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Kosher certification coming to second Minnesota State Fair stand

A second Minnesota State Fair food institution is going kosher.

After last year’s high successful debut of certified kosher chocolate chip cookies at Sweet Martha’s Cookie Jar, kosher-observant 2017 fairgoers will be able to indulge in the deep-fried goodness at the Fairground’s two highly popular Fresh French Fries stands.

Getting fries on the certified kosher list started with a 2016 Star Tribune story, which described Rabbi Avi Olitzky’s efforts to introduce kosher certification to the Fairgrounds. Olitzky, of Beth El Synagogue in St. Louis Park, provides free kosher certification to Twin Cities establishments through his MSP Kosher service. (Kosher-certified establishments on his list include Sebastian Joe's Ice Cream, the Herbivorous Butcher, J. Selby's and the New Hope outlet of Dunkin' Donuts).

“In the article, he said that the next one he wanted to certify at the state fair was Fresh French Fries,” said Fresh French Fries owner Dan Wozniak. “So I called him.”

The process turned out to be blessedly uncomplicated. “As it turns out, there wasn’t much that we had to do," said Rabbi Olitzky. "The Fresh French Fries process is so wholesome, it’s basically potatoes and vegetable oil. There's no batter. We just had to make sure that the oil is kosher, and it is. I can’t speak to the other 41 French fry vendors at the Fair, but this one is certified kosher.”

The stands offer a true taste of Minnesota, using potatoes – roughly 200 tons of them over the fair’s 12-day run – cultivated near Big Lake, Minn. (Between the two stands, fairgoers will also consume approximately 25,000 pounds of ketchup). They’re also vegan, and gluten-free.

This is Wozniak’s 44th go-round at the Great Minnesota Get-Together. “We started with boulevard stands,” he said. “We built the main one, in front of the Midway, in ’81, and then built the one across from the Dairy Building in 2003. At least I think it was 2003.”

“Overwhelming” is how Rabbi Olitzky described the response to last year’s kosher certification at Sweet Martha’s. “Some people came to the fair just to try the cookies, and to buy them and bring them back for friends,” he said. “My children really enjoyed them, and now this year they can have French fries, too. We’re already thinking about next year.”

Downtown Minneapolis bar with 50 taps coming to Mall of America

The Mall of America is getting a new restaurant.

City Works Eatery and Pour House, a small national chain with an outpost in downtown Minneapolis, is debuting in the mega mall later this year, according to a press release.

The restaurant and bar – which also has locations in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Miami and Frisco, TX – specializes in beer, with 50 taps featuring local, regional and global craft brews. City Works also offers a food menu that includes burgers, salads and appetizers.

City Works currently operates on Hennepin at 7th St. in downtown Minneapolis. At the Mall of America level 2 location – across from the Caribou Coffee – City Works will be open for lunch, happy hour and dinner.

“We fell in love with Minneapolis when we opened our downtown location by Target Center so we’re thrilled to open in the Mall of America,” said Angela Zoiss, VP of Marketing for Bottleneck Management, in a statement. “Showing off locally brewed beer is always such a fun opportunity for us as we love to pay homage to the communities we join.”

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