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From the Editor: Happy Holidays

It always feels a bit off to be wishing readers a happy new year when I still haven’t had my Thanksgiving stuffing. That’s one of the job hazards of publishing; you’re always a month or two ahead in your head. (And if you write a lot about restaurants like I do, you don’t have to wait for the holidays to stuff yourself.)

Foodservice News doesn’t really do a traditional holiday issue—because in the hospitality industry, every day is a special occasion. But when I was editing this edition, it dawned on me that both our cover story and our institutional dining story have a bit of a Christmas story to them. 

It wasn’t intentional, but both stories are about homeless shelters and the people who feed others living precarious lives. And even more ironic, Carl Hoke, who has headed up the kitchen at YouthLink for 26 years, started his nonprofit kitchen career at People Serving People, the organization Mecca Bos wrote about this issue.


Our whole staff is wishing you a happy new year’s on the next page but I wanted to hog the limelight and do it first.

I was struck by one of Carl’s comments to me about working with homeless teens. He said before he took the job, he didn’t know there was such a thing as a homeless teen. As a father, he said,  he was appalled that youngsters were having to make their own way in the world without the support of a loving family. And when you live in a cold state like Minnesota, the idea of a young person, or really any person, having no place to sleep at night is unfathomable. Hoke called his 9-to-5 a “blissful job” because while he couldn’t solve everyone’s problems, at least he could do his part one kitchen helper at a time. And that’s something to hold on to.

Polybagged to this issue is the Top Chefs book, our holiday gift to you. In addition to its lovely design by Steve Hamburger, the stories in this supplement are inspiring. The writers from our other publication, Franchise Times, graciously took on assignments so that there were several different voices telling several different stories. Since each chef is unique, we wanted each story to also be unique.

This year we drove a little farther than usual to find our nine Top Chefs, because we wanted to show that the Twin Cities doesn’t have a cap on all the culinary talent in Minnesota. 

There is always a bonus with the Top Chef issue. Sometimes it’s meeting someone you click with instantly, sometimes it’s a great meal, sometimes it’s something more tangible. 

When I visited with the chef at River City Eatery, I wandered through her small vintage gift store and found a Bluetooth-enabled speaker installed in an old trumpet case. Another version was an old blue vanity case like the one my grandmother used to carry on trips to see us when I was a kid. If I was being selfish I’d buy the vanity case for myself, and if I was being generous I should buy the trumpet case for someone in my family who is a musician. When the artist/engineer who makes the speakers showed up to ring up my sale, he told me the blue one was already sold, which made it much easier to be generous. (I’m working on it.)

What’s always cool about buying from artists is that they are usually as excited to sell you their work as you are to buy it. It’s the Sally Fields syndrome—we all want the validation that our work is worthy.

At the Forager Brewery, I got another gift (gifts don’t always have to be something you take home), in addition to meeting their talented chef, I met their chalkboard artist. You’ll find her story on page 9.

There’s lots more to this issue. For instance, even though 2019 is officially the Year of the Pig, Chef Karyn Tomlinson’s year of the  pig was 2018, when she was crowned both the princess and the queen of porc. The Corner Table chef won the Grand Cochon competition, which showcases heritage pigs. And even more exciting, she was the first woman to do so.

Our columnists are also spot on this month with tips on how to make your business better. 

But let’s cut to the chase. Before you read all the great coverage, thumb through to the back and find the list of the 2019 Charlies finalists. 

Please buy your tickets to the awards ceremony January 27 at the Pantages Theater. You can buy them online, or to save the fees at the box office. 

This year we’re fortunate to team up with Minnesota Monthly magazine, so we’ll have lots more interest from foodies, as well as industry-insiders. 

The popular hosts, Jason DeRusha and Joy Summers are returning to the stage, and we have lots of surprises on and off stage for you. And since January can be snowy, you’ll appreciate walking through an enclosed hallway to Seven Steakhouse for the afterparty.

And don’t forget proceeds go to Open Arms, for its amazing work of cooking and delivering meals to people struggling with life-threatening illnesses. 

Get ready to pig out in the new year! 

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