Discover How Steven Brown of Tilia Makes the Perfect Plate

Tilia’s chef/owner Steven Brown takes a collaborative approach to developing dishes—he credits his chef de cuisine Paul Backer with driving the process when it comes time to change up the menu at the cozy Linden Hills eatery. “He pushes people to write down ideas in our staff notebook, and at the end of the day, we sit down and decide what’s going to change,” says Brown. When Backer wanted to experiment with using beer in the fermentation process, the duo decided to use different kinds of hops as a bittering agent for Romanesco cauliflower (a crunchier, green variation of the veggie with fractal-shaped florets) to accompany a pan-roasted duck breast and cauliflower pudding, all topped with cubes of beer gelée. “Cauliflower is seeing its day in the sun,” explains Brown. “But it’s all about how you prepare an ingredient, and Paul’s beer inspiration brought it all together for us.” But the teamwork at Tilia doesn’t end in the kitchen. Brown and his crew test their dishes with the entire staff, and they’re always looking for feedback from customers for cues as to how to improve a dish. Though criticism isn’t easy to take, Brown acknowledges the wisdom of the crowds. “It’s hard because you get really consumed by this dish and how you’ve envisioned it,” he says. “But even if you can’t see it, if 10 people tell you that you have a tail, you probably have a tail.”

Chef Steven Brown of Tilia's notes

Chef Steven Brown of Tilia sketches a plate out

Tilia in the kitchen

Tilia cook Isaiah Huff

In the kitchen at Tilia

Tilia dish in the pan

Tilia plating

In the kitchen at Tilia

Tilia final plate

Perfect Plate

Part 2: Chef Håkan Lundberg of The Minneapolis Club

Part 3: Chef Landon Schoenefeld of Nighthawks

Part 4: Chef Khanh Tran of The Bachelor Farmer