By Katherine LaGrave
Minneapolis might not be the first city that comes to mind for a food tour. An out-of-state visitor might imagine its cuisine to be dominated by Jell-O salad and hotdish, with spices ranging from salt to pepper. And then there’s that weather.
While it is cold much of the year, Minneapolis has become a destination in large part because of its food—food that reflects changing demographics in the state, which has seen its populations of color increase faster than anywhere else in the rest of the country since 2010. It also gets points for gender equality: Minneapolis was named the fourth-best city for women entrepreneurs in a 2017 study, and is both the second-best city in the nation for working women and for cities where women out-earn their male counterparts.
It’s no surprise, then, that three of the five finalists for the 2018 James Beard Award for Best Chef: Midwest were from Minneapolis. It’s equally unsurprising that all three of them are women, that two of these chefs are children of immigrants or are immigrants themselves, and that one of them won the whole damn thing, though she herself will tell you that she was honestly shocked to hear her name called.