“The only constant in life is change.”

05 Jul

François de la Rochefoucauld

One of the most difficult things for me, is to put my thoughts and feelings into words.  I am not a writer.   My feelings are that if you can write, you should, if you can’t you should talk.  Well, if you have any idea of who I am you know this post will be a bit choppy.  I am the latter of the two.

My cooking career has taken me down some very different roads.  I never thought when in culinary school in 1997 that I would get the chance to work for Jim Grell at the Modern Cafe, meet Mike Philips and get a chance to open my own restaurant.  Nor, did I imagine I would get to work with a man that I never heard of; Jim Denavin with Outstanding in the Field who made me realize how much inspiration can do for a person’s soul. Then there was the national attention in the documentary, “Troubled Waters,” by Larkin McPhee and, “In Search of Food,”on the Ovation Network with Barton Seaver.  I never imagined that I would be talking to people like Andrew Zimmern, and then talking to the folks behind the fundraising efforts for the James Beard Foundation with the Celebrity Chef Tour.  I never even thought for a second I would ever get to do any of that and along the way get to meet so many amazing cooks, chefs, waiters, dishwashers, customers, friends and more importantly the farmers that are my true inspiration with their thankless hours, time and devotion to such a humble way to make a living.  This is starting to sound like an acceptance speech at some awards show now, so I will stop.  But I never imagined any of it.  I just wanted to cook. (P.S.  That was a huge thanks to all those people up there, and there are so many more to mention that have helped me get here.  You know who you are.)

But now, things are different.  I have cooked, and I love cooking to this day.  The craft and the simplicity of it sometimes just blows my mind.  What I desire now in my career is change… to challenge myself in a whole new way.  I love teaching.  I have been teaching in my restaurant, at Tour de Farm, at speaking engagements, at charity events, in all that I do, I feel that I am slowly starting to understand that I have the ability to get people to start to understand the importance of food and helping them have conversations about what is important with food.  Let me be the first to say that I am not always right, nor does the way I do things and the way that I look at food make sense to everyone.  I am ok with that.  But I know some people are not.  I talk about food because I love food.  It is who I am.

So, now that some of you have just read all of that and rolled your eyes, well, you can stop reading, cause you are not going to understand the rest.  If you don’t like what I do, what I have to say, how I make my choices, that is just fine with me.  You can stop reading and move on.  If you feel that you need to comment on my blog, or other blogs anonymously and take cheap shots at what I say or do, well, that is your choice.  I am ok with it and wish you well. (Whew, I have been wanting to say that for a long time).

Here it is.  Yes, I have accepted the job of Executive Chef and Food and Beverage Manager at the Minnesota Valley Country club.  Yes, Corner Table is still open and my amazing kitchen crew of Chad, Thomas, Dan and Kyle are still going to be cooking everyone dinner from now on and doing just as an amazing job as they have done for the last year.  I have to say, I eat their food, and they are damm fine cooks.  Yes, all the great staff at CT is stepping up.  They are a talented bunch of professionals and I would not have accepted this position if I did not believe in each and every one of them to keep CT going on the course that I have started.

My choice to make this move did not come easy.  The underlying thing was the opportunity to work on another level of local and sustainable food. The ability to bring this message and this style of food into this location is really a continuation of what they are already doing at MVCC.  Just to give you an idea,  some of the things that we are working on are establishing a composting program for the kitchen and weighing the pros and cons of doing it ourselves on property.  We are looking at all areas of food, including our staff meals.  We’re figuring out what will the food be like.  I have an idea where we are going, but at the same time, this is a work in progress just as Corner Table was when I started.  Will it be local?  YES.  Will it be sustainable? YES.  Will it have burgers, fries, salads, steaks, chops, fish… sure… will the food on the course reflect this change… YES.

Even now, as I type this after working out there for almost three weeks, I get excited at all the potential and all the ability that we have to share our vision of local and sustainable food to all the members. (By the way, the members and the staff all have been very welcoming to me during this transition time and I thank them for that.)

I had no idea in the beginning of the year when I started talking about Tour de Farm and the idea of getting local food in places that it had not really been known for, that it would mean I was going to go to those places too.  Yes, there are a lot of questions that remain.  There are a lot of things that will be learned along the way.  Yes, I will be working on them. Tweeting and talking about them.  If you are interested in learning more about it, keep listening.  If you really just have a bunch of speculation and “what if”s” to talk about.  Well, go for it.  If you have questions, ask them, and I will try and keep everyone up to date on things, but if you don’t hear from me for a bit, just understand I might be teaching or maybe even planting a garden… and sure as hell doing a lot of cooking.

A New opportunity for sustainable food

29 Jun

The Minnesota Valley Country Club Welcomes Scott Pampuch as Executive Chef

Turf-to-Table: Local, seasonal food soon to be at “The Valley”

A new chapter has begun for local foods chef and advocate, Scott Pampuch, owner of Corner Table Restaurant in south Minneapolis and Tour de Farm. After consulting the Minnesota Valley Country Club’s executive staff on taking their food and beverage program in a new direction, Kurt Stangler, Clubhouse Manager, offered Pampuch the executive chef position. Pampuch accepted the opportunity.

Recognized as the first country club in Minnesota to be a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary from Audubon International, the club demonstrates commitment to the health of the land, water quality, and wildlife. Pampuch’s local food philosophies compliment their mission. “This is the biggest step that’s happened in my career in six years,” Pampuch explained, “I have the opportunity to introduce local, sustainable food to a new audience.” The transition to local food won’t happen instantly, but will be an evolution of bringing in new vendors, the farms, and training the kitchen and Front of House staff. Working with the grounds crew, Pampuch also has plans for a kitchen garden next Spring.

The Corner Table employees are excited for Pampuch’s opportunity to expand local food in Minnesota. Corner Table will remain a leader in serving local, sustainable food with the seasons. Corner Table is open for dinner Wednesday and Thursday 5pm – 10pm, Friday and Saturday 5pm – 11pm, and breakfast on Sunday from 8am – 1pm.

 

About the Minnesota Valley Country Club and Audubon Society

A beautiful “classically-styled” golf course designed in the early 1920’s by Seth Raynor, one of this country’s most renowned designers. Host of the 2010 Minnesota Section PGA Senior Championship, 2009 MGA Mid-Amateur Championship & 2008 MGA Women’s Amateur Championship. Winner 2009 & 2010 Environmental Leader Award.

 

In the spring of 1994, Minnesota Valley Country Club became the first golf course in the state of Minnesota to achieve the status of a Fully Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary from Audubon International. This was the result of the Club demonstrating leadership, commitment, and high standards to environmental management. http://www.mvccgolf.com/guests/home.htm

Audubon International oversees many education and conservation programs throughout America. www.audubonintl.org

 

Hey, Tour de Farm with Stewart Woodman at Axdahl’s farm… is soon

09 Jun

This is the behind the scenes that very few people get to see at the farm, the amount of land that is being managed and the planning that goes into what most people think of as “farming”.  Well, there is more work that most could imagine to get you those great tomatoes, cucumbers, and sweetcorn that Axdahls are known for.

 

If you are wondering what Stewart and Heidi have up their sleeve.  Start here… then… here

Better get tickets here.….you do NOT want to miss this.

 

If you have ever been up to stillwater you may recognize this location.  But what most people don’t know is all the work that goes into the behind the scenes of this farm that has been providing food for the Twin Cities for over 30 years.  Learn a bit more about the history of the farm.

 

This is something that you see at the farm and around farmers markets, this sign.  Take a look here and see what goes into getting a making great Minnesota grown food.

 

Looking at all the work that is going into this green house you would never know that the growing season for the farm is about a full one month behind.  Compared to our amazing early season last year, this year is a very large wake up call for local foods.  We do live in a climate where seasons truly affect what is grown.  You thought last year was interesting, this year is going to be even more interesting.

 

 

 

Summer is here right in time for our Spring menu.

03 Jun

appetizers

crostini scrambled egg with morels + green garlic oil

4.

 

roasted beet, shaved walnut, pumpkin seed oil vinaigrette + lemon

4.

 

bison bresaola, daikon radish sprout + olive oil

4.

 

shaved asparagus salad, smoked mushrooms, wheatgrass vinaigrette + sunflower sprouts

8.

 

roasted beets, shaved Sweet Young Thang sheep’s milk cheese, honey + chive vinaigrette

7.

 

grilled semolina cake, smoked trout, horseradish gremolata + savory cream

7.

 

spring risotto of nettles, rhubarb, ginger + pea shoots

7.

 

nosh plate, fresh sausage, cheese, pickles + apple, crostini

8.

 

cheese plate with petite biscuits + honey

1 choice     5.5   2 choice        7.5    3 choice        9.5     4 choice      12.5

 

main

trout roulade, roasted sweet potato, baby arugula, crispy onions + poppy seed lemon sauce

17

grilled leg of lamb, wilted broccoli rabe, stewed white beans + green garlic sauce

18

ravioli stuffed with braised beef + spring vegetable ragout with kale

17

marinated beer chicken on the grill, ramp potato salad, stewed greens + guanciale

19

 

100 mile tasting menus

spontaneous menu from the kitchen, inform your server about allergies

 

three course                      45.   with beer or wine flight                55.

five course                         65.  with beer or wine flight                85.

kitchen table                    125.

 

 

Community Supported Kitchen is the new black.

26 Apr

It is all the rage.  Who knew.  Thanks to another “meathead” like myself in the north metro.  (Amongst us who like to cut meat, that is a compliment)  It was great talking to Eric a month ago and it is awesome that he is taking the idea and running with it.  Great work Eric.  I look forward to stopping in some day and checking it all out.

In the mean time here is what we got coming up on the south side.  Check out the website and the link and you can get in on these great things to come. Remember, you have until midnight on Sunday to pick up the following Friday.

This weeks box will be:

Coq au vin slow braised chicken in wine with carrots, celery and onion

Mashed potatoes – Ready to go with all the great butter and cream that we have. Oh, so good

Bacon – Need we say more.

Pickled carrots – Everyone needs a pickle now and again

Beef stew meat – Chuck roast all ready cut and ready to go.  Perfect mix between marbling and lean. Chili or stew.  It is still raining a bit you know.

Eggs – Eggs meet bacon, Bacon, meet eggs.  DONE.

Ramp relish – This is all you, just take a small bite and find a home.  It goes with everything.

Sun street bread –  A house is a home with a great loaf of bread around.

Chicken stock – The foundation to great cooking is great stock.

5/6-5/8
Oregano fennel chicken – Great on the grill –  we hope warm enough
Sausage – yep, more sausage.  It is just a good thing
Pickled onion –  We are thinking sandwich here with leftover grilled chicken?  Maybe?
Smoked trout –  Star Prairie is a great source for us and we just want to share.  (great with the next item on the list)
Eggs –  great with the smoked trout above.
Beer mustard –  Are there two greater words in the English language that go together?   Don’t think so.
Sun street bread – Yep, more of that great bread.
Chicken stock – Always there, so you better have used your last quart up for soup or something

5/13-5/15
Orange coriander chicken –  ON THE GRILL!
Bacon – With anything you are about to eat, add bacon.  Trust me on this one.
Pickled asparagus – Boy I hope the asparagus is in.  If not, something very springy.
Lamb stew –  We made it, you eat it.
Eggs –  We love eggs, you get that yet?
Mint + basil pesto –  I hear it goes great on an egg sandwich
Sun street bread – Yep.  Can you believe how good that is?
Chicken stock –  If you still have it, use it or freeze it.  Trust me you will be looking for it one day.

5/20-5/22
Curry chicken –  Just makes sense.  Roast it and use it for a salad you get with greens from the farmers market
Sausage –  Where was the sausage last week, you missed it didn’t you.  IT”S BACK!!!
Pickled garlic + ginger –  Now were are getting a bit crazy.  Tell us what you think.
Burger – Grilling and chil… wait, I don’t think I can say that with out paying a royalty.   You know what to do with it.
Eggs –  Goes great on the above item on the grill
Rhubarb condiment –  yes, we like to pickle and cook ours, thinking that you have enough fresh stuff.
Sun street bread –  Maybe buns.  We will see?
Chicken stock –  Have you gotten the routine yet?

Here is the first picnic of the season.

25 Apr

Have you heard of a “chick-nic?”  Well, that is what we are going to have in the morning in July.  These are some of the women that make our city a great food town. Come and meet them all in one big breakfast on the farm.

Click here and get all the details.

Michelle Gayer, Solveig Tofte, Sheela Namakkal, Molly Hermann @ Riverbend Farm
July 31 : 10am (YES, we are doing breakfast.)

 

 

 

And now a word from Tour de Farm.

22 Apr

This time of year, a number of you have been waiting to hear what we are going to do this year with our dinners.  Well, you are the first to know.  Here you go:

More announcements to come.  Click below and find out what the first dinner is.

Tour de Farm 2011

 

How is that CSK going?

20 Apr

Farm to Table Projects from Scott Pampuch

Here is what some of our people are saying.  They are sharing ideas on our facebook page. “Farm to Table Projects by Scott Pampuch”


…We could not wait and had dinner as soon as we got home-ciabatta spread with a tiny bit of delicious pesto and a smoked meat (a delightful surprise) and salad with some of the pickled beets over greens. The chicken will be roasted and served with mash, the bacon destined for both a bacon and mushroom quiche, and to be fried into crisp little bits and tossed with the pesto and some spaetzle. The pork is being made into a spicy stew and the stock (also a surprise) went straight into the freezer and will be used with some white beans and kale for a braise.

…YOU GUYS – make a breakfast sandwich with the eggs, bacon, pesto and sesame wheat ciabatta – it’s an epic sandwich 🙂

 

…our ground beef became 2 cheeseburgers with sharp cheddar and toasted english muffins for the buns. the bacon and eggs became breakfast sandwiches – i’ve always loved fresh egg, so good and fluffy!

we threw the bbq chicken into a crock pot with some extra seasoning and a little bit of chicken broth and let it cook on low for 8 hours or so. then we shredded it all up – the first night we just had shredded bbq chicken sandwiches with chipotle cheddar. the rest we turned into spicy enchiladas.

the sausages probably would have also gotten eaten, but the end of the weekend got kind of crazy, so they are in the freezer. can’t wait for our next box!

 


Spring is here and menu is slowly changing

07 Apr

Menu started April 7th

small plates

 duck confit, sunflower sprouts,  sherry vinaigrette + crostini            9

potato blini, horseradish + roasted beets, pickled mustard seed dressing      7                                                             

gnocchi, mushroom,  basil puree + pickled red onion           8

 nosh plate, fresh sausage,   goat cheese, pickles + apple, crostini      8

 green salad + radishes, croutons, lemon + olive oil            7                                   

shaved pork sirloin, smoked trout aioli + caper, chive, parsley salad       8

cheese plate with petite biscuits + honey

1 choice     5.5                         2 choice     7.5         3 choice         9.5      4 choice   12.5

 main plates

 duck breast + wild rice pancake, lemon sauce, micro greens + puffed wild rice       22

grilled pork loin, green salad + red wine vinaigrette, roasted baby red potatoes, mustard + thyme sauce      19

 pan-roasted trout, celery root + caramelized onion, green beans      17

 chicken, paillard, brown butter radish, sesame + wheat grass salad      18

100 mile tasting menus

spontaneous menu from the kitchen, inform your server about allergies

three course                                    45.      five course                           65.

with beer or wine flight  55.      with beer or wine flight  85.

 kitchen table                       125.

“You say brunch, I say breakfast, let’s call the whole thing off! ”

04 Apr

Well, there is a lot more conversation about breakfast or brunch than I ever thought.  Here are a couple of my thoughts:

1.  I love eggs

2. I don’t take myself that seriously

3. There is tomato product on the menu that is from the last season  from a local farmer.

4. When I post on a blog, I always use my real name, and email address.  I would appreciate that a bit more.  Grandma always said, ” When you say something nice or bad about someone on a blog, make sure you use your real name so people know who you are and will respect you for standing up for your opinion and your point of view”.

Ok, maybe my grandma did not say that, but soon, there will be grandma’s saying something like that.   I would assume.  So, with out me saying something that people could take out of context and make a big deal out of, here is the menu that I serve on Sundays between the hours of 8am and 2pm.  If you like it, come on in, if you don’t, well, I hope you have a nice Bru…… MEAL where ever you end up.  Happy Eating!!

Corner Table

Sunday Breakfast
8am – 2pm
ask about daily scrambled special

post-Modern hash : braised beef, red onions, rosemary, garlic, potatoes + two eggs
9

mock lobster roll : scrambled egg whites with Old Bay aioli in a garlic butter grilled bun
4.5

smoked trout cake + potato pancake with spicy rémoulade, red cabbage + bacon + two poached eggs
9

cinnamon + sugar French toast, caramel apples + maple
7

pancakes + maple butter
5

waffle, raspberries + whipped cream
7

Butchers Breakfast : scrapple, sausage, bacon, beans
9

Meat + 3 : choose one meat option and then one from each line below
8

Meat :  maple + thyme sausage or one pancake or hickory smoked bacon or fried pork terrine
one pancake or lunchbox oatmeal bread or flax + potato grain bread or one slice French toast

2 eggs :  over easy or scrambled or over hard or poached (or however you like them, we will do our best) duck fat fried potato, or potato pancake or herb roasted potato

See you all on Sunday..