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Top Last Minute Gifts & The Local Chef Challenge Deadline!


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Happy Holidays! Farewell, have fun, I’m off—until the first week in January. As is the whole Minnesota Monthly staff. When we come back we’ll be gearing up for one of the biggest events in late-winter food (aside from our Food & Wine Experience, of course), the Minnesota Monthly Local Chef Challenge—the one with the $10,000 prize. If you know a professional chef, tell them to apply!

All applications will be reviewed by an in-house panel, and after that spots will be allocated, half randomly, half strategically, to allow past winners and runners-up the chance to compete. So far the only person definitely competing is last year’s winner, Vincent Francoual.

Now, for a few last-minute foodie gifts:

1. A Dining Membership to the Minnesota Valley Country Club
Scott Pampuch, locavore celebrity chef, is now top toque at the Minnesota Valley Country Club—but it’s members only. How can a curious diner get in? By purchasing a $100 “dining membership,” which will allow you to go to Pampuch’s upcoming winter series of five-course dinners. A nice treat for the gourmand who has everything, it’s highly unlikely such a gourmand has this.

2. Panettone from Cossetta’s or Rustica, Stollen from Patisserie 46
I recently did a fruitcake round-up for MPR, and I can’t tell you how blown away I was by the awesome, stupendous, super-fantastic panettone and stollen from local bakers. I have to tell you, if someone brought one of these to me I’d swoon with joy. Good stuff. (And the panettone makes a write-in-your-diary-worthy French toast for Christmas morning.)

3. Chocolate bars from B.T. McElrath
I love a present that can be grabbed at the last second from the grocery store, and if you need some last-minute stocking-stuffers: B.T. McElrath!  Available at Lunds, Kowalski’s, most of the co-ops, many coffee shops, and a liquor store or two, these are the most widely available wonderful thing in town. My love for the Salty Dog, with sea salt on its toffee-flecked body, is well-known and deathless, but I am also very big now on the new “Super Red,” which has crunchy bits of freeze-dried cherries, strawberries, and raspberries in it. The best cheap treat in the world?

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Minnesota Monthly's Taste Blog answers your restaurant and dining questions, dishes on latest discoveries, reflects on breaking news, and generally brings the plate to the page with a skilled crew of experts: Learn more about the Taste bloggers.

Have a food-related question? Email rhutton@mnmo.com

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