CARE Chefs on Tour: A Conversation with CARE Chef Ambassador Spike Mendelsohn and The Bachelor Farmer Head Chef Paul Berglund
MINNEAPOLIS April 7, 2015 – Chef Spike Mendelsohn, owner of Good Stuff Eatery, We, The Pizza and Béarnaise in Washington, DC, joined CARE in Minneapolis last week to raise awareness about global hunger. Mendelsohn and fellow CARE Chef Ambassador Asha Gomez hosted an advocacy dinner to build support for the recently introduced Global Food Security Act of 2015. The dinner was held at The Bachelor Farmer, a Minnesota restaurant that supports local farmers and grows its own produce on a small rooftop farm.
Before the dinner, Mendelsohn had the chance to sit down with Paul Berglund, the James Beard nominated Head Chef at The Bachelor Farmer. The chefs talked about the importance of collaborating with and empowering local farmers, from the mountains of rural Peru to the farms of Minnesota. Here is a look at their conversation:
Chef Spike Mendelsohn: Alright Chef, give us your background in a nice little paragraph.
Chef Paul Berglund: I started cooking in Oakland, California at Oliveto restaurant. It’s an Italian restaurant and I spent seven years there. I moved out to Minneapolis and I’ve since been the Head Chef here at the Bachelor Farmer for three and a half years.
SM: Tell us a little bit about your restaurant and a quick briefing on your philosophy of the cuisine and what you guys are doing here.
PB: So, The Bachelor Farmer is, first and foremost, a Minnesota restaurant. We’re here in the north loop. It’s an up and coming neighborhood of Minneapolis and so we’re poised in a great location, but more than anything we, at our best, represent a little slice of our state, Minnesota. The food does it, the building does it, the people that work here do it. The food, as best as possible – as much as possible –
comes from our region and we work real hard to increase the percentage of that all the time. And then, once we have it in the doors, we work hard to kind of honor it, respect it through care.
SM: What’s one of your signature dishes here or what do you love the most?
PB: Probably a vegetable. In twelve months of the year you hear about Minnesota as being a cold place, but we have some great vegetables here and one of the things I’m most excited about is a two year old relationship with people that run a greenhouse in Southeastern Minnesota. They’re supplying us with some pretty exceptional vegetables in the dead of winter.
SM: That’s what urban farming is all about, right? So, this is a question I get a lot, and I always struggle with it: Who inspires you? What inspires you?
PB: That is a good question. We get inspiration from a lot of different directions. And it happens, as you probably know, maybe where you least expect it. I personally love nature and the outdoors. I get plenty of inspiration on my morning walks. We have a garden on the roof that we grow vegetables, primarily tomatoes. It’s a wonderful thing to have, you know, just a few steps away. And then, to the point earlier, farmers and what they’re excited about are things that inspire us. The same farmers that are growing the greens in the greenhouse are raising beef that is better than beef that I’ve ever tasted, that’s pretty awesome.
SM: What are some the social issues that you’re passionate about as a Chef, and why?
PB: As I mentioned earlier, I have a real strong interest in seeing our local Minnesota food network grow and thrive. Like you’ve observed in Peru and I’ve observed in places that I’ve traveled and worked, those are really important, those food networks. Giving farmers a voice – not an anonymous voice, a voice – is really important.
To learn more about CARE’s food and nutrition security work and how you can get involved, please visit: http://www.care.org/work/world-hunger.