Fifteen months after its James Beard award-winning chef stepped down, the Bachelor Farmer (50 2nd Av. N., Mpls., thebachelorfarmer.com) has a new hire in the kitchen.
Jonathan Gans officially started his job this week at the seven-year-old North Loop restaurant, replacing Paul Berglund.
“We conducted a national search for the right person to lead the Bachelor Farmer going forward,” said co-owner Eric Dayton. “Jonathan knows the challenges of running a business, and I’m excited by his diverse background. We’re all excited to get the chance to work with him.”
Diverse, indeed. Gans, a Seattle native, dreamed of playing trumpet for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, but during his collegiate musical education he experienced an epiphany.
“I was drawn to the creative nature of the food and restaurant world,” he said. “There was something magical about seeing raw ingredients transformed into beautiful plates.”
An apprenticeship with influential Seattle chef Thierry Rautureau at top-rated Rover’s Restaurant led to a climb up that kitchen’s ladder (the kitchen has since closed), followed by stints at Carmelita — a landmark vegetarian outpost, now closed — and the Harvest Vine, a well-regarded bastion of Basque cooking.
A career diversion steered Gans into financial services (“I took the work ethic and sense of hospitality that I learned in restaurants and applied it to that business,” he said), a switch that also led, four years ago, to a transfer to the Twin Cities.
Turns out, the lure of the food world proved too strong.
“I learned about leadership and financial management, but ultimately I wanted to be surrounded by creative people again,” said Gans.
He became executive chef at Kitchen Window, the Uptown Minneapolis cooking school and retail store (“That was a nice introduction back into food,” he said), and later co-created a lunch box delivery business that focused on local, seasonal ingredients (“We called it farm-to-desk food,” he said) called the Fresh Connection.
For fun, Gans and his wife transformed the dining room of their south Minneapolis residence into a pop-up operation that gathered six people around their table for tasting menu dinners.
“We were immediately blown away by the food scene here,” he said. “I’m excited to explore what it means to cook in this region. How can we tell the story of this place that we’re all so proud of? I’m incredibly excited to go on that journey.”
Following Berglund’s departure (he’s now culinary director for Vestalia Hospitality, parent company of Young Joni, Pizzeria Lola and Hello Pizza), the restaurant’s kitchen has been overseen by former Bachelor Farmer sous chef Sam Gilman, who will remain through January.
“Sam did an extraordinary job, and his leadership gave us the opportunity to take our time, and not rush this decision,” said Dayton.
“Sam is a relatively young guy and has been with us five-plus years, so his plan is to then travel and do a series of stages in different parts of the country, and perhaps abroad, to diversify his experience. He’s got a very bright future ahead of him.”