Hot Young Chefs
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You’ve heard it said, again and again: chefs are the new rock stars. And they’re rocking it right here. Forget what you’ve read about coastal cuisine. The Twin Cities has one of the country’s most vibrant original restaurant scenes, full of great food, fresh young talent, and a future so bright we ought to wear shades. Who’s in this Generation Next? Keep this issue handy for 20 years, because these are the chefs who will define the next taste of Minnesota.
Landon Schoenefeld, 30
Chef and owner, Haute Dish
119 Washington Ave. N., Mpls., 612-338-8484
Born and raised: Aberdeen, South Dakota
Education: Art Institutes International Minnesota
Famous for: Soul-stirring, layered flavors that derive inspiration from, of all things, 1970s and 1980s Midwest-Americana.
How it all began: “As a single parent, my mom made a lot of hot dish. Actually, the name Haute Dish was her idea.”
Career turn: Working for Brian Crouch (now at La Belle Vie) at Marimar. “He told me, ‘A chef works fast. You work slow.’ I got better out of spite.”
Lucky break: Squirting mustard at a bartender at the Bulldog and getting fired, which turned into national news. “I don’t think there was much going on in the news that week. People freak out at work all the time—the chef after me ended up crying in a fetal position on the line. But from that day, everyone knew who I was.”
Why Minneapolis: “I love this city. It’s my town. There’s an art scene, a music scene. I like being part of the food scene.... I can call Steven Brown or Alex Roberts or Isaac Becker, ask them stuff, and they help me out. It’s not like that everywhere.”
Erick Harcey, 30
Chef and owner, Victory 44
2203 44th Ave. N., Mpls., 612-588-2228
Born and raised: Cambridge
Education: Le Cordon Bleu, Minneapolis–St. Paul
Famous for: Founding the local idea of an avant-garde restaurant with no servers (much of his original crew departed to form similarly organized Travail), and for an ultra-rich style of cooking in which classic preparations are amplified with whiz-bang techniques and fearless grill-cook bravado.
Lucky break: “I had worked with BT McElrath [the chocolatier], filling molds with chocolate, making toffee, that sort of thing,” Harcey says. “So they hired me at Nicollet Island Inn as a pastry chef. All of a sudden everyone quit except me and Eric Sather [now of Bar La Grassa]. Then he left for Clancey’s. I was the chef. I could do anything I wanted.”
Best restaurants besides his own: “Every meal I have at Piccolo I feel is the best meal of my life. And Pizzeria Lola—I can’t get enough of that.”
On raising four kids [ages 6,4,3, and 2]: “My wife’s a superwoman. When she leaves me home with them, I start crying, ‘What’s happening?’ Also, they’re all dairy snobs now. They won’t drink anything but Autumnwood milk, and they’re always grabbing the Rochdale hand-rolled butter to put on graham crackers. I can’t figure out if I’m supposed to be pissed off or proud.”
Adam Vickerman, 26
Chef, Café Levain
4762 Chicago Ave. S., Mpls., 612-823-7111
Education: Le Cordon Bleu, Minneapolis-St. Paul Famous for: Intricately built but seemingly simple dishes, like short ribs and deeply caramelized Brussels sprouts served on savory oatmeal enhanced with garlic, onions, caramelized-onion pureé, and poached-and-pureéd veal bone marrow.
Pet peeve: “Harvey [McLain, Café Levain’s owner] won’t let us use pork or duck right now. It’s like telling a painter you can’t use blue or green. But I’ve become a bigger fan of vegetables, and realized that grains are wildly underappreciated. Barley can be like risotto, but it doesn’t overcook as easily, and it takes flavor beautifully, I put in caramelized pear pureé which makes it so rich.”
Favorite local eats: “I’ve been to Piccolo, Alma, Black Sheep Pizza, and La Belle Vie in the past two weeks—they’re all fantastic. And Brasa, I get the rotisserie chicken and spinach and go heavy on the pigeon peas and yellow rice. And Brasa’s butterscotch pudding is amazing. It’s the best $3 you can spend in Minneapolis, no question.”
Ann Kim, 38
Chef and owner, Pizzeria Lola
5557 Xerxes Ave. S., Mpls., 612-424-8338
Born: Busan, South Korea
Raised: Apple Valley
Education: Columbia University, Tony Gemignani’s International School of Pizza
Famous for: Leaving a career as a professional actor (she toured with the Guthrie in Othello) to go to pizza school and open a restaurant—a restaurant that became the talk of the Twin Cities for its deeply flavorful crust and surprising toppings, like Guanciale, cheese and soft eggs, and spicy homemade kimchi.
How acting is like cooking: “There are lots of similarities. You’re working when everyone else is relaxing, and every night is new. You have your script/recipes, but the audience is different, the members of the company might be different, and you’re only as good as your last line or pizza. We purposefully designed the restaurant with the hearth as the centerpiece; this is my new stage.”