"Gavin's bringing Michael White in here and I'm not freaking out yet at all," Nick Rancone said last night in the 8 o'clock hour at his Minneapolis restaurant, Corner Table. His co-owner, chef Thomas Boemer was serene in over-seeing the kitchen as the restaurant continued to buzz with a lively business usually reserved for a Saturday night, not a cold, rainy Wednesday.
Chef Michael White of the Altamarea Restaurant Group is in Minneapolis for tonight's kick off of the Synergy Series at Spoon and Stable. Chef Gavin Kaysen has put out the call to several of his more famous chef friends to lure them to the Twin Cities and serve special, ticketed meals with a portion of the proceeds being donated to charity.
White, whose restaurants include Marea, Ai Fiori, Osteria Morini, Nicoletta, Costata and The Butterfly in New York, Osteria Morini and Due Mari in New Jersey, and Al Molo in Hong Kong. Marea has earned two Michelin stars; is member of the prestigious Relais and Chateaux. Ai Fiori has earned a Michelin star as well.
After the chefs arrived and were seated inside the cozy bistro, the plates of food were soon being delivered one after another. The kitchen had just changed the menu that evening and many dishes served White and Kaysen were making their debut: including tender lamb meatballs served in a uniquely crispy crust atop a spicy farmer's cheese sauce and a refreshed selection of pasta. Rancone could be heard muttering, "And now I'm serving our pasta to the pasta chef. Sure.... no big deal."
Boemer noted that his chef de cuisine Kyle Bultinck had revisited the restaurant's pasta recipes recently and tweaked the preparation. White and crew dug into a al dente garganelli dressed for spring in a vibrant green sauce, studded with fresh peas. Another new dish that disappeared quickly was a king trumpet mushroom crudo inspired by Rancone and Boemer's recent trip to Spain (after winning the national Cochon 555 title.) There was a suckling pig porchetta, Parisian-style gnocchi, the house-specialty pork belly and all of the desserts including the sweet potato doughnuts and an orange dreamcicle.
At the end of the evening the chefs posed for pictures behind the line and graciously thanked the staff before heading back into the chilly night.
Tonight's meal at Spoon and Stable is sold out, however, Chef White will prepare two of his classic pasta dishes that will be available in the bar on a first come first served basis.