Trailblazers 2017: Gavin Kaysen

Gavin Kayson, right, of Spoon and Stable from 2016 when he cooked cassoulet with The Growler Magazine // Photo by Matt Lien

Gavin Kayson, right, of Spoon and Stable from 2016 when he cooked cassoulet with The Growler Magazine // Photo by Matt Lien

When Gavin Kaysen began taking reservations at Bellecour, his French bistro and second restaurant endeavor, the first two months were booked in just one day. Kaysen told Eater that when he saw the reservations cascading in, it was “honestly one of the most humbling things I’ve ever seen.” It was clear then that he had come a long way from his humble culinary beginnings as a teen working at Subway in Bloomington, where he was first discovered by a local restaurateur.

Kaysen left Minnesota to work under famed British chef Marco Pierre White and was mentored by globally-revered chef Daniel Boulud at Café Boulud in New York. Along the way Kaysen’s racked up several James Beard nominations and one win for Rising Star Chef, as well as a coveted Michelin star. For a chef with his resume, opening a restaurant on the East or West Coast seemed the logical next step, but instead, Kaysen returned to Minnesota and has played a substantial role in putting the Twin Cities on the national culinary radar. In a time when it seems our brightest local talents are leaving for bigger cities, Kaysen flipped the trend on its head by choosing Minneapolis for his first restaurant, shining a spotlight on our dynamic food scene.

In addition to helping define local cuisine and raising the bar for standards of service-oriented dining, Kaysen is actively invigorating the local scene by bringing local diners in contact with top chefs from around the country with the Synergy Series. Coming up on its third year, the series hosts four world-class chefs at Spoon and Stable to collaborate with Kaysen and his team for two nights each. Diners have witnessed the work of groundbreaking chefs like Grant Achatz of Chicago’s Alinea and Dominique Crenn of San Francisco’s Atelier Crenn. But the series is also introducing these chefs to our state’s vibrant food community eager to grow its palate.

“Geographically, as a cook, you don’t care where you live because you don’t see outside enough to care,” Kaysen told fellow chef and Twin Citian Andrew Zimmern after opening Spoon and Stable. “All you care is that you go to a place where you’re going to be educated and learn on a daily basis, that you’re going to get pushed and it’s going to make your career better than where you are today.”

All we know is that the day young Kaysen was plucked from behind the counter at Subway was a lucky one indeed.

Trailblazers are the people, ideas, businesses, and organizations doing necessary, important, and groundbreaking work in the realms of food, drink, and culture. See the rest of The Growler’s 2017 Trailblazers here.