Jason Blair of Red Stag Supperclub, Chef Chat Part 2

We continue our chat with chef Jason Blair of Red Stag Supperclub in Northeast Minneapolis, the first LEED certified restaurant in the state.  After working in nationally acclaimed restaurants all over the Pacific Northwest (and Alaska) Jason's experience made him uniquely qualified to take over as head toque of a sustainably minded operation. Today he talks about his relationship with his farmers and his mom's sweet hotdish.  (Catch up with Part 1 here.)

How do you deal with locally sourcing ingredients in the frigid Minnesota months?
The menu changes monthly, so that gives us a lot of room to be creative. We're lucky that we can get tomatoes year round from Owatonna (Bushel Boy), and I've got a great relationship with Gail from Drag Smith farms. We get all our micro greens from them.

How do you feel about the micro-greens reputation as the upscale version of the superfluous kale leaf garnish on the plate?

Yeah! (laughs) It's like when I got out of school and I was like, there is no way I'm cooking French food. Then I start working at this amazing restaurant making French food that was incredible--I loved it! Then I thought I'd never want to do Italian food. You know, there's so much mediocre Italian out there. Then I started working at this restaurant and got to make all of these fresh pastas. There was a garden right outside the kitchen door. It was all about fresh, simple, good food. 

The thing is, I really like our microgreens. A great chef once said to me, "What can you take off the plate to make this a better dish?" Everything, everything on a plate has to serve a purpose.

When I took over the kitchen I said, "If we're going to be a supper club, let's be a supper club. Let's have some fun with this!" 

I'm a total mama's boy, and my mom was really busy. She made hotdish. The food ideas come from there. It's all about our roots.

Tell me about the meats you're serving.
It's awesome. I'm able to get the whole animal and use it.

You break down a whole cow back there?
Uh, no--not enough room, but I do get whole lamb from the Lamb Shoppe in Hutchinson. Our cows come from Peterson Farms. We get an entire animal and use pretty much everything.  We take off the choice cuts and grind all our own burgers. I love that our hamburgers come from one animal instead of who knows how many. And we also have our steaks coming from Thousand Hills.

What was the first dish you learned to cook?
Mashed potatoes.

What's your favorite cooking implement?
Ha! I thought about it, and I really love the microplane, but then I heard someone else say that...  My 10-inch Masahiro knife. I can do anything with that. And I love the microplane.

What's your drink of choice?
Alcoholic? Maker's Mark with a beer back. Nonalcoholic is ginger ale.

This being a supper club, is it safe to assume you'll be doing a Lenten fish fry?
Oh, yes. Yes, we've got fried walleye, fried trout, and there's always the smelt fries. We've got smelt on the menu year round.

509 First Avenue NE, Minneapolis
Red Stag website

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