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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Scott Pampuch: Gone From Corner Table?

When the press release rolled in saying that Scott Pampuch, leading Twin Cities chef and sustainability pioneer, had taken on the job of executive chef for Bloomington’s Minnesota Valley Country Club, I didn’t bat an eye. Oh, good for him, I thought, he pulled in some consulting money…. But then he called and I became quite concerned and alarmed.

“I’m not going to be at Corner Table anymore,” he said. “Corner Table is running on a crew of amazing cooks, Chad Rielander and Dan Zeroth, and the guys in the kitchen are stepping up.”

Really? There’s hardly a restaurant more chef-identified than the Corner Table—well, except for Lucia’s and Spoonriver and Heartland.

“There are people who are going to be upset,” Pampuch told me. “I get it. They’re going to look in the kitchen and say, ‘Oh, the fat kid isn’t there. Sad.’ But what you don’t know is, I can’t tell you how many times I go over to the kitchen table and say, ‘Hi, I’m so happy you’re here,’ and the guests look up at me and say, ‘And you are….?’” I told Pampuch I didn’t buy it. “Look, I’m not trying to say I’m irrelevant around here, but people need to understand it’s not a one person show, it never has been. The menus are collaborative, my guys run the show on their own a lot of the time, and I have faith in them, they’re going to do really well.”

Okay, I’ll buy it—the structure has certainly been a win-win for chefs and the city as a whole for plenty of local analogues; Tim McKee at La Belle Vie (and Masu, Sea Change, and all the Parasole restaurants), Alex Roberts at Alma (and two Brasas), and Isaac Becker at Eatery 112 (and Bar La Grassa). Now, what about this country club?

Pampuch told me he’s very excited about it because it’s a sustainable, green, friendly place which has been Audobon Certified because of their bird-helping practices. He’ll be shifting all their food, the clubhouse, banquets, and so forth, to his all-local, thoughtful, sustainable model. “I have 40 seats at Corner Table, and to grow, to really help farmers, I’m kind of maxed out,” Pampuch told me. “Between [Minnesota Valley Country Club’s] members, banquets, and events, I’ll be able to serve more local food there in a week then I can do here in a month.”

All in all, this seems especially like good and important news for: People planning weddings. I’ve heard again and again from couples who wish they could do a farm-style wedding, with fabulous food and all the amenities, but farms are busy being farms, and typically don’t have bathrooms, and Champagne flutes for 200. But now there’s another option!

Well, best of luck to all. Do I have to take up golf now?

Posted on Thursday, June 30, 2011 in Permalink

Comments may be edited for length, clarity, or appropriateness.

Old to new | New to old
Jun 30, 2011 04:58 pm
 Posted by  ElJay

I was thinking much the same thing. Wanna take lessons? If we go to Hiawatha Golf Club, we could eat at Sea Salt after. . .

Jul 1, 2011 12:15 am
 Posted by  MaggiesFarm

This is wonderful news!!! Finally those poor, deprived members of the Minnesota Valley Country Club can get their farm-to-table dining. Hopefully with a side of local Muir Glen tomatoes.

Jul 2, 2011 02:56 pm
 Posted by  Emmysue

Maggiesfarm, please let us know where your high-volume, reasonably-priced, publicly-accessible farm-to-table restaurant is located, because I would love to go there. Do you take reservations?

Jul 4, 2011 09:43 am
 Posted by  clubgal

As a poor deprived member of the Valley I can tell you I have waited 22 years for a great chef and this is indeed wonderful news!

Jul 6, 2011 02:12 pm
 Posted by  reetsyburger

For those of us who do play golf, this is especially good news, since most golf club fare is...Well, let's say I tend to stick with beer.

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TC Taste answers your restaurant and dining questions, dishes on latest discoveries, reflects on breaking news, and generally bring the plate to the page with a skilled crew of experts: Minnesota Monthly editor-in-chief Rachel Hutton, Sustainable Food Correspondent Marie Flanagan, Chef Jason Ross, Food Writer Joy Summers, and Drinks & Real Food Senior Editor Mary Subialka. Learn more about the TC Taste bloggers.

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