Now Accepting Nominations: 2010 Silver Whisk Awards

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

The Heavy Table’s mission is to embrace and celebrate the best food and drink in the Upper Midwest. In support of that mission, we take time each year to profile and applaud some of the outstanding individuals who grow, brew, ferment, bake, serve, and otherwise facilitate the area’s great gastronomic bounty.

As we did last year, we’ll be giving out a total of just three Silver Whisk awards: Best New Establishment, Best Chef, and Best Purveyor. (Last year’s winners are not eligible for nomination again until 2012 — they were Hope Creamery, Black Sheep Pizza, and Mike Phillips.)

Each award will be the result of a public nomination process, a staff-led winnowing of nominations, and a research / deliberation period before the announcement of our three winners.

Here are our criteria:

Best New Establishment

“Establishment” includes restaurants, bars, catering operations, and specialty shops.

“New” means it opened or re-opened for business within the previous 12 calendar months (i.e. back to Jan. 1, 2010).

“Best” is very subjective, but we’re looking for places that:

a. Filled a new and important niche in the local gastronomic landscape.
b. Redefined the way local people think about food and drink.
c. Incorporated other local businesses (purveyors, etc.) in prominent and thoughtful ways.
d. Delivered a great value for the dollar.
e. Reflected Upper Midwestern terroir.
f. Incorporated a thoughtful approach to food and drink-related ethics.

Best Chef

“Chef” includes anyone cooking for restaurants, institutions, underground dining clubs, or other publicly accessible dining environments.

“Best” is very subjective, but we’re looking for people who:

a. Thought creatively about food.
b. Delivered memorable meals that could stand up to similar experiences in large markets like New York City, San Francisco, etc.
c. Incorporated other local businesses (purveyors, etc.) in prominent and thoughtful ways.
d. Taught the public something new about food and drink.
e. Acted as an opinion or tastemaker reflective of the times.

Best Purveyor

“Purveyor” is someone making packaged or otherwise shipped food or drink for sale or resale, and can include farmers, ranchers, chocolatiers, brewers, bakers, and coffee roasters, among others.

“Best” is very subjective, but we’re looking for purveyors who:

a. Define excellence in their field when it comes to quality and flavor.
b. Successfully tried something new or risky over the past 12 months.
c. Incorporated local ingredients and cultural traditions.
d. Incorporated a thoughtful approach to food and drink-related ethics.
e. Delivered memorable food or beverages that can stand up to similar products in large markets like New York City, San Francisco, etc.
f. Incorporated a sustainable, ethical, fair trade approach (when possible) to making food.

Our Timetable

Today: Nominations open. Any Heavy Table reader can nominate any establishment, chef, or purveyor in the Upper Midwest for a Silver Whisk award by emailing or leaving a comment on this post. Supporting details are helpful but not required. Self nominations are welcome.

Jan. 14, 2011: Nominations close. The Heavy Table staff will meet to deliberate the nominations and arrive at three finalists for each of the three categories.

Feb. 2 through Feb. 4, 2011: Finalists announced. Each finalist will receive a brief profile describing the reasons for their nomination.

Feb. 16, 2011: Winners announced. All three Silver Whisk winners will be announced via Twitter and Each will receive an extended profile and photos, plus a framed certificate to commemorate the win.


  1. Bill O'Reilly

    The Aster Cafe is by far the best new restaurant in the area. Not only did it revive the beautiful riverfront strip with an affordable healthy menu, but also brought top notch local music and events to an underutilized venue.

  2. Nancy Cain Sommers

    The best new place in the Twin Cities? Make that The Aster Cafe! Everything is delicious about this place.

  3. Adair E. Rosenow

    The ASter Cafe finally brings a marvelous blend of great music
    and great tasting food to the area. Such a comfortable and cozy
    environment to enjoy your evening and the wonderful music.

  4. thorny

    Rolling the bikes along the river to the Aster Cafe, ording up some tasty flat bread pizza’s and cold taps and listening to live music. That’s living and the Aster gets my vote for Best New Establishment!

  5. Paul Lieske

    If you want it all, great music, cool scene, rare pints, delicious bites, the Aster is your place!

  6. David Foureyes

    Best New Establishment: Anchor Fish & Chips…meets all of the criteria.

    Best Chef: Doug Flicker. Done.

    Purveyor: Surly. No wait. Shepherd’s Way. Wait. Rogue Chocolatier. No…Peace Coffee. Shit, they’re all great.

  7. R.K.

    Is it just me, or does anyone else think that the aster cafe is spamming this comment section?

  8. CJM

    Best New Establishment: My vote is for Mike Phillips (former Craftsman chef)for his meats and charcuterie, through Green Ox Foods, the joint enterprise with Kieran Folliard. It’s local and high quality.

  9. jane

    Is the Aster Cafe new? I could swear I went there several years ago. It was fine, I guess. I think I just had coffee. Maybe it is under new ownership?

  10. Richard Thomas

    The Aster Cafe could carry the “Best New Establishment” award on its beer list alone.
    Add brunch, happy-hour, live music, tea-infused cocktails, the best patio in the city, and a thoughtful menu where nothing exceeds $10 and you’ve got your winner.

  11. Jim

    I would like to nominate Ferris Shiffer, Chef of The Minikahda Club, not being a public restuarant may disqualify him, but there is no finer Chef in the Twin Cities. He has personally sought to build a espirt de corp in the culinary community with many local chefs staging at he club while they plan their next move. His food knowledge, imagination, presentation,and constant search for new and exciting preparations makes dining at Minikahda a very “un-Clublike” experience. He practices what he preaches, he is in the kitchen, working with his staff, teaching and helping them become better cooks. When I want to go out, there is no better choice than eating a meal cooked by Ferris. It has been a real pleasure working with him, he makes coming to work exciting and enjoyable, because he is so excited about his work and pleasing his clients.


  12. artsy

    wow, interesting comments. the Aster Cafe has definitely been around for years, but my memory of it was some pre-made sandwiches in the fridge…looks like they have a nicer menu now. haven’t heard anyone comment about it though online till….this sudden deluge.

    Best new Establ. Naviya’s Thai Brasserie
    best chef Naviya LaBarge
    best purveyor Donnay Dairy

  13. lynn and gary moss

    no contest. Aster Cafe hands down. great atmosphere, great food and service, great location, great entertainment. try it, you’ll like it!

  14. Margot

    Aster Cafe…great revival of a place that had sort of died. The drink and beer list is amazing and the food is excellent and keeps getting better. Also a great breakfast and lunch. So glad it has moved into the neighborhood!

  15. evan

    Best purveyor, yoyo bakery in ‘tonka, great new ideas and filled a gap for the western burbs.

  16. Eric

    Best new: Bars Bakery.
    Best chef: Alex Roberts, Restaurant Alma and Brasa
    Best purveyor: Pumphouse Creamery– continuing to redefine what a local ice cream shop means

  17. dunia

    Best New Establishment: Tie between Piccolo (for restaurant) and Patisserie 46 (for pastry/bakery)

    Best Chef: Doug Flicker

    Best Purveyor: Rogue Chocolatier

  18. mikey

    I’m always up for good music venues with affordable food. I discovered the Aster has both. My first option when it comes to picking a place for a Friday or Saturday night.

  19. tom

    Best new establishment: Aster Cafe. (Yes, it’s under new ownership. Same peeps that own the 318 cafe in Excelsior)

    Best Chef: tie – Alex Roberts & Don Saunders

    Best Purveyor: Fulton Beer

  20. Freeride

    Best New Establishment: Aster Cafe

    Best Chef: Keven Kvaslten (Twisted Fork)

    Best Purveyor: Surly Beer

  21. Heidi Andermack

    Best New Establishment: Aster Cafe

    The Aster has turned an under-appreciated tourist area into a vital local destination. They’ve created a warm and intimate atmosphere with interesting musical acts, delicious food and desserts, refreshingly creative tea-infused alcoholic bevs, a nice selection of local beer, and righteous Peace coffee.

  22. Nick

    Is this Aster Cafe thing a joke? Anyone care to share the email they sent to their list telling everyone to post here? Anyways, I would nominate World Street Kitchen as best new restaurant.

  23. Pat S

    Best new establishment in my estimation is Caribe in St. Paul. I give the nod to the chef, Tony Panelli as BEST CHEF, too.

  24. Gretchen

    I most definitely agree with “Pat S” in nomination of Caribe Caribbean Bistro in St Paul ( for best new establishment, as well as the chef mastermind behind it all, Tony Panelli. Such an awesome transformation of the old location and menu!!

  25. Colleen

    Best New Establishment? Caribe Caribbean Bistro in St. Paul! Delicious food, enticing menu specials, charming atmosphere.
    Best Chef? The fabulous Tony Panelli!

  26. Vicki

    New restaurant: Caribe. Awesome Caribbean vibe and wonderfully inventive food.
    Chef: Tony Panelli

  27. Katie

    Best new resturaunt- Caribe– the best (Caribbean) food I have ever tasted…to name some of my favorites; the conch fritters, the rice and beans, and the super Jerk Chicken are so delish and the desserts (especially the Tres Leche Cake) are to die for!

    Best Chef- Tony Panelli, hands down!!!

  28. Sue MacMillan

    My vote is for Caribe, and Chef Tony Panelli. We eat there often and have never been disappointed. Great food!

  29. Ben

    Best New Establishment: Fischer Family Farms Pork, supplying the highest quality pork products to many of the Twin Cities fine dining. By far the best bacon and ham I have ever had the good fortune of tasting.

  30. Michael

    Best New Establishment: Caribe on University/Raymond in St. Paul. Great atmosphere, amazing food, intimate, unpretentious chef-driven, and simply the best buzz in town!
    Best Chef: why Tony Panelli, of course!

  31. Eric Caron

    Best Purveyor: YoYo Donuts in Minnetonka. It took a lot of gumption to setup coffee shop 2 blocks north of a Caribou coffee that’s across the street from another Caribou coffee, but YoYo is taking on the challenge. They’re also selling donuts next to a Seattle Sutton and a Anytime Fitness, yet they’re friends with the business owners. The coffee is tremendous and they put a lot of care into it by offering pour-over and clover system. And their donuts are as delicious as they are daring.

  32. whiskers

    Best Restaurant: Travail
    (Astor isn’t new, sorry. It just got a face lift)

    Best Chef- Alex Roberts

    Best Purveyor: Rogue Chocolatier

  33. Grace

    I LOVE Caribe! Great new sunshiney place for us Northerners. What better place to soak in the amazing scenery during a laid back brunch and eat the best coconut french toast I’ve ever? My vote is for Tony Panelli and his restaurant Caribe!

  34. Carson

    Best New Restaurant: Haute Dish.

    Best Chef: Isaac Becker (112 Eatery is still my favorite restaurant in the cities)

    Best Purveyor: Thousand Hills Cattle Company.

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