St. Paul Chef Experience
Photo by btxstudio/Fotolia
Get thrust into the heart of St. Paul cooking at The Great Northern’s St. Paul Chef Experience. The culinary hit of last year is getting the band back together with the return of restaurants Saint Dinette, Revival, and Corner Table, plus the addition of OCTO Fishbar. Enjoy a night of St. Paul eats next to a roaring fire on Jan. 29 in the St. Paul Farmers’ Market outdoor area. An ice bar (with beer in partnership with The Growler), ice sculptures (thanks, MN Pure & Clear Ice), outdoor games and music are par for the course in Minnesota, obviously. Tickets are $45 or $125 for VIP.
VIP tickets get you a pre-reception at Tim McKee’s Market House Collaborative (where OCTO is housed) with a raw bar, cocktails and wine. The VIP distinction also allows you to use the space as a warming house during the event.
As self-explanatory as the event title is, there’s no way to describe the feeling your taste buds will experience as they zing to life around a bite of spit-roasted swordfish in gyros courtesy of McKee and his OCTO Fishbar. McKee’s newest restaurant has hired the talents of Shane Oporto, the last chef of McKee’s famed fine dining restaurant La Belle Vie before it closed its doors. (Even though La Belle Vie closed in 2015, you’d be hard pressed to find a food columnist in the Twin Cities who still doesn’t reference La Belle Vie immediately when they’re trying to talk up a chef's mastery.)
While we know St. Paul chefs love their sea, the side of me that loves comfort food can’t wait to see what co-owner and chef Thomas Boemer from Revival and Corner Table is bringing. After all, Revival’s fried chicken notoriety also carries over into their barbecue at Revival’s St. Paul location. In Minneapolis, Corner Table’s choose-your-own-adventure tasting menu approach consistently lets creativity flow through their self-described “Low Country cuisine and French techniques.”
As for Saint Dinette, it’s a little harder to guess what they might dish up. Whatever it is, it’ll be made over the fire like the rest of the dishes and probably served savory. The Lowertown restaurant has an eclectic menu bound together by the flow of the water, all the way from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Still, with Tim Niver as the owner and—yes, more La Belle Vie alum—Laurel Elm (general manager) and Adam Eaton (executive chef), the restaurant has made its mark in the past two-plus years.
Similar to last year’s St. Paul Chef Experience, Nick Rancone (Revival/Corner Table co-owner), Elm (the multi-talented wonder woman she is) and Erik Eastman (co-owner of the cocktail consulting company Easy & Company) are on drinks for the night, so pick and choose them a la carte to suit your fancy, stewed or chilled.
If you’re looking for last year's menu as a hint to what this year will bring, you’ll be hard-pressed to find it. Guess that means you’ll have to find out yourself.