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Published February 19, 2014, 11:11 AM

HoDo has 2 chefs as James Beard semifinalists

FARGO – Hotel Donaldson co-chefs Ryan Nitschke and Nick Weinhandl are semifinalists for the James Beard Foundation Award for best Midwestern chef.

By: Forum staff reports , INFORUM

FARGO – Hotel Donaldson co-chefs Ryan Nitschke and Nick Weinhandl are semifinalists for the James Beard Foundation Award for best Midwestern chef.

“It’s amazing,” said Weinhandl, who watched the live stream of the announcements at 9 a.m. Tuesday. “I could hardly believe it when our names popped up.”

They were the only nominees from the Dakotas on the list of 20, which also includes Twin Cities chefs Paul Berglund (Bachelor Farmer), Steven Brown (Tillia), Doug Flicker (Piccolo), Michelle Gayer (Salty Tart), Jamie Malone (Sea Change) and Lenny Russo (Heartland Restaurant).

“It’s pretty intense. These are chefs I look up to,” says Nitschke. “Just being next to them on the list is a big honor.”

Weinhandl credited the cooks and kitchen staff for working together so well.

“Every once in a while all of the hard works pays off,” he said.

Weinhandl and Nitschke took over as co-chefs in January of 2012.

The five finalists will be announced March 18 and the winners on May 5 at Lincoln Center in New York.

Named after the late chef and food writer, the James Beard awards are the highest culinary honor in America and often referred to as “the Oscars of food.”

Previous Hotel Donaldson chef Tim Fischer was a semi-finalist for the award in 2011. In 2008, Nathan Strei, then a chef at Montes, was the first Fargo-based semifinalist.

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