'Tempt Me' book succeeds

Before there was food photography — and Instagram — there was food illustration. Minnesota's food companies, with their national and even international reach, hired fine artists such as N.C. Wyeth and Norman Rockwell to paint finished dishes and illustrate the era's kitchens to entice consumers. In "Tempt Me," local authors and designers Kathryn Strand Koutsky and Linda Koutsky (a mother-and-daughter team) honor Minnesota's food ephemera of the 1880s through the 1980s: the charming cartoon cooks, alluring seed catalog covers, and imaginative and decorative drawings celebrating cuisines from around the world.

The artwork and stories show how styles and approaches have changed through the decades in an effort to tempt customers' appetites by elevating food and cooking to fine art. On May 11, the Minnesota Historical Society Press hosts a book launch at 7 p.m. at the Mill City Museum, 704 S. 2nd St., Minneapolis. The 224-page book ($24.95) contains 250 color illustrations and 175 recipes. "Tempt Me" is a history lesson, coffee table art book and kitchen resource in one. That recipe for pineapple sticky buns using a tube of refrigerated biscuits? It's right here.

Best of the Wurst

Pork barrel funding takes on a new slant when FairVote Minnesota collaborates with Sociable Cider Werks and the Beer Dabbler for Best of the Wurst, a festival of artisan sausages created by some of the Twin Cities' top chefs. The event, from 2-6 p.m. May 15 at Sociable Cider Werks in Minneapolis, will feature live local music, sausage tastings, craft cider and beer. Then, to demonstrate how ranked-choice voting works, guests will vote on their best wursts. A VIP reception ($75) from noon to 2 p.m. will include exclusive chef demos with Pork & Pickle chef Geoff Hausmann plus unlimited food and drink. General admission ($35) offers unlimited sausage samples and free craft cider or beer. For tickets, visit fairvotemn.org.

A sure sign of spring

Farmers markets will be opening now, among them Mill City Farmers Market from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 7. Fresh produce growers, food vendors and local artisans will share their wares, and there will be a free cooking class at 10:30 a.m. with chef Jenny Breen and her daughter in the Mill City Cooks kitchen. Hennepin County Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer gardening questions. The Mill City Farmers Market is between the Guthrie Theater and the Mill City Museum. For more details, visit millcityfarmersmarket.org.

Tom Douglas cooks at Macy's

Macy's Culinary Council kicks off its American Icons campaign with chef Tom Douglas of Seattle, the 2012 Outstanding Restaurateur winner from the James Beard Foundation. Douglas will demonstrate some of his favorite recipes and sign cookbooks at noon May 14 at Macy's Southdale store in Edina. With a purchase of $35 or more in the home department, guests will receive a $10 Macy's gift card and a copy of Douglas' cookbook. For reservations, call 1-877-556-2297.