His career has been a wild ride of success and acclaim tempered with closures and one fire. Now, Stewart Woodman has returned to Minneapolis and taken the helm inside Lela, the restaurant in the Sheraton Bloomington hotel after a brief stint in Rochester, Minnesota.
Woodman is the Food & Wine Best New Chef who has run the kitchen at Levain, Five and his two iterations of Heidi's. (The first location was destroyed by a fire.) After shuttering the second Heidi's, the chef was the culinary director for Kaskaid Hospitality, which runs the Crave chain and downtown Minneapolis' Union. For a brief period, Woodman operated Workshop at Union as a culinary playground for developing dishes. After parting ways with the company, Woodman made the sojourn down to Rochester to work with the Kahler group to revamp the historic Essex restaurant.
His latest kitchen project has landed him in Bloomington at Lela. Woodman told Stephanie March of Mpls./St. Paul Magazine that he's been thinking a lot about his days cooking inside Eric Ripert's Le Bernadin in New York City in the early days of his career where they were "hyper focused on simplicity and execution."
He's just begun the position as of yesterday. So, we'll understand if the big menu changes don't happen right away. For their part, Wischermann Partners who own the property said through a statement, "Everyone at Lela is thrilled to have such a talented and experienced chef at the helm of Lela’s kitchen."