This year our 2015 Reader Restaurant Awards have four personality-based categories: Best Chef, Best Manager, Restaurant Personality of the Year, and Food Entrepreneur of the Year. During the voting period that runs through March 8, we’re profiling a few of this year’s nominees.

This time around we present Jimi Sides, owner and operator of The Corner Melt, who has been nominated for Restaurant Personality of the Year.

TBJ: Give us a little background about yourself.
Beijing has been my home for over six years, but I was born and raised in the Midwest. I'm a Minnesota man, through and through.

TBJ: Have you always been this charming?
Probably not. I was raised by my mom, though, who made me take part in activities like leadership camp. I owe it all to her! She made me the man I am today.

TBJ: What does Beijing need to become a more personable city?
Beijing is an acquired taste, but I've found it endearing enough to stay here for over half a decade. Big cities tend to be somewhat alienating by nature – and the sheer size of Beijing makes it easy to be anonymous. That's why I wanted The Melt to be the sort of place where you can feel like family. A little refuge in a big city.

TBJ: If you could host anyone, alive or dead, at your restaurant, who would it be and why?
I would love for my grandma to eat here! She's in her late 80s and still alive and kicking, but unable to travel. Most of the recipes I use at The Melt are based on hers, and I actually picked up the family cookbook for more inspiration when I was last in Minnesota.

TBJ: Tell us about one of your favorite places to eat in Beijing, aside from your own.
There's a little Korean place on Andingmennei that I frequent pretty often. They put a slice of processed cheese on top of a bowl of instant ramen that's a winner. I also love Punk Rock Noodles aka Noodle Inn off of Gulou Dongdajie. Solid bowl of noodles right there. LA Palms is another favorite for the Korean tacos – it's all about the hard shell! And the cheesy bibimbap.

Click here to read previous editions of A Few Words With wherein we profile some of the top players in Beijing's food scene during the voting period for the 2015 Reader Restaurant Awards, which runs through March 8.

Photo courtesy of Jimi Sides


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