Enough sadness and melancholy, I am back off the ledge!
Well, first off, I fulfilled a lifelong dream and got to make a real Butterburger last week. For those of you who have no idea what that is, I feel sad for you. Culver's Butterburger is one of the world’s most perfect foods, and those of you who know me better than most know I am sort of obsessed with them. Last week I competed in the Culver's Grand Master Finals at the Convention Center, and, thanks to my partner Rita Larson, we won first prize and were able to send $5000 to the Retreat in Wayzata, courtesy of the kind folks at Culvers. Check out the clip of all the action. Even better, second place went to Jason Matheson, my Fox colleague, who gave his dough to Big Brothers/Sisters. Third place went to KARE's Eric Perkins, and fourth place went to Leah McClean from KSTP. Eric and Jason were their usual animated selves, and cooking burgers with my two friends was a blast. We had a lot of fun, and the burgers were outstanding . . . but the real shocker was meeting Leah, who is way funnier, brassier, cuter, sexier, and a thousand times more hip than they let her appear to be on air. All in all, a great day, and I have the pix to prove it.
Even better news for the hopelessly food-addicted is that when the new downtown Minneapolis Westin Hotel opens, it will not have a national chain restaurant as its food service tenant (hooray!), nor will it have a nationally renowned restaurant group operating a concept of theirs here (not a bad thing necessarily—I love Chambers and 20.21). But the former chef from one of my favorite restaurants in Chicago is moving here to take up residence and run the kitchen at the Westin's new restaurant, Bank. His name is Todd Stein, and for the last few years he’s been the exec chef at MK, Michael Kornick's eponymous restaurant in Chicago and FYI one of the best restaurants in the Windy City. When it opened almost a decade ago, MK was considered one of the top eateries in a town filled with great restaurants, and over the years, as other restaurants have opened, it hasn't lost a step. What it has lost is great personnel—a tribute to Michael, who has successfully replaced anyone who has left with more great cooks. Mindy Segal, one of the best pastry chefs in the country, left a few years ago to open her own restaurant, Hot Chocolate, and now Stein is moving here. I have eaten at MK twice a year since it opened, and the idea that Stein is coming here is something to celebrate and says a lot about the positive impact that the new hotel boom will have on our local dining scene.
Stein told me that his focus at Bank will be on Contemporary American Regional cuisine, some of which will have an Asian twist (been there, eaten that, but oh well), and that the food will be very much what he has been cooking at MK (which rocked), but with a softer price structure. The opening of Bank is slated for sometime around the end of April, and a typical dish, Stein tells me, would be a Grilled Kobe Skirt Steak with Grilled Chicory and Italian Salsa Verde, something that Stein was known for and cooked many times at MK. The restaurant will be open breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and will be operated by Westin and Wischermanmn Partners, the people responsible for developing the building.