Hey Minnesota. This is serious. You know how we all love the interior of the restaurant Tilia? A lot of it was built by hand by a brilliant and kind local set designer named Todd Stenson, following the designs of his big-hearted and creative wife Heather Keena. Last fall Todd was diagnosed with brain cancer, and the bills reached crushing levels rapidly. To meet the crisis our restaurant community is rallying in a big way, with an event at Amsterdam Bar and Hall on April 27. You should go. Here’s why:
Reason One: The food!
Chefs are bringing food, which you will get with the price ($35) of admission. But not just any chefs. This is a who’s who of local whos: Doug Flicker, Landon Schoenefeld, Erik Anderson, Russell Klein, Diane Yang, Zoe Francois, Alex Roberts, Phillip Becht, Brian Crouch, Jorge Guzman and the Travail crew will all be serving food. (And there may be more! If you’re a chef who wants to bring food, contact Steven Brown through the event’s Facebook Page.)
Reason Two: The music!
It’s an all-hands-on-deck situation when it comes to great music, too. Dan Wilson (yes, the Grammy winning friend of Todd Stenson, Dan Wilson) as well as Chris Koza, John Munson, Matt Wildon, Lucy Michelle, Adam Levy, and The Picadors. What, you say? This is a very special lineup? Todd Stenson is a very special guy.
Reason Three: Minnesota food people are awesome.
Why are there so many prominent people on board to help? Because Minneapolis is, at its best, both a small town and a big city. I met Todd Stenson a year or two after I moved to town—he throws great barbecues, for one thing. When I bought my tumbling down old Victorian house, he showed up with a power washer and all sorts of good ideas. He’s one of the many people in Minneapolis who struck me, right away, as bigger than me, smarter than me, more capable than me, and above all, willing to help for no reason at all. We fell out of touch many years ago. He always lived in my mind as one of the best sorts of Minnesotans—generous, smart and kind.
Now this. I guess this is how life goes. And as it goes we can help. Of course, all of us who are not ill are fortunate, all of us who can help others are lucky to be in a position to help, and there but by the grace of God go any of us. On top of that though, one of the great things about the Minnesota restaurant community is how much of a true, supportive community it has been. This isn’t much the place to go through the many interconnections in this food-minded side of town, but of course Steven Brown worked for Brenda Langton and Lenny Russo, at the side of Doug Flicker, and helped launch the local careers of so many youg chefs, including the Travail crew, many of whom worked for him at Porter & Frye. When the least of us are afflicted all of us are afflicted, and this is our chance to rally around one of our own, and prove that in Minnesota food, we take care of our own.
To get more info, check out the event’s Facebook page.
As Steven Brown says, the whole thing reminds him of the Lou Reed song "What’s Good," which has the line What good was cancer in April? This benefit is the answer to that awful question.