Steph Hedrick of Jack's: Chef Chat, part 2

Executive Chef Steph Hedrick at Jack's

Executive Chef Steph Hedrick at Jack's

In today's part of our chat with Steph Hedrick, executive chef at Jack's in south Minneapolis, Hedrick talks about what and where she likes to eat and which cookbooks are inspiring her now. (Read part 1 of the chat here.)


What is the hardest lesson you've learned as a chef? It's tricky to figure out what makes sense emotionally and what makes sense financially and put those two together.

What is the weirdest thing you've ever eaten? At Table of Contents, one of the other cooks and I--Nate Lane, who owns the Streetza fire truck pizza--he and I decided to cook up some lamb testicles. They were really gross, but we tried them. It was like the thick gristle part of a steak, kind of inedible. We followed a recipe and everything, but it just wasn't good.

What is your favorite dish to cook at home? We're huge fans of open-faced turkey sandwiches with gravy and mashed potatoes. I'm also cooking for an eclectic group: a five-year-old, a seven-year-old, and a 30-year-old. It's usually five different dishes at once. They're totally spoiled. What can I say? The kids still eat hot dogs and mac and cheese, but I've even got the picky eater to eat some seafood. For the most part if I make a dinner that's all brown and orange, they're super happy.

What is your favorite Twin Cities restaurant other than your own? In the Cities, I really just like the neighborhood places a lot. I go to King's a lot. I go to Corner Table a lot.

When I lived [in the Kingfield neighborhood], I went to Anodyne all the time, Grand Café, Victor's. We go to Zumbro Café in Linden Hills a lot for brunch. Matt's Bar's burgers. And remember, when we go out, we have to have a five- and a seven-year-old with us 99 percent of the time. I really liked La Grassa. They have a really cool concept. It's such a pretty restaurant. I love it.

Now I live across the street from Seward Co-op. I go to Seward Co-op constantly. I can get whatever I want, whenever I want it, as long as it's before 10 p.m.

What do you think is the best food city in America? Chicago is insanely amazing. You can go to the littlest hole in the wall and have the greatest Italian food you've ever had. You can't find good Italian food in the Twin Cities other than [Bar] La Grassa and Broders' [Pasta Bar].

What is your favorite restaurant outside of the Twin Cities? Craft was insanely amazing in New York. So cool. And most of the staff there is from Minnesota. They just happened to get one of the old chefs that worked at the original Loring before D'Amico bought it. A lot of that kitchen staff went out to New York and ended up at Craft.

What are your favorite cookbooks? Alice Waters is a huge influence here. I know she's a huge influence everywhere, but I just love her approach. Her restaurant was part of her family. The stories that are in her cookbooks are so cool and so genuine. It leads you into, of course, Julia Child. I could read her recipes over and over and over again just to hear her voice and her approach. Julia Child is like the greatest teacher ever. You just read her book and she doesn't make you feel stupid for not knowing something. You feel like you know her. She's so personable.

All of the charcuterie books right now. I just got the new CIA charcuterie cookbook [The Art of Charcuterie, from the Culinary Institute of America]. It just takes you step by step through everything.

Our chat with Steph Hedrick concludes tomorrow.