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Top restaurants, chefs awarded honors: "And the Charlie goes to..."

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The stars and top spots in the ever-expanding Twin Cities food scene were honored Sunday at the third annual Charlie awards, presented at the Pantages Theater in downtown Minneapolis.

WCCO reported that local food writer Sue Zelickson founded the awards and named them for the legendary Charlie’s Café Exceptionale, one of the Twin Cities’ top spots for 50 years. Charlie’s signature potato salad was served to attendees.

Minnesota Business carried a list of the winners, which ranged from top restaurant design (Burch Steakhouse) to outstanding pastry chef (Diane Yang of La Belle Vie) to outstanding food truck item (from Hot Indian Foods).

The outstanding restaurant was Butcher and the Boar in downtown Minneapolis and outstanding chef was Sameh Wadi of Saffron.

Other winners were La Belle Vie for outstanding service, Lift Bridge Brewery's Hot Dish IPA for outstanding local craft brew, Dan Oskey of the Strip Club as outstanding bartender, Corner Table for outstanding menu item and Tyler Shipton of Borough as the top emerging food professional.

The community hero award went to the Birchwood Cafe's Tracy Singleton and the 2013 Charlie Awards Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Lucia Watson of Lucia's.

But enough about awards. Was there food? Of course. Tickets for the VIP dinner that followed the ceremony ($125, or $95 for people working in the food business) included a meal created by the 2012 Charlie Award-winning chefs. The guests at the VIP four-course meal at the Walker Art Center tucked into an amuse bouche by Piccolo chef Doug Flicker, an appetizer by Tilia Chef Steven Brown, an entree by Heartland's Lenny Russo and dessert by the Salty Tart's Michelle Gayer.

A portion of the proceeds benefit Open Arms of Minnesota, a Minnesota nonprofit that cooks and delivers free meals tailored to the nutritional needs of individuals living with life-threatening illnesses.

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