Even the Dalai Lama has to eat. But how do you feed the spiritual leader of Tibet?
With the same care you provide any guest, says Gavin Kaysen, chef/owner of Spoon and Stable in Minneapolis and Bellecour in Wayzata. He and his crew cooked lunch for the Dalai Lama Friday at a private home during his recent visit to the Twin Cities.
And the favorite foods of His Holiness? Chicken, beef, rice, clear chicken broth, lots of vegetables, and bread. He loves bread.
With that guidance, Gavin pulled together a menu that reflected favorites, with the recognition that some of the guests at the gathering had a vegan diet (no animal products).
The first course reflected that preference, with a chilled carrot soup with puffed amaranth. Herb-crusted halibut followed as the main course, with a dozen different vegetables and a clear chicken broth on the side. Dessert was a Bellecour favorite, a crepe filled with peaches and strawberries.
“He said everything was delicious,” said Gavin.
The Dalai Lama was in town to speak with staff of Starkey Hearing Technologies in Eden Prairie, as well as be the focus of a panel, along with actor Forest Whitaker, in a discussion called “A Call for Compassion and Conscious Kindness.”
When the Dalai Lama arrived for lunch, he headed to the kitchen, where he greeted Gavin’s team and nibbled on some canapes.
“He asked about the main course and said ‘I like fish. I don’t like stinky fish.’ He was just joking, of course. But then he showed how to eat stinky fish and held his nose,” said Gavin, with a laugh.
There were more surprises when the monks who accompanied him picked up guitars that were at the home and began to play them.
“I’ve had the pleasure of cooking for a lot of dignitaries and celebrities, and everyone’s entourages are different. His entourage was fun. It was classic,” said Gavin, who, days later, was still moved by the moment.
“It was an unbelievable experience, very humbling for the whole team,” said Gavin, about his crew, who were nervous and excited initially, but who quickly slipped into their professional modes. “Once we started with lunch, it was business as usual. Nothing different. It was like every other guest.
Gavin paused. “It just happened to be His Holiness.
“At the end of the day, it’s always humbling, regardless of who’s who and what they do, to know that a table filled with food and experience is what brings people together.”