Minnesotans Demanding Farm-to-Table Cuisine, Even at State Fair

Updated: 08/24/2014 6:13 PM
Created: 08/24/2014 2:50 PM
By: Kate Renner

A lot of folks decide where to grab dinner based on yelp ratings or cravings. But now there's a growing group of Minnesotans who choose local restaurants based on if it's "farm-to-table," basically, the restaurant buys and cooks local food.

Before it's seared, the pork belly T.J. Rawitzer is cooking was cured and braised, but before that, it was walking around four-days ago.

That's the kind of food Brenda Velde likes.

"I'd rather have something that's fresh than have something that's pre-cooked, frozen and reheated for me," Velde said.

“Fresh and local” these words aren't in your usual state fair diet, but times are changing or maybe just rolling back.

"We're just going back 50-60 years, this is how people used to eat," said Rawitzer, Executive Chef at Tiny Diner, and 7 other locally owned restaurants.

The head chef and owner of Mendoberri's in Mendota Heights said cooking with the season means chefs and diners have to adapt to an ever-changing menu.

"We leave our menu a little more open with the description," Ulrich said.

Now is the time of year when Minnesota's harvest is at its finest. But chefs at the Minnesota Cook's Day at the Minnesota State Fair say as a part of committing to a farm to table cuisine, they know they have to cook with what Minnesota has to offer, even in the winter.

"Preserve vegetables, pickle vegetables. We have the ability to use hothouses, greenhouses," Rawitzer said.

And some customers say it makes a difference on their palette.

"The stuff I get from local producers is ripe when they put it up for sale and much more flavorful,"  Velde said.

Chef Ulrich says as customers get bolder about making meal requests one trendy food he's dishing up a lot is pork.

"We have a lot of pig farms around Minnesota," Ulrich said.

And that truly is from farm to table.

If you're interested in cooking any of the food seen in the video, get the "Minnesota Cooks" website, recipes here.

Minneapolis/St. Paul

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