Everything about the Synergy Series of dinners held at Spoon and Stable is charged with excitement as Gavin Kaysen reaches into his magic cell phone of A-list chef numbers and pulls out international level talent to cook for charity at his North Loop Restaurant. Past chefs who have arrived in the Twin Cities to share their gargantuan talent and play Midwestern tourist have included April Bloomfield, Daniel Boulud, Michael White and more. However, as thrilling as those experiences were, no one pulled in the fandom the way Grant Achatz of Alinea, Next and Aviary did with his recent visit to Minneapolis. The award-winning chef and author is the first to appear at the series this year. All dinner reservations for his two night stay at Spoon and Stable were snapped up within 38 seconds of tickets going on sale. The price was a mere $350 a piece.
While tickets for dinner were long gone by the time the dates rolled around, there are always a few coveted bar seats available on a first come, first served basis for these Synergy Series dinners.
Synergy Series is an idea created by Kaysen to help raise money for charities near to his heart, while also showing of his home town to the globally famous chefs he calls friends. Each year, he reaches out to four chefs and invites them to come and collaborate with his Spoon & Stable team to create an unforgettable dining experience. This year, the dinners benefit Prairie Care, Appetite for Change, the Children’s Cancer Research Fund and Ment’or.
The two chefs created a menu that was at times whimsical and playful, but also seriously delicious and carefully crafted. Achatz is known for his food as art, is continually defying expectations and pushing culinary boundaries.
Meanwhile, Kaysen’s culinary inspiration for Spoon and Stable stems from his grandmother Dorothy. While the food is gorgeous and worthy of the heaps of praise it has garnered, meals are also that steadfast goodness free from pretense that does a Minnesotans heart proud. We know we’re good. No need to brag about it.
So, it was both expected and not when guests were directed to eat the Chicago dog flavored jelly shot “directly off the monocle” and be bathed in a dry ice smoke citrus bath before eating shellfish from a coconut husk.
With every fresh waft of aroma from that cold steam bath over an enormous bowl of grapefruit, limes, oranges and lemons, guests exclaimed the same thing. “Oh, my god.”
Cocktails were just as inventive, with a select list of drinks from The Aviary team and Spoon’s own bar staff. One included a bottle with a tiny ship, over which the booze was poured.
The cocktails were all available to that packed bar that was filled all night with those lucky enough to snag a seat after waiting, sometimes hours, in cold, drizzly weather.
Small snacks were also available to the bar a la carte and included sumptuous pork and crispy chicharron.
Meanwhile, thanks to Spoon and Stable’s open and well-lit kitchen, everyone in the room was treated to the show of the two chefs overseeing staff and occasionally plating dishes.
Between courses, Kaysen would greet guests and friends, while Achatz’s hawk-like gaze could seldom be torn away from the food.
Diners were able to partake in the artful wonder Achatz is known for, including a dish that mimicked one of his favorite paintings. Each separate flavor component that matched a paint color could then be swirled together into a resulting bite of bouillabaisse.
By the end of the evening, guests marveled over the dishes, in a way unfamiliar to most locals - tables of strangers were talking to one another, on purpose, and enjoying themselves vocally.
The experience really was a magical experience.