He's baaaaaack.

After a brief tenure at the Kahler Hospitality Group in Rochester, chef Stewart Woodman has returned to the Twin Cities area. He just signed on to run the kitchen at Lela in Bloomington.

“Everyone at Lela is thrilled to have such a talented and experienced chef at the helm of Lela’s kitchen,” said Wischermann Partners executive Jim Callaghan in a statement; the company manages the restaurant. "I know Stewart is rejuvenated and thrilled to return to the Twin Cities restaurant scene, and I am certain that Twin Cities diners are going to be equally delighted to enjoy his culinary skills once again.”

Count this diner among that group. The restaurant, which focuses on crudo, pasta and steaks, opened in June 2015 and occupies the space that was the longtime home of Colette Bar & Bistro, in the building formerly known as the Hotel Sofitel; it's now the Sheraton Bloomington Hotel. The hotel and Lela have some ownership overlap.

The gifted Woodman has a long (and starry) history in the Twin Cities, starting in 2003 with his first gig, four-star Levain. Two years later, he and (now former) spouse Heidi Lerman launched Five Restaurant & Street Lounge (which catapulted Woodman on the cover of Food & Wine magazine's annual Best New Chefs issue), then opened two iterations of Heidi's; the first, at 50th and Bryant in south Minneapolis, was destroyed by fire, and the second, in Lyn-Lake, earned four stars. It closed in 2013. (In between Heidi's 1.0 and four-star Heidi's 2.0, Woodman wrote "Shefzilla: Conquering Haute Cuisine at Home," and looking at that title reminds me that I need to bake the book's fabulous Almond and Mascarpone Bundt Cake, and soon. That's Woodman, above, in a 2010 Star Tribune file photo, taken when the book debuted.)

Woodman's last local gig was working for Kaskaid Hospitality and cooking at the company's dynamic (and sadly short-lived) Workshop at Union (now Union Bar & Grill) in downtown Minneapolis.

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