Counter Intelligence: At the Dakota, it's a culinary partnership

  • Article by: RICK NELSON and LEE SVITAK DEAN
  • Updated: September 14, 2011 - 3:54 PM

Also: New restaurants in St. Paul, and get Turkey To Go -- at two sit-down storefronts.

It's a team effort at the top of the employment chart at the Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant (1010 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., www.dakotacooks.com). After a six-year tenure, chef Jack Riebel has left to pursue another culinary interest, and owner Lowell Pickett has replaced him with a pair of chefs: Derik Moran and Kristin Tyborski.

"We've taken an unusual path," said Pickett. "It seems like a fresh approach [to have duo chefs]. We've been blown away by their food. They're going to be a great team."

Moran started cooking at age 11, flipping burgers in a beer joint. By 18, he was head chef at a resort in northern Wisconsin. After stints at Porter & Frye and Trattoria Tosca, he moved on to Nick and Eddie, where he has led the kitchen since 2010. Tyborski's résumé includes stints at Mill City Cafe, La Belle Vie, Sea Change, Solera and Porter & Frye, where she first worked with Moran.

"This is an opportunity for a great partnership," said Moran. "We are equals in this. It will be creatively dynamic, focused, exciting and fun. Working with a woman will create a more rounded, better spectrum of how to think in general. I know diners won't be disappointed."

Tyborski is equally enthusiastic about the partnership. "When we originally discussed this a month ago, it blew my mind," she said. "It will be fun to see how our styles meld together."

New in St. Paul

St. Paul's Highland Park has a new neighborhood dinner-only destination. It's joan's in the Park (631 S. Snelling Av., www.joansinthepark.com), the work of friends Joanne Schmitt and Susan Dunlop. Dunlop is doing the cooking -- pumpkin- and sage-filled ravioli, whole roasted sea bass in a tomato confit, bacon-caramelized onion flatbreads, a daily crostini -- and Schmitt is handling the front of the house. The restaurant and wine bar is located in the former Grampa Tony's Pizza.

Meanwhile, just up the street, the former Geordies -- and, before that, Blondies Cafe -- is now Palumbo's Pizzeria (454 S. Snelling Av., 651-698-0020), where owner John Palumbo is baking Neapolitan-style pizzas, plus calzone and panini, at lunch and dinner daily.

Turkey sandwich opportunities

There are several examples of bricks-and-mortar restaurants jumping into the mobile food business: Saffron Restaurant & Lounge, 128 Cafe and cupcake, for starters. Now Turkey to Go (www.turkeytogo.com), the food cart operation in downtown Minneapolis, is going in the opposite direction. The Minnesota Turkey Growers Association, which operates the sandwich carts, is getting ready to open a pair of year-round, skyway-level storefronts, in the Baker Building (706 2nd Av. S., Mpls.), and the Alliance Bank Center (56 E. 6th St., St. Paul). Both will feature the same plus-size roasted turkey sandwiches that are featured at the association's popular carts and its Minnesota State Fair booth, along with a few new items. Look for an early October opening.

Beyond coffee

First Caribou Coffee gets into the sandwich biz. Now it's Dunn Bros.' turn, and the Minneapolis-based chain has taken it a big step further, introducing its first Provisions Bakery Cafe by Dunn Bros. Coffee, (2544 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls., nicollet26th.dunnbros.com), where pastries and sandwich breads are baked daily on the premises.

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