Another reality series — this time, the Food Network’s “Food Court Wars” — spawned a year’s free rent for a Minnesota winner: Pimento Jamaican Kitchen, a kind of Chipotle-meets-jerk cooking that’s definitely spicing up Burnsville Center’s food court.
The Union Gospel Mission got into the restaurant business in April with the Daily Diner Frogtown. The casual eatery serves two purposes: feeding the neighborhood with a two-eggs-over-easy menu of American classics, and providing a training ground for the mission’s needy clients. The program’s first two graduates matriculated into apprenticeships in St. Paul restaurants earlier this month.
At the lake
Piccolo chef Doug Flicker, his spouse Amy Greeley and their longtime pal Chele Payer made the phrase “concession stand” sing with Sandcastle, their summer-only enterprise on the western shore of Lake Nokomis. Memo to the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board: More where this came from, please.
Lenny Russo, chef/co-owner of Heartland Restaurant & Farm Direct Market, was the first Minnesotan to be named to the elite American Chef Corps, a culinary partnership with the U.S. State Department and the James Beard Foundation. The corps links chefs — including Rick Bayless, Dan Barber, Marcus Samuelsson, José Andrés and dozens of others — to embassies and foreign audiences where they showcase American culinary traditions and foods. The three-time James Beard award nominee — traveling with bags of wild rice — spent two weeks in Slovenia in April, in a journey chronicled in an eight-episode Slovenia television series called “Seasoned by Americans.”
Steak sticker shock
The battle for the Twin Cities’ most expensive steak heated up when Manny’s Steakhouse began offering a 20-ounce bone-in New York strip aged for 65 days, for $65. Then the restaurant one-upped itself with an 85-day aged bone-in rib eye for $85. Not to be outdone, Burch Steak and Pizza Bar began to serve certified Japanese A5 Wagyu beef: $70 for a 4-oz. New York cut, $140 for 8 oz.
On the grow
Whole Foods Market made a major Twin Cities splash in 2013, adding stores in Maple Grove and downtown Minneapolis, and announcing the development of a new St. Paul location. It looks as if next year (and probably beyond) belongs to local natural foods co-ops. Mississippi Market plans to open a third St. Paul location, Lakewinds Natural Foods is building its third store — in Richfield, complete with a Peace Coffee bar — Seward Co-op is expanding to a second south Minneapolis outpost and the Wedge Co-op is easing stress on its packed quarters with a renovation and the creation of an off-site commissary. Meanwhile, grass-roots efforts are underway to launch Robbinsdale Food Co-op, and work continues on making Wirth Cooperative Grocery in north Minneapolis a reality.