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Coffee talk: News Briefs

As a beef production specialist at Pine Island-based Ag Partners, Carl Sackreiter focuses on cows’ nutrition. Beef cattle, not dairy cows whose feed is much more complicated.  He tests the feed and then adds what’s lacking— vitamins, protein, minerals. “I’m kinda a chef making chicken noodle soup for cows,” he joked. (Which reminds us  why it’s hard to get a cow tipsy: They only eat the grain after a distiller has removed the alcohol.) Sackreiter is on the road at 7 a.m. and wraps up his day by 5 to 6 p.m., at which time he goes home to help out at his family’s farm. One fact we found interesting when we caught up with Sackreiter at the Field to Fork event is that there are more hormones in lettuce than in beef (sure those are natural hormones, but hormones just the same). Just to be sure he wasn’t pulling our leg, we checked that claim on—where else but on the Internet—and discovered studies have shown that lettuce has sedative properties that affect you the same way as opioids. No wonder salad places have become so popular. 

Veteran chef Lenny Russo has been tapped to head up the kitchen and dining operations as executive chef at St. Paul’s Commodore Bar & Restaurant. Russo’s wife and longtime business partner Mega Hoehn has also come on board as bar manager. The couple just closed Heartland in the Lowertown area of St. Paul after a 14-year run, and Russo said in a release: “It’s a fresh start, in a way, and I’m really looking forward to breaking some new culinary ground at the Commodore." John Rupp, the owner of the Commodore and its holding company, Commonwealth Properties, restored the historic properties two years ago to bring back its 1920s art-deco décor. 


Phil Dvorak joined Mise en Place Consulting as director of culinary operations. Dvorak started his career at the original Buca di Beppo in Minneapolis while going to culinary school.  He was later hired by Palomino Corporation to open stores in Minneapolis and San Diego. He’s held executive chef posts at Palomino Company, the Cheesecake Factory, Blue Plate Restaurant Group and The Taphouse Group, where he helped create and open six concepts including Prairie Taphouse, Hammer & Sickle, Fremont and Genos. Mise en Place is a full-service hospitality consulting firm started by local chef, Pat Weber, in 2007.



Summit Brewing Co. has named Paul Jacobus, right, its new regional sales manager, and Brandon Bland its new metro sales team manager. As members of Summit’s management team, Jacobus and Bland will be responsible for developing and implementing sales plans and training efforts to promote sales growth, territory strength, brand loyalty, customer satisfaction and overall market share. Jacobus, a 30-year industry veteran, started his career at the Schmidt Brewery in St. Paul. He spent 10 years with Mike’s Hard Lemonade as regional vice president of sales and most recently was national sales manager for Wild Ginger Brewing Co. out of Nashville. Bland worked nine years on the distributor side of the business with Miller, before moving to the supplier side with Red Bull, Mike’s Hard Lemonade Co. and Oskar Blues Brewery.


Chef Chad Kestner, who has worked in the industry for 25 years, will serve as executive chef for the newly revamped and renamed Citizen restaurant (formerly Citizen Supper Club), located inside the InterContinental Saint Paul Riverfront Hotel. Kestner has worked in some of the Twin Cities' top restaurants, including La Belle Vie, Butcher and the Boar and Travail. One of the more memorable dishes on the new menu is Crispy Tenga Pig Ears, served with bourbon-smoked ketchup and handcrafted salsa. Citizen is managed by Greenwood Hospitality Group. 

Coffee Talk

The 4th annual Feast! Local Foods Marketplace, showcasing local food and beverage businesses from Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota, is taking over the Mayo Civic Center on December 1-2. The event is the culmination of Feast! Restaurant Week, where area restaurants feature the Feast exhibitors products in one of their specials, and the Midwest Food Products Association that features more than 150 vendors from equipment manufacturers to packaging and labeling suppliers. Feast! Local Foods Marketplace brings together more than 100 exhibitors to sell their artisan food products to wholesale buyers during the Friday trade show and to consumers on Saturday. The jury-selected exhibitors also have a half-day of networking and sessions to help them grow their business. Businesses selected utilize locally grown ingredients when possible and operate at or near a distributor-ready scale. For more information, contact Elena Byrne, elena@rtcinfo.org.  


Salty Tart, the bakery owned by James Beard-nominated pastry chef Michelle Gayer, has joined Chef Tim McKee’s food hall, Market House Collaborative, in St. Paul. The hall is the former home of Heartland, located across the street from the St Paul Farmer’s Market and Saints’ stadium. Other concepts in the space are a seafood market, butcher shop and  a casual restaurant. Shane Oporto will be the chef for the award-winning McKee’s new restaurant, Octo Fishbar, according to the Pioneer Press. 


The Brass Rail was honored as the recipient of the Broaster Company’s Golden Chicken Award for Operator Excellence in a celebration at the Grandy, Minnesota, restaurant August 30. 


Scott Pampuch, the original owner of Corner Table restaurant, has been hired to oversee the kitchen for a permanent food truck that is being added to Fulton Brewery. The truck will replace the previous system where outside food trucks would rotate to serve food to beer drinkers. 


Duluth Grill has added a grocery counter. Run by a veteran of the Whole Foods Market, Laura Watkins, the grocery counter will sell grab-and-go items, including Duluth’s Best Bread croissants and sourdough, along with Red Table Meats and specialty cheeses. 

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