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Chefs Dish: Filling Lynhall with Pastries

Katie Elsing’s pastries often become the stars of Instagram posts.

One of the first things you’ll notice as you stroll into The Lynhall is the pastry display. The open-concept, market-inspired cafe lends plenty of room to pastry chef Katie Elsing’s sweet and savory treats.

“How can you be sad when you’re eating a cookie?” asks Elsing. Sad is an emotion far from the light-filled room at The Lynhall. The pastry chef helped open the neighborhood spot last June on Lyndale Avenue in Minneapolis.

“Every day I walk in and I can’t believe this is my bakery,” says Elsing, who appreciates the bright and open space, along with owner Anne Spaeth’s commitment to the local community. “There’s a bigger plan. We try to better our community and be more involved.”

The Lynhall houses an incubator kitchen for emerging local entrepreneurs, a kitchen studio and a private dining hall for local events, all adding to the community feel of the restaurant where events like yoga, a poetry reading and cooking instruction have all taken place. “Anne was really thinking ahead on how to add things to help the community,” says Elsing. 

Elsing got her start at Le Cordon Bleu in Mendota Heights, where she fell in love with the specificity and detailed work baking offered. Before Lynhall, Elsing worked at local Minneapolis haunts like the Icehouse and the Dakota. She’s been a chef and a general manager, but now she just likes to do what makes her happy.

“Desserts are much more pretty, and they’re not necessary, but when you order them it’s meaningful,” says Elsing. “When you try to write a pastry menu, you have nostalgia, memories and holidays. Cake is such a big part of it—it’s always associated with happiness.”

Elsing approaches writing the pastry menu by adding little things that set themselves apart. While the selection varies, you’ll find treats like chocolate chip bourbon cookies and raspberry chocolate scones among sweet tarts and classic breads. A perk of the setup is the ability to go in and grab a cup of coffee and a pastry if you’re not looking for a full meal.

If you want to get an idea of its vibe, brunch is certainly a popular time to visit, and the pastries are a big part of that. “We have a lot of options every day for pastries and specialty things, but we kind of go all out a little bit for brunch,” says Elsing. After waking up at 4 a.m. to bake, the spread from a three-hour bake still surprises Elsing. As does how quickly it sells.

In true foodie trend, you may have seen The Lynhall before hearing about it. Elsing finds the attention to her pastries on Instagram flattering. “It feels awesome people like us so much. My assistants will show me the pictures and go, ‘people love this.’” 

Elsing and her team change their menu seasonally, with each assistant bringing their own ideas to the table. “It gives them the ability to be creative and not just make my food,” explains Elsing.

This season, however, Elsing will be focusing on making soup and fresh bread in her free time. The perfect combo to stave off the Minnesota winter. “When you eat it, everything is OK,” she says. 

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