitality) and Goodkind (Outstanding Bar).

The awards took a two-year hiatus as a result of the pandemic.

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