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Chef Gavin Kaysen on Virtual Classes, Cooking, and Kindness

Cover Image for Chef Gavin Kaysen on Virtual Classes, Cooking, and Kindness
By Sophie Brochu
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Categories:Interview

When Minneapolis chef Gavin Kaysen announced the closure of his beloved restaurant, Bellecour, last July, he said, “This has never been just a restaurant to me, it has been part of my life’s work, and something I have spent over 20 years working for and towards.”

So often when restaurants close, we use passive language to describe them. A restaurant was forced to close down or it fell victim to some external force. But in Kaysen’s case, this felt more like a proactive decision for all of the restaurants under the umbrella of Soigné Hospitality. The James Beard Award-winning chef told his followers, “We are continuing to work hard to turn this moment into a positive and focus all of our efforts on Spoon and Stable, Demi and the Bellecour Bakery pop-up.”

As it turns out, the bakery pop-up has been so successful, it’s getting a permanent North Loop location. Recently Kaysen has also turned his attention to GK at Home, which focuses on meal kits and virtual cooking classes. We talked to Kaysen about moving forward, having fun, and embracing the good.

Tock: Teaching virtual classes isn’t something you originally set out to do. What are you learning through the act of teaching?

Kaysen: I am learning how fun it is. I am learning that there are so many different types of home cooks out there, the ones who follow the recipe to perfection, to the ones who wing it a little bit…finding that balance has been an exciting challenge. It has been a really powerful way for us to connect with our guests—I have missed them. The other thing to come of this is that I have been able to show people who I am—I have done these classes with my kids and solo. I’m showing them who I am not only as a chef but as a father and business owner.

 

“I’m showing them who I am not only as a chef but as a father and a business owner.”

Kaysen’s son learns to make cavatelli.

Tock: We’ve seen a lot of home cooks trying to step up their game this past year. What are some common mistakes or misconceptions you see from home cooks?

Kaysen: I think I’m asked more questions about timing….people want to know how we time everything to come out at one time, still warm and delicious. The other misstep I see is under seasoning. Vinegar and acid are your friends, so we try and teach that as well.

The virtual classes focus on simple and delicious seasonal dinners.

Tock: You’re showcasing winter ingredients in the virtual courses. Which are you most excited about?

Kaysen: I really am excited to show our virtual guests the complexity of spices, citrus, and all things root vegetables. This can be a time in cooking when you can get bored of seeing the same old vegetable, and we want to get them excited about the possibilities.

Roasted pork loin.

Tock: How is technology sustaining restaurants right now? How is it hindering them?

Kaysen:  We’re now able to lean into technology more, which has been needed for a long time in our industry. We have always been afraid to be too tech-heavy, but at the end of the day, it works. You just have to be thoughtful about it and not lose sight of your values.

Classes are offered for live streaming or on-demand.

“We have to be dedicated to the change and embrace the good that will come from it.”

 

Tock: What’s next for hospitality? What do you see happening in the industry in 2021 and beyond?

Kaysen: Hopefully kindness sticks around. We had a good thing going for a while, but we all knew there needed to be changes and changes that would make us stronger and better for the future. I am a believer that we now have a tremendous opportunity in front of us, which is to help build how we want our profession to look for generations to come…it is not going to happen overnight, but we have to be dedicated to the change and embrace the good that will come from it.

Book a Virtual Cooking Class

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