It was near the end of the Synergy Series dinner inside the North Loop’s Spoon and Stable when Gavin Kaysen started talking about how Traci Des Jardins had yelled at him. The two chefs, no strangers to food competition TV, had met on the set of Food Network’s Next Iron Chef. They were in the throes of the first episode’s major cooking competition when Des Jardins’ mixer wasn’t working and the award-winning chef was displeased. Kaysen was knee-deep in attempting to cook his own dish. Both of them were sweltering on a hot day, in a hot kitchen, under the glare of television lights and cameras.
“I’m not supposed to help anybody,” said Kaysen. Nevertheless, he noted a certain intimidation factor. Kaysen was still in his twenties and was in awe of Des Jardins’ impressive career. “I stopped and fixed her mixer. The producers were like, ‘you can’t help her! It’s a competition!’ Yeah, but, it’s Traci Des Jardins!”
Neither would go on to win that Next Iron Chef title, but the two would remain in touch throughout the years. Kaysen tapped Des Jardins to bring a small team from her restaurants to Minneapolis to cook in his third Synergy Series. Each year, celebrated chefs come to cook two ticketed dinner events at the North Loop restaurant with proceeds going to different charities. Des Jardins’ dinners benefited Angel Foundation, which assists families dealing with cancer.
The next dinners will take place October 4 and 5 with Ludo Lefebvre.