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Posts about Minnesota newsmakers

Women chefs, restaurateurs in Twin Cities demand fair play in media

Posted by: Lee Svitak Dean Updated: April 18, 2015 - 12:40 AM
Brenda Langton speaks as one of the four local women in the film, "Women Chefs of the North."

Brenda Langton speaks as one of the four local women in the film, "Women Chefs of the North."

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.

Food & Wine magazine heralds Heyday chef Jim Christiansen

Posted by: Rick Nelson Updated: April 1, 2015 - 7:31 AM

It’s official: Jim Christiansen of Heyday (2700 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls., 612-200-9369, www.heydayeats.com) is one of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs.

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.  

From the Strib's archives: Meet Ms. Holly Bell

Posted by: Rick Nelson Updated: March 20, 2015 - 12:11 PM

On September 30, 1965, Jerry Kirshenbaum, a Minneapolis Tribune staff writer, was filling in for George Grim’s popular “I Like It Here” column. Grim was on “foreign assignment.”

Longtime Dayton’s shoppers will be familiar with the column’s subject: Holly Bell, the store’s unseen and unflappable Answer Lady, and her first months on the job.

In 1965, a phone minus a rotary dial – actually, 38 of them -- were distributed throughout the nine floors of Dayton's flagship Nicollet Avenue store. It was quite the innovation, a low-tech version of “there’s an app for that.”

Here’s the story:

Holly Bell, the shopper’s helper at Dayton’s, is a lot like Santa Claus in that neither pays any income tax.

Therefore, neither is real.

Miss Bell, as friends call her, was invented last Thanksgiving by Mrs. Mary Christensen, Dayton’s special projects coordinator, as a way to traffic the department store’s Christmas shopping rush.

The problem: Shoppers were getting lost in Dayton’s labyrinth of departments.

“We were using painted arrows pointing to departments,” Mrs. Christensen confied. “It got confusing. Dayton’s is ‘L’-shaped, and it’s often hard to negotiate without a map.”

The solution: Special telephones were installed at 38 locations inside the store, each phone lettered, “Holly Bell Will Help You Find It.” The way it worked, the shopper reached for one of the hotlines to Holly and asked where lampshades were hidden.

“On the 6th floor, in the 7th and Nicollet part of the store,” Miss Bell replied, simple as that.

Mrs. Christensen appropriated the name for the new service from a Holly Bell doll she designed and sold by mail order years ago. The service was supposed to be abandoned after Dayton’s Christmas rush was over.

But it worked so well, it was retained. Now, 10 months later, Holly Bell answers between 5,000 and 12,000 queries a week. To handle as many calls, she has to have 24 hands.

All 12 Holly Bells work part time. Most are former Dayton’s employees brought out of retirement for the purpose. “Many of them grew up in the store and feel grateful to be needed again,” said Mrs. Christensen.

From two to five women serve at any one time at phone consoles on the 11th floor. They know the store intimately, and each has at her fingertips detailed department and brand name guidebooks.

Even so, some questions are more difficult to field than others. “How do I find an ironing board cover?” That’s an easy one. “Holly Bell, will you go out with me Saturday night?” That’s not so easy.

Several Holly Bells confided a still tougher question they get asked know and then, namely, “How do I get to Donaldson’s?”

Best answer, Mrs. Christensen agreed, is the old saw, “You can’t get there from here.”

Five years later, Dayton's turned to a more advanced technology to guide its in-store customers. A brief news item in the Minneapolis Tribune, dated Oct. 24, 1969, revealed that shoppers "will get information by automation from an electric push-button directory. Dayton's will be the first U.S. department store to install the electronic unit. The directory, which will be on the store's main floor, has 120 numbered keys corresponding to a cross-reference list of more than 400 departments and merchandise categories. The customer refers to a list and presses the appropriately numbered button. Within seconds, the machine provides a printed card that tells in what department an item can be found."

Holly Bell's considerable fan base didn't need to worry about their favorite shopping ambassador being put out to pasture. "The Holly Bell service, which originated during the 1964 Christmas season, will continue," said the story. Ms. Bell remained a Dayton's fixture for several more decades.

From the Strib's archives: Twiggy causes a sensation

Posted by: Rick Nelson Updated: March 16, 2015 - 8:03 AM

When British fashion sensation Leslie Hornby – known to the world by her nickname, Twiggy – made her first visit to the United States in late April 1967, she dropped in on two American cities: New York, and Minneapolis. (Five-foot-six Twiggy weighed all of 89 pounds). 

Yes, Minneapolis, thanks to Dayton’s. The trend-savvy department store was one of the first in the country to import London’s Mod look, and sales were brisk.

Twiggymania was evident in a pre-visit story on April 12. Minneapolis Tribune staff writer Marg Storhoff followed four local girls as Dayton’s beauty salon performed Twiggy-inspired hair-and-makeup transformations. It reads: 

The hair, styled by Erik of Norway, was tapered and cut wet with a razor. The hair is quite long in the front so it can be swept behind the ears and is very short in back. Erik set the hair on two beer cans and then combed the rest into shape.

“It’s terrific for summer,” said Erik. “Short hair looks so fresh. It’s important for girls to try to change their looks. Long, straggly hair is out.”

The makeup focuses on the eyes with the most important feature being the ‘twigs.’ The twigs, an original Twiggy idea, are eyelashes drawn under the eye with eye liner. ‘Twiggy-izing’ makeup is accenting the crease about the eye with brown blush-on shadow and powdered eyeliner, explained Susan Wilson, who applied the makeup.

White, brush-on highlighter is used from lashes to brows. A thin line of black liner is applied close to the lashes and then several pairs of false eyelashes (‘three or four pairs’ according to Miss Wilson) are attached.

The makeup base is a neutral shade and the powder is a brush-on translucent type.

‘The whole look takes a young face,’ said Miss Wilson, ‘and it takes practice to do it right. It looks ridiculous if the makeup is applied incorrectly.’

The Twiggy-like girls will model Twiggy clothes at Dayton’s when the real Twiggy is in Minneapolis on April 22 [the show is pictured, above]. 

Flash-forward to coverage after the April 22nd event. From a Minneapolis Star story by Marilyn Hoegemeyer on April 23, 1967, we learned the following: 

Twiggy appeared before a crowd of 1,500 adoring fans – mostly teenage girls -- in the 8th-floor auditorium at Dayton’s in downtown Minneapolis (pictured, above), at a fashion show with live music by the local band The Hot Half Dozen. (“There weren’t many men in the audience, a few employees from Dayton’s and some policemen who looked as if they had to be there,” reported Hoegemeyer.) Other revelations: Twiggy required about an hour to get her makeup applied to her satisfaction.

She responded to written questions, collected from the audience. For example: What do you like best about your job: “The money.”

Do you like being popular: “Yes.”

What do you eat: "Anything" and "everything."

Who’s your favorite American actress: “God, I can’t think of anybody. Pass that.”

What she likes least about her job: The long hours. “They’re tiring and I get hungry and then in the winter when you must model bathing costumes in the park. . .” she said, "in her broad cockney accent," noted Hoegemeyer. "She’s been modeling since for a year, wearing makeup since she was 15. She gets her hair cut every three weeks, 'or it gets a bit tatty.' She wore only one pair of false eyelashes yesterday. Sometimes she wears as many as five."

Her manager, Justin de Villenueve [pictured, above, with Twiggy], appeared in a brown suit, a bright orange shirt and matching pocket hankerchief. “He used to tease me – call me ‘Stick.’ Twiggy just stuck,” she said, holding Justin’s hand.

A few days later, Minneapolis Star staff writer Kristin Serum found a different angle to the Twiggy tale. The headline? Girls Bluff Way In To Talk With Twiggy. Here’s the tale:

Three local teen-agers, flashing red cards that said “Press,” bluffed their way into a carefully restricted press conference for Twiggy Friday.

Cheryl Halverson, 18, Kathy Frommer, 17, and Carol Croonquist, 17, editors of Bloomington Lincoln High School “Mah-Que,” breezed right in, through a mob of screaming teen-agers, along with reporters from Life, the Milwaukee Journal and the local media.

The Cockney mini-model’s visit to the Twin Cities is her only scheduled appearance outside of New York, and yesterday’s press conference at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport was the only opportunity for the press to meet Twiggy.

The three girls said their only real problem was finding the press room at the airport.

At one point, a representative from Dayton’s, sponsoring Twiggy’s appearance here, asked the girls who had authorized their presence.

They answered “Dayton’s” and the reply was accepted.

[For the image above, Minneapolis Star photographer William Seaman wrote, "Unidentified Girl in Crowd Glimpsed Twiggy. Some teen-agers screamed, some wept. Twiggy, the Cockney model with the walking-stick figure, caused a kaleidoscope of reactions at the Minneapolis- St. Paul International Airport Friday. About 300 preteens staged a closely supervised mass hysteria. Girls sobbed, stampeded and waved signs behind a tight ring of policemen aided by Twiggy's bodyguard, 'The Monk.'"].

Their reactions to the press conference and to Twiggy were mixed.

Kathy thought Twiggy was bored, “probably because people ask her the same old questions all the time. It seemed as if she’d been drilled in what to say.”

Carol objected to public relations people from Dayton’s monopolizing the press conference. “Press conferences aren’t very organized and the people are too rude,” she said.

Cheryl, who later commented that Twiggy’s legs “look like spaghetti,” asked Twiggy how she keeps so thin.

Twiggy said it’s easy. She said she had already eaten two lunches yesterday, one at the New York airport and the other on the plane. “Oi don’t like planes though, Twiggy said.

Carol said Twiggy was “cute from the front, but not from the back.” She said she might wear some Twiggy clothes, but didn’t like the turquoise cotton velour mini-jumpsuit with matching tights that Twiggy was wearing at the press conference.

Cheryl said Twiggy’s “face is pretty, but her body doesn’t go with her face, and her false eyelashes are so heavy it’s no wonder she looked tired.”

Kathy thought the hysteria of the crowed that greeted Twiggy was “ridiculous. People are so stupid to idolize an ordinary, everyday teenager just like us. If I were her, I’d wonder how people can be so taken in.”

Twiggy called her reception in Minneapolis “fantastic. Oi’ve never seen anything like it,” she said.

She said fans in the United States send her “lots of stuffed animals” but “no marriage proposals so far.”

Justin de Villeneuve, Twiggy’s boyfriend and manager, warded off a question about Twiggy’s sex life. “Ask more sensible questions or we’re wasting our time,” he said.

He also refused to answer questions concerning the amount of money the pair has collected in the United States. “Ask my lawyer,” he said. The lawyer is in London.

The three girls squeezed through the crowd of reporters and cameras to collect Twiggy’s autograph, a squiggly signature followed by several “xxx’s.”

Twiggy told them she thinks American girls dress very well, “very much like London, really.”

From the Strib's archives: Women's lib comes to the Oak Grill

Posted by: Rick Nelson Updated: March 13, 2015 - 8:23 AM

There's a near-bottomless number of reasons why I can't get enough of this Aug. 27, 1970 story from the Minneapolis Star. 

For starters: I'd forgotten about the "midi," the calf-length skirt that was the fashion world's compromise between the miniskirt and the floor-length "maxi." Or that Dayton's had a women's apparel department called the "Out of Sight" shop, and that the shop, an apparent shoplifter's target, sold "Women's Lib" T-shirts (for $5!). Or that the store's 12th-floor Oak Grill restaurant, which opened in 1948, had originally been called the Men's Oak Grill, and that women were barred from dining there unless they were accompanied by a male escort. Or that the newspaper published the home addresses of people mentioned in stories. Or that the Star had a "Women's News" section. Or that a woman in the story expresses another woman's approval by saying that she "dug" it.

It goes on and on. Anyway, here's the story. It was writted by Star staff writer Sue Chastain, and the headline reads, "Women Served Easily at Once Men-Only Spot."

At noon Wednesday, approximately 25 women expecting a “confrontation” walked into Dayton’s Oak Grill, were seated, and ordered hamburgers.

There was no “confrontation.”

A blue-jeaned member of the group said she hand’t expected any of the women to be refused admission, but was surprised that “they made no fuss about us at all.”

A spokesman for Dayton’s said the grill at one time served only men but that this has not been enforced for the last year. Any woman with or without escort should have been admitted, the spokesman said.

The grill was the scene of another women’s liberation attack five months ago when protests from a group of women persuaded store officials to remove the “Reserved for Men” sign on the door.

“I just always assumed women couldn’t get in, so I never tried it before,” a tall browned-haired woman wearing huge sunglasses said yesterday. “If they let women in, they ought to make a public statement about it.”

A group of “Women’s Lib T-shirts” on sale at Dayton’s Out of Sight shop drew more wrath from the women assembled in the grill than the restaurant’s admissions policy.

The T-shirts, selling for $5 each, are decorated with the biological symbol for woman imprinted with the clenched fist of women’s liberation.

One of the women said another member of the group had stolen approximately a dozen of the T-shirts from the Out of Sight shop earlier.

“What Dayton’s is doing with them represents everything we’re fighting against,” she said.

No shirts were available in the shop at noon yesterday.

The women reported “quite good results” from 15 minutes of passing out leaftlets to women yesterday morning. The leaflets sketched strike demands and publicized the picnic scheduled for last night.

“We passed out over 1000 in an awfully short time,” one woman said proudly. “Amazingly enough, the older the woman was, the more she dug it.”

The “well-dressed women” who “really looked like they had made it” were less receptive to the strike message, another agreed.

“One who was really decked out crumpled up a leaftlet and threw it in the trash can right in front of me,” she said.

Two women were arrested yesterday morning in front of Donaldson’s downtown department store on charges of vandalism and defacing private property. Other women’s liberationalists said the two were gluing posters onto the store windows.

The two, Mary Berg, 18, 3261 Snelling Av. N., St. Paul, and Carol Shilling, 21, 2620 Harriet Av. S., were both scheduled to appear in Hennepin County Municipal Court today.

Other women also putting up posters on the mall yesterday morning struck a humorous note when they entered one small dress shop.

The agitated manager, evidently assuming the delegation was protesting the midi skirt fashions, attempted to placate them by assuring the leader, “But we don’t carry midi skirts here!”

The women laughed, and departed.

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