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5 Things You Need to Know About Gavin Kaysen’s Demi

One of America's best chefs announces plans for a new tasting-menu restaurant, and we have the details.

chef gavin kaysen bellecour Photo: courtesy Eliesa Johnson

Ever since returning to Minneapolis, Gavin Kaysen has been putting his imprint on the Twin Cities restaurant scene. The former Daniel Boulud protégé opened Spoon and Stable in 2014 to great acclaim by defying categorization and creating a menu with a multitude of influences. His follow-up was his ode to French gastronomy Bellecour, which was one of the best restaurants opened in America last year.

Last week he announced that he would be opening a third restaurant in the region—and possibly his most ambitious one yet. Demi will feature a U-shaped counter surrounding the kitchen, where two seatings of just 20 people each night will enjoy a tasting menu by Kaysen and his team. “When we set out to do Spoon and Stable, our intention four years ago was to break boundaries, amend traditions, and see where else we can take our community,” Kaysen says. “We reevaluated and said, ‘Have we done it?’ If we feel we have, how can we do it more?”

The planning began last May as a small space near Spoon and Stable became available, and now they’re looking to open in early 2019. As we wait for that day to come, here are five things you need to know about Demi, in Kaysen’s own words.

  1. It’s Small. Like Really Small.

“I was joking with someone the other day who wanted to book out the whole restaurant. I responded, ‘Great. Just so you know, it’s 20 seats. You can’t call and tell me you have 24 people because four people will stand. There are literally only 20 chairs. That’s all we bought.'”

  1. It’s Not a Regional Restaurant Per Se

“I always look at it the same way. Delicious is delicious. And if there are parts of the menu that come from our region, then that’s great. And if there are parts of the menu that don’t come from our region and it’s equally delicious, that’s great. I want the menu to have a sense of place. I want you to feel as though you are definitely within our walls in the Upper Midwest. But we don’t have a voice of Nordic cuisine or Spanish cuisine or French cuisine. For us, those are all borrowed techniques and borrowed tastes. And I’m certain there is not an Upper Midwest voice of cuisine yet. We’re too young to have figured that out. And I’m not on the quest to find that necessarily, but I think there’s certainly an opportunity for us to look within the farms, look within the people that we work with on a daily basis, to figure out how to make food just incredibly delicious.” 

  1. The Interaction with the Cooks Is Integral to the Experience

“At Spoon and Stable, we’re cooking for 200-plus people every night and we’re able to reach a lot of people. With Demi, we’re going to try to cook for only 40 people a night. We have a longer opportunity to speak to guests. We did a tasting menu on our counter at Spoon and Stable, but it was six seats. So, we could do a total of 12 menus there. And it was the same thing. It was great, we loved it, and the guests loved it, but it’s hard to connect to those 12 people when you’re still cooking for 250 other people.”

  1. The Chef’s Counter Is Part of Fine Dining’s Evolution

“Fine dining has changed and evolved and morphed so much from where we’ve seen it. And I think counter dining this way is an extension of what modern fine dining could start to look like more and more. Chefs like to be in the dining room and have that interaction with guests. It all stems from the modern era of [Paul] Bocuse coming out of the kitchen. And the customers are savvy enough to understand what you’re doing in the kitchen. They like to watch the dance; it’s theater in a way. It takes away that uneasy feeling between courses, where everything’s so quiet and you feel like you can’t talk in the dining room. But when you’re seated around a counter and you’re hearing kitchen movements and chefs talking to one another, you feel the interaction and you feel the excitement and you feel the energy. As a guest, I think that that’s quite thrilling.”

  1. The Menu Is Still TBD

“We haven’t made the menu yet. We haven’t even tested the dishes. We just announced we’re building a restaurant. We have an idea of how many courses, but we’re not talking about it yet because I want guests to show up with as little expectation as possible and just enjoy.”

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