As press releases go, the one that just landed in my email box has a lot to take in.
The big news is that Stewart Woodman (pictured, above, in a Star Tribune file photo) has resurfaced. The chef/co-owner of the former Heidi’s is now on the Kaskaid Hospitality payroll.
That’s the second bit of news: After just eight months of operation, Kaskaid has pulled the plug on Union Fish Market. What a shame. The issue certainly wasn’t chef Lucas Almendinger’s cooking; I gave it a 3½ star review in December. The ground-floor space -- located at 8th St. and Hennepin Av. -- has never grabbed the same kind of attention that its dramatic rooftop counterpart enjoys.
As the fast-growing company's new culinary director, Woodman's first duty is tackling that troubled real estate. Kaskaid isn’t saying much more, only that the room is currently undergoing a renovation, and that more news will follow in the coming weeks.
The fish market was Kaskaid’s first effort at a turnaround at the same address. The initial concept opened in November 2012 under chef Jim Christiansen (now chef/co-owner of Heyday) and had a similarly brief shelf life. The building’s popular rooftop restaurant is remaining, as is the lower-level nightclub.
Bill King, Kaskaid's corporate executive chef, remains. King “is focused more on the operational side,” said the spokesman. “Stewart will be on the creative side.”
Woodman moved to Minneapolis in 2003 after cooking at restaurants in New York and Paris. His first local gig at Levain, which earned four stars from this critic. His next project was the ambitious but short-lived Five, followed by two iterations of Heidi’s; the second Heidi’s (which earned a second four stars from the Star Tribune) closed in October, a few months shy of its third anniversary.
With the exception of Levain, Woodman worked closely with his spouse -- and gifted pastry chef -- Heidi Woodman. Last year, amid the legal and financial acrimony surrounding the closure of Heidi’s (as well as another short-lived project, Birdhouse) the couple announced their intention to divorce.
Woodman was a Food & Wine magazine Best New Chef in 2006, and a two-time semi-finalist for the Best Chef: Midwest award from the James Beard Foundation.