Adrienne Odom, formerly of Aquavit Minneapolis and La Belle Vie (she was tapped by food maven Marcus Samuelsson to lead his NYC-based pastry team more than a year ago), , has moved back to the Twin Cities and is offering a five-course dessert tasting menu with wine/beer/coffee pairings at the Armitage Room at Cafe Maude for $45 on Sunday, March 22 at 7:30 p.m. Call 612-822-5411 for reservations, space is extremely limited.
I asked A.O. why the switcheroo, and she candidly replied, ”After ten years of living in Minneapolis and a year of going back to work and living in New York, I came to the conclusion that the Twin cities is where I'm happiest. The climate for fine dining in New York is extremely stressful right now, and I don't really see it getting much better in the near future.” Odom acknowledged that things are difficult here as well, but at least in Minneapolis, she is around her peeps. Johnny Michaels, LBV mixmeister extraordinaire, suggested the idea of some sort of dessert tasting, and Odom is “ . . . looking forward to having the chance to just have some fun and make some stuff I haven't had the chance to make before.”
Happiness is the best reason to do anything, and as I told Adrienne, I have always felt, especially these days, that an emerging/growing market is a better one to work in than a cutthroat, high-stakes market such as NYC, my old home town. I love it there, but it’s a killer sometimes.
So now let’s recap: Khan, Michelle, Zoe, Lucia, Adrienne, Leah, and Sherry (even though she is rarely in residence here), and I am blanking as I write this on two or three others in their league--are there now a better group of pastry professionals in the Twin Cities than savor-focused chefs of the same caliber? Interesting idea. Is there another market of this size with so much sweet tooth talent per capita?
Here is a radical thought that I hope doesn’t offend too many folks, and I hope my pals at TCO take this in the spirit it was intended, as a way to have a constructive conversation at large about independent restaurants in this town, which I support 100 percent and believe wholeheartedly are the reason our food scene is as healthy as it is. BUT . . . Why are so few of our truly wonderful restaurants actually members? And why is it when I do the visiting-TV-food-guy thing in other cities and attend similar events as the ones TCO does, the roster of participating restaurants reads like a who’s who of local talent? Witness this recent event from TCO, touted as an evening with “master TCO chefs, the evening’s 7-course dinner will feature a taste of Australia complete with wine pairings.”
Wow. I got really excited . . . master chefs? Do tell, Taste of Australia. Crikey!
I spent three weeks Down Under just last summer and was really impressed with the food scene, so I was anxious to see what the menu would be like. I spent a lot of time with the best chefs in that country from Tetsuya Wakuda to Neil Perry, and I was stoked. Aussie produce, cheeses and dairy, meats, fowl, and seafare is amazingly high-quality stuff, and the Aussie food commissions and wine industry really helps get the word out.
The dinner was touted in the invite as "exclusive,” and at $100 a head, it seemed well priced considering the promise and the premise. Here was the menu, and sadly I was overseas and couldn’t attend, so my question is three-fold: Did you go? How was it? Did you find it appealing? And is it just me, or are you wondering about the chef appeal of participants from San Pedro Café, Lake Elmo Inn Event Center, Great Waters Brewing Co., and Rudolph's cooking an Aussie wine dinner at $100 a head? I like the ribs at Rudolph's as much as the next guy, but c’mon now! And are they master chefs? What an odd way to tout the evening. What is the Aussie factor in a grilled fig with balsamic vinegar? Or a local kiwi sorbet? Is a mixed grill and a barramundi course really representative of the cuisine down there (it isn’t in a meaningful way), or is this just a promotional idea that sailed a hair below the bar, and I’m too much of a food snob? Anyway, the reason why I think it's an interesting topic is that many of the best chefs in town, who own their restaurants even, are not members of the TCO, and I got to asking myself as I read the menu: Why not? Any answers amigos? BTW, the menu typos are theirs, not mine.
I really want to be thrilled about TCO; its mission is one I believe in 100 percent, and when it first started years ago, it seemed there was a lot of excitement and buzz around the group. What happened? Is it just me, or does anyone else feel the same way?
Passed Hors d’oeuvres
Tasmanian Crab in Endive Outrigger
Morton Bay Bugs
Arepas Chicken Tinga
Served with Black Chook Sparkling Shiraz
Balsamic Grilled Fig, Blue Cheese and Toasted Walnuts
San Pedro Café
Smoke Tomato Capsicum
Served with St. Peters Pale Ale
Great Waters Brewing Co.
Madri Boil Up
Stewed Pork and Vegetable with Sweet Potato Gnocchi. Fresh Baked Dinner Rolls
Served with Water Wheel Memsie White
Lemon Myrtle Dusted Barramundi, Sweet Potato and Corn Fritter, Wilted Rockets, Sour Orange Pepper Sauce
Served with Greg Norman Chardonnay
San Pedro Café
St. Croix River Valley’s own Liberty House Creamery Kiwi Sorbet
Lake Elmo Inn Event Center
Aussie Trio including Lamb Chops, Grilled Pork Loin, and Homemade Lamb Sausage. Horseradish Mashed Potatoes garnished with Frizzled Leeks
Served with Wira Wira Catapult
Down Under Delights including Lamington, Pavlova and Macadamia Tart
Served with Campbells Muscat
Lake Elmo Inn