I wanted to pass-on parts of a couple of e-mails I received from J. D. Fratzke, the chef at Muffuletta in St. Paul. He got these messages from Lisa Klein at Hidden Streams and Pam Benike from the Southeast Minnesota Food Network. J.D. told me that for Winona guys like Scott Pampuch, Peter Boettcher, Matt Schoeller, and himself, the storms last weekend hit particularly close to home. For the rest of the local-fresh-best cooking and dining community in the metro (Brenda, Lenny, Alex, Tracy, etc.), it could affect a lot of supply at what is supposed to be peak season.
J.D. notes that:
Commercial ramifications aside, the flooded areas are filled with the friends that we've all made over the past five and ten years. We've built our livelihoods and reputations on their hard work and dedication to an ethic important to all of us. If anyone should find a way to lead the charge and step in to help, it's chefs like us. When the water recedes and all the damage is tallied, we'll have a better idea of what kind of aid will be needed, how quickly, and where it most needs to go. My cousin is a sheriff's deputy in Wabasha, and he tells me that between, federal, county, military, and volunteers, they're currently tripping over each other trying to get help out to people. However, I would like to start laying the groundwork for some kind of long-term, chef-led relief effort now.
Count me in, and as soon as J.D. has more info on what we as a food community will be doing, I will let you know on these pages. The e-mails J.D. received are below:
Thanks for the e-mail and checking in. We received 10" as best as we can tell. All the water went down the waterways and left us alone. Whitewater and Hill and Vale are both fine. Our friend Eric Hoiland who raises turkeys finally called last nite and said that he and his family lost everything. He had his entire crop of 2000 turkey for thanksgiving get washed away in Rushford. He sounded very confused and disoriented. All we can do is what until they ask for our help. Another young farmer in Houston her parents had a mudslide come through their house and 6 inches from where her mom and dad were sleeping. Fortunatly, they built their house out of concrete, otherwise they wouldn't be here today. We are going to take their 3-week-old chickens and raise them on our farm for them. She said their cattle and horses are somewhere in the woods. Once we can corral them we will most likely bring them here as well. — Lisa Klein
We are still assessing damage and have not been able to contact all our producers yet. Most of our farms are wet, but not washed away. Our sad news this afternoon is that the body of a nephew of JoAnn and Merlin Burt, the family who does most of our beef processing, was found this afternoon. He had been missing since Sunday. We will be sending out info to our customers so those that wish to do so can extend their sympathies to the family. We also found out that Eric Hoiland, a former network member, lost his home and all his turkeys. Thanks for the offer of assistance. Once we hear from everyone, we will be able to let everyone know if there is anything that needs to be done. Thanks again. — Pam Benike
On a happier note . . .
I spent the last few days with some old (Cat Cora) and some new (Gavin Kaysen) chef friends. Cat and Gavin are both being pretty close-lipped about the upcoming season of Next Iron Chef, the one where eight chefs compete for a coveted fifth Iron Chef spot. Cat was in town for Glamorama, and Gavin was in town for a benefit dinner he was cooking for his high school alma mater. Gavin spent last Friday evening at Corner Table after eating dinner with his folks, and he loved it.
On Thursday, September 20, 2007, Tria Restaurant will be hosting a dinner with Mark Brownstein from Food Hunter. Brownstein and Tria executive chef Shelagh Connolly will be preparing a multi-course dinner, paired with wines, blah blah blah. But here’s the cool part: Brownstein travels through remote areas of Asia to search for old, forgotten, or unknown dishes, foods, and flavors in order to sell those foods to creative chefs around the world. He is a food hunter, a real one. Brownstein became well-known in Germany and France as the “Food Hunter” after an hour-long documentary aired there in 2005, and six new Food Hunter episodes will be coming this fall. More info soon from Tria.