Photo by Caitlin Abrams
Meats from Red Table Meat Co.
Red Table Meat Co.
*Overall Grand Prize and Food Winner
Proprietor: Mike Phillips
Mike Phillips doesn’t back down from a challenge. He’s been around the restaurant scene for years, opening and closing his own Chet’s Taverna, and earning national attention while cooking at The Craftsman in Longfellow, where he was known for his specialty meat boards of paté, rillettes, terrines, and salumi. But there was a bigger mission he’d always wanted to tackle.
Phillips believed he could use locally grown hogs to make amazing pork products by bringing back some of the old artisanal methods of curing, hanging, and drying meat. He started chasing that dream in 2010, but after several starts and stops, including a major bike accident and years of dealing with intricate USDA rules, Red Table Meat Co. became official in 2014. It now sets the bar high for refined ham, salumi, sausage, and all manner of cured meats.
In the FOOD Building in Northeast Minneapolis, among sealed rooms with hanged meats, Phillips and his crew butcher whole hogs bought from local farmers who run sustainable farms and practice humane slaughter. He has big feelings about the commercial pork industry and believes his use of heritage breeds raised with biodiversity can change the system. Consider the difference between two ham sandwiches—one made with commodity pork deli ham (that tastes like a cup of salty water) and the other, Red Table’s Royal, a smoked ham that is elegantly soft with a slight sweetness to its porky spice. You could write love letters about the salumi, from the cheekily named Big Chet’s, which is a spiced fennel and garlic salami made in the Finocchiona style, to the Extra Vecchio salami, flavored lightly with white wine, garlic, and black pepper. Speck is the dry-cured, smoked ham that can stand up to any prosciutto, and the cured pork belly pancetta gives a beautifully salty, fatty boosts to a dish, and in the hands of local chefs, has proven indispensable. But the best testament to Red Table’s quality is that their products traverse the kitchens of professionals and home cooks. If your neighborhood grocer isn’t carrying it yet, demand it. redtablemeatco.com
"Mike [Phillips of Red Table Meat Co.] is a master craftsman. He's kept smaller hog farmers in business and now they are making a good living, too." —Made in the North Food Judge and cookbook author Beth Dooley
Food Category Finalists
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Photo courtesy of Lone Grazer Creamery
2 of 2
Lone Grazer Creamery
Proprietors: Rueben Nilsson and Kieran Folliard
How do you not appreciate an artisanal small-batch cheesemaker who launches their brand with curds and string cheese? Hold your cave-aged this and bandage-wrapped that for just a second to note that obviously Lone Grazer is in it to win it, from the toddler to the snooty monger-wannabe. Check out that string cheese thicker than your toddler’s wrist or aim higher with the Handsome Cab, which is washed in 2 Gingers whiskey and Lapsang Souchon Tea. Another standout, the homey Northeazy, made from whole milk of local grass-fed cows, has a nutty good funk that gets better with age, much like its cheesemaker. Grab the kids and tour the urban creamery in the FOOD building in Northeast. thelonegrazer.com
Photo by Caitlin Abrams
Chocolates from Mademoiselle Miel
Proprietor: Susan Brown
Location: St. Paul
Susan Brown is a bit of a bee whisperer. She’s been cultivating the pollinators since 2011 when she began installing rooftop hives around the cities and collecting the honey to make her beautiful sweet treats. Mademoiselle Miel bon bons are the essence of an elegant taste of Minnesota. Bees gathering nectar from the city parks and the river valley produce a flavor that is hyper-local. Brown harvests these rich and floral honeys, then wraps them delicately in chocolate painted with edible gold leaf. Her seasonal iterations may have a touch of smoke, a bit of maple in the mix, but never stray from celebrating their simply sourced ingredient which is natural liquid gold. You can pop by her St. Paul shop, during special hours, and watch her work magic. mademoisellemiel.com
Photo courtesy of Double Take Salsa
Salsa from Double Take Salsa
Double Take Salsa
Proprietor: Bernie Dahlin
Everyone thinks they are above-average drivers, and most people also believe they make a killer signature salsa. Neither can be true for all, but the latter definitely applies to Bernie Dahlin (though we haven’t seen him drive yet). In a landscape of watery concoctions, Dahlin’s Double Take stands apart as salsa with vigor, living up to the slogan on each jar, “Flavor First, Heat Second.” Machismo chipotle style has a smoky sweetness with a long and delicious afterburn, and Machismo Medium brings it down a touch yet holds on to the flavor. Aces & Eights sweet corn salsa is a craveable star that showcases sweet corn with fire-roasted tomatillos and peppers, and is given a lift by citrus and tangerine balsamic vinegar. doubletakesalsa.com
Meet the Guest Judge
Beth Dooley | Made in the North Food Judge
Local food champion Beth Dooley has covered the food scene in the Northern Heartland for more than 30 years. With chef Lucia Watson, she co-authored Savoring the Seasons of the Northern Heartland, and has written numerous other books including The Northern Heartland Kitchen and In Winter’s Kitchen. Beth also guides food trips to the Apostle Islands and teaches cooking classes at the Arboretum.
*The Made in the North winners and finalists were determined by guest judges and Mpls.St.Paul Magazine's editorial team.