Two years ago if I were to tell you that some of the best chefs in the country would come to Minneapolis, take over a restaurant and cook for Minnesotans, you’d think I was crazy. But last week, Daniel Boulud, one of the most decorated chefs in the United States, came to Spoon and Stable and cooked an amazing meal—and more acclaimed chefs will be coming throughout hte year.
Chef Gavin Kaysen’s Synergy Series hasn’t received a ton of attention, largely because it sells out in minutes, and isn’t something that any publication would go ahead and tell someone like me, “Sure Jason, you can spend $295 on dinner.” The restaurant sells tickets for two nights of service, but leaves the bar open to first-come-first-serve customers. So people who can afford it can experience a once-in-a-lifetime meal, and the rest of us can pop in and have a drink or small plate that’s also created by world renowned chefs.
My friend had an extra ticket, and invited me to come to dinner with Daniel Boulud. And it was a “wow” of a meal from beginning to end. The sweet and creamy and decadent foie gras, wrapped in a thin layer of jamon, with pieces of quince was a beautiful start.
Photos by Jason DeRusha
The show-stopper for me was the chestnut agnolotti with freshly shaved white truffle. Amazing.
The duck a l’Orange had the most beautifully sliced pieces of duck, served with a marsala-chocolate jus and saffron fennel. It was brightly orange, without being sticky or cloying. Just perfection.
So the meal and wine pairings were absolutely worth the $300 price tag. But I put a bigger value on the fact that one of the best chefs in the country came to Minneapolis and got to experience the food scene here. I asked Kaysen where he took his mentor. He said the family meal on day one was ramen from the best in town, Jon and Lena at Zen Box. They ate at Bar la Grassa after the first night of service, and they toured Bellecour, the new restaurant Kaysen will open in Wayzata next year. After the second dinner, Kaysen said, “we planned to go to Young Joni, but got done a little too late.” Boulud was staying at the new Hewing Hotel, so they grabbed a drink there and Kaysen said, “even though the kitchen was ‘closed’ they sent out a few treats for us to enjoy. It was really nice of them and a great way to end the two day sprint of cooking with he and his team.”
Next year’s line up may be even more insane. Grant Achatz may be the hottest chef in the country, owner of Alinea and Next in Chicago. “Grant is clearly someone who is a bit of a mystery for people, but he has been a close friend of mine for years,” said Kaysen. He’ll be here April 13 & 14. In June, Sean Brock is the chef at Husk Restaurant in Nashville. “He is someone who I really look up to, he has changed the way we think about Southern food, something we in MN are still trying to do with the ‘North’ brand….he found an identity in southern cuisine and it changed everything down there,” said Kaysen.
Then it’s Christopher Kostow, a young chef in Napa Valley who created a 3-star Michelin restaurant, The Restaurant at Meadowood. He’ll be here in late September. And the year closes with a chef just named the best female chef in the world, Dominique Crenn. “Not only am I thrilled to have her cook, but also her energy and passion is addictive, she was just crowned the best female chef in the world…..and now she is coming to Spoon to cook for our guests,” said Kaysen.
Pretty cool. This is great for the staff at Spoon & Stable, obviously. Imagine being a cook and getting the chance to stand on the line with some of these chefs. But it’s also great for the Twin Cities. Even if you never eat at one of these dinners, we all benefit as the rest of the world continues finding out how great things are in Minneapolis and St. Paul.