Gastro Non Grata boys talk meat, beer, and rock 'n' roll: Chef Chat, part 1

Gastro co-founders Jeff Mitchell and Craig Drehmel: Their No. 1 work rule? Don't get drunk.
Gastro co-founders Jeff Mitchell and Craig Drehmel: Their No. 1 work rule? Don't get drunk.
Courtesy of Gastro Non Grata

Gastro Non Grata, the traveling circus that is part backyard BBQ, part beer festival, and all rock, takes on its biggest event to date Sunday with Vagabond Vacation at First Avenue and 7th St. Entry. A labor of love celebrating the heavenly trinity of food, drink, and music, Gastro Non Grata events unite these forces to celebrate one of the best things in life--people gathering and having fun. This week Chef Chat talks to Gastro Non Grata co-founders Jeff Mitchell and Craig Drehmel to get the scoop.

What does Gastro Non Grata mean? Persona Non Grata is an old-timey way of saying certain people are purposefully not invited to a function, a snub some would say. Your crazy drunk uncle that's not allowed to Thanksgiving anymore would be a good example. Gastro Non Grata is our Latinish term for unwelcome gastronomy. We're here to call out the Big Guys pushing processed food full of preservatives, beer made with adjuncts instead of ingredients, and the lowly bastards that are passing off an autotuner as an instrument. If there is bacon not bloated up with 60 percent water, we'll be there. If a burger is hand-pattied, stuffed full of cheese, and cooked to a perfect pink, we will eat it. If you can barely see through your cask-conditioned ale, we will first sip and appreciate it, then swallow it with relish.

What was your proudest moment at a Gastro Non Grata event? Drehmel: The Furthermore Shitty Barn Party last summer was a mixture of loud rock 'n' roll, beer, pork, and crazy. Mitchell: Our Eggs for Africa event at the Hexagon. Watching all those chefs work together and kick out 600 eggs in 2 ½ hours was awe inspiring.

Who are your favorite local bands, right now or in the past? Drehmel: Blind Shake and Birthday Suits always bring it, and the defunct Blackhearted Force will always have a place in my CD changer. Mitchell:Chambermaids. Hammerhead.

What is your biggest pet peeve about the restaurant scene? Drehmel: Poor service is a sickness in this town, and we should be quarantined. Mitchell:Trend killers. I used to love burgers and bacon, now I just like them.

What are your favorite beers, cheap and micro? Drehmel: Bell's Two Hearted and PBR are the bars by which I judge beer. Mitchell: Leinie's original and Furthermore Proper Ale.

What are your rules of conduct on the job? Drehmel: Try not to get too drunk, don't forget to enjoy it Mitchell: Sobriety is the key.

What are your favorite fine-dining restaurants in America? Drehmel: We're pretty broke, but Piccolo blew our minds, and Doug is awesome. Mitchell: I read about this restaurant in California that presses your shirt while you eat, but the waiting list is incredible.

What is your favorite value restaurant? Drehmel: Band Box Diner patty melt and Saigon crispy pork spring rolls are a staple of my diet. Mitchell: Any shitty Chinese restaurant.

What was your most embarrassing moment at an event? Drehmel: Getting a little too drunk at a couple shows and talking on the mic waaay too long. Mitchell: Bowling alley show.

While we all envision exactly what happened at the bowling alley show, let's take a break to return tomorrow for more Chef Chat with Gastro Non Grata.

Gastro Non Grata's Vagabond Vacation When: Sunday, June 27, 5:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Price: $12 advance/$15 door. Includes three beer tickets and three food tickets Where: First Avenue, 7th St. Entry, and Record Room

Use Current Location

Related Location

O'Gara's Bar & Grill

164 Snelling Ave. N.
St. Paul, MN 55104


Sponsor Content


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >