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.More »