On a steamy night, well, steamy Northern standards, Gavin Kaysen stood alongside his longtime friend Sean Brock, intently discussing a dish before them. It wasn’t long before both me threw their heads back in laughter and turned to their respective corners of the pristine kitchen at Spoon and Stable. The two professionals cooked with an easiness that comes from countless events, but also exhibited a fresh enthusiasm of getting to collaborate for the first time in a long time.
Brock, the celebrated chef at Husk and McCrady’s was in town for the second Synergy Series dinner with Kaysen. The events are part of an ongoing fundraising event where Kaysen uses his considerable collection of high profile, chef friends to put on special two-night dinners with unforgettable tasting menus and a few snacks and drinks for those lucky enough to snag a seat inside the bar.
Brock seemed to enjoy his time in Minneapolis. In addition to having a proper Jucy Lucy from Matt’s Bar this was also one of his first high profile events after a public health battle that eventually led to a newfound sobriety. A profile on his journey would appear in the New York Times just after he left the Twin Cities after this dinner.
The Synergy menu was filled with seemingly humble Southern dishes given Brock’s unique take on them, along with the Spoon and Stable polish. Bar snacks, for guests who didn’t get the full dinner ticket included chicken wings with a white Alabama-style barbecue sauce, crispy pig ear lettuce wraps and Johnny cakes (a savory pancake) topped with Brock’s signature pimento cheese and a long-cured ham that had been aged in a secret spot inside Spoon and Stable.
The menu served in the harder-to-get seats in the dining room included heirloom rice with edible flowers, poached scallops with green peanuts, tender aged dairy steak with onion sauce and more. Each is paired with a wine.
The final course included a foie gras candy bar in the style of a Whatchamacallit.