Tag Archives: Chef Tim McKee

Feeding Mouths Feeds the Soul

My biological father passed away about a year ago.

We left Korea when I was three.  It would be another twenty years before I would meet him and find out the reason my siblings and I were given up for adoption.  He had fallen ill and trying to feed three small children became a burden he couldn’t overcome.  Rather than watching his children starve, we were taken to an orphanage with the hope we would be adopted into the United States for a better life.  We were so undernourished that at age three, I arrived on American soil in a jumper dress that was meant for a one year old.

While poverty and starvation doesn’t seem as evident in America as it might in Korea, it definitely exists.  During volunteer work with some of the schools, I’d hear stories about the meal at school was sometimes the only meal a child would have the whole day.

Taste of the Nation HOTlist is an annual event supported by some of the top restaurants in the Twin Cities striving to wipe out childhood hunger.  Event chair Tim McKee has been an avid participant in this event.

So sample some great food, socialize with friends and enjoy this event (one of the most fun fundraising and food events of the year).  Click on the logo to buy a ticket to this June 25th event at The Guthrie.

Participating Restaurants:

Be’Wiched Deli
Bradstreet Crafthouse
Chef Shack
Cooking Matters
Cosmos Restaurant
La Belle Vie
Minneapolis Club
Pizzeria Lola
Salty Tart
Sea Change
Strip Club
Sun Street Breads

Hope to see you there!

Feeding Children

When I arrived to America, at the age of three, I barely weighed 20 pounds.  The clothing I was wearing was meant for a one year old.  On the immigration paperwork for the adoption proceedings of my siblings and me, a box was checked next to “Malnutrition”.

We, as humans, tend to take food for granted.

Unless, we don’t have access to it.

Hunger doesn’t happen just over the ocean.  It happens right here.  In the Twin Cities.  Maybe even on your block.

Share Our Strength is an organization dedicated to putting an end to child hunger.  One of the biggest fundraisers of the year is the Taste of the Nation HOTList, which is put on by some of the top chefs in Minneapolis (not to mention, many of my favorites).

Tickets can be purchased at Ttasteofthenation.org/minneapolis. Space is limited. Taste of the Nation HOTlist is Thursday, June 23, 2011 at the Guthrie Theater (www.guthrietheater.org) from 6:00-10:00 p.m.  Taste of the Nation HOTlist is sponsored by American Express, Sysco, Food Network, and Brown-Forman.  Local sponsors of the event include Tastefully Simple (Presenting Sponsor), Groupon Now (Chefs After Party Sponsor), Target, Goose Island, Death’s Door Spirits and METRO Magazine.

 Participating chefs/mixologists include:

  • Jim Christiansen (Il Gatto)
  • Issac Becker (Bar La Grassa)
  • Kevin Kathman (Barbette)
  • Mathew Bickford and Michael Ryan (Be’Wiched)
  •  Andy Vyskocil (Bradstreet Crafthouse)
  • Alex Roberts (Brasa)
  •  John Occhiato (Cosmos)
  • Jack Riebel (Dakota Jazz Club)
  • Stewart and Heidi Woodman (Heidi’s)
  • Mike DeCamp & Johnny Michaels (La Belle Vie)
  • Alex Chase (Masu Sushi and Robata)
  • Russell Klein (Meritage)
  • Mixology by Bradstreet Crafthouse
  • Pip Hanson (Marvel Bar)
  • Michelle Gayer (Salty Tart)
  • Tim McKee (Sea Change)
  • J.D. Franske (Strip Club)

I’ve posted some pictures provided by Share Our Strength from last year’s event.  It was an absolute blast and the food was great.

Plenty of Pig

Nineteen courses involving pig.  Sounds overwhelming doesn’t it?  I thought so, when Parasole invited me to Festa Mangalitsa dinner at Il Gatto.

When I went to the dinner I was a little worried that I would experience flavor fatigue.  After all?  Pork is pork, right?

Actually, no, it isn’t.  I was completely fascinated that each dish had a very distinct pig flavor, but tasted drastically different from each other.

Our placemat was a “roadmap” of the pig.

My dinner companion, Kate N.G. Sommers, captured the variety of dishes.  Beautiful.

Fifty of us sat at one long, beautiful table.

The Grilled Tuscan Bread was served with Mangalitsa Strutto. Meat from Back. The whipped pork lard and sea salt.  I was shocked by the distinct pig flavor and light the whipped lard.

Gnocco Fritto with Pig Heart and Black Olive.  Meat from Middle Cut.  Pig heart.  I wasn’t sure I had pig heart before and was unsure if I would like it.  It may come across as “muscl-y”.  But it was surprisingly delicate.

Testina with Watercress and Orange (head cheese).  Meat from Head.

Prawns Al Diavolo in Lardo with Corno di Capra Peppers and Garlic.  Meat from Shoulder.  The pork flavor was so light that I almost missed it!

Pork Loin Tonatto with Mache and Fried Capers.  Meat from Back.  The plate was visually stunning.

Wood-Fired Clams with Smoked Guanciale, Tomato and Oregano had so much flavor and a lovely broth that I could have eaten a loaf of rustic bread to dip into it.  Meat from Head.

Zampone with Cotechino Sausage, Celery Salad and Grain Mustard Vinaigrette.  Meat from Foot.

Crispy Pig’s Ear Salad with Pickled Ramps and Fried Eggs.  Meat from Ear.  Of course, ramps are among my favorite thing in the world.  The pig’s ear started to become addictive…kind of like potato chips in that you could keep eating them.

House Cured Pork Belly Snail Spiedini with Salsa Verde and Controne Bean Puree.  Meat from Belly.

Wood-Fired Pizza with Nettles and Mortadella.  Meat from Middle Cut.  This was among the crowd’s favorite.

Corzetti with Mangalitsa Sausage, Broccoli Rabe and Anchovy.  Meat from Ham.  What was interesting about this pasta is that it was imprinted on both sides, like a coin.

Fazzoletti with Milk Braised Pork Leg, Fava Beans and Arugula.  Meat from Ham.  After twelve hours of braising, the milk starts to caramelize.  This was my favorite course.  Pasta is always comfort food to me and the milk braised pork was so flavorful.

Mazzafegato Agnolotti with smoked Tomato and Ramps.  The pasta is filled with mousse-like pork sausage.  Meat from Middle Cut.

Bucatini All’Amatriciana with Guanciale, Hot Pepper, Tomato and Pecorino Romano.  Meat from Head.

Grilled Rainbow Trout with Pancetta and Vignole and Mint.  Meat from Belly.

Porchetta with Corona Beans and Slow Cooked Asparagus.  Meat from Head.

Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder with Mostarda di Cremona and Salsa Verde.  Meat from Shoulder.  The meat was roasted for nine hours at low temperature.

Chocolate-Caramel Tart with Smoked Pancetta Caramel and Bacon-Cocoa Nib Tuile.  Meat from Belly.

Chef Jim Christianson, Chef Tim McKee and Pastry Chef Adrienne Odom really approached the menu in a creative and delicious way!

I like that Parasole is stepping it up and doing events such as Festa Mangalitsa!  I’m looking forward to more dinners.

Here Piggy, Piggy

When I was invited to the Festa Mangalitsa dinner…I smiled as it reminded me of the full pig roasts we had as kids.  Sometimes the pigs would be roasted in a pit dug into the ground and sometimes we would roast them in a makeshift rotisserie made out of a big metal barrel.

We were doing tail to snout before the term was a part of the culinary vernacular.

So I was very excited to be invited to a full-on pig dinner and adding to my excitement, I learned that Chefs Tim McKee and Jim Christianson were hosting the Festa Mangalitsa dinner at Il Gatto.

After looking into the background of the Mangalitsa pigs, which look drastically different from the short-hair pink pigs we raised on the farm, I learned that Mangalitsa pork is served at French Laundry, arguably the top restaurant in the country.  Think of this meat as being pork-equivalent as Wagyu beef is to beef…flavorful highest quality meat, due to the amount of marbling in the meat. 

Interestingly enough, it would appear that the restaurant industry had a lot to do with saving these pigs from near-extinction.  By bringing the meat into high-end restaurants, breeders were able to afford to raise the pigs, which are considerably more expensive than industrially produced pigs.

 Limited to 50 guests, the dinner promises to be a night of fun and tasty food.  Seats are $112.50 as well as BYOB (bring your own beverage).

 I’m hoping to see you there!