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.”