Chef Drew Ledo on His Iron Fork Grudge Match and Anthony Bourdain's Life Advice

Each week, we'll interview one of the chefs participating in our 2014 Iron Fork competition. On November 6, these six culinary masterminds will go head to head to see who can create the most appetizing and healthful dish using a secret ingredient. Tickets are on sale now.

Sparks head chef Drew Ledo talks competition cooking and taking life advice from Anthony Bourdain

In the small, often overlooked Minneapolis neighborhood of Bryn Mawr, one petite Italian restaurant has been delighting diners with wood-oven-centric cuisine since 2012. At the helm is head chef Drew Ledo, who has spent the majority of his life immersed in the food service industry and will be taking his first leap into competitive cooking with this year's Iron Fork.

We had a chance to sit and talk with chef Ledo about his background, what it was that motivated him into a serious cooking career, and the life advice he received from celebrity chef/travel guru Anthony Bourdain, which had a lasting effect on his own culinary adventure.

See also:
Third Bird's Lucas Almendinger on Multiple Career Paths and Starburst-Glazed Foie Gras

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5 Best Bets for Restaurant Week in the Twin Cities

Categories: Events, Food

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It's restaurant week and we've put together a list to help you narrow down your choices. The Third Bird's buffalo fries, anyone?

It's that time of the year again when restaurants across the Twin Cities put together a variety of budget-friendly prix fixe menus. This time around, MSP Magazine's Restaurant Weekhas added a few newbies to the roster of RW regulars, giving you the opportunity to get out and try something new without breaking the bank.

We've scoured the list of participating restaurants and put together a pretty solid guide to places you should check out -- especially if you don't dine out much or find yourself at the same table in the same joint every date night. Restaurant Week is the perfect excuse to break the trend.

See also:
The Third Bird gives comfort food the highbrow treatment

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Hiroshima Hot Dogs: A Pop-Up of Godzilla-Sized Proportions and Japanese-Inspired Dogs

Categories: Events, Food

Photo courtesy of Libertine
Feed your mutant-reptile-sized appetite at the Hiroshima Hot Dogs pop-up
The folks over at Libertine are hosting their first pop-up, and it could potentially be the king of all Twin Cities pop-ups. On October 24 and 25, the cheekily dubbed "Hiroshima Hot Dogs" will bring guests a selection of hot dogs dressed to the hilt in the tastiest Japanese adornments and named after classic Godzilla monsters.

See also:
Libertine brings roasted meats and great service to Uptown

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Paul Greenberg: How American Seafood Can Change the World and What You Can Do

Categories: Food, Interview

Photo courtesy of Paul Greenberg
Paul Greenberg on why eating locally sourced seafood is critically important
What Michael Pollan is to land-food, Paul Greenberg is to seafood. His books, which examine the way average consumers have feasted through what was once the ocean's bounty, have landed him on the New York Times bestsellers list. Greenberg's newest book, American Catch, paints a clear portrait of America's confounding import-export system for fish and seafood.

In his book, Greenberg details how America exports all of its fresh, wild-caught seafood, only to then import frozen, farmed varieties from around the globe to serve as our primary source of fish-based protein. The practice is so common that almost 90 percent of the seafood that we consume in the United States is imported and as the book states, often comes from "dubious sources."

We sat down to talk to Greenberg when he was in town last week about the current state of American seafood and what we can do to keep fish and seafood on our plates for the foreseeable future.

See also:
A Coffee Date with Michael Pollan [Interview]

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Third Bird's Lucas Almendinger on Multiple Career Paths and Starburst-Glazed Foie Gras

Each week, we'll interview one of the chefs participating in our2014 Iron Fork competition. On November 6, these six culinary masterminds will go head to head to see who can create the most appetizing and healthful dish using a secret ingredient. Tickets are on sale now

Keane Amdahl
2014 Iron Fork competitor Lucas Almendinger talks about his past, competition cooking, and glazing foie gras with Starbursts

Lucas Almendinger, of the newly opened Third Bird in downtown Minneapolis's Loring Park neighborhood, might not be a big name in the Twin Cities culinary scene yet, but given his recent critical acclaim and his top-shelf pedigree, he's definitely a chef to watch.

Almendinger has studied under some of the Twin Cities' biggest names and with a well received opening now under his belt, he is poised for a big break. He sat down with us to talk about his past, present, and the upcoming Iron Fork competition.

See also:
Will the Third Bird have staying power in Loring Park?

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Bachelor Farmer to Expand, Open New Cafe Concept in the North Loop

Categories: Food, News

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Bachelor Farmer will relocate Askov Finlayson and open a new cafe in the vacant space
The folks over at the Bachelor Farmer have more big plans for Minneapolis's bustling North Loop neighborhood. Over six years into their successful restaurant venture, the Dayton brothers have decided it's time for an expansion.

Andrew and Eric Dayton will move their clothing store, Askov Finlayson, into its own location -- directly next door in the historic Hennepin Hotel building, which the brothers purchased in 2012. The former clothing store space will become a brand new cafe, serving breakfast, lunch, and a variety of exquisite pastries courtesy of the Bachelor Farmer's pastry chef, Khanh Tran. Bachelor Farmer and its downstairs speakeasy-style bar, Marvel Bar, will stay put.

See also:
The Bachelor Farmer announces Khanh Tran as new pastry chef

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Agra Culture to Open Location in the MIA, as Stock and Badge Pulls Out

Categories: Food, News

Photo courtesy of Agra Culture
Agra Culture will open its third location in less than six months in the old Grain Stack location at the MIA
It's not much of a surprise that Grain Stack, the second project behind the Stock and Badge team that put together south Minneapolis's now defunct Parka, is out at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. But what's taking its place is somewhat unexpected: Agra Culture, the socially health-conscious restaurant chain by the same folks who brought us Yogurt Lab, will open its third location in just six months in the museum's restaurant space.

See also:
Agra Culture brings fast-casual healthy to Uptown

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Zen Box's Ramen Massive Attack Brings Ramen Burgers to the Twin Cities This Sunday

Categories: Events, Food, News

photo courtesy of Sasha Landskov
Zen Box Izakaya to host second annual Ramen Massive Attack at Mill City Museum this weekend

All of you ramen fans out there better get ready to hold onto your hats, because one of the biggest names in Twin Cities ramen is throwing down with a party of epic proportions. John Ng and Lina Goh of downtown Minneapolis's Zen Box Izakaya are hosting their second annual Ramen Massive Attack! and celebrating three years in business -- and bringing in a couple of big names to help them do it.

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Zen Box Izakaya brings worldly inspiration to ramen

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Figlio's Closing Marks a Trend for the Capricious Kaskaid Hospitality

Categories: Food, News

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Figlio will wind up one of the remodels and re-brands of Kaskaid Hospitality
The newest reincarnation of Figlio, this time at the West End, will be closing its doors at the end of October. Kaskaid Hospitality, the parent company behind not only Figlio, but also Union, Crave, Urban Eatery, and Boneyard, made the announcement late last week that Figlio would be remodeled and re-branded as a new, lighter-fare Italian restaurant. They also announced plans to open not one, but two new restaurant concepts at the Mall of America.

We've started to notice a fairly interesting trend from the folks at Kaskaid: a slew of remodels and re-brands, temporarily buoyed by top-shelf talent that doesn't stick. Will the new, restaurant-formerly-known-as-Figlio concept follow along those same lines? Only time will tell, but a look at the restaurant holding company's track record suggests yes.

See aso: Urban Eatery to replace the View at Calhoun Beach Club

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Vellee Deli to Open Permanent Location in Downtown Minneapolis

Categories: Food, News

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Vellee Deli gets a new home
Last week, Joyce Truong and Will Xiong, owners of Vellee Deli, put up a cryptic video letting their ravenous fans know about some big news: Downtown's premier Asian-Mexican fusion truck will soon be getting its own brick-and-mortar location. The new spot is set to open sometime this winter, but its exact location is still under wraps. So while the video includes a few inside shots of the space, the clip is just vague enough so that the average viewer won't likely recognize the 2,500-square foot location.

See also:
Vellee Deli pop-up is open for business

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