Five Questions for Thomas Boemer: What Did It Take to Win Cochon 555?

Mecca Bos
Thomas Boemer (far left) toasts his competitors before he is announced the winner.

Like all of our favorite chefs, Thomas Boemer of Corner Table is quietly modest. Not all that comfortable talking about what he does, he'd rather be cooking.

So when we call to ask what effort went into his impressive menus that took the big, piggy prize at last Sunday's Cochon 555 culinary competition, it takes him a while to get to the mechanics of it.

Really, it was all in a day's work. Knowing the farmers who humanely raise animals that are prized for flavor and nutritional benefit, paying attention to how they are processed, and then breaking them down and turning them into hundreds of delicious preparations. It's just what they do, week in and week out.

But finally he admits: "It was absolutely insane."

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Who Won Big at Cochon 555?

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2013 Iron Fork Absolut Mixologists on secret weapon ingredients and drink orders they hate


Look out, chefs! Six Twin Cities-based bartenders are locking and loading their liquor bottles, ready to battle it out for the title of "Absolut Mixologist" at this year's Iron Fork. On November 7 at International Market Square, these barkeeps will compete to create the best signature cocktail. We caught up with a few of these local drink-slingers for five questions about life on the other side of the bar.

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Chef Landon Schoenefeld talks about being Iron Fork overlord and his love of Kewpie mayo

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Sociable Cider Werks on beer, a bocce ball court, and when they'll be open

Courtesy Sociable Cider Werks
Building is still a "werk" in progress, but Sociable will be brewing soon
Craft beer is still a booming business in the Twin Cities, but with our reputation for producing America's most popular apple varieties, like Honeycrisp, Zestar, and SweeTango, it's also a natural fit for a craft cider house. 

"For whatever reason, craft cider is big on the coasts," explains Jim Watkins, co-owner of the upcoming Sociable Cider Werks."But for the most part if you want to buy a cider here, you're buying it from a macro brewery whether you know it or not." 

Watkins and co-owner Wade Thompson are aiming to change that by opening Minnesota's very first hard cider brewery and taproom. The Hot Dish caught up with Watkins to learn more about what makes their cider so appealing to beer drinkers, the beauty of keeping things small, and when they plan to get brewing.

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Lake Monster Brewing: Five Questions

Courtesy Lake Monster Brewing
Something's lurking around St. Paul
It's been a good few months since a new brewery opened in the metro area, so the timing was just perfect for Lake Monster Brewing to come to the surface a few weeks ago. The company is operating with a slightly different model than most of our local breweries. 

"Our initial intention was to open a physical brewery in Minneapolis or St. Paul," says co-founder Matt Zanetti. "But our head brewer Matt Lange is currently living in Madison so we decided to do contract brewing out of Black River Falls. We kind of go back and forth but the product is still completely ours."

Lake Monster is still planning to open a physical brewery sometime next year, but they have a lot going on in the meantime. The Hot Dish caught up with the Matt of Lake Monster to talk brewing philosophy, their local brewing idols, and where their beer is available right now.

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Zula Juice delivery service: 5 questions for owner Renee Peters

Courtesy Zula Juice
More fresh-pressed juice coming to the Twin Cities and right to your door
In the last few years, the Twin Cities have seen a major boom in the craft beer industry, but recently a new wave of beverage is stealing focus: Raw, fresh-pressed juice.

Whole Foods and the Wedge Co-op have sold fresh fruit and vegetable juices for some time, but the major trend on the coasts is blade-free, totally raw juicing, and it's slowly spread to the middle of the country. With places like Truce Juice in Uptown paving the way, more local juice outfits are starting to spring up. Bloomington-based Zula Juice, which just officially launched last week, is one of them.

The Hot Dish caught up with Zula Juice's founder and owner Renee Peters to learn more about raw juicing, Zula's cleanses, and whether or not we're in the delivery zone.

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Andrew Zimmern shows off Minneapolis for Travel Channel [VIDEO]

Travel Channel
Hometown hero Andrew Zimmern shows off Minneapolis via a new Travel Channel video

Minneapolis is pretty awesome, and now local food celebrity Andrew Zimmern has taken to the internet to let the rest of the world know it too. In a video released by the Travel Channel, Zimmern divulges an array of reasons as to why exactly Minneapolis is a world class city.

In it you'll see Haute Dish hanging out in the background as well as a stop-in at a certain coffee shop-bike store. Zimmern also hits up Linden Hills paying visits to both Harriet Brasserie and Tilia.

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Minnesota chefs read their terrible Yelp reviews [VIDEO]

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Sandcastle owner Amy Greeley: Five Questions

Courtesy Sandcastle
Sandcastle owners (from left): Amy Greeley, Doug Flicker, and Chele Payer

Lake Harriet has Bread & Pickle, Minnehaha Falls has Sea Salt, and Lake Calhoun has Tin Fish. Lake Nokomis is arguably a just as popular and beloved warm-weather recreation destination, but somehow it had been overlooked as a site for a small waterfront eatery. That is, until last summer, when the Minneapolis Parks Board began accepting proposals for a concession stand that was wallet-friendly, accommodating to families, and would offer some healthy options on its menu. It wasn't too long before they announced that eatery would be Sandcastle, headed by Piccolo chef Doug Flicker, his wife and co-owner Amy Greeley, and business partner Chele Payer. Excitement followed, construction started, menus were planned,  and now as beach season is imminent, everyone is wondering what's up with Sandcastle. The Hot Dish caught up with Greeley to get some answers.

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Northbound Smokehouse: Free beer for life has staying power

The three co-owners of Northbound Smokehouse: chef Bryce Strickler; manager Amy Johnson, and brewer Jamie Robinson.

It was an ambitious goal. To raise the final amount needed to open a small brewpub in Minneapolis, the owners of Northbound Smokehouse offered investors of $1,000 or more free beer for life. Did it work? Oh, did it ever.

We talked recently with Northbound brewer and part owner of the new south Minneapolis hot spot, Jamie Robinson, who brought us up to speed on how the unique business model is paying off for the six-month-old brewery, and what's coming next.

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The Beez Kneez's Erin Rupp: 5 Questions

Courtesy Beez Kneez
Beez Kneez is partnering with Kim Bartmann and ... you!

"Imagine paying $50 for a pint of hand-pollinated strawberries," says the voiceover in this compelling video from the Beez Kneez, a local organization devoted to reviving the bee population in the Twin Cities and educating the local community about how bees affect our overall ecosystem. "That's what a world without bees could look like," says Erin Rupp, director of development and education for the organization, who caught up with the Hot Dish to talk about what the Beez Kneez has been busy with lately.

In support of the plight of the declining bee population and a continuance of her mission to make her restaurants ever more sustainable, restaurateur Kim Bartmann, who also owns the home of the future Beez Kneez Honey House, is collaborating with the Permaculture Research Institute Cold Climate to expand the reach of the project. Her plan, in conjunction with the Beez Kneez, is to farm the grounds to provide food for the Tiny Diner, her upcoming seventh restaurant, scheduled to open this summer.  

But this is just one of several things the Beez Kneez is all abuzz about. The Hot Dish had five questions for Rupp to find out a little more about why the bee population is in trouble and what we can all do to help.

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Dishcrawl's Christine Carlson: 5 Questions

Bre McGee
Everest on Grand: Could it be one of the mystery spots on the Dishcrawl?

If you've done the Light Rail bar crawl or a Pedal Pub outing, you're probably familiar with the concept of progressive partying, but the appeal of something like that fades quickly after too many weekends spent on a party bus. Thankfully, an organization called Dishcrawl, which has just recently popped up in the Twin Cities, takes the fun of touring but applies it to dining out. It's like a more grownup, food-centered version of bar-hopping, intended to help local gourmands get together and discover some new favorite restaurants.

The Hot Dish caught up with Dishcrawl's local ambassador, Christine Carlson, to learn more about the organization and how it works, and to get some details on its next event, Tuesday, March 26, on St. Paul's Grand Avenue.

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