Photo by Eliesa Johnson
The other shoe has dropped! Ever since Mike “YC” DeCamp announced he was departing his long, longtime position as chef de cuisine of Minnesota’s leading fine dining restaurant, chef Tim McKee’s La Belle Vie, all of Minneapolis has been wondering: Who gets this new, top, high-profile, national-facing cooking spot?
The answer just came in: It’s Shane Oporto, current Libertine sous chef (McKee also runs that Uptown gastropub). McKee is well known for having a Midas touch for picking young chefs out of the line—including Food & Wine top 10 chefs Erik Anderson and Jamie Malone, and Jim Christiansen of Heyday—and says he has known Oporto was his next big thing for a while.
“I think he’s a future superstar, like Jim and Erik and Jamie, he definitely fits that mold,” McKee told me. “YC and I have had so many conversations over the years about the inevitability of his moving on, he’s had so many offers from so many people, and I knew at some point he’d have the right offer. [Which is to turn the former Porter & Frye into a seafood destination for Jester Concepts, which owns Borough and Coup d’Etat.] So I’ve been looking for a replacement for as long as those conversations have been happening, in a lot of ways. I knew when I hired Shane for Libertine that his real interests were in fine dining, and I’d only be able to hold on to him for so long there, so this is really the perfect transition. Shane’s been cooking for me, creating tasting menus, and I’ve been so impressed. He did a pasta that blew me away—and I tend to get pretty insanely critical about pasta—it was a parmesan ravioli, the description of which didn’t lead me to believe it was going to be anything special, and it really did just blow me away.”
Interesting side-notes; Oporto was once part of that magical cauldron of young chefs at Porter & Frye, which was led by Tilia star Steven Brown, included Travail stars Mike Brown and James Winberg, Piccolo’s Doug Flicker, Erik Anderson and Jamie Malone as above and of forthcoming Brut, cementing that restaurant as Minneapolis’ food version of the 1927 Yankees. Also, Oporto once worked for McKee’s original, Stillwater-era La Belle Vie sous chef—in Montana. And he worked for some number of years for a family so rich and important that he is contractually forbidden from disclosing their names! Calling TMZ, please get on it. McKee expects the transition to be smooth, Oporto will start and train with YC starting on March 19, the official transition will happen on April 1. Spring ahead, one and all!