Every weekday, Chef Dan (as the kids call him) gathers his team in an unassuming building in the west metro. The group of children, some as young as six, and many with unusually good cooking chops, get to work. Over the course of the hour, Chef Dan Tobias-Kotyk and the 10-12 children helping him cook a meal for the Kids Café dining room, serving dinner to roughly 55 of their fellow students—many of whom might go hungry if it were not for their efforts.
Second Harvest supports programs like Chef Dan’s Kids Café, as well as many other programs all dedicated to addressing hunger, especially child hunger, in Minnesota. Last night, in Saint Paul’s RiverCentre, Second Harvest Heartland held its annual Dish Cuisine for Change fundraiser, raising over $500,000 in years past and so far, well over $600,000 in an initial tally for this year.
The event featured small plates from top chefs and restaurants, including Minnesota Monthly Chef Challenge competitors J.D. Fratzke from The Strip Club and Sarah Master from Barbette.
Chef Master and her crew opened almost 800 oysters, splashed with red wine mignonette and flecked with bits of shallot and black pepper. Guest grabbed the oysters fresh off beds of ice as the cooks fought to keep shucking.
Chef Fratzke pushed through an early day, getting beef brisket started at 2 a.m. in preparation for the event, and timed a three-day dry-rubbed beef to finish in time for the party. Fratzke, who has attended the event for years, admitted the challenges of supporting good causes for a small independent restaurant, but said, “As a chef, what’s more important than feeding people who can’t eat?”
The long list of supporting chefs and restaurants, giving their time and food to the fundraiser, included:
- Al Vento, Chef Jon Hunt
- Barbette, Chef Sara Master
- Basil’s Restaurant, Chef Tim Kovacs
- Bradstreet Crafthouse, Chef Andy Vyskocil
- French Meadow Bakery & Café, Chef George Lohr
- Good Earth, Chef Chester Dyrud
- Grecco’s on the St. Croix, Chef Justin Grecco
- Hell’s Kitchen, Chef Joseph Wuestenhagen
- Kincaid’s, Chef Greg Johnson
- Masu Sushi & Robata, Chef TJ Rawitzer
- McCoy’s Public House, Chef Peter Hoff
- The Oceanaire Seafood Room, Chef Robert Wohlfeil
- Salut Bar Americain, Chef Anthony Leonhardi
- The Schwan Food Company, Chef Matt Horn
- Solera, Chef Jorge Guzman
- The Strip Club Meat & Fish, Chef J.D. Fratzke
- Treasure Island Resort & Casino, Chef James Powers
- Zelo, Chef Jason Gibbons
After the chefs finished serving and started packing up their gear, guests moved into the ballroom for presentations by the CEO, donors, and members of Second Harvest’s Board, and then entertainment from comedian Dana Carvy.
Chef Dan and his team took the stage to start things off with a type of prayer, spoken in unison by the young voices, saying, “We give thanks for this meal, knowing that by sharing it with others, the food becomes a feast.”