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From Grand Cafe to a Michelin 3-Star Restaurant

Erik Anderson was behind the most significant Twin Cities restaurant to open this year. Now he's being called away to the opportunity of a lifetime


Well, I hope you got to enjoy Erik Anderson's cooking at the short-lived Scena Tavern in Uptown, or during his longer stint at Grand Cafe, because Anderson is gone. He just got called to the join big leagues of cooking at Coi in San Francisco. Coi was just awarded a third Michelin star.


"This is absolutely the most significant culinary news ever to come out of the Twin Cities," wrote Tim McKee on Facebook. Tim is the chef/owner at OctoFish and the legendary chef behind La Belle Vie. "The fact that one of our own was chosen to lead one of only 14 Michelin three-star restaurants in the United States is profound," he added.

Coi shares that title with Alinea and Grace in Chicago; Eleven Madison Park and Per Se in New York City; The French Laundry in Napa Valley—this is big stuff. Reached via text last night, Anderson told me that nothing bad happened to cause him to leave Grand Cafe. Simply: "I had an opportunity to take over a pretty iconic three-Michelin-star restaurant." Coi's current chef Matthew Kirkley left to train for an international culinary competition, the Bocuse d'Or, according to the San Francisco Chronicle

Anderson has spent time at Noma and French Laundry. He opened Catbird Street in Nashville. He and Grand Cafe partner Jamie Malone also provided some of the best meals I've had in town over the last two years. Grand Cafe is a truly ambitious restaurant—a neighborhood spot with some of the most lovely and adventurous cooking happening here. (Check out my and Joy's review.) It's a big deal to step up to a three-star restaurant. I wouldn't be worried about Grand Cafe, though.

Grand Cafe

"My vision is still steady and clear, as it has been from the beginning," Malone told me. According to the chef, Anderson "actually has not been a part of the Grand for a couple of months." Chef Alan Hlebean is still running the kitchen, as he has been since the first day of operations. Hlebean got his start as a 16-year-old cooking for Steven Brown at Restaurant Levain. He worked at The French Laundry, at Catbird Seat with Anderson, and then at Grand Cafe. "We have a new and incredible general manager, Nikki Klocker; the three us are very aligned and will continue to strive to make Grand Cafe a magical place that is serving some of the best food in the country," Malone says.

So, good news all around. Congrats to Anderson for achieving what many chefs dream of and few achieve. And continued success to Malone and her team at Grand Cafe, who continue pushing the envelope and refining their service to give a one-of-a-kind experience at a neighborhood restaurant. 

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