Gavin Kaysen Wins Best Chef: Midwest
A quick note on our 2018 James Beard Best Chef: Midwest
Photo by TJ Turner
We can't say we're surprised, but we are incredibly happy for Gavin Kaysen who won the 2018 James Beard Best Chef: Midwest award for Spoon and Stable. (The James Beard Foundation awards were announced May 7 during the annual award ceremony in Chicago; see the full list of recipients here.)
When Spoon and Stable first opened in 2014, it was booked for months on the strong pedigree of Kaysen's James Beard Rising Chef Award (2008), Iron Chef America winner (2009), top 10 placement in Food & Wine's Best New Chefs (2007), and the honor of being a 2007 U.S. representative at Bocuse d'Or, the French Olympics-style chef games—he's since helped coach the U.S. team to silver in 2015 and gold in 2017. While I feel obligated to mention the amazing team he opened Spoon and Stable with, like Diane Yang (2018 James Beard Outstanding Pastry Chef finalist) or bartender Robb Jones, there's a reason he was able to recruit them.
When his second restaurant, Bellecour opened in 2017, it was also booked for months. In cases such as dealing with in-demand culinary stars or simply popular restaurants, Jason DeRusha suggests grabbing a seat at the bar instead to avoid some of the wait time and enjoy a more casual atmosphere. For both of Kaysen's restaurants, they serve the full menu at the bar, so you have no limits on finding a dish to make your night, even if it ends up being one you don't expect.
About a year ago, I met someone from Illinois who was visiting Minneapolis on a work training and ate at Spoon and Stable. I don't remember what entree he ate or how much he knew about Gavin Kaysen going in—his reputation can cause a change in expectation and perception, after all—but I do remember what he liked the most: the breadsticks. When he told me, I gave the scoff you give when you're half-bemused, half-incredulous.
It wasn't that everything else tasted subpar, he rushed to tell me, but truly because the breadsticks were so outstanding.
So if Gavin Kaysen puts that much thought into his breadsticks, imagine the attention to detail and the holistic lens he has for everything else.
Spoon and Stable, 211 N First St., Minneapolis, 612-224-9850, spoonandstable.com