9 Milwaukee restaurants, chefs named James Beard semi-finalists

MILWAUKEE — The James Beard Foundation announced the semifinalists for its 2022 awards Wednesday morning, and nine Milwaukee chefs and restaurants were recognized.

Outstanding Restaurateur: Joe Muench, Black Shoe Hospitality

This is the first time that Joe Muench has been a semi-finalist for the Outstanding Restaurateur award. Black Shoe Hospitality includes Maxie’s, Blue’s Egg, Story Hill BKC and Buttermint restaurants.

Outstanding Chef: Kyle Knall, Birch

Kyle Knall, who helped open Birch’s restaurant in downtown Milwaukee last year, will own it in early spring, according to our partners at the Milwaukee Business Journal.

Outstanding Restaurant: Odd Duck

Odd Duck is a small plate restaurant located at 99 S 2nd S. in Milwaukee. The menu to share is inspired by local ingredients.

Outstanding Hospitality: Sanford

Sanford is a new American restaurant located at 1547 N Jackson St. in Milwaukee. Sanford is known for its stylish venue in a neighborhood house.

Outstanding Bar Program: Goodkind

Goodkind is a corner tavern and new American restaurant located at 2457 S Wentwoth Ave. near Lake Michigan.

Best Chef – Midwest: Dane Baldwin, The Diplomat

Dane Baldwin is a three-time semi-finalist. Baldwin is the owner and chef of The Diplomat on Milwaukee’s Lower East Side. He previously worked at Bucchus by The Bartolotta Restaurants, as well as SURG Restaurant Group’s Carnevor steakhouse.

Best Chef – Midwest: Karen Bell, Bavette La Boucherie

Karen Bell is a five-time semi-finalist. According to our partners at the Milwaukee Business Journal, Bell traveled as a chef before reestablishing his roots in Milwaukee. She worked in Chicago, then San Francisco, before moving to Madrid to take a break.

Best Chef – Midwest: Dan Jacobs and Dan Van Rite, EsterEv

Daniel Jacobs and Dan Van Rite have been on the list for four years. The two established their modern Chinese-American restaurant, DanDan, in 2016. The duo later opened their fine-dining restaurant and chef’s table concept, EsterEv, inside DanDan.

Best Chef – Midwest: Gregory León, Amilinda

This is the first time that Gregory Leon is a semi-finalist. Leon owns Amilinda, a Spanish-Portuguese restaurant. Previously, he spent 18 years cooking at restaurants in San Francisco like Poesia, Mirtille, and Horatius, as well as a few in Madrid, Spain.

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