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

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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.

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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

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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

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

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.

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Keane Amdahl
Chef Erick Harcey, mastermind behind north Minneapolis's Victory 44, competes in this year's Iron Fork
Easily one of the most notable names in modern cuisine in the Twin Cities is chef Erick Harcey. At the forefront of the modernist movement, Harcey has brought a whole new level of flavor to the Victory neighborhood of north Minneapolis with his flagship restaurant, Victory 44.

Despite some figurative and literal roadblocks -- his departure from Stock & Badge and an ongoing, two-year-long city construction project that has severely restricted access to his restaurant -- Harcey has honed in on his skill set as a chef and restaurateur. It's these strengths that he'll be bringing to the table as a competitor in this year's Iron Fork.

See also:
Signature Dish: Victory 44's Chef Erick Harcey

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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.

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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"


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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.

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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


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

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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"

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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


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

Categories: Interview

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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


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