The March magazine cover of Mpls.St. Paul magazine, where no women were included in its "Best Restaurants" photo, prompted local women chefs and restaurateurs to respond in unprecedented ways that included a letter to the public, as well as a film to be presented this weekend at the Women Chefs & Restaurateurs conference in New York City.
Filmmaker Joanna Kohler talked with four Minneapolis chef/restaurateurs to create "Women Chefs of the North": Kim Bartmann, who owns eight restaurants, including The Third Bird and Tiny Diner; Brenda Langton of Spoonriver; and Carrie Summer and Lisa Carlson, both of Chef Shack in Bay City, Wis., and Chef Shack Ranch and the Chef Shack food trucks. The film, "Women Chefs of the North," offers these recommendations for the media and for other women in the industry to improve the lives of their peers in the restaurant business.
1. A redefinition of what's called "best food," possibly to include an acknowledgement of different styles, ethnicities and price points.
2. A change in the media's presentation of the restaurant community to reflect its breadth and diversity.
3. The creation of a local network of women chefs and restaurateurs.
4. The support of young female chefs through a fast-track program with other women in the restaurant business around the country.
Find out more at Women Chefs and Restaurateurs of the Twin Cities. The Minneapolis women are proposing to bring the 2017 conference to the Twin Cities, says Lisa Carlson.
There are probably 200 cookbooks in my kitchen library, which means that there are plenty that rarely get pulled off the shelf. But "The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook" gets all kinds of use, year-round.
Which is why it's very happy news indeed to learn that the book's author, Seattle chef and restaurateur Tom Douglas (pictured, above, in an image by photographer Ed Anderson) will be in Minneapolis on Friday April 3 at Macy's in downtown Minneapolis (700 Nicollet Mall, lower level), starting at noon.
Macy's is offering a pretty sweet deal: Spend at least $35 in the store's housewares department on Friday, and in return you'll receive a free copy of Douglas' book (a $35 value), which means access to its wealth of instant-classic recipes for cookies, breads, scones, cakes, pies, tarts, sandwiches and soups. Macy's will also toss in a $10 gift card.
(The event, a cooking demonstration and book signing, is free, but it's best to call for a reservation: 800-329-8667).
When the book was released in October 2012, I spoke with Douglas, a powerhouse behind 18 diverse Seattle food-and-drink establishments and a multiple James Beard Foundation award-winner. Here's that interview, followed by two of my favorite recipes from "Dahlia." I've prepared both more times than I can recall.
Q Dahlia Lounge had been around for more than a decade when you opened Dahlia Bakery. Why a bakery?
A We had moved the restaurant across the street and up half a block, and we had an extra 150 square feet of space. There's a restaurant in Manhattan called Balthazar, and next to it is Balthazar Bakery. It's tiny, and it's very charming to have that little retail outlet to sell the house desserts and breads. That was my inspiration. It seemed like fun. We also love to show our effort. We make everything that we sell. That distinguishes us from the Sysco-supplied restaurants, the ones that only pretend to do good work. We may not be the best bread bakers or the best pastry cooks, but no one out-efforts us.
Q Is it safe to say that triple coconut-cream pie saved your first restaurant, the Dahlia Lounge?
A I wouldn't say it saved us -- the lobster potstickers probably did that. But the pie got the most attention in the media. People would stop me on the street and tell me how much they loved it. It really put us on the map.
Q Where did the idea for it come from?
A My grandma was a great pie baker, and I had them all the time when I was growing up, so I challenged Shelley [Lance, Douglas' co-author and original pastry chef] to make several desserts like it. I'm not sure we even thought twice about it. It was just a great pie, you know? But it took on a life of its own and became a standard. Now we sell it in all of the restaurants, even if it's not on the menu. At Lola [Douglas' Greek-inspired restaurant] it's the No. 1-selling dessert, and it's not on the menu. People would ask, "Could I have a slice of that pie?" and because we're in the customer service business, we'd run it from across the street. Now we just keep them in the back.
Q Since this is your fourth cookbook, you are obviously not a believer in the proprietary nature of recipes. True?
A That's such a short-term thing. We're in the hospitality business, and whatever you can do to engage the customer and make him or her remember you, that's what's important. Besides, if you give the recipe to 10 bakers, you'll get 10 different pies, that's just the way of the world. Recipes are up for grabs and generally at the whim and the talent level of the person making it. We make 150 pies a day, so we're consistent. But I will say this: Every time you make a recipe it gets better, because it gets dialed into your personality.
Q Is there one particular dish that everyone should know how to bake?
A Berry crisp, absolutely. Every time you make a fruit crisp for me, you are my favorite person in the world. It's something delicious and warm, right out of the oven. I mean, what more could anyone want? And all you're doing is taking the best fruit of the season, putting a crumb topping on it and putting it in the oven. Mastering one recipe is better than mastering too many. Learn something and own it, and you'll feel so much better about it. You'll have more confidence if you've made it five times, and that confidence adds so much fun to cooking.
Q Can you recommend a tool that all bakers should have in their kitchen?
A It's really fun to have a convection oven, even it if it's a little convection toaster oven. It really changes the way you bake. My biggest thing is measurements. I don't get along with them very well. I don't have time for them, which is why I'm not a baker. But measurements are important in baking. So I'd say, get a scale. Good baking cookbooks offer weight measurements in recipes, and you'll become a more consistent baker if you weigh ingredients.
Q That tomato soup is fantastic. Is it your mom's recipe?
A It's inspired by it. She would open up a can of Campbell's most of the time [laughs]. But who doesn't love a good tomato soup? We sell 10 gallons of it a day. It's not full of cream, and a touch of cayenne puts a little heat at the back of your throat. I like that.
Q What makes those molasses-ginger cookies so irresistible?
A It's the ingredients. Most people are so used to getting crap when they go to the grocery store that they have no idea what real ingredients are, and how good real ingredients are. I don't mean to pick on Costco -- they're friends of mine -- but how do you have a non-dairy whipped topping on a coconut cream pie? Why would you want to eat that? When people get the real deal in their mouth, holy cow, it's a revelation.
TOM'S TASTY TOMATO SOUP WITH BROWN BUTTER CROUTONS
Note: "When I was a kid and my mom made tomato soup, she would cut buttered toast into squares and float them on top of each bowl," writes Tom Douglas in "The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook." "My twist on Mom's toast is to make brown butter croutons."
• 4-in. chunk (4 slices) rustic bread
• 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
• 1 tbsp. olive oil
• 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
• 3 garlic cloves, smashed with side of a knife and peeled
• 5 c. (two 28-oz. cans) canned whole tomatoes in juice
• 1 c. water
• 2/3 c. heavy cream
• 2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more as needed
• 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
• 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
• 1/4 tsp. celery seed
• 1/4 tsp. dried oregano (or 1/2 tsp. freshly chopped oregano)
• 1 tbsp. sugar
To prepare croutons: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a serrated knife, cut off and discard bread crusts, and cut bread into 3/4 - to 1-inch cubes.
In a small pan over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons butter and cook, stirring often, until butter is golden brown and aromatic, about 3 minutes after butter melts. Remove from heat.
Place bread cubes in a medium bowl and pour butter over them, tossing to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper and toss again. Spread bread cubes on a baking sheet and bake until croutons are toasted and golden, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove pan from oven.
To prepare soup: In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter and olive oil. Add onion and garlic and saute until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, water, cream, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, celery seed, oregano and sugar. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer and simmer for 15 minutes.
Remove soup from heat and puree in batches in blender. Return soup to pot and reheat to a simmer, seasoning to taste with more salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and serve hot, garnished with croutons.
OLD-FASHIONED MOLASSES COOKIES WITH FRESH GINGER
Makes about 4 dozen small cookies.
Note: This recipe must be prepared in advance. From "The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook."
• 2 c. flour
• 2 tsp. baking soda
• 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
• 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
• 3/4 c. (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 11/2 c. sugar, divided
• 1 egg
• 1/4 c. molasses
• 2 tsp. peeled and freshly grated ginger
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, cream butter and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, molasses and ginger and mix until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture and mix until just combined. Cover and refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour before shaping cookies.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup sugar on a plate.
Make 3/4 -inch balls of dough and roll them in sugar. Place 2 to 3 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Using palm of your hand, press balls of dough flat.
Bake until golden brown and set around the edges but still slightly soft in the center, 7 to 8 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking time (if you have 2 pans of cookies in the oven at the same time, also switch them between racks).
Remove from oven, cool cookies on baking sheets for 2 minutes before transferring them to a metal rack.
Christiansen learned the news about a month ago — via a call from the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Dana Cowin — and keeping the news under wraps in advance of Tuesday’s announcement was not easy.
“That was not good,” he said with a laugh. “I just wanted to tell everybody, especially all of the people that I work with. It’s another chapter for Heyday, about doing what we do, and about progessing, and going forward, and building a great team.”
He was in New York City on Tuesday, posing for photographers and meeting-and-greeting at a gala announcement event.
“I’m just so grateful to be a part of this group,” he said. “They’re all super-talented.”
The news coincide’s with the restaurant’s 1-year anniversary, and to celebrate, Christiansen is planning a greatest-hits tasting menu to run April 23 through April 25. If he can acquire the necessary city permits, Heyday would like to host a block party on April 26. “We’ll get some music, and some grills, and some guest chefs,” he said.
Christiansen is the sixth Minneapolis chef to join the magazine’s Best New Chefs fraternity. Earlier BNCs include Tim Anderson (formerly of Goodfellow’s) in 1991, Tim McKee (of La Belle Vie, then at the former D’Amico Cucina) in 1997, Seth Bixby Daugherty (formerly of Cosmos) in 2005, Stewart Woodman (of Workshop at Union, then at the former Heidi’s) in 2006 and Jamie Malone (formerly of Sea Change) in 2013. A seventh, Erik Anderson (formerly of Sea Change) was a 2012 honoree for his work at Catbird Seat in Nashville. Malone and Anderson are working to open Brut in Minneapolis.
“We’re a great food city,” said Christiansen.
Along with Christiansen, the 2015 group includes Bryce Shuman of Betony in New York City, Michael Fojtasek and Grae Nonas of Olamaie in Austin, Zoi Antonitsas of Westward in Seattle, Jake Bickelhaupt of 42 Grams in Chicago, Jonathan Brooks of Milktooth in Indianapolis, Katie Button of Cúrate in Asheville, N.C., Tim Maslow of Ribelle in Brookline, Mass., Ori Menashe of Bestia in Los Angeles and Carlos Salgado of Taco Maria in Costa Mesa, Calif.
Being in the Food & Wine spotlight isn't Christiansen's first taste of national recognition. In Februrary, he was named a semifinalist for Best Chef: Midwest by the James Beard Foundation.
Food & Wine's 2015 Best New Chefs — who must be in charge of a kitchen for five years or fewer — will be featured in the magazine’s July issue and will participate in the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, Colo., from June 19 through 21.
The James Beard Foundation announced nominations for their 2015 awards -- widely considered the Oscars of the food world -- and Minnesota is well-represented across the board.
Four-month-old Spoon and Stable (pictured, above) was nominated for Best New Restaurant. It’s the first time a Minnesota restaurant has been nominated in the national category. The restaurant, led by chef Gavin Kaysen (a Beard winner in 2008 for Rising Star Chef of the Year, bestowed upon chefs "age 30 or younger who is likely to make a significant impact on the industry in years to come"), is competing with Bâtard and Cosme in New York City, Central Provisions in Portland, Me., Parachute in Chicago, Petit Trois in Los Angeles and the Progress in San Francisco.
The North Loop newcomer has another Minnesota first: A Beard nomination for Outstanding Restaurant Design. Shea Inc. of Minneapolis was nominated in the 76 Seats and Over category for its work, a conversion of 1906 stable. It is the firm’s first Beard nomination. Other nominees in the category include the Grey in Savannah, Ga., designed by Parts and Labor Design in New York City, and Workshop Kitchen + Bar in Palm Springs, Calif., designed by SOMA of New York City.
“It’s a good way to start a morning,” said Kaysen with a laugh.
Kaysen was alone at home – his wife Linda was taking their children to school – and going through the motions of making breakfast while watching the announcement as it rolled through the Beard Foundation’s Twitter feed.
“Then my phone started to blow up, and I was literally crying tears of joy as I was thinking of all the people who have worked so hard to get us where we are today,” he said. “To me, the amazing part is to see us get two nominations. You just never know how it’s going to pan out. I tried not to speculate. I’m just proud of what we do, and that’s what’s important. But it’s history, right? This has never happened in Minneapolis.”
Three Minnesotans are nominees in the Best Chef: Midwest category: Paul Berglund of the Bachelor Farmer, Michelle Gayer of the Salty Tart and Lenny Russo of Heartland Restaurant. They’re competing with Gerard Craft of Niche in St. Louis and Justin Carlisle of Ardent in Milwaukee. Russo is a five-time nominee in the category, and this is Gayer’s third consecutive nomination (along with two previous nominations in the Outstanding Pastry Chef category). This is Berglund’s second nomination.
For its 10 regional chef awards -- given to those "who have set new or consistent standards of excellence in their respective regions" -- the James Beard Foundation divides the country into 10 geographic regions. The Midwest region includes Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas.
Restaurant and chef awards will be announced at a gala program at the Chicago Lyric Opera on May 4. It's the first time in the awards' 25-year history that they are taking place outside New York City.
“I’m thrilled that it’s going to be in Chicago, and not just because it’s a shorter flight,” said Kaysen with a laugh. “The Beard Foundation is doing what they stand for, which is spreading the wealth and the love throughout the whole country. They see what we see, which is that destination dining is spreading across the country. It’s going to be incredible, to be in Chicago with all those amazing chefs and restaurateurs and designers and media people. I know that there’s going to be some pretty great parties.”
In broadcast and new media, Andrew Zimmern’s “Bizarre Foods” is a nominee in TV Program on Location, the Perennial Plate (by Minneapolitans Daniel Klein and Mirra Fine) in Video Webcast on Location and “DeRusha Eats” by Jason DeRusha of WCCO-TV in TV Segment. “Bizarre Foods” won the award in 2012 and was a nominee in 2011. Perennial Plate is a 2013 and 2014 winner. It’s the first Beard nomination for “DeRusha Eats.”
Media winners will be announced in New York City on April 24.
Congratulations to the nominees.
The photograph of 15 male chefs featured on the cover of this month's Mpls.St. Paul magazine (above) has local female chefs and restaurateurs angry. Food-and-dining senior editor Stephanie March offered the reasoning in a subsequent blog post.
The public response from 22 women, crafted in reaction to this month's cover of MSP magazine, is as follows:
“Where are all the women?” We Are All Right Here!
As a group of female chefs and restaurateurs, we’re moved to respond collectively.
We’re outraged at the viewpoint taken by the cover and subsequent editorial comments on the March issue of Mpls St. Paul Magazine depicting the best chefs of the Twin Cities as all male. It’s a false and embarrassing representation of our diverse food community.
Did anybody notice that your mothers, wives and sisters weren’t in the room?
As a young female grocery store clerk remarked when handing one of us the issue—“Where are all the women?”
The media, as our society’s most influential institution, has a duty to advocate against gender and racial inequalities. As Alice Waters pointed out in 2013, “I think it’s a matter of how we go about the reviewing of our restaurants. Is it really about 3-star places and expensive eccentric cuisine? The restaurants that are most celebrated are never the ones that are the simple places.”
We take this opportunity to have a lasting impact by engaging in ongoing conversation on this topic in our community.
We pledge to hold the media accountable.
We’re committed to fostering the development of our diverse and talented young food industry workers for the next generation. It takes a village.
These, and many other women and men contributed to this conversation and the ideas expressed in this letter:
Carrie L. Summer
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