Chef Ann Kim of Young Joni wins James Beard Award

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A Minnesota chef is bringing home the James Beard Award for the best chef in the Midwest region.

Monday night Ann Kim won the honor at the James Beard Foundation's award ceremony, which recognizes the top chefs in the United States. She was a semifinalist in the Midwest category in 2017 and a finalist last year.

Kim is the chef and owner of Young Joni, a pizza restaurant in northeast Minneapolis. She also runs Pizzeria Lola and Hello Pizza.

"My goodness this incredible. I went to the bathroom before the last award because my Spanx were so constrictive," she said to much laughter and applause in the audience.

She told the room she dropped her speech, but luckily had a copy on her phone and was able to share her inspiring message.

"This is unbelievable because I'm standing here on this stage and it has never been something that I thought could ever be in the realm of possibility," said Kim. "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.'"

For the Midwest category, chefs from Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin were considered. Kim beat out four other finalists, which included fellow Minnesotans Jamie Malone of Grand Cafe and Christina Nguyen of Hai Hai.

Gavin Kaysen of Spoon & Stable won the award for the Midwest region last year.

Young Joni briefly closed in February due to an attic fire, but soon reopened.