Minnesota Cooks Day 2013 at the Minnesota State Fair

Minnesota Cooks 2013 Lake Avenue Restaurant Tilapia
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

To many Minnesotans there is no greater foodie attraction at the Minnesota State Fair than Minnesota Cooks Day. This year it was held on August 25th and was the 11th annual event, following the same great recipe as in years before — showcasing farm-fresh food grown and served right here in Minnesota.

The day is broken into six 45 minute cooking “shows”. For each show, chefs are paired with Minnesota farmers, using ingredients from these farms to create beautiful dishes for a tasting panel to enjoy. Not to leave out those who aren’t sitting on stage: samples are handed out for the audience to enjoy as well.

While the chefs cook, the tasting panel — made up of farmers and local celebrities — hold a lively discussion with hosts JD Fratzke (Executive Chef at The Strip Club Meat & Fish) and Mary Lahammer (Twin Cities Public Television). Topics range from local foods to social media’s role in farming.

If you missed the event, you can still get your Minnesota Cooks calendar, featuring recipes from the chefs — many of the dishes that were made at the Fair are included in the calendar. Calendars are free and are available at the Minnesota Farmers Union booth at the Minnesota State Fair or by requesting a calendar online.

Minnesota Cooks 2013 Big River Pizza and Anodyne Coffeehouse
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Big River Pizza‘s Steve Lott and Bacon Jam Slam Breakfast Pizza; the 10am tasting panel included farmers from Braucher’s Sunshine Harvest Farm and Bossy Acres, Dorothy Freeman (4H Council) and Lori Sturdevant (Star Tribune); Helen Walden of Anodyne Coffeehouse plates her dish; Anodyne’s Chickpea Crepe with Bossy Acres Sprouts, Roasted Vegetables, and Goat Cheese.

Mary Lahammer hosts the morning shows for Minnesota Cooks 2013
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Mary Lahammer of Twin Cities Public Television hosted the afternoon segments of the event.

Minnesota Cooks 2013 Lake Avenue Restaurant and Corner Table
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Lake Avenue Restaurant & Bar‘s Victus Farms Tilapia and Leaves; Chef Tony Beran of Lake Avenue Restaurant & Bar preps lettuce to be grilled; the 11am tasting panel included farmers from Two Pony Gardens and Victus Farms, Natalie Kelly (Twin Cities Local Food) and Paul Hugunin (MN Grown); Chef Thomas Boemer of Corner Table discusses heirloom tomatoes; Corner Table’s Heirloom Tomato Salad.

Minnesota Cooks 2013 The Gray House and Rainbow Cafe
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Chef Ian Gray of The Gray House; The Gray House’s Gnocchi with Singing Hills Goat Dairy Goat Ragu and Ground Cherry & Corn Relish; pork belly waiting to be plated by Rainbow Cafe; Rainbow Cafe’s Heirloom Tomato, Arugula & Basil Slider with Crispy Pork Belly; Greenleaf Gardens‘s Brian Peterson and his daughter Jenna with Jennifer Richards and Jeremy Olson of Rainbow Cafe.

2013 Jon Radle Award Winner Dick Trotter with Dan Hunter, Doug Peterson, Senator Franken and JD Fratzke
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Dan Hunter (Grand Cafe), Doug Peterson (President, Minnesota Farmers Union), Senator Al Franken, and JD Fratzke (The Strip Club) celebrate with Dick Trotter (Trotter’s Cafe). Dick is the 2013 Jon Radle Award Winner, recognizing a true pioneer and loyal commitment to furthering awareness and education around local foods and sustainable agriculture.

Minnesota Cooks 2013 Harvest Thyme Bistro and Heidi's
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Acorn Ridge Farm Duck Confit from Harvest Thyme Bistro; Harvest Thyme Bistro’s Duck Confit with Wild Rice Salad; Heidi’s Tacos de Lengua; Mike Stine of StoneBridge Beef discusses local food.

Minnesota Cooks 2013 Spanky's Stone Hearth and Trotter's Cafe
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Dick Trotter and Lisa Scribner of Trotter’s Cafe; Josh Hanson of Spanky’s Stone Hearth rolls Bunkowski Farm Lamb Meatballs; Moonlight Duo provided the afternoon entertainment between cooking segments; audience members at the Minnesota Cooks 2013 event.

Minnesota Cooks 2013 Ngon Vietnamese Bistro and The Lynn on Bryant
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

The Lynn on Bryant‘s Honey Mousse with Chilled Fruit Soup; The Lynn on Bryant’s Abby Boone plates her dessert; the 3pm tasting panel included farmers from The Beez Kneez Honey and Stone’s Throw Urban Farm, Don Shelby  and Senator Klobuchar; Hai Truong of Ngon Vietnamese Bistro plates his dish; Ngon Vietnamese Bistro’s Stone’s Throw Urban Farm Seasonal Salad.

Minnesota Cooks 2013 Easy & Oskey and JD Fratzke
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Mocktail demo by Erik and James Eastman, featuring Easy & Oskey DIY Bitters; Easy & Oskey’s Apple & Pear Mocktail with Habanero Bitters; JD Fratzke hosted the afternoon segments of Minnesota Cooks 2013.

Minnesota Cooks 2013 at the Minnesota State Fair
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Two Sandwiches, Two Ways

Every other Monday throughout the summer and fall while locally raised produce is spectacular and abundant, the Heavy Table will be exploring vegetarian cuisine, both in the kitchen and at local eateries. Read other stories in this series.

As a co-author of an upcoming book about Minnesota sandwiches and the people who prepare them, I ate a lot of sandwiches in the first half of 2010, mostly Vietnamese bánh mì sandwiches and Somali sambusa, but also, in support of my co-authors, the occasional meatloaf, fried walleye, or hot dago sandwich. I ate sandwiches for breakfast. I ate sandwiches for lunch. And, yes, I ate sandwiches for dinner. Sometimes for every meal in a day. Sometimes in family-owned delis so small I couldn’t turn around without clobbering someone with my purse; sometimes in celebrity-chef-operated restaurants anchored by shiny art museums.

Fortunately I like sandwiches, so this was not a problem, except that, Minnesota sandwiches, at least the iconic ones, tend to be incredibly, gloriously meat-tacular. So, the first thing I did when I submitted my chapters to my editor is swear off bacon-wrapped, pate-slathered, or deep-fried meat sandwiches. But, after months of eating, breathing, and dreaming sandwiches, I found I couldn’t give them up. Thus began my quest, still ongoing, for vegetarian, sometimes even vegan, sandwiches.

Lori Writer / Heavy Table

French Meadow Bakery and Café in Minneapolis serves up a vegan Grilled Reuben Tempeh sandwich ($9) stuffed with thick slabs of marinated tempeh (pressed cakes of cooked and fermented soybeans) and tangy sauerkraut and spiced tomato aioli piled onto slender slices of house-baked rye bread. The sandwiches are grilled until the bread has achieved that toasty, buttery exterior you look for in a grilled cheese sandwich, except that it’s all vegan, so there’s no butter and no cheese. Sandwiches come with your choice of chips and salsa, mixed greens, or, as pictured in the photo above, a spicy slaw.

Three More Atlas Members

Trotter’s Cafe, France 44‘s cheese shops, and the Tastebud Tart (catering) have signed onto our Atlas of Ethical Eating; have a look at their questionnaires. Welcome, guys.