MINNEAPOLIS — The chef and owner of northeast Minneapolis hotspot Young Joni has taken home one of the biggest awards in the culinary world.
Chef Ann Kim won a James Beard Award for Best Chef Midwest on Monday night. The category covers restaurants in Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
When she stepped up to the stage to tearfully accept the award, Kim read it off her phone.
"I went to the bathroom before the last award because my Spanks were so constrictive," she said, to a round of cheers and laughter. "And I dropped my speech."
She called the award "unbelievable."
"I'm standing here on this stage and it has never been something that I thought could ever be in the realm of possibility," she told the audience.
"My journey has not been easy, it has not been linear, and it has not been traditional. But here I stand. I stand before you and I stand here because 10 years ago I said, 'F--- fear.'"
The award comes a few months after a fire briefly closed Young Joni in February.
A Korean immigrant, Kim is also the chef and owner of Pizzeria Lola, opened in 2010; and Hello Pizza. She opened Young Joni in 2016.
Kim was a James Beard semifinalist in 2017, and a 2018 finalist for Best Chef Midwest. This is the first time she's taken the prestigious award home.