You heard it here first: Jason DeRusha has officially joined the Mpls.St.Paul Magazine staff. His first column, in which he’ll dine and dish with Twin Cities notables at their favorite restaurants, debuts next month. We caught up with WCCO’s newest morning anchor for his thoughts on joining our team.
Hey Jason, and welcome to Mpls.St.Paul Magazine! Tell us about your new column.
You know, I’ve spent four years doing food writing at another magazine, and I do TV stories about restaurants and chefs and wine, local beer, and all sorts of cool stuff I’ve been writing about for four years, but when people have a great experience over a great meal, nine times out of 10, it’s not because of something that the chef is doing in the kitchen. It’s because of the conversation you’re having at the table. You’re celebrating a moment, you’re with friends you haven’t seen for a long time, or you’re having a conversation with someone new.
I look at this column as a way to introduce our readers to interesting people who are doing interesting things or thinking interesting thoughts, anchored in a space in our Cities. So the restaurant, in a way, is almost like a third party to the conversation . . . I see it as kind of a combination of a profile of an interesting person making our community a richer place to live with an element of restaurant reviews.
What makes someone interesting in terms of the column?
That’s a great question. I have a long list of people who I’m interested in talking to. Our first profile is of Lee Hutton who is an attorney, he’s under 40, and he’s got three kids, and he’s also in the pages of TMZ because he is Kris Humphries’ attorney. So with the whole Kim Kardashian mess. He was the first guy I thought of simply because I think he’s a really interesting guy. He’s had great personal success, he’s doing something different in his career, and he has an interesting family life. I’m looking for all of that. I want the column to look like our community.
There’s something to be said for being able to spend an hour and a half with somebody.
Oh, it’s the best, right? Our world is so rushed. My best restaurant memories, my best meal memories in the Twin Cities are about experiences that I had while I was eating. So maybe that came from an awesome server who just made the night really fun, maybe it came from, you know, something my wife and I were talking about or celebrating, or maybe it came from the friendship that blossomed from the couple that we met at the bar. We have a number of friends in the Twin Cities that we met at bars. Is that weird? But that’s where we have conversations; that is the town square. It’s around the table. We live in this virtual reality where we’re Tweeting to each other and Facebooking and Snap Chatting and Instagramming, but we all stop and sit across from each other at a table.
You know, I live right across the street from Burch, so I’m often in the basement grabbing pizza in the middle of the week. The bartender will end up with a drink, chatting on the barstool right next to me.
That’s so great; I love that. You know, the past three years we’ve started having all of these restaurant spaces that finally look like the big city that we’re in. You look at Icehouse, you look at Burch—those are beautiful buildings, right? Borough and Parlor—they’re gorgeous. These places make you feel like you’re in the big city that you’re in. I mean, it should feel that way, right? I think we’re finally there.
Your dream dinner table—who’s sitting down with you?
My wife Alyssa, Oprah, Tom Petters (every party needs a villain!), Chuck Kanski (he'd bring the wine and the funny), Andrew Zimmern (because I've never actually sat down and shared a meal with him), and Pope Francis (I have so many questions for the new Pope!)
Can't get enough Jason (as if that's possible)? Pick up a copy of the December issue of Mpls.St.Paul Magazine to read his new column, "DeRusha Eats."