February 24, 2015 / 1:07 PM / 4 years ago

Gavin Kaysen carves fresh path in U.S. Midwest

NEW YORK (Reuters) - After years working in top restaurants in Europe and with Daniel Boulud, his Michelin-starred chef and mentor, Gavin Kaysen packed his bags and moved his family to Minnesota to open his own restaurant featuring French-American food.

American chef Gavin Kaysen poses with a prepared char in an undated photo in the kitchen of his restaurant Spoon and Stable in Minneapolis, Minnesota, provided by Bonjwing Photograph. REUTERS/Bonjwing Photograph/Handout via Reuters

Spoon and Stable, which opened in November, has earned him acclaim among both diners and critics in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul.

The 35-year-old chef, born in California but raised in Minnesota, likes chasing storms when he is not cooking. He spoke to Reuters about his return to his Midwestern roots and the local dining scene.

Q: How would you describe Spoon and Stable’s food?

A: People anticipate, because of my success in the past, food they have never seen before. It might be more precious than it is today. I don’t really cook that way right now. I wanted to create something casual and comfortable, something that is accessible for people to come to more often than once a week.

Q: Why did you move back to Minneapolis?

A: I always saw Minneapolis as an opportunity. It really struck my cord the first time, five years ago, when I came home over the holidays and made a reservation at a restaurant on a Tuesday evening at 7:30 p.m. They said, ‘No, we are fully sold out tonight.’ That’s amazing. We have seen it in cities such as Charlotte in North Carolina, both Portlands in Maine and Oregon, Houston and Asheville (North Carolina). Minneapolis fit in there.

Q: Did having family living in the area clinch the decision?

A: It got me excited about being close to my family again and my kids close to their grandparents and doing something different from what I could probably do in New York.

Q: Describe the Minneapolis food scene.

A: In the last year alone, shy of 90 restaurants have opened ... The clientele is very well traveled. They know what they want. They are well-to-do financially. As long as the clientele continue to trust us as cooks and continue to trust the market to deliver as delicious an experience as we can, it allows us an opportunity to keep growing.

Q: What’s a food trend you are seeing?

A: Destination dining has become bigger and bigger. Everyone travels so much now, going into different cities and smaller markets.

Reporting by Richard Leong; editing by Patricia Reaney, G Crosse

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