Chef’s Dish: New Chef Brings His Style to White Bear Lake
Andrew Benney brings his skills to Manitou Grill as executive chef.
If you’re looking for American fare done well, check out Manitou Grill and Event Center, the newly opened concept replacing The Station Pub in White Bear Lake. At the helm of the kitchen is Executive Chef Andrew Benney, who brings experience from local Twin Cities restaurants such as Manny’s Steakhouse and Pittsburgh Blue. And fun fact: He’s also worked as personal chef for Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
Benney became interested in the restaurant industry after working at a local eatery during high school. While attending college, Benney decided to switch gears and pursue a culinary path, which led him to the Arts Institutes International-Minnesota, where he earned his culinary degree.
For Benney, the executive chef position at Manitou Grill is about bringing refined and approachable dining to White Bear Lake. There’s a little something for everyone on the menu, including classic American entrées, salads and burgers. Benney makes it clear that they’re not trying to fix what isn’t broken, but just want to bring an elevated form of dining to the people of White Bear Lake.
“It’s by no means reinventing the wheel,” Benney says, “but it’s good, solid food that you won’t really find up here in the suburbs.”
His process for creating menus at Manitou Grill has been about introducing patrons to great food with a twist, using dishes he knows how to craft with skill.
“The whole process making this menu here is trying to introduce people to things they maybe haven’t tried before,” Benney says. His background has given him the skills to elevate the playing field at Manitou Grill, as the menu has echoes of dishes popular at his past jobs. Now he’s hungry to learn everything he can in his new role. Benney cites his philosophy of learning and trying new dishes as a major influence in the kitchen.
Working in Minnesota has afforded Benney the opportunity to grow as a chef in his home state, and be influenced by his neighbors. Benney points to his co-workers as adding another layer to the dynamics of the kitchen. Different socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds allow for a deeper portfolio of flavors, and Benney appreciates the talent in his field.
“People are making different features or flavors and we can definitely take those things and use those,” Benney says.
Working in a kitchen that also services an event center provides its own opportunities and challenges. The kitchen must be prepared for anything, be it small or large, breakfast or dinner, and it’s all part of the learning curve.
“We do all of our food for the event center,” Benney says, “so that means weddings for up to 250 people down to small corporate events for all three meals a day.”
For now, Benney has fully immersed himself in his new position. As far as his approach for what’s to come? “Keep an open mind and understand that it’s a learning process,” Benney says.
Sweet Corn Succotash
2 cups corn (grilled and cut off cob)
1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup Lima beans
2 Tablespoons butter
1 medium sized lime
Salt&Pepper to taste
In a sauté pan melt butter over medium heat, add the bell peppers, and onion. Sauté until peppers and onions soften. Squeeze all the juice of your lime into the pan, stirring into all ingredients. Add your grilled corn, and Lima beans. Salt and pepper to taste.