Superstar Pastry Chef Lured by Minneapolis Schools?

The rich get richer, right? Well, sometime in 2010 the richest neighborhood for baked goods in the metro, South Minneapolis—home to Turtle Bread, Rustica, French Meadow, Butter Bakery, and more—will get even richer with the addition of Patisserie 46, a bakery and café slated to go into the corner of 46th and Grand. (Kitty-corner from Café Ena, across from King’s Wine Bar.)

This new bakery and café is being brought to us by John Kraus, a remarkably accomplished pastry chef who seems to have won every pastry-chef-of-the-year award there is, and also won a Food Network Chocolate Challenge. Kraus has been recently teaching at The French Pastry School of Chicago. Why on earth is such an accomplished pastry chef abandoning America’s Second City and coming to Mill City? For the public schools. Kraus’s wife is from here, and their two young boys, ages 5 and 17 months, are about to start school.

“We’ve been tossing around the idea of moving up here for the last three years,” Kraus told me. “And once they start school… We figured either we do it now or look back in 10 years and say we probably should have. Ultimately, I want to raise my kids somewhere where everyone wants to be. I came in to teach a class at AI four years ago, and I was walking down Nicollet Mall and they were playing music in the streets! I thought, this has to be a sign. The streets were clean, music was playing—it’s just a dynamite town. And very open to artistic expression. Friends of mine with pastry shops in Chicago find that [Chicago customers] are very resistant to new things, but people here are really open to them.”

What new things will Patisserie 46 bring to us? Alsatian tarte flambée, for one thing. Tarte flambée is essentially a white pizza made with crème fraiche, onions, and bacon, and Kraus tells me he has his eye on a special dedicated tarte flambée oven (which he says resembles a small cast-iron dog house) which may or may not be possible to put into his new spot. Other plans: Sandwiches stuffed with local farm and artisan meats and cheeses, but not too many of them—perhaps five sandwiches that he says will change seasonally and frequently. Breads will also be a big part of Patisserie 46, as will both traditional French pastries like croissants and macaroons and traditional American pastries like chocolate-chip cookies. More plans: They’ll have coffee, counter-service, perhaps a dozen tables, a fireplace, a patio in the summer, and will open serving breakfast and lunch, debuting dinner later, if the neighborhood is interested.

“I’m hoping to introduce myself to some people soon, get their take on things,” Kraus told me. “Are people interested in Liege waffles?”

So, South Minneapolitans, if you see Kraus and have opinions about the Belgian street-food Liege waffles, or anything else he should offer, or where he should live (his family is moving into a rental property here in December, after which they’ll start to househunt in earnest), or what schools he should consider, stop on by and tell him what you think!

Ah, kidding. We all know Minnesotans are not much for telling strangers what we really think, but maybe in the comments below? Liege waffles: Yea or nay? Tarte flambée: An idea whose time has come? What else are you yearning for in a new corner bakery? Krauss hopes to open in March.

Patisserie 46, northwest corner of Grand and 46th St., Minneapolis; March 2010?