Chef's Day Off: Where Don Saunders of the Kenwood likes to eat

Saunders (left) with the Kenwood's manager Rachel Domenichetti and sous chef Matthew Hughes
Saunders (left) with the Kenwood's manager Rachel Domenichetti and sous chef Matthew Hughes

Benjamin Carter Grimes

It's relatively rare -- maybe even a blue moon-level occasion -- for a chef, particularly one at a new restaurant, to be able to go out on the town and have someone else cook for them. So when local chefs do get a chance to get away from their own kitchens, where do they choose to eat? This Chef's Day Off series reveals some of the lusted-after dishes and top restaurant picks of the talented people who shape our local food scene.

This week's featured food professional is Don Saunders, owner and executive chef of both In Season in Armatage and the Kenwood in Kenwood. Saunders has a storied culinary career that started with his classical training in London and turned into long-running stints at critically acclaimed French restaurants such as Au Rebours in downtown St. Paul and Fugaise in northeast Minneapolis. He put in time at Vincent and La Belle Vie before finally making a go of it on his own, opening In Season in the late winter of 2010 and the Kenwood just a few months ago. The majority of what he cooks has a decidedly French accent, but the food and restaurant he names as his "No. 1 favorite, by a longshot" is part of a very different culinary tradition.

Origami: This place is No. 1 for me, my wife, and our 4-year-old son, by a longshot. I absolutely love that restaurant. We have a long-running family debate about the order of our top three restaurants: Origami, the Kenwood, and In Season. But all joking aside, the quality at Origami is amazing. Sushi is definitely my favorite type of food to eat, so I feel like I have a lot of experience with it, and Origami is as good or better than anything I've ever had. What I tend to order there is anything made with the interesting fish they would have gotten fresh that particular week. My wife likes the uni, and our son gets the salmon roe.

Tilia, Harriet Brasserie, Pizzeria Lola, Broder's, and the Lynn on Bryant: These are all places I frequent on my days off. We like neighborhood places that we feel good about supporting and know the food will always be great.

La Belle Vie and Piccolo: These are the go-to restaurants for special-occasion dinners.

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The Kenwood Restaurant

2115 W. 21st St.
Minneapolis, MN 55405


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