Minnesota Original

S10 E2 | FULL EPISODE

MNO Presents Culinary Artists

Chef Ann Kim infuses traditional Korean flavors into her modern cuisine. Kombucha and a story about Pineapple Plantations of Hawaii. Sameh Wadi creates cravable food inspired by flavors from around the world Frances Olson explains processing sorghum syrup in the depression era. Chef Shige Furukawa brings the traditional Japanese kaiseki meal to Minneapolis.

AIRED: May 12, 2019 | 0:26:46
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TRANSCRIPT

(lively music)

- Our family immigrated to the United States

in the late 70s.

And my grandmother immigrated with us.

I was at her hip when she was cooking.

Every year we had a garden that she tended to

and I'd help her pick vegetables and plant seeds.

Our family table growing up

was a reflection of East and West.

At any given point you might see

a bucket of KFC alongside a jar of kimchi.

I was really sort of embarrassed

for the kinds of foods I ate,

and now kimchi has become sort of trendy thing to do.

And so we were kind of eating fusion

before fusion became a thing.

And I've grown to really appreciate

the kind of food I grew up with

and that's really formed my palate today as a chef.

(gentle music)

My journey to becoming a chef and a restauranteur

was a winding road.

Prior to becoming a chef,

I was an actor for about eight years of my life.

I decided at one point that I was really unhappy.

It just didn't feed my soul.

And so one day, it was really with the encouragement

of my husband and business partner who just said,

I really feel like you find joy

at making other people feel happy through food.

So with his encouragement we both decided,

why not just go for it?

(lively music)

Pizzeria Lola came to be

because the one thing that I really love to eat is pizza.

And I really felt like the kind of pizza

I wanted to eat wasn't available at the time.

And having never worked professionally in a restaurant,

I figured if I just focused on one thing

and really do all that I can to learn

how to make the best pizza possible,

that people might actually come.

(lively music)

When we first opened up Pizzeria Lola,

we didn't have any Korean influences on the menu.

I wanted to challenge some of my diners

so the first pizza that we put on the menu

is called the Lady Zaza.

And we have kimchi on that pizza.

And I think it's funny that a lot of our guests

come and tell me that their introduction to kimchi

for the first time is on a pizza.

But they fall in love with it

and that they feel more inclined

to go experience Korean food in a deeper way.

(string music)

It was never my intention to share

Korean food with the community.

But it really is a reflection of my history

and the food that tastes really good to me.

And if I can introduce them

to a new culture and a new cuisine,

while they're enjoying it, then it's win win.

I do try and spend as much time as I can

between all three restaurants.

Now we have a centralized office

where I do spend a good bulk of my time

but it's not the same as actually

being in the restaurants

and checking in with my staff,

making sure they have what they need,

connecting with guests.

And that's one part of the job that I really do enjoy.

(lively music)

Young Joni is very much a reflection

of the kind of food that I love to eat

and a reflection of my cultural history.

Young Joni is sort of a grown up sibling of Pizzeria Lola.

It's a little bit more sophisticated.

We have some elevated flavors,

a more diverse menu.

I described it once to a friend,

it's like a restaurant giving you a big hug.

So hopefully more people wanna come and have big hugs.

(laughing)

We're gonna be testing out a dish that I grew up eating

which was a sauteed kimchi and pork belly dish.

And I had this idea of what if

we could recreate that somehow.

Did you add any butter to that?

No? I don't know that it needs it.

I mean we never used butter growing up.

- So I think this will be fine without it.

- I don't know how much better

I like this than the last one.

I like both of them better than the first one.

I prefer a different pork product,

maybe like sausage.

I think sausage could be really nice.

I miss being in the kitchen as much as I used to be

but it's really exciting to see my chefs

coming up with their own ideas

and it's allowing us to continue to grow.

- A nice crispy, smoky skin on this fish.

It grills up really nice on the red oak fire.

- [Male Voice] Ahh it looks tender.

- I've always felt that food is culture.

For me, the most interesting way to explore

history and culture and new country is to go eat.

And see the way families eat and how people gather.

And it's a reflection of who they are.

The food that excites me the most is a mix of cultures.

Young Joni is really a culmination of my lineage,

of how I grew up as a Korean American in Minnesota

and I do feel like it's an exciting time

to be eating and cooking here

in our state and in our country.

Because I do believe that the food that we're eating today

is a direct reflection

of the cultural diversity of who we are.

(dramatic music)

Koreans have this innate sense of

(speaking in a foreign language).

A sense of longing and suffering.

And I kind of feel like that it's

almost goes against my DNA to take risks.

And whether I was telling stories on stage as an actor

or telling stories on a plate as a chef,

I feel like it was what I was meant to do

and I feel like feeding people feeds my soul.

(banjo music)

- My name is Laura Nakamora,

and today we're gonna be making pineapple mint kombucha.

Kombucha is a fizzy fermented tea

that's made out of sweet black or green tea

that is fermented with a scoby.

A scoby is a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast

that looks like a round slimy hockey puck.

Once I am satisfied with the way it tastes,

then I add in whatever flavorings I'm gonna put in.

I grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii.

My great grandparents emigrated to Hawaii

to work on the Del Monte pineapple plantation.

When my grandfather was in eighth grade,

his father started brewing moonshine.

His father was arrested because it was the Prohibition

and my grandfather had to drop out of school

to work in the pineapple fields to support the family

as the eldest child of nine children.

That's kind of the story of how my great grandfather

was a moonshiner, had this history of brewing pineapple rum,

and it's kind of fun now making kombucha

and having that parallel with him.

I don't have to do it in secret at all

but it is something I think about

when I'm making my kombucha.

(horn music)

(piano music)

My relationship with food is an interesting one

because I grew up in a household

that really centered their entire focus around food.

Every day, I like to come in and taste every single flavor.

'Cause you know, what they say is the first five minutes

of the day sets the tone for what the day looks like.

So I like to start my day with ice cream.

Early on, I knew I loved to cook.

I knew I needed to be involved with food.

And I didn't really think that this was something

I can do as a career.

There wasn't a chef that looked like me,

that talked like me, that cooked like me,

that I could look up to.

So at that moment I decided

you know what this is something I definitely

wanted to go into and explore more.

(gentle music)

I was born in Kuwait to Palestinian parents

and then I moved to Minnesota in 1997.

Saffron was our first

fine dining restaurant that we opened up.

It was ahead of its time,

I was 23 at the time that we opened

and I had no idea what I was doing.

Saffron was kind of a representation of me,

my culinary heritage and then me sort of cooking

that culinary heritage in a modern day setting.

And introduce some of the culture via the food.

Yeah, because I don't think these habaneros are as spicy

as the first batch that we did.

But also remember that we got this--

After opening up Saffron and just cooking

the Middle Eastern food for a while,

I was eating at different restaurants

and sort of discovering world cuisine.

So that got me super excited about

just international cuisine and world food.

And the more that I ate that food,

the more that I wanted to learn about it.

And the more that I wanted people to try it out.

The texture is killer.

A little bit more of the habanero to the brown--

I opened up a food truck

and we served international street food.

From the food truck, we ended up opening up

World Street Kitchen in South Minneapolis

and then from there we opened up our ice cream shop,

Milk Jam Creamery and we opened up Grand Catch,

our seafood restaurant in St Paul.

So because we wanna make the biscuits a little bit larger

but I still want them wrapped in the paper.

So my role in the restaurants

continues to change and evolve as the time goes by.

We've hired a lot of really talented chefs and cooks.

And so my role is the culinary visionary for the company

and take those people and mold them up

and figure out how can we get those people

to run those companies and give their own stamp

on these different cuisines.

And that's really what brings me

the most amount of happiness right now,

is being able to teach people these different cuisines

and then seeing how they spin off of it.

Tell them I appreciate them ordering it this way,

personally thank them.

The other part of what I do is managing our social media.

And that started out after I shot my first cookbook.

Pumpkin with toasted pecans and honeycomb,

super monochromatic.

I just became enamored with food photography.

I sat and I styled all of the photographs for our cookbook

and it really brought me a lot of joy.

It made me happy to just kind of set up this food

and shoot it and seeing these talented photographers,

their vision of what this dish look like.

Awesome, yep.

That's the one.

(guitar music)

I've been collecting cookbooks

for about a little over 15 years now.

My favorite cookbooks in this collection is

the manuscript that my parents wrote.

This is sort of their work.

So while we were living in Kuwait,

my parents started writing a cookbook

and photographing their recipes.

And once they started going into it,

it became more of, let's preserve this culture

and heritage of the Palestinian people.

And then around 1990, we moved to Jordan.

This manuscript got packed up in a box

and got lost in the shuffle.

It wasn't until about 2004

that my brother found this manuscript in a box.

It'd traveled three continents.

I knew that I had a duty

to kind of revive this book in any way, shape or form.

I wrote a cookbook, The New Mediterranean Table.

And in The New Mediterranean Table, I tried to sort of

break down that barrier that this is foreign food.

I cooked dishes that used mid-Western ingredients

and Middle Eastern techniques

and sort of just said, here just make this happen.

You can do this, this is easy.

Changing small little elements in a spice bowl

and lend it to a different continent

so this is one of those kind of basic spice blends

that you would find in the Middle East.

Obviously anyone that goes into the food world

doesn't do it for the money. (laughing)

People go into the food world because it brings you joy.

It makes you happy.

And that's really the large portion of why I cook.

And I love to share these creations with people.

I love cooking for family and friends

because it really brings me joy.

I just cook whatever comes to mind

and it's not adhering to a menu per se.

It's not adhering to a recipe.

It's just kind of cooking from the heart.

The one signature flavor profile that I have is flavor.

That's it.

I love big bold flavors

and then layer it with different nuances

so it doesn't seem boring while you eat it.

Sometimes I wanna showcase a certain ingredient

that may be in season and then sometimes just kind of

dishes come up in my head,

different flavor combinations

that just sound really good in my head

and you just go into the kitchen

and you put them together and hopefully they work.

And if they don't, you sort of retool little things

to make it exactly what you wanted it to be.

- Hello.

(dog barking)

Ed, his younger brother.

Much much younger brother. - Yeah,

I did heard about you.

- I'm Shahira.

- You know when I first moved to this country,

my brother and I sat with each other

and my brother said to me,

you can do anything in this country.

You can be the greatest person

or you can be the worst person.

But just remember one thing.

You are an ambassador for Palestinians

all across the world here in this city.

And I was 13 years old, I took that to heart,

and I kind of looked at that

as being kind of a jumping point in my food,

in the way that our restaurants are full of hospitality

and the love that we have for the people,

and so that is the love that goes into it.

The Middle Eastern hospitality,

the Palestinian roots that come into it.

We just say Bismillah (Arabic)

which means In the name of God.

Bismillah, Bismillah

Awesome, let's get in this.

(guitar music)

(dramatic music)

I grew up in Meeker County, Collinwood Township,

Steelesville District, on a little farm,

a few miles straight south of Dassel, Minnesota.

We grew a lot of things on our farm

and one of the cash crops was sorghum.

Sorghum syrup was used in baking breads,

cakes, cookies, syrup on your pancakes.

It was a sweetener.

My mother used a recipe

for making these rolled out cookies that I use today.

I've substituted Crisco for lard.

We grew about six acres of sorghum.

It looks like a corn plant

when it comes up out of the ground.

Two teaspoons of ginger.

First of all we strip the plant of all its leaves

because that juice was very bitter.

You wouldn't want that to get into your sorghum.

Then we cut down the plant,

the press would press out the sap,

and that sap it would fall down into a pan.

Then you can pick up your watered dough.

Now if it's difficult for you to stand,

you pull up a stool and it works just fine.

We had to boil the sap from the sorghum cane

to make the syrup.

And it was a matter of progression.

The sap came in on one end and this long pan,

I think the pan must have been 10 feet long

and the fire underneath would start cooking

but all the green stuff, all the sludge,

had to be taken off first.

And that was thrown into a barrel.

Throw it off, throw it off, you know.

And it's finally, it worked its way up until it was

at the very end where it was the final cooking.

And my dad always did the finishing.

Sprinkling this on because it tastes good.

We sold a lot of sorghum door to door,

by word of mouth, just people calling land sorghum.

I don't know of any competition

that people had had sorghum to sell like we did.

You know a whole handful of these and have a glass of milk.

(guitar picking)

Restaurant chooses to serve delicious food,

that is bottom line.

So beyond the deliciousness,

there is how do I touch the guest's heart?

(string music)

(chopping thuds)

That is my goal all the time,

I'm achieving that point.

I want to touch your heart with my food.

(string music)

(chopping thuds)

Kado No Mise is my first restaurant

where I want to introduce more authentic traditional way

of sushi and Japanese cooking food.

I started as a kaiseki apprentice.

The first one year, two years, just washing dishes,

and prep and peel vegetable and scaling the fish.

These are very important for that training knife skill.

I start cooking in Tokyo and then move to New York,

eight years, then move back to Kyoto, Japan, two years,

then move to Minneapolis.

So when I move to here,

I was feeling restaurant scene

is 15 years behind New York.

I want to catch up to New York

and then take over New York.

Then I want to catch up the Japanese restaurant in Japan.

This is different kind of knife.

This knife, use this part for carving or peeling the skin.

This part, use for chopping.

And this one, the sashimi knife.

Also this one sashimi knife.

Also this one sashimi knife.

But the purpose is different.

And this one the fish to filet knife.

This knife was this much big when I bought.

It already 20 years.

In Japanese say, (speaking in foreign language)

it mean mirror of my heart.

This is my mirror of my heart.

Knife is my soul, these are everything.

I like the simple way like try to

draw out the flavor from the ingredient.

I don't wanna make something like when you eat the dish

that you don't know what you eating.

Octopus is octopus.

(cello music)

Kaiseki Furukawa is Japanese restaurant

focused to kaiseki meal.

Kaiseki begin more than 600 years ago.

Started from part of tea ceremony

to avoid caffeine burn your stomach,

you need to eat something.

I want to introduce that culture to the mid-West.

So kaiseki is 10 course.

There's a variety of ingredients

from mountain, from the ocean.

There is lots of different flavor.

Some is vinegar flavor,

and some are salty

and some are a little bitter.

- [Female Voice] It's so good.

- Usually kaisekis reflect the season,

I have to give you the impression

what is in season now.

Of course the ingredients have season.

Food have a season.

The vegetable have a season.

But kaiseki meal,

the plates and lacquerware have season also.

80% of my ingredients is coming from Japan.

For instance, we are using the fresh wasabi from Japan.

Most of the guests understand my food.

They appreciate, thank you for open

this restaurant in Minnesota.

- Oh my goodness, it is so good.

- So I like to watch customer face,

I can see immediately, the faces change.

And some customer start laughing

because they're so delicious.

And also some

guests start to cry.

That is very important for me.

That's why I'm doing chef.

- [Female Voice] Arigato.

- Arigato, thank you very much.

Thank you for coming tonight.

(speaking in foreign language)

- Oh wow.

- [Presenter] This program is made possible by

the State's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund

and the citizens of Minnesota.

(light music)

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