Tommy Begnaud of Town Talk Diner: Chef Chat, part 1

As Town Talk Diner debuts an updated menu (while keeping around old favorites like the Brat Burger and Frickles,) we talked to chef Tommy Begnaud, the creative force behind the changes. Begnaud shared some of his history--he grew up in suburban Minnesota, one of five boys from a large Irish Catholic family. His dad worked on the railroad for 42 years, while his mom stayed home and took care of the brood. In the Begnaud home, food was prepared on a budget, with lots of homemade breads and desserts. "Some of us got fat!" he says. "Since meals had to feed all seven of us, we ate soups and stews and sauces over pasta and inexpensive cuts of meat. Chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy was served every Sunday." This cultivated Begnaud's love of the art of food. We spoke to Begnaud about his craft in this three-part interview.

What has been your proudest moment as chef?
That's a tough question to answer. I would have to say that my proudest moment was probably the evening I cooked for my grandfather, Paul Begnaud. The Town Talk hosted a cocktail dinner that we called the "Speakeasy Dinner" back in 2009. I cooked a crawfish etouffee that my grandpa taught me years ago.

What do you think is the best "food city" in America?
Outside the Twin Cities, I would have to say Chicago, New York, and San Francisco. I really enjoy Cajun cuisine, so Lafayette, Louisiana (the heart of Cajun country), is up there for me as well.

What is you favorite music to cook by?
I really enjoy about all of it. Right now I am listening to the new Black Keys album, but it all works for me.

What was your most embarrassing moment in the kitchen?
My first day at the Town Talk Diner, nearly four years ago, I sliced the tip of my finger off on a mandoline within an hour of beginning my first shift. I cannot believe they kept me around.

What is your favorite dish to cook at home?
If I ever had time to cook at home, you mean? What I find myself preparing are items I do not have time to prepare at the restaurant, such as breads and baked goods.

What is your favorite dish on Town Talk menu?
Besides the Begnaud Burger? I would have to say it's the lamb chops, cheese curds, and our "Oldest Fashion," by far the best cocktail in the world.

If you could add any dish to add to the menu, what would it be?
Really wanted to have a bluegill on the menu for this summer, but unfortunately wasn't able to source it from anywhere for a reasonable price.

What's your favorite knife?
Any knife with a good edge that is not yet gone missing from the kitchen.

Our chat with Tommy Begnaud of Town Talk Diner continues tomorrow...

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Town Talk Diner - Closed

2707 1/2 E. Lake St.
Minneapolis, MN 55406


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