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Citinerary: Chef John Wipfli, The Minnesota Spoon

I had the pleasure of meeting Jon while he was in charge of a beautiful oyster platter at a local store’s holiday event last December. He was opening his oysters presented on a large crushed ice bed with such délicatesse and simplicity that Arthur (my husband) and I headed towards him right away.

We spent the evening devouring his oysters and talking about oyster bars in France, including our favorite, Le Baron Rouge, in the 11th. For Citinerary, I took the opportunity to interview Jon at his home and find out more about his passion for food.

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Image to the courtesy of Colleen

How did you start doing what you do?

After high school I went to art school in Wisconsin and I also had a cooking job. I quickly realized that I was better at cooking and I could make a living. I have been working in restaurants or around food for thirteen years now.

After going to the French Culinary Institute in NY, I worked at Marlow and Sons and Cookshop. I came back to Minneapolis after splitting with my girlfriend and worked for Meritage which had just opened and later as a sous chef at Bachelor Farmer for two and a half years.

Two years ago, I started The Minnesota Spoon. We do private home dinners, catering for events, Oyster Bar, Whole Hog Classes, and various other private cooking classes.

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Image to the courtesy of Colleen

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Image to the courtesy of Colleen

What are your inspiration sources?

This is going to sound cliché but it’s mostly the farmers market that inspires me, I cook with the ingredients that are in season.

Where do you get your ingredients?

I usually go the Minneapolis Farmers market on Lyndale; it’s reasonable and there is a lot of choice. And to the various co-ops, of course.

I get my seafood and oysters from a company called Sea to Table that connects small-scale sustainable wild fisheries and delivers overnight direct from the dock to the chefs. I get my duck from Au Bon Canard in Caledonia (MN).

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Name 3 indispensable ingredients in your shopping basket.

Lemon, onions and thyme.

Your favorite heroes or heroines?

I was lucky to have met Kevin Caracciolo in Montana, who taught me how to work appropriately and efficiently. Jacques Pepin is a must. Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall who wrote the “River Cottage Meat Book” and Steve Rinella who is all about harvesting your own game and using everything without wasting.

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Image to the courtesy of Colleen

Your favorite spots in Minneapolis?

Quang for a simple Vietnamese cuisine, Palen’s which a family owned restaurant supply store, and Bower Brothers for anything salvage.

A regular work day is…

If it’s a crazy working day for a catering event I get up between 5-6am. I organize, make lists, and map out the day. Usually, I meet my staff around 9am and load the truck, the trailers and head on site.

We set up and head back to pick up the food, and start cooking for the next 4 hours. Followed by clean up, load back, do dishes, and drink beer for a couple of hours!

For private dinners, it’s usually a shorter day that I start with the farmers market, go to the location, and start cooking.

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What is your “peche mignon” (your cure sin)?

I can’t have Salsa con queso around; I can’t leave the house without finishing it!

What’s a Good Life for you?

To set goals and turn them to reality. To make the best possible thing every moment and spending more time outdoors and with family and friends.

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Image to the courtesy of Colleen

What’s next for you?

I am starting a personal chef home delivery system with high quality food at a reasonable price, delivered fresh weekly. October and November are usually slow so that is what I will be devoting my time to.

Thank you Jon for taking the time to share your story with our Citinerary readers, we hope to see you soon around town either with your succulent oysters or your beautiful catering menu.

www.theminnesotaspoon.com

– Talin –

Find the original article on Citinerary

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