BEST STAR CHEF EXPERIENCE - 2004
Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Program
The weirdest trend of the last year has been the way so many of Minnesota's name-brand, swoon-inducing, best-reviewed chefs just vanished into thin air for months and months at a stretch. Where do they go? Whom do they feed? Wasn't it weird the way Steven Brown was totally MIA for like a year, and then just popped up at Levain, but that meant that Stewart Woodman disappeared? And where is Lisa Carlson? And how is it that Patrick Atanalian, who had such a devoted and admiring following, who could cook a piece of chicken in such a way that each millimeter of bird was tender and appealing in a different way, from crisp to crisp-fatty to crisp-tender to--oh, so you don't believe it. Big whoop. We've seen it. We're salivating just at the memories, the beautiful, beautiful memories. From when he cooked at the late lamented New French Café, and the even later lamented Loring Café. So, where is Atanalian? Finally, here's one we can actually answer: He's teaching cooking out at Le Cordon Bleu in Mendota Heights, and you should care because every Tuesday to Friday, from 11:30 to 1:30, he leads the students in preparing a three- or four-course lunch, which is available to you in their dining room for $15. Yes, only $15! And they serve all kinds of crazy ambitious things, like "ris de veau à la Normande," "medaillon de gibier poivrade," and "zuppa de vongole." (That's veal sweetbreads in a creamy apple sauce, venison medallions in a peppered demiglaze with almond cake and red wine pears, and clam soup to you, Bud.) Fifteen bucks. Patrick Atanalian. Mendota Heights. Never thought those words would be all together like that and make any kind of sense. Oh well. What kills us is that these kids probably have no idea what they've got out there. But you know. And such are the privileges of adulthood.