After seven years at the helm of one of New York City’s top restaurants, Bloomington native Gavin Kaysen is leaving his executive chef post at Café Boulud and returning to the Twin Cities to open a North Loop restaurant he’s calling Merchant.

The 34-year-old chef is promising a casual restaurant and bar, “where people will come in two or three times a week,” he said.

After cooking in Switzerland and London, Kaysen’s rise to fame began at El Bizcocho in San Diego. In 2007, he was named one of Food & Wine magazine’s best new chefs and was recruited by superstar chef Daniel Boulud to run Café Boulud. A year later, Kaysen was named the nation’s Rising Star Chef of the Year by the James Beard Foundation and earned a star in the Michelin Guide.

Kaysen said that the success enjoyed by a number of Minneapolis chefs was an impetus for the move back home.

“By seeing what people like Tim [McKee, of La Belle Vie] and Isaac [Becker, of 112 Eatery] and Alex [Roberts, of Restaurant Alma] have accomplished, it really inspired me,” Kaysen said. “It gave me a real understanding of the opportunity that is there in Minneapolis.” A late 2014 opening is planned.


For a Q&A with Kaysen, go to Twitter: @RickNelsonStrib