There is nothing quite like the frenetic and fleeting seasonality of the upper Midwest to inspire a soulful cook. For Gavin Kaysen, an old soul at heart, this idea beckoned him back home to Minneapolis to open Spoon and Stable restaurant in the North Loop neighborhood in fall 2014. “Cooking is very emotional for me; I have to cook how I feel,” Chef Kaysen says. “There’s something to be said for how you feel emotionally as one season gives way to the next, when it snows, rains, or is sunny. I never thought about that growing up here, but coming back, I see that now.” Even though the award-winning chef has cooked in top kitchens throughout the U.S. and Europe, Chef Kaysen gravitates most toward traditional Heartland dishes—the kind he grew up eating and cooking. “I love the classics. Starting with my grandmother, we always cooked very classical American dishes, like pot roast and chicken. I’m taking the knowledge I have now to shift, change, and morph those at Spoon and Stable.”
Chef Kaysen refined his dexterity in contemporary American fine dining by dedicating time to some of the world’s best restaurants. After graduating in 2001 from the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, VT, Chef Kaysen worked at Domaine Chandon in Yountville, CA; L’Auberge de Lavaux in Lausanne, Switzerland; and the famed L’Escargot in London, before becoming executive chef at El Bizcocho in San Diego, where he was named one of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs. In late 2007, he joined Chef Daniel Boulud as chef de cuisine of Café Boulud in New York City, where he later earned the James Beard Rising Star Chef award and a coveted Michelin star. While there, he discovered so much more than tangible, technical skills. “It was like getting my master’s and PhD with Daniel and his organization,” he explains. “I learned so much about hospitality, about the business, cooking—but more importantly, I learned a lot about soulful food. When he cooks, it’s all about spontaneity, which I have discovered is how I really thrive, too.”
Chef Kaysen currently serves as Bocuse d’Or Team USA’s Vice President. He brings an intimate knowledge of the Bocuse d’Or competition, as he proudly represented the U.S. in 2007.