Renowned Minnesota Chef Gavin Kaysen was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule as an acclaimed chef to a few questions to learn more about what brought him back to Minnesota, why he collects spoons, and he shares a few must-dine locations in the Twin Cities.
RealStoriesMN: Everyone always wants to know what drew you back to your hometown … obviously it’s because of the winters, right?
GAVIN: My family, I grew up in Bloomington and went to Holy Angels for high school….so there are many connections that drew back here, but the most important for me was for my family. My wife and I have two boys under the age of 7 and we made a choice to raise them near family.
RealStoriesMN: You were recently announced as one of the Vikings’ culinary partners, along with Andrew Zimmern, who you’re collaborating with on AZC Hoagies. What made you want to get involved?
GAVIN: Andrew and I have spoken about collaborating for over 10 years. About 5 years ago we began dreaming about what we could do together in a stadium setting. It has been a very organic creation for us both and I am thrilled be partnering with the Vikings and Aramark.
RealStoriesMN: What’s your favorite stadium food?
GAVIN: Anything that is delicious, hot and not too messy to eat
RealStoriesMN: You’ve got a pretty incredible list of accomplishments. Everything from Michelin stars to James Beard awards. How do you keep it fresh?
GAVIN: I believe, as many people do that successful people study other successful people and one trait that I always notice is that you do not pay attention to what awards are bestowed upon you. I am grateful and thankful for all that my team and I have accomplished, but I do not do this for a trophy case, I do this because I have a genuine care to cook and take care of people. My guests keep it fresh for me!
RealStoriesMN: Naturally, Spoon and Stable is your favorite restaurant here, but aside from that, what are two other “must-dine” locations in the Twin Cities?
GAVIN: Corner table, Saffron
RealStoriesMN: Alright, so you have to go out to eat for each meal in a day. Where do you go for each … breakfast, lunch, dinner?
Breakfast – Al’s or Hi & Lo Diner
Lunch – Pizzeria Lola
Dinner – Alma
RealStoriesMN: So, you collect spoons from restaurants that you go to. What’s that all about?
GAVIN: I was working as a pastry cook in Switzerland and was asked to create a scoop of ice cream from a spoon, I couldn’t do it, so on my two days off, I brought home the spoon and a vat of beet fat that had been rendered and I practiced all day…..once I accomplished it, I was gifted the spoon. They are collection of memories for me.
RealStoriesMN: Spoon and Stable has been a huge success … what was the biggest challenge you had to overcome in getting the concept off the ground?
GAVIN: I am faced with challenges everyday and we had many when we opened, but the most difficult challenge was finding the right space. It needs to feel right and I looked at over 80 spaces before I found mine.
RealStoriesMN: You’re seeing a lot more tasting menus in the Twin Cities (And all over really). Do you think that’s going to stick? Should it? Why or why not?
GAVIN: I do not think it has ever gone away or ever will. We always need variety when we go out to eat, so having some restaurants that are casual vs. others that are tasting only are important for the dining scene here
RealStoriesMN: There’s a pretty awesome food scene in the Twin Cities. There’s also a pretty amazing craft beer scene. What kind of opportunities do you see in connecting the two?
GAVIN: We have collaborated with Flat Earth in St. Paul since before we opened to make beers with their team for us specifically, we have two – the Mercantile and the Spoon Thief, only served here.
RealStoriesMN: What’s your favorite part of being a chef?
GAVIN: Cooking and taking care of people
RealStoriesMN: When you’re at home, do you do all the cooking … or do you take break?
GAVIN: I am only home one night a week and yes I cook that night – I find it very relaxing
RealStoriesMN: Alright, a few rapid fire questions here. If you could eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
RealStoriesMN: If you were forced to switch careers, what would you do?
RealStoriesMN: Favorite travel destination?
RealStoriesMN: Little known hobby?
RealStoriesMN: Last TV show/series you binge watched?
RealStoriesMN: Sweet or savory?