Celebrity Chef Andrew Zimmern Teams Up With General Mills To Serve Up First Ever The Munchies: People's Choice Food Awards. (Video: General Mills)

You came, you ate, and now it’s time to vote! General Mills’ Tablespoon.com is honoring 20 categories of the most delicious food experiences America has to offer – from the most iconic burger, to the best local farmers market, to the best chef – by calling on the public to award the most deserving with the first ever The Munchies: People’s Choice Food Awards. Online voting launches today at Tablespoon.com/themunchies, running through April 30 th.

“The Munchies will give food lovers a voice in celebrating the restaurants, chefs, media and food that deliver the most inspiring and satisfying culinary experiences. Plus, we'll be making a donation to Feeding America on behalf of all of the voters and panelists, so everyone who participates is also supporting a great cause,” said Heather Reid, Food Content Marketing at General Mills. “Every day, passionate food lovers visit Tablespoon.com to discover and share the freshest, most amazing ideas from the world of food and drink, so it’s the perfect place to host The Munchies. We are excited to highlight the culinary tastemakers who are shaping America’s food culture.”

How do you even begin to distill the big, juicy world of food experiences down to a handful of nominees per category? You enlist a pro with his own cred in the kitchen – and that’s just what General Mills did by bringing on James Beard award-winning television personality and chef Andrew Zimmern to head up a wide-ranging panel of celebrity chowhounds to develop the short list of nominees.

“Food is such a passion point for so many of us in this country, and I love being involved in anything that really gets people talking about the best of what’s out there,” said The Munchies lead panelist Andrew Zimmern. “The Munchies are an opportunity to spark a national conversation about food and give the public a chance to vote on their favorites.”

In addition to Zimmern, the panel includes:

These gastronomy gurus shared their culinary perspectives to determine The Munchies nominees across three groups of categories:
  • Terrific Tastemakers gives props to the media and personalities that make the food world sizzle, from the Favorite Food TV Personality to the Favorite Food Blog.
  • Best Bites honors the most delectable interpretations of our favorite foods, like Most Iconic Burger and Best Cookie.
  • Delicious Destinations pays homage to the establishments that keep us coming back for more; think Coolest Coffee Shop or Most Intriguing Cocktail Bar.

Food enthusiasts can satisfy their cravings to vote once per day at Tablespoon.com/themunchies during the voting period (April 2-30). The 2012 winners of The Munchies awards will be based on popular vote and announced on Tablespoon.com in early May.

The full list of nominees is:

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