Announcing the The Birchwood Cafe Cookbook Flash Fiction Contest

birchwood-cafe-cookbook-coverThis post is underwritten by the University of Minnesota Press.

Good food tells a story. Readers of The Birchwood Cafe Cookbook see how seasons, purveyors, and the shape of the land itself impact what we eat and how we eat it, and they feel the joyful drama inherent in the simple act of preparing a meal.

In that spirit, the Heavy Table, Birchwood Cafe, and the University of Minnesota Press are pleased to announce The Birchwood Cafe Cookbook Flash Fiction contest. Send us your stories, and we’ll share our favorites with the readers of the Heavy Table.

Entrants are encouraged to touch upon one or more of the following themes in their work: seasons, food and drink, the Upper Midwest (Minnesota, Wisconsin, and beyond). There’s no reward or penalty for using more than one theme, so don’t feel the need to shoehorn all of the above into your story to rack up bonus points.

Tricia Cornell / Heavy Table
Tricia Cornell / Heavy Table


Grand Prize: $200 + a copy of The Birchwood Cafe Cookbook
1st Prize: A $100 gift certificate to the Birchwood Cafe + a copy of The Birchwood Cafe Cookbook
2nd Prize: A copy of The Birchwood Cafe Cookbook


Send your short story of 1,000 words or fewer to Include a title and a preferred author name. There is a limit of one entry per person. All entries are due by midnight on Friday, Dec. 4, 2015. Winners will be published on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015.

Stories should not have been previously published (in print or online).

Current Heavy Table contributors, Birchwood Cafe employees, and their immediate family members are not eligible to enter. Books can be shipped only within the United States.


If we receive more than 10 stories, Heavy Table editor James Norton will take a first look at the pile and pass along at least 10 and no more than 20 (anonymized) entries to the judges.

Judges will include Tracy Singleton (owner, Birchwood Cafe), Beth Dooley (local food writer and co-author of The Birchwood Cafe Cookbook), and Marshall Paulsen (chef of the Birchwood Cafe).

Judges will assess stories for their craft of language, their ability to spin a compelling tale, their humor and humanity, and their overall impact.


The three prize-winning stories will be published in their entirety on the Heavy Table. All rights (beyond the aforementioned) are retained by the entrants.


“Birchwood is more than a cafe — it is a community. The stories, recipes, and the people who make it all happen are embodied in this beautiful book, bringing the Birchwood experience into our homes and kitchens and onto our tables.”
— Michael Ableman, farmer and author of From the Good Earth, On Good Land, and Fields of Plenty

“The Birchwood Cafe Cookbook just slid into our lives, as if there was already a space on the shelf just waiting to be filled. … These were all foods that we wanted to eat together, as a family, after a busy day. They were nourishing, but not heavy; thoughtful but not fancy; comforting, but not childish.”
— Tricia Cornell, reviewing The Birchwood Cafe Cookbook on the Heavy Table

Good luck, and guten Appetit!