Craftsman's new chef plans to keep the charcuterie, add more vegetarian entrees
The blogosphere was abuzz when Mike Phillips left the Craftsman to start his own charcuterie company, but Minneapolis foodies paid little attention to who was taking over the Craftsman kitchen. That would be the "brunch guy," Ben Jacoby, who is taking on the head chef job after five years at the restaurant and three years running its popular Sunday morning brunch.
"When I found out Mike was leaving, I decided to give Ben a try," Craftsman owner Mike Dooly says. "I think he deserved the chance to show what he could do."
Jacoby is excited for the opportunity, his first time as a head chef in a cooking career that he began also under Mike Phillips at Chet's Taverna, where Jacoby went from dishwasher to sous chef in a handful of years.
"We do a seasonal menu here. That's not going to change," Jacoby says. "We're still going to do the local and organic."
The Craftsman will continue doing its own charcuterie, though Jacoby acknowledges Phillips' departure means the charcuterie offerings will be different. "Obviously, Mike was the one responsible for making all the salamis and all the coppas and all that," Jacoby says. "He kind of took that knowledge and all the equipment with him. We're starting from scratch on that one."
Vegetarians also have reason to celebrate turn-over at the Craftsman: new vegetarian entrees. "We were pretty bereft of vegetarian options when Mike was here," Dooly says. "What he did was great but what we're trying to do is broaden our offerings for more folks."
Vegetable-focused cuisine will benefit from the knowledge of the Craftsman's new sous chef, Jerry Brownrigg. Brownrigg ran an organic farm in California, says Jacoby, before coming to work at the Craftsman three years ago. "He's got a knowledge of produce that most people can only dream of," Jacoby says. "Not just on the produce itself but on the growing of it and how to take care of it, too."
For the time being, Jacoby plans to juggle his head chef duties with running Sunday brunch, which has him at the restaurant and baking by 6 a.m. "This Sunday I actually slept through my alarm," he admits, "but we made it happen even though I was an hour late."