A sit down with Chef Tim McKee and Chef Stephan Hesse could be intimidating. Their resumes combined paint a rich picture of the past and present dining scene in the Twin Cities. Chef McKee is our culinary version of the Godfather and Hesse has led kitchens alongside him at restaurants like Masu and Cafeteria. Their partnership at the one year milestone for Uptown hot spot Libertine is running like a well-oiled machine. If these walls could talk there would be stories of heartbreak, hard work, and celebration.
Both men profess the fun of this project. Driven by the purveyors, the menu highlights lesser known cuts of meat. In addition to the creativity this allows the chefs in building the dishes, Hesse says that these under-appreciated cuts allow for a "better value" for the customers. These unique protein selections and the approachable price points have made destination spot. Although, the rooftop patio doesn’t hurt. If you got it flaunt it right?
After luring customers with the meats and an impressive cocktail list, the restaurant decided to add a brunch service to attract a broader range of customers. Families from nearby neighborhoods can stroll in and suburbanites brave the parking garages to enjoy bloodies and breakfast fare with a fun twist. Sundays even boast a vinyl 70’s vibe for a chill party vibe.
Hesse spoke passionately about the whole staff, front to back. He loves the overall creative energy at Libertine and their Chef’s Tasting supports that process. The crew submits dishes, collaborates, and develops the items as a team. This kitchen to be a fun place as was evident, during our visit. The music from the kitchen was blasting. Hesse takes great pride in the energy his team of the team and the dishes they serve.
The exit of sous chef Shane Orporto was not a surprise to either. McKee and Hesse knew his love of fine dining when he began at Libertine. They were able to work closely with him at Libertine to help focus his skills and get him ready for his debut as chef de cuisine at La Belle Vie. McKee and Hesse were like two proud parents when they recounted Shane’s new path. It was kind of sweet in a tough cheflike way.
The partnership with Parasole has been fruitful. The "non-corporate corporate" environment is the best of both worlds. They have great backing from Parasole and get to have the creative control they need to focus on making delicious food. They are proud to be a part of a company with a collection of interesting customer satisfying restaurants and get a platform to reach masses of people.
Chef McKee has opened some of the most important restaurants in the Twin Cities. His legacy can be seen at great, local restaurants like Heyday, Monello, Il Foro - the list goes on and on. Eagle eyed readers can find on the Libertine website a section that reads: We Like. It is a list of neighborhood spots that McKee and Hesse love to frequent. These are not Parasole-only joints. They are not getting paid to promote them. The restaurants are listed solely with the intention of sharing spots they like and building relationships within the local food community. He understands that building up each other makes all of them stronger. This fits in perfectly with what has been built at Libertine. One year down, many more history making years to come.
- by Joy Altmann