Most neighborhoods would be elated to have a restaurant boasting a single chef who scored a spot on Food & Wine’s Best New Chef list, which announces “the most brilliant up-and-coming chefs.” Grand Café, in the Kingfield neighborhood of south Minneapolis and now owned by chefs Jamie Malone and Erik Anderson, has two. The couple met in 2007 while working at the now-closed Porter and Frye. Malone won the prestigious award in 2013, when she was chef at Minneapolis’ Sea Change. Malone was the only woman among the 11 chefs who won the award that year. Anderson won in 2012, when he was co-chef at Catbird Seat in Memphis. And if that were not sufficient culinary honors for one restaurant, Anderson was a semifinalist for the James Beard Best Chefs in America award: Midwest, in 2009, when he was a chef at Sea Change.
“Food & Wine is one of the biggest food publications in the world. Winning Best New Chef had a great impact on both of our careers,” said Anderson. Another noted chef in Grand Café’s kitchen is chef de cuisine Alan Hlebaen, who joined Anderson and Malone from Napa Valley’s highly regarded French Laundry.
When Anderson and Malone bought Grand Café earlier this year, Anderson says that they decided to keep the Grand Café name because of the previous incarnation’s status as a Minneapolis classic, along with the building’s history as the home to the well-loved Grand Bakery, but the menu and kitchen staff are all new. “We’re a completely different restaurant,” said Anderson. “The name was the only thing we kept the same. We did some remodeling,” he adds, “but we’re trying to keep the good bones of the building and the cool aesthetic of the former Grand Café.” Highlights of the new decor include hand-painted wallpaper and a zinc-topped bar that Anderson and Malone brought from Paris.
“Our focus is French-inspired, technique driven cooking,” says Anderson. We seek out local ingredients when it makes sense. But foremost for us is sourcing the highest quality ingredients.” Grand Café’s pike quenelles (savory poached dumplings) are a favorite menu item for Anderson and Malone, for which they use either fresh Minnesota or Canadian walleye or northern pike. Some of Anderson and Malone’s other favorites include shellfish on ice, and they maintain a rotating offering of sliced and simply dressed raw fish. One of the chef-couple’s favorite foods to work with is chicken. “It’s overlooked by a lot of chefs,” Malone said. “There’s a lot of technique to making good chicken, and it’s often not given enough care,” says Malone. The menu’s chicken offering changes frequently; recent options have included Roast Chicken with Spring Garlic and Chilled Asparagus, and Chicken with Sweet Corn and Lovage.
Malone and Anderson are happy to be in the Kingfield neighborhood because of a genuine investment by the community in local businesses. They also enjoy being part of a thriving neighborhood with many startup businesses, “There are cool little restaurants popping up in the neighborhood right now,” says Malone, "and Kingfield’s small-business owners are a close-knit group with a lot of pride in ownership, so it’s an exciting place to be.”
Food & Wine
(2013 list with a recipe from each Best New Chef award winner)