Smoke and No Mirrors: The effort and integrity behind Northern Waters Smokehaus

I spent a couple decades in real estate, where I saw every kind of sales pitch, from the clumsiest—delivered by a transparently thirsty postgraduate sweating through the armpits of his big-boy sport coat—to the most sophisticatedly smooth. One thing I learned is that we are all selling something almost all of the time, even if it’s … [ Read more]

Tradition & Transcendence: The modest virtuosity of Shigeyuki Furukawa

Shigeyuki Furukawa is turning a cylinder into a plane. I don’t know the exact geometry of it, but I do know that it looks much more like magic than like mathematics, and that it is happening before my very eyes. With the tips of the fingers of his left hand, he is holding a peeled … [ Read more]

Minnesota Spoon: Thomas Boemer’s expansive vision for cooking with fire goes beyond barbecue

Chef Thomas Boemer’s eyes are watering. He’s standing in front of an improvised outdoor kitchen, made up of a cinder block fire well, with a steel-mesh grate laid across it for a cooktop, and a two-course block wall stacked on top of that for a windbreak. It is so rough-hewn and brawny looking as to … [ Read more]

Minnesota Spoon: The culinary languages of Adam Eaton

Developing the dishes for a new restaurant menu is a little bit like giving birth. There is the initial joyful conception. There is a long and sometimes painful gestation period, and there is the final delivery into the world of something that is both part of its creator, and that will ultimately have to interact … [ Read more]

Minnesota Spoon: Bibimbap, Urban Roots, and Eddie Wu

We live in a world saturated by the pursuit of brand and audience. Social media has turned us all into intimate personal entrepreneurs marketing the product of our curated selves. We present to the world evidence that we lead enviable lives, and that we command a following, more or less loyal, that is supposed to … [ Read more]

Minnesota Spoon: A certain lack of ego with the collaborative excellence of Grand Cafe

Jamie Malone leans back against a pale pink throw pillow, and looks over at her chef de cuisine Alan Hlebaen. She has just answered a question by, in fact, not answering it, and instead deflecting the question to Alan, who adjusts a pair of black, rectangular wire rims and offers a serious, thoughtful response. Let’s … [ Read more]

Minnesota Spoon: Back to the Stone Age with Twin Cities bakers embracing Old World traditions

If you’ve ever gotten used to the taste of Folgers coffee—as I have, intermittently, during life’s dark stretches—and then opened a bag of just-ground, freshly roasted coffee beans, you will understand my state of mind last Friday, as I walked into the production room of Baker’s Field Flour & Bread, in Northeast Minneapolis’s Food Building. … [ Read more]

Love, Anger, and Salumi: A picnic with Mike Phillips of Red Table Meat Company

Mike Phillips looks tired. That’s because he is tired. Mike is the quiet Twin Cities institution who over the years has given us Chet’s Taverna, The Craftsman Restaurant, and, though we have yet to prove ourselves entirely worthy, Red Table Meat Company. Yes, he gets up for work at 5am most days, but that’s not … [ Read more]

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Minnesota Spoon: Travail cooks traditional with Bob Gerken, James Winberg, and Mike Brown

So they arrived, the guys from Travail Kitchen & Amusements. Or rather two of the three guys. The third guy might swing by later. The two guys, Bob and James, got out of their white pickup. Introduced themselves. We smiled at each other. Bob had kind eyes and a scruffy black beard that failed to … [ Read more]

Minnesota Spoon: Baja on the Lake with Billy Tserenbat and Zach Schugel

Billy Tserenbat arrives at our house with the odds stacked against him. We are here to create a kind of Baja California beach party as a way of getting to know Billy’s new Wayzata restaurant, a beach-centric, Mexican-influenced, fish and seafood celebration called Baja Haus. Except that a sunny May sky has turned suddenly woolen … [ Read more]

J.D. Fratzke’s Base Camp Beef Bourguignon

Base Camp Beef Bourguignon Ingredients 1 tablespoon smoked hot paprika 1 tablespoon allspice Sea salt Fresh cracked black pepper 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 4 pounds boneless grass-fed beef short ribs ½ cup each yellow onion, celery, and carrots, diced ¼ cups chopped garlic cloves ¼ pounds uncooked bacon, chopped 1 cup cheap red … [ Read more]

Minnesota Spoon: Anaerobic exercises with Matti Sprague

Matti Sprague and I appear to be talking about fermentation. We are standing in Jon Wipfli’s well-lighted kitchen, and we are using all the words that you use when you talk about fermentation. We are talking about salting down vegetables, creating anaerobic environments, and encouraging the right kinds of microbial life while discouraging the wrong … [ Read more]

Minnesota Spoon: Making peace with beef

The case for a more sustainable steak with Jon Wipfli and Erik Sather I suffer from a chronic condition that I keep mostly under control. You haven’t heard of it. It’s called Sustainability Exhaustion. [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”35969″ align=”right” info_text=”Advertisement” info_text_position=”above” font_color=”#6d6d6d” font_size=”13″ padding=”10″ background_color=”#ffffff” border=”2″ border_color=”#878787″] Most days I live just like you. I stand blinking … [ Read more]

Five Tables and the Sea: The restorative simplicity of Anne Majourel

Steve Hoffman, our Minnesota Spoon columnist, has spent the last five months in the Languedoc region of southern France, and submitted this tribute to his favorite restaurant in the world for our Travel Issue. What if a restaurant existed on a steep hill just outside a French fishing port? And what if this restaurant featured … [ Read more]

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Minnesota Spoon: Sameh Wadi’s last meal

“First you pour the arak,” insists Sameh Wadi. “Then you add the water. And only then do you add the ice.” Outside the windows of Jon Wipfli’s kitchen, the first big winter snow sits thick on a pair of spruce trees. It is an unexpected setting for a round of arak—a Middle Eastern version of … [ Read more]