Don Saunders on Climbing the Ranks, Opening the Kenwood, and Training for Iron Fork

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.

DonSaunders3.jpg
Keane Amdahl
Don Saunders, chef/owner of the Kenwood, is one of this year's Iron Fork competitors

If you're a lifelong restaurateur, you know that losing is part of the game. Ideally, if you're as committed as Don Saunders, owner and head chef at the Kenwood, you also know what it feels like to win.

Saunders has had his share of ups and downs, openings and closings in his career on the Twin Cities dining scene. He'll bring that experience and a veteran chef''s composure to the 2014 Iron Fork Competition in November, where maybe he'll score himself another win.

See also:
Nick O'Leary of Coup d'Etat: "These Kids Come Out of Culinary School Worthless"


More »

Nick O'Leary of Coup d'Etat: "These Kids Come Out of Culinary School Worthless"

Categories: Interview

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.

uptown-s-coup-d-etat-is-love-at-first-bite.9543539.87.jpg
Katie E. Holm for City Pages
Nick O'Leary (center) with Tyler Shipton (right) and Tom Roberts (left)

Every good chef has to start somewhere, usually at the lower end of the food service totem pole. For Nick O'Leary of Coup d'Etat, Borough, and Parlour, that meant working as a 15-year-old busboy at a truck stop near his family's Denmark, Wisconsin farm.

See also:
Uptown's Coup d'Etat is love at first bite


More »

Merchant's Gavin Kaysen on Watching People Eat, Soggy Cereal, and Sloppy Joes

GavinKaysen.jpg
Courtesy of Gavin Kaysen

Gavin Kaysen may keep a cool head, but this Minnesota native is busy working on one of the most anticipated restaurants of fall 2014, right here in the North Loop neighborhood of Minneapolis. Kaysen, former executive chef at the acclaimed Café Boulud in NYC, took some time to talk with us about inspiration for his upcoming venture Merchant, pickles, and his favorite way to dress a hot dog.

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


More »

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

gavinkaysenmandylee.jpg
Mandy Lee
Kaysen in front of Merchant, his upcoming venture in Minneapolis's North Loop

Flashback to 1995. A young Gavin Kaysen is at work.

He's slicing fresh tomatoes by the case. One by one, they fall under the spell of his knife. Lettuce is on the block next. It's almost lunchtime in the business district, and he's anticipating a busy rush. Prepping for a steady stream of hungry suits, Gavin quickens his knife-work to double time. 

The door swings open, and the first familiar face walks in.
Grabbing his essentials, he deftly arranges lunch for a regular. This guy has come in every day this week and ordered the same thing. Six-inch roast beef on whole wheat, everything, no jalapenos, extra mustard.

"Hey Frank, it's at the register." 

Frank pays and leaves. Heads start to turn. Murmurs ripple through the line that extends out the door.

Gavin greets the next guest. "Welcome to Subway. What can I get for you?"

George Serra, who owns Pasta Time next door, orders a tuna sandwich. Same thing as last week. Gavin makes the order, rings him up, and watches as George walks out the door. He promptly throws the sandwich in the garbage can.

Mr. Serra has done this for the past month.

See also:
Gavin Kaysen's Merchant may be getting top chef backing


More »

The Forager Chef on mushroom hunting and almost poisoning himself [VIDEO]

Categories: Interview

AlanStill01-600x337.jpg
Courtesy of the Forager Chef
Alan Bergo, the Forager Chef
We're in a mushroom kind of mood here at Hot Dish. Yesterday we profiled a Kickstarter for wild maitake jerky. Next week, we'll be interviewing mushroom hunters Fred and Kathy Yerich. And today we're chatting with Alan Bergo, a foraging fanatic and the culinary force behind the Salt Cellar in St. Paul.

As the Forager Chef Alan Bergo is fearless in his curiosity. He makes porcini ice cream and fir tip pickles. He studies rain maps to follow the mushrooms, and he's poisoned himself enough to know what is and isn't safe. Bergo was formerly a sous chef under three-time James Beard Award nominee Lenny Russo at Heartland, where he cultivated his passion for "seasonal, natural food, and exploring culinary ingredients and techniques that have been lost or forgotten." That passion has only grown with the development of his website, where he documents the journey of wild plants from forest to table.

See also:
More details on the Salt Cellar, the Lenny Russo-influenced steakhouse heading to St. Paul


More »

Taco Cat's founders: "Who cares if you deliver something in a car? That's easy."

Categories: Interview

tacoss.JPG
Emily Eveland

Minneapolis may have its cycling struggles (see this week's cover story), but a number of factors contribute to making it one of the most cyclist-friendly cities in the country. Our dedicated bicycling community is constantly coming up with new ways to situate the human-powered machines within the mainstream.

The bike courier lifestyle has changed over the last decade, thanks to the advent of the Internet and a decreased reliance on hand-delivered documents. So couriers have had to get creative. Taco Cat did just that when they introduced their bicycle-delivered taco service last April, appealing to bicycle fanatics and taco enthusiasts alike.

See also:
Street Fight: Cyclists battle for a place in traffic

More »

The guys behind Taco Cat: "We've gotten better at our jobs."

Categories: Interview

tacokids.JPG
Emily Eveland
Tristan and Dan of Taco Cat

When Tristan Jimerson and Daniel Laeger-Hagemeister set out to open Taco Cat, their palindromic bicycle-delivered taco service, they didn't expect anywhere near the response they received within their first few weeks of business. But this is the age of the internet, and in Minneapolis, word of anything regarding tacos, cats, and bicycles spreads fast.

See also:
Taco Cat's founders: "We're a couple of dumb guys"


More »

The Sample Room's Kyle Gage and Francis Taylor O'Brien: "Take the time to do it right"

Categories: Interview

sampleroomchefs.jpg
Sean McPherson
The co-head chefs of the Sample Room Kyle Gage (L) and Francis Taylor O'Brien (R)

The Sample Room has been a fixture of the Northeast food scene since opening its doors 12 years ago (practically 30 in restaurant years). How do head chefs Kyle Gage and Francis Taylor O'Brien keep the menu interesting while staying true to their concept? We sat down with Gage, O'Brien, and managing partner Darren Ennis to find out.

See also:
The Sample Room now serving pig's head


More »

Hell's Kitchen owner Mitch Omer on his new creamy peanut butter

Categories: Interview

pb2.jpg.jpg
Remember those no-bake chocolate peanut butter bars your mom made when you were a kid? You know, the ones you occasionally see at potlucks that force attendees to feign interest in the entrees while contemplating how many bars they can stuff in their mouths before they inevitably run out?

Hell's Kitchen's new creamy peanut butter is the spreadable version of those peanut butter bars, without the chocolate but with double the rich, creamy flavor.

See also:
Best Peanut Butter Minneapolis 2014: Hell's Kitchen


More »

Ian Gray to open food truck, swears: "I'll quit or close the doors before I order from Sysco"

Categories: Interview

ChefIaGray_Credit_E_Katie_Holm.jpg
E. Katie Holm
Chef Ian Gray is back in the saddle after closing the Gray House last month.

When Ian Gray announced the closing of the Gray House in May, legions of fans were disappointed. Until then, it had seemed the Gray House avoided the restaurant curse afflicting 610 W. Lake St. (once occupied by Risotto, among other failed ventures). Business was solid, and Gray's $20 prix fixe was considered one of Minneapolis's best kept secrets.

See also: The Gray House in Lyn-Lake will close

More »

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...