Pantry to the Stars

Spanish cheese as a talent-retention tool?

At La Belle Vie, the Stillwater restaurant helmed by chefs Tim McKee and Josh Thoma, they cater to the most food-literate of populations, and so have always been somewhat insulated from the slings and arrows that the rest of us suffer. "I think it was inevitable that better ingredients would come," says McKee. "The more a city shows interest in food, the more access to ingredients they're going to have. There wasn't much of a market when you could only sell specialty ingredients to three restaurants. The bigger the market, the more prices come down, the more people will be serving those good ingredients that you used to have to go to D'Amico Cucina to try."

Will this effect continue to snowball, with more and more Garrotxas popping up on farther-flung and more unexpected menus, increasing general food literacy, encouraging competition, driving prices down, and making the Twin Cities twice as good again someday?

Perhaps: After all, we do seem to have the ingredients in place.

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