Author: Kris Hase

Getting to know Ben Pichler from the Grand Cafe @ Cedar Summit Farm

We’re very excited to have Ben to head up the cooking at Cedar Summit Farm this Sunday.  We got to know Ben a bit more when we went out to do some preliminary planning at the always beautiful farm a few weeks ago.  We love how easily the food that Ben creates at the Grand Cafe lends itself so well to what we do on the farms.  Jeremy Iggers of Minneapolis Star and Tribune touts Grand Cafe’s careful balance between Euro-sophistication and classic Americana as “superb,” Pioneer Press critic Cathy Jenkins remarks that the Grand Café feels like a restaurant you’d find in Berkeley, “a sensibility that carries over to the food.”  This is what we like to bring to you – and hope that you’ll be as charmed by this farm and Tour de Farm as we are.  Join us!

(Are you counting cows?  There are 3 in this picture.)

This may just be the place to have a dinner…

This is Ben.

Why are you cooking?  There has got to be something else you would rather do?  Right?

I really don’t know what else I’d be doing if I wasn’t cooking.  I enjoy
teaching, and with our interns from Le Cordon Bleu I’m afforded a chance to
do both.

How did you find your way to the Grand Cafe?
Jon brought me to the Grand from Solera when he got the chef job.

What did you learn from Jon Radle?

A. Jon taught me how to work in a small restaurant. Before the Grand, I had only worked in restaurants that sat at least 150 people at a time.

Why do you feel it is important to buy direct from farms?

I buy directly from farms because I think its the only way to know exactly where your food comes from. Also, my grandfather was a farmer and I believe its important to support small independent farms whenever possible.

What is one food memory from your childhood?

My favorite food memory would have to be learning to cook from dad. He’s a banker, so he would always be home at 4:30 and he and I would cook dinner for the rest of the family.

What is growing in your own garden?

My garden has only rhubarb and flowers. We get a CSA share, which gives us plenty of vegetables for the season.

What are you reading that’s food related or not?

I read any cookbook I can get my hands on. I really enjoy the Culinaria series.

What music is playing in your kitchen?

The music that plays in my kitchen is usually old country. Merle Hagard, Willie Nelson, George Strait, etc. Its good working mans, blue collar music.

What is with the bandanna?

The bandanna is a mostly functional accessory. It keeps my hair out of my face.

Where do you want your food to go in the next 5 years?  What is important to you when it comes to food?

In the next five years I just want my food to keep getting better. When I was 24, I never thought I’d be where I’m at right now. My focus now is on combining classic french cuisine and techniques with American style southern barbecue, but I’m sure that will change.

Thank you always to Dave and Flo Minar for their hospitality and warmth.

See you at the farm!

Cedar Summit Farm, Tour de Farm 4, September 20th, 2009

Hey, there, Mr Cow, we were wondering if you might be able to show us a good place to have a dinner here on your farm.  Know any good grassy pastures that we could put about one hundered of our friends and one great chef and have a dinner on a Sunday?

Yea, we have been in barns before, but only if it gets too cold, or is really wet.  We are hearty Minnesotans you know.

Ok, you go back into the field and let the others know we are going to show up on September 20th, for dinner.  You can join us in the field after milking if you like.  We are going to talk with Dave and Florence Minar here at the farm and see if they like the idea.   Dave would like to show us around a bit.


Walker Art Center Dinner (part 1)

‘Eat, Drink and be Farmy’ became ‘Eat Drink and be Arty.’

We traded in our barns for one of the most celebrated art museums in the country.   It took too many hours to count, numerous emails, phone calls and sheer willpower but, 5 chefs 6 assistant chefs, 17 volunteers and it happened.  Tour de Farm became arty for the day and we hope that we contributed to the Walker’s mission of being a, “catalyst for the creative expression of artists and the active engagement of audiences…”

The next couple of posts will give you just a glimpse of how the day evolved and if we lived up to that mission.

(Yes, those clouds did produce a bit of rain.)

View from the kitchen:  we got to watch people enjoy this installation.

If this isn’t art we don’t know what is: Mike Phillip’s coppa for his charcuterie course.