Restaurant news: Pastry chefs, farm dinner, party time

  • Updated: July 23, 2014 - 12:59 PM

Crayfish take center stage at the Bachelor Farmer’s annual Kräftskiva, to be held Aug. 2 this year.

Photo: Lee Svitak Dean • Star Tribune,

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Minneapolis pastry chefs on the move

When Khanh Tran left Cosmos for the Bachelor Farmer (50 2nd Av. N., Mpls., earlier this year, she kicked off a major migration among some of the Twin Cities’ top pastry chefs.

Around the same time, Niki Francioli left her job at Sea Change (806 S. 2nd St., Mpls., — where she was replaced by colleague Samantha Valesano — to help launch Brasserie Zentral and Cafe Zentral (505 Marquette Av. S., Mpls.,, the restaurant’s just-opened skyway-level counter-service cafe (tip: go for the excellent pretzels).

Now Francioli is returning to work for her Sea Change boss Tim McKee, replacing pastry chef Diane Yang at McKee’s La Belle Vie (510 Groveland Av., Mpls., Chef Gavin Kaysen recruited Yang to open his upcoming North Loop restaurant, Merchant.


Farm dinner

Tickets remain for the 2014 Outstanding in the Field dinner, a true farm-to-plate experience. This year’s dinner takes place July 30 at 4 p.m. at Greg and Mary Reynolds’ Riverbend Farm in Delano, featuring chef Alex Roberts of Restaurant Alma (528 University Av. SE., Mpls., Tickets are $210 per person and are available at


Party time

August is the month when three North Loop restaurants turn their attention to the surrounding streets and stage block parties.

First up is Kräftskiva, the third annual summertime crayfish celebration at the Bachelor Farmer. This year’s iteration is on Aug. 2 from 5 to 10 p.m. and will also feature portable fare (meatballs, sweet corn) from chef Paul Berglund, drinks from the restaurant’s Marvel Bar, beer from nearby Fulton Brewery and live music including Haley Bonar, Night Moves and BBGUN. Admission is $5 at the door.

On Aug. 10 from noon to 7 p.m., the party moves to Borough and Parlour (730 Washington Av. N., Mpls., www., with a mix of indoor (burgers and fries) and outdoor (grilled corn and ribs) food — plus a pop-up tent from Uptown sibling Coup d’état — along with drinks, beer (from 612Brew), over-21 “Popsicles” and live music from Black Market Brass, Private Oates and more. Admission is $5, sold in advance on the restaurant’s website or at the door.

Finally, the second annual Crayfish Block Party at the Smack Shack (603 Washington Av. N., Mpls., is from noon to 8 p.m. on Aug. 16.

Chef/co-owner Josh Thoma is planning on selling a ton — literally, 2,000 pounds — of crayfish in a Creole-style boil dinner that includes sweet corn, Polish sausage and potatoes.

Before the event — and subject to availability — the restaurant is offering a preview, with a pound of crayfish and all the sides for $14.95. “We’re trying to have it as often as we can, but we’re saving up for our event, literally,” said Thoma.

Cost is $40 in advance on the restaurant’s website (plus a $3.90 service fee) or $50 at the door. The price includes an all-you-can-eat crayfish boil, plus all-you-can drink Hurricane cocktails and Indeed and Fulton beers (“which is why we close at 8 o’clock,” Thoma said with a laugh), plus live music from by Davina and the Vagabonds, the Butanes, the Droppers and more.

Use the intervening weeks to train for one of the party’s two crayfish eating contests; no pre-registration is required.

The day’s cooking style may hail from Louisiana, but the crawdads are all Minnesotan, sourced from a single lake about 45 minutes north of Brainerd.

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