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Posts about Chefs

Where are all the women?

Posted by: Lee Svitak Dean Updated: March 4, 2015 - 5:11 PM

The photograph of 15 male chefs featured on the cover of this month's Mpls.St. Paul magazine (above) has local female chefs and restaurateurs angry. Food-and-dining senior editor Stephanie March offered the reasoning in a subsequent blog post

The public response from 22 women, crafted in reaction to this month's cover of MSP magazine, is as follows:  

“Where are all the women?” We Are All Right Here!

As a group of female chefs and restaurateurs, we’re moved to respond collectively.

We’re outraged at the viewpoint taken by the cover and subsequent editorial comments on the March issue of Mpls St. Paul Magazine depicting the best chefs of the Twin Cities as all male. It’s a false and embarrassing representation of our diverse food community.

Did anybody notice that your mothers, wives and sisters weren’t in the room?

As a young female grocery store clerk remarked when handing one of us the issue—“Where are all the women?”

The media, as our society’s most influential institution, has a duty to advocate against gender and racial inequalities. As Alice Waters pointed out in 2013, “I think it’s a matter of how we go about the reviewing of our restaurants. Is it really about 3-star places and expensive eccentric cuisine? The restaurants that are most celebrated are never the ones that are the simple places.”

We take this opportunity to have a lasting impact by engaging in ongoing conversation on this topic in our community.

We pledge to hold the media accountable.

We’re committed to fostering the development of our diverse and talented young food industry workers for the next generation. It takes a village.

These, and many other women and men contributed to this conversation and the ideas expressed in this letter:

Lisa Carlson

Brenda Langton

Kim Bartmann

Nettie Colon

Hannah Benti

Nan Bailly

Heather Kim

Carrie L. Summer

Maren Mattson

Taya Kaufenberg

Heather Kim

Sue Zelickson

Beth Fisher

Tracy Singleton

Liz Benser 

Dana Kevlahan

Stephanie Worums 

Sarah Masters

Sylvia Izabella

Linda Quinn

Tamara Brown

Soile Anderson

Tammy Wong

New chef coming to La Belle Vie

Posted by: Rick Nelson Updated: February 25, 2015 - 11:51 AM

There’s going to be a new chef running the kitchen at La Belle Vie.

Chef/owner Tim McKee has named Shane Oporto as the new chef de cuisine at restaurant, located in the  historic and swank 510 Groveland building.

Oporto (pictured, above, in a provided photo) is currently cooking at another McKee-run property, Libertine. His resume includes stints at Union, Tilia and the former Porter & Frye. Before that, he was a private chef to a high-profile (and unnamed, thanks to non-disclosure agreements) family with a home in the Bahamas, cooking for a long list of bold-face names from the worlds of politics and entertainment.

“Four-star-caliber dining on a yacht, a beach or a helicopter -- whatever the location, or the request, the answer was always ‘yes’— then figure out how to make it happen,” said Oporto in a statement. “That’s possibly the best training for stepping into La Belle Vie.”

Oporto’s first day at LBV is March 19. He’s replacing longtime LBV chef de cuisine Mike DeCamp, who is opening a new Italian restaurant in the Hotel Ivy (the space formerly known as Porter & Frye) with the team behind Borough, Parlour and Coup d’etat.

A glass of wine -- and a chat -- with Jacques Pepin

Posted by: Lee Svitak Dean Updated: November 24, 2014 - 11:11 AM
Rochelle Olson and Jacques Pepin, Photo by KQED

Rochelle Olson and Jacques Pepin, Photo by KQED

By ROCHELLE OLSON
Star Tribune

 
In more than two decades as a reporter, I’ve met/encountered/interviewed the famous and the infamous – presidents, star athletes, rock stars, movie stars and convicted killers. It’s my job. After all this time, I don’t get nervous, but I can be apprehensive when the celebrity is someone I’ve enjoyed for years. I worry the person won’t live up to the image.

Like my brief brush with Mick Jagger years ago, my studio interview of Jacques Pepín exceeded my hopes.

I’d like to say I’m a devotee of Pepín’s method, that I’ve worked my way through a third copy of “La Technique,”  but I’m mostly a fan and a Francophile with a passion for Paris dreaming of the next time I can walk past the Tuilieries at dusk.

On his shows, Pepín charms, slices, dices and sautes while sharing sweet anecdotes and mildly mischievous asides. He seems so familiar and friendly it’s easy to forget he cooked for Charles DeGaulle and created food with Pierre Franey for the entire Howard Johnson hotel chain in its heyday.

He quickly assuaged my concerns with his calm, relaxed attitude. (If you’re unfamiliar with him, google his YouTube videos on omelet making. Fun and informative as always.) 

On camera, Pepín’s flawless. No fumbling or mumbling, just ease. Only a couple of times was he asked to do a second take for this episode. And each was a notch better than the first.I watched the taping on Monday at San Francisco’s KQED and expected to return Wednesday for an interview. But after all the audience members had  posed for photos, Pepín and his producers called me over for a shot. I followed orders.

Since I was standing next to him, I started asking questions. Then he asked if I wanted a glass of pinot noir. He was still drinking his wine from the show. I don’t usually drink on the job, but at this time, on the set with Pepín, I responded,  “When Jacques Pepín offers a glass of wine, who am I to say no?”

Pepín decided he had time before his afternoon taping to sit for an interview in the green room. Once inside, he asked a producer to get some more wine for us – chenin blanc left over from the show.

Now remember I had gone into the interview wary that the real-life Jacques would be justifiably less amusing than TV Jacques. Instead, here I was relaxing and on my second glass of wine with the great Jacques Pepin  – the man who cooked with Julia and any other significant chef in the past 50-some years.
And he was more down-to-earth and direct than I expected. He didn’t bristle at any questions. He was also much more handsome than he appears on TV. He has these deep brown eyes and is as handsome as an older George Clooney  –  if the movie star had that adorable French accent.

So here are a few snippets I learned that didn’t make my recent story in print:

Rochelle Olson and Jacques Pepin, Photo by KQED


When I asked about Julia, he told the story about how his neighbor, reporter Morley Safer, asked for an introduction to Julia ahead of a planned “60 Minutes” profile. Safer, most likely, was hoping to warm up his subject before sitting down with cameras.

Pepín shook his head as he recalled telling Safer, “I can introduce you, but it won’t matter. Julia is Julia.”
Still, he and Safer attended one of Julia’s public events. Pepín  didn’t recall the first question from an audience member, but he did recall Child’s response: “What a stupid question.”

He met Julia after a publishing agent asked him to read her manuscript for “The Art of French Cooking.” Pepin recalled the agent saying, “I’ve met this very big woman with a terrible voice.” He gave the manuscript a thumbs up  – and eventually teamed with Child for their own famous cooking series.

Pepín won’t retire. “What would I do? Now I get up every day at the crack of 10 a.m. I am not an early riser.” But he’s got a heavy schedule of public appearances, cooking events, petanque playing (a French game of tossing metal hollow balls, similar to bocce ball), walking his dogs and hanging out with his wife of 49 years, Gloria.

He hasn’t been to Paris in more than a decade. In the past when he would travel to France, it was to see his mother near Lyon where he grew up. He saw her last summer and she died soon after at 99 1/2, he notes.

He paints as a hobby and considers Picasso the master of the 20th century.

Because he never owned or ran a restaurant, Pepin said, “I didn’t have to worry much about what I said.”

As he’s grown older, Pepin said, “I like things much more spicy than I used to.”

He repeatedly praised simplicity. “Imagination is not something I’m crazy about. Sometimes they can really screw up the meal,” he said.

He likes teaching his granddaughter Shorey how to cook. “The kitchen is the right place to be after school  – the noise, the smell of it – all that stays with you the rest of your life.”

Follow Rochelle Olson on Twitter: @rochelleolson
 

First glimpse at "The Victory Garden's Edible Feast"

Posted by: Rick Nelson Updated: November 17, 2014 - 3:12 PM

Minneapolitans and two-time James Beard award-winning filmmakers Daniel Klein and Mirra Fine of the Perennial Plate are back in the news, this time with a preview of their soon-to-debut effort on PBS.

It's a reboot of the network's popular and groundbreaking "The Victory Garden" series, this time seen through the couple's storytelling prism, with an assist by the national network of Edible magazines.

TPT hasn't announced when it's running the show (the series launches, network-wide, in December), but look for an upcoming announcement on its website.

Catch the preview here:

The Victory Garden's Edible Feast TRAILER from The Perennial Plate on Vimeo.

Charlie Awards winners announced

Posted by: Rick Nelson Updated: November 18, 2014 - 1:56 PM

Winners of the fourth-annual Charlie Awards were announced Sunday afternoon at the Pantages Theatre in Minneapolis. The awards celebrate excellence in the Twin Cities' food and drink scene. 

Newcomer Brasserie Zentral – from Meritage owners Russell and Desta Klein – was named Outstanding Restaurant.

Outstanding Chef honors went to Alex Roberts of Restaurant Alma and Brasa.

Thomas Boemer, chef/co-owner of Corner Table, was handed the award for Emerging Food Professional, which salutes chefs with less than five years experience. The restaurant, which moved to a new home earlier this year, was also handed the Outstanding Service award.

Restaurateur Kim Bartmann was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement award. The award caps a busy year for Bartmann. Since January, the owner of Bryant-Lake Bowl, Barbette, Red Stag Supperclub, Gigi’s Cafe, Pat’s Tap and Bread & Pickle, launched two restaurants – Tiny Diner and the Third Bird – and had a hand in the birth of a third, Kyatchi.

The award for Outstanding Pastry Chef went to John Kraus of Patisserie 46.

Vincent Francoual, chef/owner of Vincent, was named the year’s Community Hero.

Jesse Held of Borough, Parlour and Coup d’etat was named Outstanding Bartender. Coup d’etat also came up a winner in the Outstanding Restaurant Design category. The Uptown restaurant, which opened in January, was designed by ESG Architects of Minneapolis. 

Butcher & the Boar won Outstanding Beverage Program Honors, the West Side IPA from Harriet Brewing was awarded Outstanding Local Craft Brew.

Two awards were determined by an open-to-the-public online poll (one that garnered 10,000 votes). The Moral Omnivore was named Outstanding Food Truck. The online poll also selected nominees for Outstanding Food Item, and a panel of expert judges chose the winner from six finalists. That award went to the St. Paul Grill and its the "Grill Charlie’s,” a beef tenderloin sandwich with caramelized onions and horseradish mayonnaise.

Winners are selected from a voting pool of 175 independently owned Twin Cities food-and-drink establishments.

The awards are organized by Ivey Awards founder Scott Mayer and longtime Twin Cities food advocate Sue Zelickson, and are named for Charlie’s Cafe Exceptionale (pictured, above, in a 1960 Star Tribune file photo), the fabled downtown Minneapolis restaurant that closed on July 21, 1982, after a 49-year run.

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