900 Hennepin Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55403-1805
September 16, 2010
$150 per person inclusive
Tickets available August 12, 2010
Visa Signature Price:
$130 per person inclusive
Visa Signature® tickets available August 9, 2010
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HOST VENUE - Solera Restaurant
Food & Wine hailed Solera as one of the world's top 10 new restaurants. Bring your friends & find out why. Share several of our more than 40 tapas deliciously inspired by the tastes of Spain.
Vibrant mosaics, contemporary sculpture, curving booths, floating glass light fixtures--everything about this art nouveau-styled space indicates it's not your average tapas bar. A youthful, high-energy crowd keeps the vibe bouncing. La Belle Vie's Josh Thoma and Tim McKee have outdone themselves creating artful, flavor-savvy cuisine. Entrees such as garlicky roasted monkfish and strip loin with mushrooms are finely executed, but it's the 40-plus small plates arriving like mini-masterpieces that are the showstoppers.
GUEST CELEBRITY CHEF - Susur Lee
One might suspect that internationally acclaimed Chef Susur Lee was born with a spoon in his mouth- but that would be a tasting spoon, not a silver one. From his inauspicious beginnings as a 15-year-old apprentice at Hong Kong's swell-egant hotels, to his current Atlas's stride atop the fickle universe of celebrity chef-dom, Susur Lee has never deviated from a consuming passion: to explore beyond the horizons of received culinary knowledge, and to create unique, sublime compositions for the palate that blend textures and flavours in sensuous harmony. Juxtaposing the complex food traditions of China with the classical techniques of French cuisine, Chef Lee improvises a daring and original aesthetic. From the moment he opened the doors in 1987 to his 12-table restaurant, Lotus, in a pre-gentrified Toronto quartier bordering the espresso bars of Little Italy, Susur Lee has seduced his audiences and tongue-tied food critics from The New York Times to Art Culinaire with menus of astonishing artistry. Courvoisier's Book of the Best proclaimed Lotus the finest restaurant in the country and Susur Lee a leading young chef among Toronto's "nouvelle vague". Zagat unabashedly pronounced him "a culinary genius."
Never content to rest on his laurel, Susur shuttered Lotus after a decade of sustained full bookings and glowing reviews, and decamped to Asia for a "re-energizing" period. During the following three years he served as head chef for the exclusive Club Chinoise in Singapore and consulted to the Tung Lok Group, tweaking the menus of 17 restaurants, launching new ones and overseeing 45 chefs
Returning to Toronto, Chef Lee drew up plans for a home kitchen in a new and expansive gastro-dome, Susur, which opened in 2000 in the hip downtown enclave of Toronto's King Street West. The restaurant immediately earned accolades from such industry heavy-weights as Food & Wine magazine, which heralded Susur Lee as one of the "Ten Chefs of the Millenium" in the company of Ferran Adria of Bulli and Pierre Gagnaire, and Gourmet magazine, which proclaimed him "an improvisational artist." Since its debut, "Susur" has consistently received the highest possible ranking from taste-maker Toronto Life, while visiting celebrities, sports stars and political personalities make repeat pilgrimages to its dining room.
Lately, the undisputed master of Asian-inspired fusion has commandeered the royal kitchens of the Princess of Thailand, boldly matched TV Iron Chef Bobby Flay platter for platter to a culinary draw, and dazzled Euro-gourmands at Hanger 7 in Salzburg. He has manned the grill as "guest chef" at Charlie Trotter's, The Four Seasons Atlanta, Ken Oringer and Ming Tsai, and was a recent participant in the "Masters of Food and Wine" festival in Carmel, Calif.
In 2004, the chef opened "Lee," a less formal kid sister to "Susur," which Gourmet and Toronto Life praised for its inventive menu and consistently gratifying gastronomy. Located side by side, these two restaurants complement one another perfectly.
In addition to his duties at both restaurants, Susur Lee makes numerous appearances on television's Food Network and acts as a guest chef and lecturer the world over. He contributes regularly to charity projects, raising funds for the James Beard Foundation in Kansas City and Santa Fe, for cancer research at Spinizolla in Boston, Mass., as well as for the Null Foundation, which provides scholarships for underprivileged students to attend cooking schools. In 2006, he helmed benefit dinners on behalf of humanitarian causes in Israel through the Jewish National Fund, and, closer to home, recruited fellow chefs to showcase their skills at Toronto's Daniel Nestor Charity Event, which raised funds for Tennis Canada programs for aspiring young Olympians.
In 2010, Chef Lee was a finalist on Bravo TV's smash show Top Chef Masters.
Susur Lee lives in Toronto with his wife, designer Brenda Bent, and their three sons.
HOST CELEBRITY CHEF - Tim McKee
RESTAURANT - Solera, La Belle Vie, Sea of Change, Minneapolis
When you've opened up four of the most well received restaurants in the Twin Cities (La Belle Vie, Solera) you would think you have had enough. Tim McKee thought so too. In the last year he won the James Beard Award for the best chef in the Midwest and had just opened his two newest restaurants, Smalley's Caribbean BBQ and Barrio. But then Cue, the Guthrie's original restaurant, closed and the prime restaurant space in Twin Cities was ripe for the picking.
Not very long ago, you couldn't have mentioned the terms "Twin Cities" and "world-class cooking" in the same mouthful. But no more, thanks almost entirely to one man: Tim McKee. Over the past decade, he and partner Josh Thoma have slowly but surely (think Midwestern work ethic) built an empire; six award-winning restaurants later, McKee garnered himself the accolade of Best Chef Midwest from the James Beard Foundation—the top award in the industry—in 2009. As if this weren't enough, the news came on the heels of McKee's newest venture, Sea Change, the much-anticipated reopening of the Guthrie restaurant space (formerly Cue), a highly ambitious, all-sustainable seafood emporium. By all accounts, Chef McKee is having a very good year. But so are you, fellow eater, as you tuck into a quivering raw scallop, no longer relegated to the defense of our local culinary riches, nor your choice of the fish instead of the chicken.