Sweet Chow in the North Loop, Minneapolis

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

No theory is perfect, but here’s an attempt to describe the new wave of Asian-inspired restaurants popping up around here. First wave* restaurants feature food cooked largely for and by immigrants, with menus that make sense to those who grew up with the food but can be impenetrable to outsiders. Think of Thai food laden with profound earthy funk, Chinese food with chewy meat clinging to chopped-up bones, Korean food with brutally hot and jungly kimchi. Second wave shops represent a correction — almost always an over-correction — for a sanitized view of American taste. This is where you find syrupy, bready renditions of orange chicken, pad thai that is sweet as a lollipop (without offering much of anything else), and half-assed California sushi rolls in lieu of legitimate sushi.

Now we see the third wave spots opening up. Think of Hai Hai, or Young Joni, or Pinku, or — just recently — Sweet Chow Takeaway in the North Loop. Much of the essence (that which can be dubiously but evocatively called “authenticity”) of Southeast Asian cuisine is there: depth of flavor, real spicy heat, challenging earthiness or complexity. At the same time, certain deal-breakers — think pieces of bone or tripe — are gone, and menus are clearly written, explaining everything that a diner can expect to experience.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Sweet Chow Takeaway (which, it should be said, has a roomy dining room and will soon have bike delivery) interprets Thai, Cambodian, Vietnamese, and Korean dishes in a way that’s accessible but not bastardized. The dishes — Korean Sticky Wings, Crispy Pork Belly, Yellow Curry — are recognizable and immediately appealing, but once you taste them, you realize with pleasure that the original edge, while tempered, hasn’t been sanded off.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Our Korean Rice Cakes ($14), for example, were complex and fiery, with the sort of toothsome chew we’ve grown to love from dishes at places like Rabbit Hole (speaking of good third-generation joints) with their Duck Duck Dduk. The rice cakes are a vegetarian dish, but the addition of a soft-boiled egg lends a welcome richness to the production and makes it a worthy entree unto itself.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

The Beef Larb ($13) at Sweet Chow wasn’t what we’ve become accustomed to from our experience on University Avenue. It lacked the extreme intensity of funky flavor, but it wasn’t toothless, either, offering up real heat and depth, and crunchy textural contrast thanks to bits of puffed rice. Cradled in lettuce cups, it was a light and satisfying lunch.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Our Coconut Rice ($8) came with both fresh and grilled pineapple, plus a generous sprinkling of mint and cilantro. The rice itself was perfect — chewy, substantial, sweet without being sickly, and drenched in intense but natural coconut flavor. The fruit and herbs added interest and could be mixed in, bite by bite, as desired.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

With a concept designed by local phenoms Jamie Malone and Erik Anderson and executed by Chef John Krattenmaker (formerly of Fika), Sweet Chow rightfully steps up to the front of the pack alongside peers like Young Joni and Hai Hai. The dining room is bright, sleek, and airy, the music on point, the beer and wine menu focused and appealing, and the prices assertive without being aggressive, particularly for the white-hot North Loop neighborhood and its continuously rising spires of new development. The food isn’t what you’d find at On’s Thai, Tay Ho, or Pho Ca Dao, but that’s OK. It stands on its own, and seems likely to find its way to appreciative diners in its neighborhood.

*Editor’s Note, 4/10/18: The initial draft of this story referred to three “generations” of Asian or Asian-inspired restaurants; we’ve changed the word to “waves,” which is more descriptive of evolving restaurant models as opposed to literal generations within a family.

4/11/18: The original version indicated that John Krattenmaker is the chef at Fika, but he left that establishment a few years ago. His biography was still viewable on Fika’s webpage.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Sweet Chow
Upscale Asian-influenced fare in the North Loop
116 N 1st Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55401
612.767.4605
HOURS:
Sun-Thu 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Fri-Sat 11 a.m.-midnight
BAR: Beer, wine and a couple cocktails
RESERVATIONS / RECOMMENDED?: No
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / Some
ENTREE RANGE:
 $12-$18
NOISE LEVEL: Amenable din
PARKING: Underpriced North Loop meters (good luck!) and downtown ramps

Jamie Malone and Alan Hlebaen of Grand Cafe

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

Grand Cafe’s Instagram page is amazing — curated by chef/owner Jamie Malone and her crew, the feed features quirky, often hilarious clips urging followers to get to the Grand. Sometimes, it’s just a PSA: our favorite, a llama poking its head out a car window, saying only, “We are closed today. You will have to take your llama on a dinner date elsewhere.” Many of the clips come from a file Malone amassed over a period of years, awaiting the day her own restaurant could, well, speak for itself. Dogs shake cocktails, Joan Rivers messes with meatheads, and a barely velvet-clad Grace Jones wields a champagne glass, with nary a damn to spare. As Malone might say, the Grand Cafe has personality.

Talking with her, it’s clear that she is bringing her eclectic and carefully detailed vision to the service, menu, music, branding, and atmosphere into the art and soul of her thriving restaurant (including a majestic portrait of her winsome Italian greyhounds). Grand Cafe is the vision.

In 2016, Malone began to implement her vision as the chef of the old Grand Cafe, then owned by Mary and Dan Hunter. When the Hunters decided to sell in 2017, Malone and fellow chef Erik Anderson became the eager buyers. Since then, co-owner Anderson has left to helm the kitchen at Michelin-starred Coi in San Francisco, and Malone has continued to transform the new Grand Cafe into one of the best restaurants in Minnesota. Glowing reviews have been pouring in.

Recently, we sat down with Malone and chef de cuisine Alan Hlebaen.

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

HEAVY TABLE: How are things going with the restaurant so far?

JAMIE MALONE: We just hit six months. I think we’re really finally coming into who I want us to be. The idea has been the same from the beginning. But we’re finally starting to see all of these things … come to fruition. And it’s awesome.

HEAVY TABLE: What is the idea?

MALONE: So, you have these culminations through your whole cooking career, of these things that you want to make yours. And then certain parts change, as your tastes change. But there’s always those cores that are really important — what matters. And I started to become really interested in food that wasn’t new — food that was really old and just more genuine. I think it means more if you take a recipe that has been created by a culture that’s had hundreds of years to either refine it or change it out of necessity. To me, that’s so much more meaningful than putting five different flavors on the plate with five different techniques. So that had been in my brain in the last few years. I’ve also been interested in different regions of France and different regions of French food and getting into craftsmanship — the producers behind the food.

HEAVY TABLE: What do you do with the old recipes?

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

MALONE: I pragmatically look at the part of it that we love. I try to distill what’s great about it and then update the things that can be updated. If you take the pike [quenelle in crayfish sauce] — if we cooked that straight recipe, it probably would be kind of disgusting [laughs]. Like a pike mousse. So, we find ways to add depth of flavor and lighten it and make it ours. We’re taking these things that have been around for a while and just making it kind of exciting, fun.

HEAVY TABLE: Is there a thread connecting the food to everything else, like service and atmosphere?

MALONE: For me, the connecting thread is “Where do I want to go? What do I want to eat? What’s my dream experience?” Service has always been super important to me. If people are coming to your restaurant and they’re spending money, I consider that a pretty big honor. It’s like, “Don’t fuck it up.” Eating out, for me, is like a sacred thing; it’s really, really important in my life. And so when people choose to come and eat at our restaurant, I want to deliver.

HEAVY TABLE: What about the style of service?

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

MALONE: Our steps of service are very outlined. When you come here, I want your service to be the same all the time. There has to be some warmth to it, obviously. So we try to take away the rigidness. [When I dine out] I don’t always want someone in my space. When people are here, they’re having intimate experiences. … So, you’re getting taken care of in this detailed way, but it’s not look at me service. It’s like, we got you, but we’re going to let you have your space. We’ll keep getting better and better at it, but we just — the devil is in the details.

HEAVY TABLE: You mentioned taking inspiration from different regions of France. Is all of the food French-inspired?

MALONE: Mostly. We try to either have French or historical context in some way on everything on the menu. One little variant we allow ourselves is some Japanese stuff, which makes sense to us and has been in the concept from the very beginning. So, we take a little liberty.

Heavy Table Hot Five: May 19-25

 

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Each Friday, this list will track five of the best things Heavy Table’s writers, editors, and photographers have recently bitten or sipped. Have a suggestion for the Hot Five? Email editor@heavytable.com.

shepherd-song-banner-ad-horiz-3The Hot Five is a weekly feature created by the Heavy Table and supported by Shepherd Song Farm.

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Lucy Hawthorne / Heavy Table
Lucy Hawthorne / Heavy Table

1-new - one - hot fiveThe Pig’s Ear Salad at Revival
I’ve tried to prepare pig’s ears before. I’ll spare the graphics and just say this: They’re hairy, and their funk isn’t easy to tame. In the right hands, though, you understand why someone would want to try. At Revival, Thomas Boemer crumbs and fries them into crispy arcs, tops them with a fistful of greens, and floats them on a shallow puddle of spiced carrot sauce, almost curryish. These pig’s ears are so clean-tasting, so crispy, and so curiously light that you almost suspect some sort of food-industry-level meddling. I have no idea how he does it, but they are the Pringles of pig’s ears. And just as addictive.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Amy Thielen from her Desert Island Top 10]

Joshua Page / Heavy Table
Joshua Page / Heavy Table

2-new - two - hot five The Red Prawn Castella at the Grand Cafe
While everything we tried on our first visit to the new Grand Cafe was exceptional, Red Prawn Castella was a revelation. Chefs Jamie Malone and Erik Anderson’s version of the custardy spongecake has a deep, rustic prawn flavor and a slight sweetness. It works well as an appetizer (a fantastic complement to one of the restaurant’s excellent salads), and at $4 for two big pieces, it’s an absolute steal.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Joshua Page]

Jane Rosemarin / Heavy Table
Jane Rosemarin / Heavy Table

3-new - three hot fiveAlice Medrich’s Saucepan Fudge Drops
While editing Amy Thielen’s Desert Island Top 10 — the bittersweet chocolate cookie item, in particular — I found myself longing for a taste of one of my standby recipes, Saucepan Fudge Drops from Alice Medrich’s Bittersweet. They are as easy to make as the name suggests (mixed in the pan), and as dense, chewy, and chocolaty as any chocoholic could wish. I like to add a handful of plumped dried sour cherries and chocolate chips. Nuts might also be nice. Or nothing at all. This time, I used milk chocolate chips and left off the sprinkling of powdered sugar. Be sure not to overbake; they’re very soft when they’re ready to come out of the oven.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Jane Rosemarin]

James Norton / Heavy Table
James Norton / Heavy Table

4-new four hot fiveSatsuma Fries at Morris Ramen
Now that Alton Brown has shouted out Morris Ramen, this charming little downtown Madison ramen shop may never be the same. Embrace (or ignore) the hype next time you’re in Madison, and go anyway. It’s a charming, bustling place with a simple but well-considered menu. The item that jumped out at us the most was utterly unexpected — a plate of classic French fries served with a spicy, funky, gochujang aioli that brings in everything we love about good ol’ Utah fry sauce and gives it an Asian twist.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by James Norton]

James Norton / Heavy Table
James Norton / Heavy Table

5-new -five Whiskey Sour at Merchant
The craft cocktail list at Merchant is book-length, and its complexity and creativity are a little mind-boggling and overwhelming. Nothing wrong with sticking with a classic, particularly when it is as well-executed as the restaurant’s Whiskey Sour, which uses not a drop of horrific industrial-grade sour mix, but rather relies on a mix of lemon juice, bitters, and orange oil to bring additional depth to the bourbon, and foamy egg white to give it lift and volume.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by James Norton]

Erik Anderson and Jamie Malone Take Over the Grand Cafe, Transform it Into the Grand Cafe

Jamie Malone at Sea Change
Peter Sieve & Justin Blair / Heavy Table

Well-regarded chefs Erik Anderson (formerly of Porter & Frye and Sea Change, pictured below) and Jamie Malone (Sea Change and Barrio, above) are the new owners of the slowly going-out-of-business Grand Cafe. This move has been publicly known about for quite some time, and there has been speculation that they’d transform Grand Cafe into their long-discussed project Brut, but that’s not to be – “This is the Grand Cafe by Erik and Jamie,” they write in a press release about the takeover, below.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

We are excited to share that we are the new owners of the Grand Cafe!  We are still looking for the perfect spot for Brut, but sometimes you follow that path that life puts in front of you. When we were presented with the opportunity to take over the Grand, we started dreaming about what we can do with it once we applied our creativity and experience.  We know it will be incredible, and we could not pass it up. 

The Grand Cafe has always been a hidden gem; a humble place that speaks to real life, and we want to keep it that way. This is not Brut. This is the Grand Cafe by Erik and Jamie.  The space has a patina that has taken 70 years to build, and we can’t wait to add our personalities to it!  It’s exciting for us to think about the idea of walking in to an unassuming South Minneapolis restaurant and being happily surprised by a greeting from Bill Summerville, who will be assisting us to ensure our guests get the best possible experience ( and wine!), as well as food from two nationally acclaimed chefs. 

Guests can look forward to seeing many of the beloved brunch classics on the menu with a few of our own updates.  As for dinner, guests will see our takes on forgotten French classics as well as modern and technique-driven surprises. The sweet, and humble, nature of the restaurant will stay, no flash, just a bunch of people who love cooking, wine and taking care of people, working together in a little neighborhood restaurant.

All our best,

Jamie & Erik

Grandcafemn.com

Look forward to our taking over the following social media accounts very soon..
Instagram- Grandcafe_mpls

Twitter- @grandCafe_mpls
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Grand-Cafe-86439690980/

Almendinger to Creamery Cafe, Scena, and More

Banner for the Tap: Food and Drink News

This week in the Tap: Our columnist looks at an important move for a local chef, gets fired up for the star-powered Scena Tavern, parses the distillery deluge, praises cheese “cakes” … and a morel festival at The Sample Room.

shepherd-song-tap-logo-final-keylineThe Tap is a biweekly feature created by the Heavy Table and supported by Shepherd Song Farm. “We raise 100 percent grass-fed lambs & goats traditionally, humanely, and sustainably.”

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The Tap is the metro area’s comprehensive restaurant buzz roundup, so if you see a new or newly shuttered restaurant, or anything that’s “coming soon,” email Tap editor James Norton at editor@heavytable.com.

Peter Sieve / Heavy Table
Peter Sieve / Heavy Table

Almendinger Departing Third Bird, Scena, the Distillery Deluge, and Cheese Wheel Cakes

Seward Co-op’s new restaurant on Franklin Avenue has picked up some serious culinary firepower. LUCAS ALMENDINGER (above right, with Steven Brown) will be moving from The Third Bird over to the soon-to-open Co-op Creamery Cafe in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis. He starts at the Creamery Cafe in a few weeks, and the Cafe should open its doors at the end of July, says the Creamery’s production manager Chad Snelson.

With Seward’s extensive experience sourcing quality local ingredients and its acquisition of a proven chef, there’s no reason why it can’t turn the Cafe into a blockbuster … assuming it can find the neighborhood’s price point for various meals, a target that can often be elusive. The Seward neighborhood has seen a surge of good food (from serious curry at Tracy’s to the newly opened Mon Petit Chéri to the terribly named but surprisingly good Sober Fish), but the Cafe will be doing three meals a day and will have to balance an impulse to push the limits of farm-to-table cuisine with the day-to-day competition for the frugal, hungry, but potentially loyal breakfast diner. It’s an exciting struggle, and a chance to put a finger on the pulse of Seward, Longfellow, and other nearby neighborhoods.

Jamie Malone at Sea Change
Peter Sieve & Justin Blair / Heavy Table

There’s no time to breathe: barely a fortnight has passed since Nighthawks started slinging its high-concept diner fare, and SCENA is already sucking up the oxygen as the Next Big Thing. As well it should — the upcoming restaurant (to be located at 2943 Girard Ave S in Minneapolis) combines the culinary forces of proven creators Jamie Malone (above) and Erik Anderson (below), who will be contributing extensive consulting and training to the new venture, and selecting its executive chef.

The restaurant’s press release name-checks some digging-a-page-deeper European favorites, including carbineros (big prawns that will be prepared live at the Scena Crudo bar), house-extruded canestri (pasta), and steamed clams with ’nduja (one of our favorite types of charcuterie, thanks to the version produced by Madison’s Underground Food Collective.)

Bringing Anderson and Malone into this big-money project in a consulting, asterisk-laden way could be anything between brilliant and classically dumb, depending on how things play out — if the two are merely fine-cuisine window dressing for an indifferently run, pump-out-the-standards Uptown meat market, the blast of pre-opening acclaim will boomerang as expectations are dashed; if the duo are successfully mined for their smarts and experience, the place should be a big, lovely, culinary powerhouse in a part of the city where young people with money want to eat smart, current food.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Heavy Table knows both Malone and Anderson and digs their cooking. If their influence definitively shapes the way Scena buys its product, cooks, and serves, Uptown should have a new powerhouse on its hands. We talked to Malone at some length for a story we wrote about battle wounds in the kitchen. She talked about why chefs do what they do, and said: “I often will think about that and wonder: What personality does it take to do this for a living … ? Maybe it’s pretty well known that cooks tend to be more on the introverted side of things. So maybe it’s a way of expressing care for others in a way that we don’t know how to do otherwise.”

And if you’ve got a free hour, grab a glass of something special, and pore over our 5,000-word debrief with Anderson, who talked to our own Peter Sieve about great skate dishes, the success of Tilia, and the appeal of timeless food.

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table
Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

A TORRENT OF DISTILLED SPIRITS is washing across the Land of 10,000 Lakes, drowning local spirits aficionados in white whiskeys, gins, aquavits, rums, ryes, and more. Craft spirits offer a wild frontier opportunity that is in increasing contrast to the possibly approaching plateau of breweries and taprooms, the latter of which have sprouted across the state like mushrooms. Distillers on the horizon include Lawless Distilling, Twin Spirits Distillery, and Tattersall Distilling, and there will no doubt be others sauntering up to the starting line in the months to come.

Lawless founder Nate Karnitz, commenting in the Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal, sums up the mentality pretty well: “When I was in school I started seeing [new distillers] popping up in Minneapolis, and I thought it would be better to get in at the ground level rather than trying to break into craft beer, which is in its fifth or sixth wave now.”

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table
Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

Like the taproom boom, the distillery deluge has at least two components —

One is the production of beer or hard spirits and the selling of those spirits through liquor stores, restaurants, and bars. Conventional wisdom says that this is where the real money is, but not everyone can be Summit, or Phillips, or Surly — particularly when all of those big spirits makers are still aggressively engaged in maintaining and expanding their place in the market. At the moment, there’s a big novelty premium for putting out a quality locally distilled vodka or gin, and bartenders are eagerly mixing and showing off the local hooch — but at some point in the near future, the 12th or 14th or 27th painstakingly wrought Minnesota rye won’t elicit even a politely stifled yawn from drinkers and scene-watchers.

The other is the neighborhood real estate aspect of the boom. A brewery or distillery can make a fair-to-mediocre product and profit mightily if their taproom or cocktail room is located correctly and packed to the gills with locals and tourists celebrating the act of drinking locally. You can muddle through as a brewer or distiller but create a sparkling local business with a well-located venue that can catch cash from special events, private parties, weekly specials, limited releases, and all manner of other promotion that keeps the customers coming back for more. The potential for cocktail rooms to enrich Minnesota’s nightlife is real and wonderful, and it will help popularize the view of spirits as great local food, and not (merely) a fine way to fire up a buzz.

Becca Dilley Photography
Becca Dilley Photography

This is really a minor point, but it’s one very near and dear to my heart: brides (and other conspicuous celebrants) are starting to realize the appeal and value of trotting out CHEESE WHEEL CAKES. We live in an era when a top-of-line wedding cake can easily drift into the low four figures, but a massive 20-pound wheel of something lovely (like SarVecchio parmesan from Wisconsin’s Sartori, for example) runs a mere $320 and makes a perfect bottom layer for an Upper Midwestern cheese array that would proudly anchor even a mammoth celebration. Wisconsin leads the way, at the moment: Lindsay Christians has the scoop (or the slice, or the wedge, or whatever) over in the Cap Times.

— James Norton

Becca Dilley Photography / Flak Radio's 100th Episode
Becca Dilley Photography / Flak Radio’s 100th Episode

The Weekend Starts Now at The Bachelor Farmer (Taping of Episodes 1 and 2 from 6-9 p.m. on Thursday, May 28)
50 2nd Ave N, Minneapolis

The premiere taping of the Heavy Table / Secrets of the City podcast The Weekend Starts Now takes place this Thursday night in the Afghan Room at the Bachelor Farmer. Hosts James Norton and Taylor Carik will present an irreverent but enthusiastic rundown of arts, culture, food, and drink taking place in the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul area, while entertaining a variety of guests and keeping their live audience guessing.

Guests will include illustrator-about-town WACSO and writer M.C. Cronin, Chef Paul Berglund, and Eric Dayton, with more names to be announced in dramatic last-minute fashion.

Tickets are free (and available online), but are nearly gone, so act quickly if you’re interested.

If and when tickets run out, don’t despair — 30 (free) tickets are available via Eventbrite for the taping of episodes 3 and 4 at the Chef Shack Ranch at 6 p.m. on Monday, June 8.

Ted Held / Heavy Table
Ted Held / Heavy Table

MN Morel Fest at the Sample Room (Saturday, May 30, 3-10 p.m.)
2124 Marshall St, Minneapolis

A who’s who collection of local chefs (Thomas Boemer of Corner Table; Jim Christiansen of Heyday; Gavin Kaysen of Spoon and Stable; Todd MacDonald of the soon-to-open Parella; and Nick O’Leary of Smack Shack) will be serving up various wild preparations of morel mushrooms for the gratification of the masses at the end of this month. Live music, all-star bartenders, and chef-MC Sameh Wadi all threaten to make the event a great deal of fun. Tickets are sold on a sliding basis: $75 gets a 3 p.m. entry and the choicest VIP morsels; $55 gets a 4:30 p.m. entry and a full spread of mushroom dishes; and $0 gets a 7 p.m. entry, with music and food available for purchase.

NOW OPEN

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
James Norton / Heavy Table
James Norton / Heavy Table

Brut Pop-Up

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table
Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

Shortly after announcing their plans to open a restaurant, Brut, in Minneapolis next year, chefs Erik Anderson and Jamie Malone organized a series of pop-ups at the recently closed Lynn on Bryant. We assumed the purpose of the dinners ($50 for five courses, $25 for wine pairings and coffee) was to create buzz about Brut. After talking with the chefs and tasting their food, we realized this was only partially correct: As Malone puts it, the main goal is “to have fun.” Anderson agrees: “Yeah, the biggest thing is to have fun, to hang out and have fun. That’s it really.”

Chefs Russo and Malone Show Off Best Buy’s Small Appliances

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This post is sponsored by Best Buy.

Professional chefs are tough on appliances and gadgets. Jamie Malone, chef de cuisine at Sea Change, says she burns through a Vita-Prep every six months or so. And that’s a 3- or 4-horsepower machine costing hundreds of dollars, so you can imagine her expectations are pretty high, even in her home kitchen.

And, there she was, looking admiringly at a home blender at Best Buy in Richfield. “That’s a pretty nice machine,” she said. “It’s got a good motor and it’s not too loud.” Lenny Russo, chef and proprietor of Heartland Restaurant & Farm Direct Market, agreed. He had just used the blender to demonstrate his vichyssoise recipe to an audience of shoppers during a storewide event showing off Best Buy’s range of small appliances, discussed online with the tag #smallappliances. The retailer had asked the chefs to put their kitchen appliances through their paces and come up with a few dishes home cooks could use.

While both chefs had just about any appliance imaginable at their disposal, they both kept coming back to a good strong blender and a KitchenAid stand mixer as the essential machines in their own home kitchens.

Malone used the mixer to blend up a creamy tuna salad for tuna melt crostini for her first recipe, building on her theme of creative after-school snacks. Then she returned to it to make each layer of a peanut butter and concord grape parfait (see recipe at the end of this post). After whipping the cream with the balloon whisk attachment, she added a stream of concentrated syrup she had made from this year’s bumper crop of grapes. (Russo, kibitzing off to the side, reminded everyone that if you overwhip your cream, you should just keep going and make butter. He makes cultured butters for Heartland.)

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For the next layer, she beat cream cheese and peanut butter until it was as light and airy as the whipped cream. Then she made a crunchy streusel topping, beating butter, flour, sugar ,and oats on low in the mixer until it was chunky — much faster than working through it with your fingertips or a fork — and baked it in a toaster oven.

What goes with peanut butter and jelly after school? How about a soda. Malone juiced fresh celery (“It’s an underappreciated flavor,” she said, “but I really love it.”), mixed it with sweetened green tea, and carbonated it with a Sodastream. Astute readers and conscientious Sodastream owners will note that the company strongly discourages anyone from carbonating anything except water. Malone (pictured below, left, with Steve-O and Falen Bonsett from KDWB) acknowledged this and then went on to give an unexpected demonstration of why this was so: The soda exploded on stage. The chef kept her cool and the soda was delicious. Totally worth it. (And what Sodastream aficionado can honestly say they have never been tempted to go a little off label?)

BBY-MSP1

Russo managed to avoid a blender explosion while making his vichyssoise (see recipe at the end of this post); the model he was using wisely won’t start unless the lid is locked in place. He blended leeks and potatoes, precooked in good-quality local butter, with heavy cream from Castle Rock Creamery, until silky smooth. “The thing about this soup is you can serve it cold in the summer and use the fancy name ‘vichyssoise,’” he noted, “or you can serve it hot in the winter and call it potato-leek soup.”

After the vichyssoise, Russo put the mixer to work lightening up a batch of homemade ricotta, which he then used to top some of the soft, tangy tomatoes he dries for the restaurant — a delightful one-bite appetizer.

And, finally, Russo played around with a home popcorn maker. He topped the popcorn with Smude’s Sunflower Oil, very finely shaved Parmesan, and salt he had infused with rosemary. Sure, you could make popcorn in a pot with a lid, as Malone teased Russo, but even a professional chef, focused on performance and practicality, had to admit that the mini theater-style machine was pretty cute. And made tasty popcorn, too.

Jamie Malone’s Concord Grape and Peanut Butter Parfait

For Peanut Butter Mousse:
– 24oz heavy cream
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 1/2 Tablesoon vanilla extract
– 8 oz cream cheese
– 8 oz peanut butter
– 1 Cup powdered sugar

In a KitchenAid Mixer using the whip attachment whip cream into medium peaks. Set whipped cream aside in the fridge. Next, using the paddle attachment, cream together salt, vanilla extract, cream cheese, peanut butter and powdered sugar. Gently fold one third of the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture. Repeat the process twice more with the remaining two thirds. Keep cold.

For Concord Grape Chantilly:
– 16 oz heavy cream
– 1 Cup Concord grape juice, reduced to 2 Tablespoons
– 1/4 Cup powdered sugar
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 8 oz peanut butter
– 1 Cup powdered sugar

Combine all ingredients in a KitchenAid Mixer. Using the whip attachment whip into firm peaks. Keep cold.

For Peanut Streusel:
– 3 Cups AP flour
– 3/4 Cup oats
– 1 Cup brown sugar
– 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 8 oz peanut butter
– 15 oz unsalted cold butter

In a KitchenAid Mixer using the paddle attachment, combine all ingredients until just combined and still chunky. Spread on a baking sheet in on layer and bake in toaster oven at 350, until golden brown. Allow to cool. Pulse in bullet grinder until crumbly.

For Parfait:
Layer all ingredients in a parfait cup in the following order- Streusel, Peanut Butter Mousse, Concord Grape Chantilly, Peanut Streusel.

Lenny Russo’s Vichyssoise

– 1 lb. whole unsalted butter
– 3 gal. court-bouillon (see recipe)
– 3 qt. heavy cream
– 5 lb. golden potatoes, peeled and diced ¼
– 5 lb. leeks, white parts only diced ¼
– 2 T. fine sea salt
– 1 T. white pepper, freshly ground

Melt the butter in a large, nonreactive pot over low heat.

Add the leeks and cook them until soft. Add potatoes.

Stir in the court-bouillon. Increase the heat, and bring the pot to a boil.

Cook for 30 to 40 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.

Puree in a high speed blender until smooth. Return the soup to a nonreactive pot.

Stir in the cream. Bring the pot to a low simmer.

Turn off the heat, and stir in the salt and pepper.

Chill immediately in an ice water bath.

Transfer to a labeled container with a tight fitting lid.

Serve with chopped chives.