North Loop is cooking

Cooks of Crocus Hill is opening its first Minneapolis outlet in the city’s North Loop neighborhood.

That is to say that co-owners (and spouses) Karl Benson and Marie Dwyer are taking a to-be-determined form of their blend of cooking school and cookware retail store to the city’s hottest restaurant neighborhood.

“A sort of best-of-all-possible-worlds is how we’re looking at it,” Benson said. “It won’t literally be Cooks of Crocus Hill, but it will have pieces of it; it’ll be a Cooks riff. We’re trying to figure out how to take the best of Cooks, massage it a bit and make it work for that space, and work for the neighborhood. We’re just not exactly sure what that is at this junction.”

Forty-three-year-old Cooks operates three cooking school/retail locations — on St. Paul’s Grand Avenue, at 50th and France in Edina and on Stillwater’s Main Street. Benson and Dwyer also operate a pair of small-scale Cooks retail outlets inside the Kowalski’s markets in White Bear Lake and Woodbury.

Whatever form it takes, the North Loop outpost is going into 208 N. 1st St., in the space long occupied by Local D’Lish, on the same block as the Bachelor Farmer and across the street from Spoon and Stable.

Opening date? “We’re shooting for May or June,” said Benson.

As for Local D’Lish, the farm-to-table-focused store has closed after nearly eight years of showcasing locally produced foods.


Birchwood gives a boost

The new Birchwood Cafe’s BOOST community partnership program will have a fundraising Feb. 23 dinner inspired by BOOST partner Climate Generation. Birchwood chef Marshall Paulsen will prepare a five-course “Climatist” menu, selecting and preparing foods that have a low carbon footprint. Each course will be paired with local beer and/or organic wine. Also at the event will be Arctic explorer and climate activist Will Steger and Greg Reynolds of Riverbend Farm, MOSES Organic Farmer of the Year, who was recognized for his work on seed and crop adaptation in the face of climate change. The dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. at Birchwood Cafe, 3311 E. 25th St., Mpls. Cost is $100 ($50 of which is a tax-deductible donation to Climate Generation). For tickets, visit


Sandwiches that serve

Somebody has to do it: Help determine the top gourmet sandwich in the region. That’s the idea of the Great Sandwich Face Off, in which chefs from several restaurants create special sandwiches, with a percentage of each sandwich sold going to benefit the Second Harvest Heartland food charity. Participating restaurants are Bradstreet Neighborhood Craftshouse (Asian lobster roll), Bryant-Lake Bowl (Cubano), Third Bird (Prosciutto Americana) and Lake and Irving (buttermilk chicken). The restaurant selling the most of its nominated sandwich by close of business on Feb. 20 is the winner. But, of course, everyone wins.


Taste the World in Longfellow

Food and beverage establishments at Lake Street and 27th Avenue S. in Minneapolis are hosting Taste the World in Downtown Longfellow, from 5 p.m. to close on Feb. 28. The event is a collaboration among El Nuevo Rodeo, Gandhi Mahal, Le Town Talk French Diner, Addis Ababa Ethiopian Restaurant, Du Nord Craft Spirits and Harriet Brewing Co. It features small plates and specialty drinks, live entertainment, prize giveaways and local artist vendors from the League of Longfellow Artists (LOLA). Participants are encouraged to stroll between each establishment, gathering stamps in a passport, which then becomes a ticket for a chance to win prizes. This event is the official launch of Downtown Longfellow, a new commercial district branding effort from the businesses in and around the 27th Avenue, Minnehaha Avenue and Lake Street intersection. To learn more, visit



When do you add the tuna in the updated tuna noodle casserole in last week’s recipe? We forgot to tell you. As one might expect, it’s added with the pasta and sauce.