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]

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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]

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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]

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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]

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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]

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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. Most days I live just like you. I stand blinking in the fluorescent glare of the pre-wrapped meat section, trying to … [ Read more]

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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]

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Kimchee and KFC: Young Joni’s Ann Kim and Adam Gorski on new American food traditions

So there’s Young, and there’s Joni. Two moms. One attentive and skillful Korean family cook: Young. One affectionate and bibulous North Dakota family host: Joni. Right? Okay, so there’s this restaurant: Young Joni. Coming soon. Northeast Minneapolis. Front dining room in the spirit of Young: Wood-fired ovens, open grill, shareable meals, generosity. Back bar in … [ Read more]

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Minnesota Spoon: Wine pairing with Jill Mott

Earlier that afternoon, just outside Jon Wipfli’s patio door, an entire boneless leg of lamb had twirled slowly on a string suspended above a hardwood fire for six hours or so, dripping occasional runnels of fat into the coals, and wrapping itself gradually in a cloak of char. Now, on the cutting board in front … [ Read more]

Minnesota Spoon: Tacos and timing with chef Jorge Guzman

At some point early on Sunday afternoon, I looked up from my work as enthusiastic-but-mostly-unskilled sous chef, and felt a pang of concern. This was not coming together. We were all over the map. Jon Wipfli, The Growler’s resident chef, was downstairs fussing with his new smoker on the sidewalk. Somebody was out on the … [ Read more]

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Minnesota Spoon: Pork chops and plating with chef Paul Berglund

Chef Paul Berglund picks through the selection of knives available in Jon Wipfli’s kitchen, hefts a couple of them, and settles on his weapon of choice. Holding it in his left hand, he trues up the root ends of a row of scallions, rocks the knife up toward its tip, and with a single smooth … [ Read more]

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Minnesota Spoon: Halibut with Mike DeCamp of Monello

The beard is magnificent. Untended and unfashionable. The anti-hipster beard. It streams down from his jaw in uneven rust-colored rivulets, and spreads high up his cheeks and toward his ears in a way that is tempting to compare to a blush, if we weren’t talking about maybe the least blushful person in this zip code. … [ Read more]

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