Tiny Diner Chef Brian Crouch Talks Quinoa and Refrigerator Repair

Categories: Interview

Brian Crouch
In his free time, chef Brian Crouch might catch a fish, cook it, and eat it.

Full disclosure: I used to work for Tiny Diner chef Brian Crouch -- way, way back in the day when we both were fresh-faced and full of vim and vigor. He was my first chef at a beloved little ragtag neighborhood place called Marimar, where essentially a bunch of kids got together and thought, "Hey, we're going to make ourselves a restaurant -- other people do it, so why not us?" They cobbled together their credit cards and their elbow grease and all that youthful energy and made a damn solid little restaurant.

This is only notable because I remember Crouch as this cantankerous, easy to set off, foul-mouthed, live-wire, cig-smokin' bad boy. Pretty much the picture of the TV chef.

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Tiny Diner has big dreams in Minneapolis

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Philip Becht of Victor's on Water Isn't That Kind of Chef

Phillip Becht
Chef Phillip Becht and his crew at Victor's on Water

Chef Phillip Becht has no taste for the celebrity of chefdom, any sliver of spotlight, or even the interview I'm foisting upon him on the second day of service at Victor's on Water, though he graciously capitulates.

I'm almost loathe to use the term "chef" with him, fraught as the term has become with innuendos of ego, trash talking, and swagger. But it only means "boss," and I'd say Becht would be a stellar one to have.

See also:
Best Star-Chef Experience in a Restaurant 2007 -- The Modern's Phillip Becht

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Stewart Woodman Returns to the Twin Cities Culinary Scene That Disowned Him


It's Labor Day at the Minnesota State Fair, and Stewart Woodman is vying for the public's attention.

Three days earlier, he challenged fairgoers to crash his cooking demonstration with "the craziest Woodman story." No one does.

Instead, the crowd eagerly lines up for a taste of his chicharron and beet salad samples, ignoring a screechy microphone and the chef's raging head cold — because his food is worth it.

In the 12 years since Woodman moved to the Twin Cities, he's been honored with four-star reviews and cited as a best new chef by Food & Wine magazine. The James Beard Foundation twice named him a best chef semifinalist in the Midwest.

But each success has been marred by disaster. One of his restaurants burned down. He got fired from another. Two more went out of business, leading to a lawsuit by former employees who accused him of financial mismanagement and failing to pay wages.

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Twin Cities Wine Guru, Bill Summerville, on His Collection for Spoon and Stable


Had a memorable meal in Minneapolis lately? Chances are good that Bill Summerville had something to do with the experience.

After leaving his long-held post as managing director and sommelier at La Belle Vie this past spring, Summerville has been in project mode. He partnered with chef Erik Anderson on a well-received fried chicken and Champagne pop-up at Travail and designed the wine programs at the Third Bird and Sea Change. He then traveled, tasted, and studied his way through hundreds of bottles to create the perfect collection for Gavin Kaysen's North Loop hot spot, Spoon and Stable, where Summerville is general manager and wine director.

See also:
Spoon and Stable: A Sneak Peek and Opening Date for Gavin Kaysen's North Loop Restaurant

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Christopher Nye, Spoon and Stable Chef de Cuisine, Wants to Serve You a Whole Pig's Head

Categories: Interview


You already know that chef Gavin Kaysen is the man behind the hotly anticipated restaurant Spoon and Stable. But what do you know about the man behind the man? Christoper Nye is Kaysen's right-hand guy, and is, like Kaysen, an alum of NYC's Cafe Boulud as well as a native Minnesotan. We chatted with him about his education, career, and his hopes and plans for the fine-dining powerhouse that knows how to have a good time -- Spoon and Stable.

See also:
Spoon and Stable: A Sneak Peek and Opening Date for Gavin Kaysen's North Loop Restaurant

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J.D. Fratzke on Saint Dinette, River Culture, and Mixing Business with Friendship

Lizzie Breyer
Carpaccio at the Saint Dinette pop-up

The indomitable duo of a St. Paul prandial powerhouse is now officially a trio.

The Strip Club Meat & Fish manager, Tim Niver, and chef, J.D. Fratzke, have brought in a third partner, Brad Tetzloff, for their new venture, Saint Dinette. Tetzloff hopped behind the line about a year ago at the Strip Club, and now he's an equal-thirds stakeholder in the new restaurant, still in concept phase.

"He's got a successful background in small business," says Fratzke. "He's a great butcher and wants to be a restaurateur."

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Saint Dinette pop-up offers a sneak peek at Tim Niver and J.D. Fratzke's next venture

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Chef Pat Weber Talks Top Chef, Spam, and Not Doing "Some Fusion Shit"

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.

Pat Weber is one of six contestants in the 2014 City Pages Iron Fork competition

We may think of them as the folks who run the kitchens of our favorite restaurants, but the role of a chef takes many forms: consulting, teaching, writing.

Chef Pat Weber spent his earlier years chasing the dream, working in a variety of kitchens across the country, but now spends his time either teaching students at the local Art Institutes International or consulting for various restaurants around town with his business Mise en Place.

Chef Weber is one of six contestants participating in this year's Iron Fork competition. Here's how he went from kitchen jockey to culinary instructor, and how this could give him an edge in this year's culinary throw-down.

See also:
Erick Harcey of Victory 44 Shares His Ruthless Tactic for Iron Fork 2014

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Merchant and Flat Earth: Chef & Brewer on Their New Beer and The Maury Povich Show

Mandy Lee/Courtesy of Flat Earth Brewing
Gavin Kaysen and Flat Earth are teaming up.

Like ships that pass in the night, Gavin Kaysen of the soon-to-be Merchant Restaurant in Minneapolis and Bob Roepke of Flat Earth Brewing Company in St. Paul were unlikely to meet from the very beginning. Gavin is not a beer drinker. Bob is a vegetarian who rarely dines out. Yet somehow, they've forged a delicious collaboration over the river, due in November.

We sat down with the both of them in Flat Earth's taproom on a Saturday afternoon to chat about Mercantile, the Flat Earth commissioned brew, as well as the role of a beer program, the perfect day off, and other fun tidbits. Spoiler alert: One of them was once on Maury Povich.

See also:
Gavin Kaysen: "We Shouldn't Compete Against Chicago, That's Not Our Competition"

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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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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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