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Continued: A dinner table for 2,000 on St. Paul's Victoria St.

  • Article by: RICK NELSON , Star Tribune
  • Last update: September 15, 2014 - 10:53 AM

She has been working with a multi­generational group of neighborhood residents, using bio-waste from the neighborhood to make paper in her driveway. There aren’t too many alleys within a couple-block radius of Mary’s house that still have any signs of burdock or other invasive plant types that are good sources for fiber [laughs].

People will be eating on these fantastic works of art. They’re the same size and the same thickness, and kind of the same color, but not a single two are identical.

Q: Who is doing the cooking?

A: It’s a group of chefs led by chef James Baker. Chef has a small restaurant on Glenwood and Morgan in Minneapolis, the SunnySide Cafe. It’s open three days a week, and it’s always packed.

He has served a meal for 5,000 people, but the thing that’s greatest about him is that he’s a storyteller. He’s going to be working with a group of younger chefs, primarily people of color.

Q: Why are you emphasizing locally raised food?

A: This is going to be an opportunity for people to meet their farmers. A big majority of the food is coming from within 50 miles, and most of the food is being raised by farmers of color. We’ve ordered 500 chickens from a farm in Northfield; it’s an incubator for Latino farmers.

Q: Where is meal being prepared?

A: That was also a struggle. SunnySide Cafe was too small, and chef [Baker] was so gracious, he said he would close the restaurant for the weekend. But we ended up finding a kitchen incubator in south Minneapolis, City Food Studio. We’ll be using six trucks on the day of the event. Chef will be on a golf cart as he goes from serving station to serving station.

Q: Are all of the seats taken?

A: Yes. The response has been really amazing. Our goal was to get half the folks seated at the table from Frogtown and Summit-University, and we thought that would be a struggle, but were able to meet that goal a few weeks ago. Once word got out, we knew the other thousand seats would fill up quickly, and they have. Now we’re going down the list and asking people to give up their seats and become servers. We need more volunteers. [Learn more at www.].

Q: Have you created any legacies beyond the event on Sept. 14?

A: We have designed and are building two mobile art kitchens. They’re demonstration kitchens that Public Art Saint Paul has commissioned with funding from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.

They’re towed by bicycles, and they’ve been gifted to two organizations that work with young people and agriculture, the Youth Farm and the Kitty Andersen Youth Science Center at the Science Museum of Minnesota. They’ll use them to prepare food for their programs, but also to set up at events for demonstrations on how to prepare healthy food.


Follow Rick Nelson on Twitter: @RickNelsonStrib

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