I Left My Heart in Shafter Ghost Town

This is the second installment of Off the Map, a column by chef J.D. Fratzke. It appears monthly on growlermag.com and occasionally in print. It was in the waning years of the Clinton administration that I found myself standing on the roof of an abandoned blacksmith and livery in a southwest Texas ghost town. The journey had … [ Read more]

Disturbing the Peace, Honoring the Place: Amy Huo is cooking farm-to-table in Eau Claire, damn the cost and consequences

Amy Huo will tell it to you straight: she isn’t the easiest person to work with. “I have an addiction to doing something new, even if I piss off everyone,” she laughs. As a food truck chef and entrepreneur, she has built her reputation in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, by dishing farm-to-table food from her roving … [ Read more]

Who Owns Asian Food?

“When you realize a life was given so you could have life, it changes the way you live. It also changes the way you cook.” – Yia Vang, at the April 8, 2019 Lynhall panel discussion “Insiders or Outsiders: Who Owns Asian Food?”   The challenges of cooking Asian food in America defined a conversation … [ Read more]

New City, Great Grub: Tracking down the best eats in a strange place

Having good “restaurant radar” is a wonderful thing for anyone who loves to travel and eat—it means that you can parachute into just about any new city and dine well. As a professional food writer, I’ve spent years honing my ability to guess my way into a great meal. You can leverage the same sort … [ Read more]

Recipe for Reinvention: For Doug Flicker, Bull’s Horn is a revolt against his own success—and a return to his roots

If you walk into Bull’s Horn in South Minneapolis on the right night, and the scene hits you just the right way, you’ll experience a sudden, giddy rush of confusion. It’s not any single thing—it’s all the details taken in at once: the bubble hockey game, the pull-tab station, the plastic water glasses, the occasional little … [ Read more]

Cold Waves, Hot Ramen: Wherein the Boundary Waters sets its hook in the soul of a Minnesota chef

This is the debut of Off the Map, a column by chef J.D. Fratzke. It appears monthly at growlermag.com and occasionally in print. Wells was stripped to his skivvies and running in place, every inch of his skin the color of raspberry bubble gum. Though it couldn’t have been more than a 30-yard swim to … [ Read more]

Family Dinner, Solved: The Loaf Pan Library

Here’s all that you need to solve the eternal question of how to feed your family well: Freezer space (a chest freezer is perfect). A handful of suitable recipes. And about two dozen aluminum 9-inch-by-5-inch (8 cup volume) loaf pans with covers or aluminum foil to make lids. We’ll get back to the details of … [ Read more]

Dollars to Dumplings: Tim Niver’s relentless hustle keeps his culinary mini-empire current and profitable

If you watch Tim Niver casually assemble an order of bucatini all’amatriciana, you might easily mistake him for a chef. “I love that browning effect on the garlic,” he says, the smell of pancetta filling the kitchen at Mucci’s Italian. “You get that slight tinge of bitterness and you can even find some of those … [ Read more]

Wild-Fired Kitchen

For Ryan Stechschulte and KZ ProVisioning, feeding the Minnesota Wild is a job and a passion Deep in the bowels of the Treasure Island Center in downtown St. Paul, chef Ryan Stechschulte stands over two enormous metal pots of gourmet goulash and talks about Minnesota Wild hockey. If the TRIA Rink practice lair is the Batcave, Stechschulte is … [ Read more]

To Discover the Future of Food, Ask the Chefs

Three leading Minnesota chefs break bread, drink wine, and talk about the way food will be eaten—and cooked—in the decades to come W When we start talking about the future of food, we immediately consider questions of waste and sustainability, or whatever the cake-pop-like-object of the moment might be. It’s easy to get immersed in protein … [ Read more]

Bright Colors, Deep Flavors: In Hai Hai, chef Christina Nguyen has created an autobiographical powerhouse

Three facts about Christina Nguyen, chef-owner at Hai Hai and Hola Arepa: 1. She believes that the customer is right…unless the subject is omelette larb. “It’s the one dish I won’t allow people to get less spicy, because I am a total tyrant and crazy person,” she says. “There are certain things that you should … [ Read more]

How to Caviar: The simple, affordable holiday appetizer that’s sure to impress

I f you want to greet your dinner guests with an appetizer they’ll talk about through New Year’s and beyond, we suggest caviar. It’s a surprisingly affordable way to entertain with a splash of retro style. All you need to do is learn how to make blini (which are only slightly fussier pancakes) and buy … [ Read more]

Q&A with Jessica Olson, the Queen of Minnesota Mushroom Jerky

If someone says the word “jerky,” the only word that bounces off most people’s brain is “beef.” Salty, intensely flavor, and dense with nutritional kick, jerky’s a way to enhance the flavor and preserve the protein of meat while making it easy to transport and store. But that same method of drying, curing, and flavoring … [ Read more]

The Ramen Architect

John Ng of Zen Box Izakaya is a designer, engineer, and builder (of soup) If he weren’t a chef, John Ng of Zen Box Izakaya might be a kung fu master. This is literally true: the architect-turned-izakaya co-owner has been practicing martial arts for 16 years, having begun his training while living in San Francisco. … [ Read more]

Rick Nelson and Lee Svitak Dean Tell the Stories Behind “The Great Minnesota Cookie Book”

Cookies are personal. They’re sweet and festive, sure, but they’re also holiday traditions made concrete—family histories rendered with cups of sugar and sticks of butter. The just-released “Great Minnesota Cookie Book” is an overflowing platter of Minnesota cookie history. Within its covers are 77 finalist and champion recipes from the Star Tribune’s annual holiday cookie … [ Read more]