Charlies Entertainment & Hosts
Pouring drinks, using tweezers to carefully place eatable flowers on slabs of foie gras, being nice to guest after guest after guest and brewing a good beer or cup of coffee aren’t the only skills our culinary community has to offer.
This year the Charlies chose people from the industry to entertain you.
Band leader Jordan Hedlund, had the awe-inspiring job of making the music all about food so that when the different award categories were announced, the walk-up music for the winner was category appropriate. For instance when the crew behind 56 Brewing accepted their Charlie Award, they walked on stage to the raucous Roll Out the Barrels.
Michael Drabik, a server at Eastside Eat + Drink, opened the show with the Jordan Hedlund Band. Hedlund added a clever Charlies-oriented third verse to Drabik’s Mean Mr. Mustard rendition. Drabik, who is the consummate server, a student and a musician, sang in clubs New York City, before moving here. He was welcomed back for a dessert song, Blueberry Hill.
As the audience started watching Joey Hamburger’s third Charlies’ video of the really-bad chef Zac La Cremme, it started to giggle before working up to a full belly laugh. The icing on the cake was host, Jason DeRusha, appearing in the video: “If you don’t like food, you’re going to love this class,” he said about the master class La Cremme was hawking. Hamburger recreated his role live as one of the presenters.
Master Baker Dan “Klecko” McGleno took the stage twice to read from his acclaimed book of poetry, Hitman-Baker-Casketmaker: Aftermath of an American’s Clash with ICE. The first poem detailed a challenge to steal NPR’s Garrison Keillor’s salt and pepper shakers and the second was Mexicans in the Parking Lot, a tribute to the dedicated crew at St Agnes Bakery who lost their jobs to ICE.
The group who brought down the house was the Urban Youth from Appetite for Change with their original rap song about growing food. The words were projected on the stage screen, so the clever lyrics could be appreciated as well as the energetic performance.
And Our Entertaining Hosts
The hosts for the event seemed to be having as much fun as the audience had watching them. It was WCCO-TV anchor Kim Johnson’s first time at the Charlies, but her co-host and co-anchor of the morning show, Jason DeRusha was making his third appearance behind the podium. “These are my people,” he enthused as the crowd cheered. Johnson claimed to be a foodie apprentice compared to DeRusha’s expertise in the eating world. DeRusha proved why the crowd loves him with the line: “Who over the last 10 minutes has opened a food hall?
But his most endearing comment was about the students at both Saint Paul College and ProStart high school programs who were preparing the imaginative appetizers for the Afterparty next door at Seven Steakhouse & Sushi. “These are your future employees—or future competition. These kids can cook.”
At right, Brian “BT” Turner has been a host and the Voice of God from the rear of the theater for all nine Charlie Awards. A veteran radio DJ and voiceover actor, BT is adept at moving the show along at a smooth pace. Sitting next to him is the executive producer of the show, Shannon Pierce, owner of Stagetime Productions, who is a master at making everything professional.