It’s been eight years since Gavin Kaysen first moved home as Minnesota’s great white hope in a chef coat. His reputation however, preceded him.
Before his return to the North, Kaysen worked as an executive chef for French superstar Daniel Boulud in Manhattan, and his PR machine ensured we were aware of this. And unlike other big name cheffy interlopers who didn’t grow up in Bloomington and hadn’t played hockey at Holy Angels, who weren’t officially one of us—like Wolfgang Puck or Jean-Georges Vongereichten—Kaysen’s media blitz worked. As soon as Spoon and Stable opened its doors in the North Loop, Kaysen was regarded as Minneapolis’s best new chef.
After winning a James Beard Award for Best Chef: Midwest for his work at Spoon in 2018, he opened Demi in 2019, an even more exclusive sister restaurant in the North Loop. But in the middle of the pandemic, he had his first high profile set back, when he closed Bellecour in Wayzata. Now he’s readying Mara, the glass-encased million-dollar restaurant in the new Four Seasons Hotel on Nicollet Mall, which just opened.
When we meet in Mara’s dining room, the space is unfinished—some artisan had installed the gold leaf behind the bar a couple days before—but walking behind Kaysen, clad as ever in one of his crisp white chef’s smocks, through Mara’s lush red lounge, it’s impossible to avoid tilting your head back and softly cursing in awe. Minneapolis hasn’t seen a restaurant quite this opulent in a long time. But Kaysen assures me you’ll never forget you’re downtown: For one, all those massive windows looking out on the city that his team will be serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner to everyday; for another, those windows, for now, are a fully two-way situation.
“We had a meeting yesterday,” Kaysen laughs, “And in the middle of it, this dude on Nicollet came up and dragged his tongue right across the glass.”
How did you know the “local boy made good” angle was going to play so well in our food scene?
I’ve never once come back into my hometown and thought to myself, I am going to prove something to everybody. That’s never been my intention. I’ve always wanted people to pay more attention to Minneapolis and St. Paul for culture and cuisine and art and all those things. And you know what? Sometimes it takes somebody from New York City to wake people up to write about it. At some point people are tired of reading about you though. They’re like ‘Okay, great, you made it in New York, you’re successful, now you got Spoon and Stable and I can’t get a fucking reservation.’
You were a sandwich artist at the Subway in Centennial Lakes when you were recruited by the chef of a pasta restaurant next door.
This guy George [Serra] walked in every Saturday, ordered a four-inch tuna fish sandwich on a round bun, and threw it in the garbage on the way out. He’d give me a hard time for wearing my hat backwards. But he would say, “You understand how to take care of people.”
He noticed you memorizing everybody’s orders and he offered you your first real restaurant job at a joint next door called Pasta Time. Then he encouraged you to go to culinary school in Vermont. He was your Obi Wan. But where did you get this entrepreneurial drive to memorize people’s sandwich orders in the first place?
it wasn’t as much entrepreneurial as it was I knew what food could do for people. When I was seven years old, I was in the kitchen with my Grandma Dorothy, baking Christmas cookies, making chicken and dumplings. My brother and my cousins were outside playing in the snow, but I recognized that once lunch was ready, they stopped and came around a table. “Wait, that’s how you get people together?”
You were grandma’s favorite?
I was good at sports and I was interactive with other kids, but I was the one that loved to be in the kitchen. In high school, I liked working on a Saturday night more than being out at some party.
So you worked for George Serra at Pasta Time and his fish fry joint in Prior Lake. Were you like the baby faced wunderkind in his kitchens?
Kind of. It’s so funny I have this memory, I’d be in the kitchen, prepping, and George would be walking around the kitchen talking to this guy in Boston. And you could tell that George trained him, and he would be so proud of whoever this guy was in his career. And at 17 I remember thinking I will fucking be better than whoever is on that phone.
What did the popular jocks at Holy Angels think of you?
I still see them today and they’re like, “I remember when you cooked this insane penne pasta dinner for us when we were 17.” And I don’t remember, but that was it. I just loved it so much.
What did you love about it, exactly?
I think it was the adrenaline rush of service. It was the repetition of cooking. It was something that I could consistently see progress in. Like if I failed, George would tell me how I failed, and then he would tell me how to fix the failure, and then the next dish that I’d cook, I’d see that I didn’t fail. So, it was this constant, instant gratification.
You have a brain that needs to feel order and perfection?
This is my serenity. And it’s funny, I will sit in meetings all day, I’ll do interviews, I’ll build menus, emails, whatever, but when I’m in the kitchen, and I’m cooking and plating with the team and there’s 200 people out here, and you hear the noise and the clink of the silver hitting the plates, that is where I find the most peace in my life. That is where I find the most peace in my life it’s like, I can think about things that I wanted to think about for the longest time, and you could put me in a closed room with a journal and say, “Write it all down,” nothing will come. When chaos is around me like that…
You’re in the zone.
It just gives me everything. It’s my superpower: being able to bring a team together in an environment that is intense, that has heat, that has an expression towards perfection, that has expectations, and to execute that night after night? It’s just beautiful.
Did your parents expect you to go to college?
Did they go to college?
They went to U of M. My parents are pretty traditional people. My mom is a dental hygienist and my dad was a medical CEO. They’re very straight arrow that way. And I think they definitely had college in their cards for me. I tried the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh for a year and I just hated it. I wanted to try college because I wanted to know if I really wanted culinary school, if I really wanted cooking. Did I just love the rush, and the energy, and the lifestyle, or did I really like love the idea of taking care of people? Because there’s a huge difference. I came back after a year and I’m like, “I already know that I want to do—I mean, I’m failing at college.” George had already prepped me for it—he said, “You’re going to go to culinary school.”
So George really was your Obi Wan.
You know what’s crazy? I remember when George called my parents in to his restaurant. I was cooking in the kitchen, my mom and dad are sitting with George and I can see them in the restaurant having a conversation. He was telling them, “Maybe you didn’t grow up understanding what food’s about, or cooking, or being a chef or a restaurateur, but I’ve been in this business forever. Your son has a gift.”
He knew. Yeah, he changed my life because he saw something in me that I didn’t even know existed for a career.
Is he still around?
Yeah, he has a standing reservation at Spoon every Wednesday at 6:30.
When you went to culinary school in Vermont, how did the sandwich artist from Minnesota compare to the east coast elite?
They knew so much before me. I show up to culinary school, I didn’t know anybody. I met Reed from Virginia, who’s now my best friend. We go back to his dorm, and he’s got cookbooks everywhere, he’s got sketches on pads, he’s got menus. I’m like, “I haven’t done any of this.” I didn’t even know this existed. Gourmet Magazine? What is that? What is Food & Wine? What are Top 10 Best New Chefs in America? What is this world that I’ve had absolutely no insight into?
Couldn’t your Obi Wan have prepped you?
George didn’t want me to see that there was any glory in what I was doing, he wanted me to understand that it’s a craft of taking care of people and cooking food, and then all the other shit comes later. You know what we used to do? We used to build art collages together on the walls of the kitchen, because he wanted to have my eyes understand negative space. I would come into work and he’d be like, “Gavin, there’s a collage I started on the walk-in cooler, finish it before you leave tonight.” And there would be magazines all over the back kitchen, and after I’d clean, I would look through the magazines and I would cut out what looked like art to me, in terms of color and space, and I would finish the collage. The next day he would explain to me what worked for him, or what didn’t, and then, he’d make me explain to him what it meant to me to look at that art. And it caught the artistic side of my brain like on fire, it turned it on.
That’s like MCAD shit.
I didn’t know it existed. And even in high school, I was the only guy in home economics because I wanted to learn how to cook. I wanted to understand. And that part of my brain, nobody can teach you that part of your brain until they see it in you. But my mom has such an incredible view of design and tablescapes. And my dad’s mom was just an amazing cook. But George tapped my brain into, “Hey, this is what art looks like.” I didn’t even know it existed. Then, I show up to culinary school and I was like, “Holy shit.”
How did you catch up?
It happened the first weekend. There’s a book called On Cooking, and the chef instructor gave us a list of chapters that we needed to read. The first night I was supposed to read chapter one through three, I didn’t read. I was like, “I’ll get to it tomorrow,” like everything I had always done in school, “I’ll get to it tomorrow.” I couldn’t fall asleep. And then I woke up and I was like, “If I don’t read what he says, if I don’t actually take this seriously, I’m never going to cash in on the gift that was given to me.” That was it. And everything flipped for me. And from that day forward, if the chef instructor said, “Do this,” I would do that times 10.
I do remember being in pastry class and we had to make Italian meringue. And the chef instructor is explaining, “When the sugar hits this temperature on the thermometer, just five degrees under, your sugar’s ready to be poured into your egg whites. Drizzle it slowly, carefully, into your egg whites, whisk it to a stiff peak, and then, you have an Italian meringue and you can make meringues that’ll make Pavlova.” I raised my hand, and I said, “My grandmother taught me how to never use a thermometer.” He says, “How?” I said, “We would take a cup of ice water and put it next to the sugar stove, and I’d have to hold my fingers in the ice water until my fingers were numb from the ice water and I’d dip it in the hot sugar and back into the ice water, and if it had the texture of a gummy bear, the sugar was ready.” And he just looks at me, he’s like, “What?” And I said, “Yeah, when I was 14 years old, I read an Italian meringue recipe in the Betty Crocker cookbook. And I went home from school and I tried to make it and I couldn’t make it. I kept fucking it up over and over again, and I called my grandma, and I go, ‘Grandma, the egg white falls every time. I go to pipe it on to the baking and I want to bake it, but it just falls apart.’ And she’s like, “Okay,” and she walked me through this process over the phone. And to that day, I’ve never used a thermometer.
You were training to do this your whole life.
Yeah. And I just didn’t know. But again, my grandmother saw something in me, then George saw something in me, then my parents allowed me to believe in it. And that was a defining moment, when I was 19 years old and I came home from college and I said, “I don’t want to do this. I want to do that.” They could have been like every other Midwest parent and said, “No, you go to college. You get your degree. After you get your degree, you can do what you want.” Instead, they said, “We believe in you.”
You took an internship your first year at Domaine Chandon in Napa Valley. Was Thomas Keller’s French Laundry a big deal out there by then?
There were major articles on Thomas in Gourmet and Esquire, New York Times, that was all ’98, ’99.
Did you know who he was?
No, I had no idea. Because I wasn’t reading any of this stuff, right? I was just going to school, trying to figure out how to make meringue. But it’s funny, because you weren’t allowed to go to Domaine Chandon if you were a first-year student—only second-years could go. The executive chef of the school, David Hale, vouched for me, so Robert Curry the chef of Domaine Chandon took me in as an intern. And I’m 20 years old. My dad and I drive from Minnesota to Napa Valley. I’m living in a house that’s owned by Franco Vianello a sculpture artist from Italy. I had nine roommates in that house. The guy across the hall from me was from France, and he was sent there by his father to toast oak barrels for wine. So, I learned about oak barrel toasting because I would do that with him on my days off, which was awesome. I had another roommate who was a failed actor who drove limos full of people super wasted from tasting wine around Napa Valley. And I had another roommate who was the fish cook at a restaurant called The French Laundry. And the day I moved in, she said, “You should come and eat at the restaurant I work at, it’s called The French Laundry. It’s just down the street.” And I said, “Oh, that’s amazing. Can you get me in for lunch tomorrow with my parents?”
She said, “Well, it’s kind of a tough reservation.” And I said, “Okay, no worries.” And in my mind I’m thinking, Steak and Ale off of 494 is definitely not a tough reservation—which was the fanciest place I’d ever been to until this point. She comes home that night and she’s like, “Believe it or not, we’ve got a reservation for you. Do you have a suit?” And I said, “I’ll buy one.” I went to the outlet store down the street, I bought a suit, and I went to the French Laundry with my mom and dad. I still remember the table we’re at. The captain comes over and starts talking to us, and I realize, we don’t have menus. So, I asked him, “Can I have a menu please?” Dude, I have no idea what I just sat down to experience.
Did you even have the credit card for this?
No. I had no idea. But I’ll tell you what blows me away—I’ve now known Thomas very well for the last 14 years of my life and I consider him a very close friend and a mentor. But having had that experience, I understand who he is even more. His captain picked up immediately that we were out of our shoes.
“This dude does not know what’s up.”
All three of us, we’re out of our shoes—we had no idea. I remember my mom being like, “What’s foo grass?” I’m like, “I don’t know.” I had no idea. And they absolutely take care of us. Lunch is done, they say, “Would you like to meet Chef Keller?” Sure. I don’t know Chef Keller, I’m happy to meet him. I meet Thomas. I met Stéphane de Meurville, who’s now the general manager for the restaurant, who was an intern at the time. And, eventually, through the next six months I get to know them, because we all go to this bar called Pancha’s after service, and everyone’s shooting pool with each other and having a beer, and chilling. And these are the people who are now really important culinary people and restauranteurs in our country, today.
Do you know what you guys had for lunch?
I remember the oysters and pearls, of course. I remember the lobster dish. I remember the foie gras. I remember the duck entrée. And I remember the salmon. And you know what’s nuts? When Thomas had his 20th anniversary celebrating that restaurant, my wife and I got invited to it, and we had dinner with Jonathan Benno who was the opening chef of Per Se, and his wife, Liz, on that same table, 20 years later.
Did that lunch give your parents a better idea of the path you were on?
I think that lunch helped my dad and my mom understand, we were in something different. But I will say, even then, I’m not sure how much we all knew, and I’m not sure how much they knew, “Oh, where is this going to go? What does this mean?”
But by 2007, at the age of 27 and less than 10 years out of culinary school, you’ve worked in Napa Valley, Switzerland and London. You’ve learned French. You married Linda, and you’re living in San Diego where you were named Best New Chef in America by Food and Wine.
That was the year that I left for New York. it was a crazy year: I won Food & Wine best new chef, I competed in the Bocuse d’Or for the United States of America, and I was on a show on the Food Network called The Next Iron Chef, which I ended up losing, but went back and competed on The Iron Chef.
You were one of the youngest American competitors ever for the Bocuse d’or, a prestigious team cooking competition named after the French chef Paul Bocuse, held annually in Lyon, France. Can you explain what that competition is?
It’s our Olympics. You have five hours and 35 minutes to create one platter of food that feeds 14 people with your main protein as the centerpiece, and three garnishes that surround that centerpiece. I’m the youngest American ever to rep the United States of America at this cooking competition.
How did you do?
The best we had ever done was sixth place. I took 14th place. I did terrible.
Were you embarrassed?
Yeah. But I left that competition so determined and so clear that we could fix it. I knew that what we had done was not a failure of talent, it was a failure of how we organized ourselves prior to the preparation. We lost before we started, and I knew it. I left that competition, and said to Linda, my wife, I was like, “We will never, ever come back to this competition and feel this way ever again. We will not be embarrassed like that again.” And we haven’t been.
America has won it since, right?
I was the coach for the team when we took silver in 2015, and I was vice president of the team in 2017 when we took gold. Thomas Keller has been our president since the inception of the organization, and I am now the president and Thomas is the chairman.
So you’re a competitive person, how did you figure out the game within the game of the actual chef world?
If I really wanted to be amongst who I consider the best in the country, I needed to find a way to get to them. So, I would send Christmas cards to Charlie Trotter, Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud. Not one of them knew who I was. But how do you manifest what it is you want? The act of actually believing is a start. That helps. To put it out there in the universe and see what you can get.
You had to figure out how to get it.
I came from a Subway in Centennial Lakes, then went to Pasta Time, then I fried fish in Prior Lake. That’s nowhere near the trajectory of James Beard or Food & Wine magazine.
Your next mentor was Daniel Boulud, who you moved to New York for in 2007. You ran his restaurant Café Boulud. Why were you drawn to Daniel?
When I read his book, Letters to a Young Chef, I said to Linda, “If I ever do anything before I open my own place, I have to work for Daniel.” I needed to see what this profession looks like from a bird’s-eye view before I jumped into the ring. We’ve had a lot of accolades, we’ve gotten a lot of glory, but George taught me it wasn’t about the glory, it’s about the craft. So I needed to step out of the glory pen that I was in. I was just fucking drawn to work for him. I loved the way he talked to people. I loved the way he managed his teams. I loved the way that he was growing. And I loved that he was French.
What did Daniel teach you?
It was my PhD in this business. Like this is how a restaurant makes money, this is how a restaurant loses money. This is how you pull this lever, and this lever goes up. You don’t want it to go up, don’t pull that lever. More importantly, he understood what the guest wanted before they’d ask. Most importantly, he would do the same with the team.
Is it a feeling? Is it through all his experience?
I think it’s intuitive for him. In 1901, his great-grandfather started a restaurant outside of Lyon in a town called Chandieu—it was a restaurant called Café Boulud. And there’s a beautiful photo of his grandfather there as a little boy. And that house with the picture is where his parents live. In 2008, I’m in Lyon, and I’m unpacking all of my Bocuse D’Or equipment and moving it from my storage unit into Daniel’s mother’s and father’s barn on this farm, attached to what is their home, which was Café Boulud. His dad comes out and says, “Gavin, do you want to have a coffee with us?” “Sure.” We have a coffee; coffee turns into a four-hour lunch. I call Daniel, I said, “I get it. I get why you are who you are, because you were raised this way by your parents, to be this hospitalitarian.” This wasn’t planned. It wasn’t like, “We’ve been cooking for hours waiting for you,” it was like, “Let’s go to the cellar and grab some saucisson sec that I made and hid in my FedEx box because I don’t want anybody to look in there and steal it. Let’s grab some wine out of the cellar.”
I drove away from that lunch understanding what it meant to be the chef that he was, and understanding how special it was to run a restaurant called Café Boulud that had these roots tied back to 1901 to his family. And it was a really fucking powerful moment for me. I drove 25 minutes back to Lyon just thinking about where I was in my life and how this moment with Daniel’s mom and dad, not even with Daniel, the three of us sitting around a table, speaking French, eating leg of lamb, drinking a bottle of Beaujolais, and eating the bread that he had just baked in his oven outside, made me understand how to be a better chef in New York City.
Is it about making people feel meals are special?
I remember sitting down with Daniel to make my first menu with him, and he opens up his apprentice book that he’s had since he’s 14, like fucking pages are falling out on the floor, right, and I’m just like, “I’m sitting with Daniel Boulud making a menu.” I was just blown away by the fact that I was across the table from this guy.
Did he give you notes?
He’s one of the most empowering mentors I’ve ever worked for in my life. He allows you the freedom of failure. He would always say to me, “Don’t ever forget that if it’s my name on the awning, I’m also holding the net if you ever fall.” It just gave me this amazing amount of opportunity to say, “Yeah, you know what, Gavin? Treat Café Boulud like you own the restaurant.” And I really believed in that. And year two is when I really started to get it.
What was the clientele like on the Upper East Side in Manhattan?
You’d get the tourists that would show up with the Michelin Guide in their hand. And art dealers, and finance guys. And regulars like Robert De Niro and Springsteen, and the screenwriter William Goldman, who wrote Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Bill was the first regular that I met. My maître d came in and said, “Hey, Bill Goldman’s on table nine.” I’m like, “Who’s Bill Goldman?” And he came back with a Wikipedia page and was like, “Read it.” I’m like, “Holy cow.” He lived across the street at the Carlyle. I don’t know how many times I cooked for him. He would bring me to Knicks game, and we’d sit on the floor and he knew everybody’s name. The past couple years he passed away.
Did you ever think you would just keep working for Daniel forever?
I thought that but I remember hitting sort of my ceiling and just being like I want to be an entrepreneur. Like I knew I wanted to try to create my own thing. Like I felt it inside of me. So I started to have a conversation with him about what that looked like and what that would mean. I would never leave him high and dry. I would always make sure that that place was better than when I found it and when I took over that restaurant and I was 100 percent committed to whatever it was that he wanted to make sure he felt comfortable with before I said I’m out.
When did you start having those conversations?
2010. Four years before I left.
At Café Boulud you were in charge of a Michelin-starred kitchen and you were feeding people like Springsteen and DeNiro. Were you confident you were going to find the level of talent and the level of customer to build something sustainable in Minneapolis?
I didn’t think about it.
How did you know you were going to be financially successful?
Didn’t even cross my mind.
What would Daniel Boulud say about how things work?
Because that’s not how they work. You can’t build a restaurant and think like what’s the average check cover going to be, what’s the foot traffic. I mean, I was watching Minneapolis from afar. I would call restaurants randomly on like a Tuesday night, like Bar la Grassa or whatever, and be like can I get a reservation for two tonight at seven? “No, sir.” 9:30 on a Tuesday is all you have? Okay. Something’s happening there.
So you were aware of the business Isaac Becker was doing.
Yeah. For sure. I’d bring them to New York. We would do dinners together. We did a James Beard dinner with Isaac. I don’t remember the year but Tom Colicchio hosted it. So it was me, Alex Roberts, Isaac Becker, and Tim McKee. Those were the only three Beard winners I think at the time.
So why Minneapolis? You left the smartest city in the world.
It was the first time in my entire life that I asked myself where did I want to go and what did I want to do. Not what did my mentor want me to do, where did my mentor want me to go, right? Switzerland told me to go to London. London gave me a dart and I threw it at a map, moved to San Diego. San Diego turned me into cooking competitions which turned me onto Bocuse d’Or which then put me on to Boulud. I mean it’s like everything about all of that was like fate and saying this is where you’re going to go. Then I stopped and I’m like okay, do I want to leave? And it took me three years to answer the question. It’s hard to leave New York.
The North Loop was starting to pop. Bachelor Farmer was across the street. So what appealed to you about the building?
I like how small the façade of the building is, because when you look at the space there’s no way you think what’s inside is what you’re about to walk into. And then you walk in and it’s like oh, this space is huge. Like it’s got that massive floor to ceiling windows. It’s got the skylights and all this light. I mean right now it’s like—what time is it now? I mean service starts in 17 minutes. You’re going to have this light coming through the restaurant. I loved that and I was like this is the space I have to take. My last day at Café Boulud was May 31. I moved back home in June. I took the space over officially from the contractor officially July 7, and then we opened up November 14.
When you opened in 2014 Spoon and Stable was an immediate success.
That was fucking nuts, man. to open up that quickly and to be successful right away.
What about kitchen talent? Was it like the Bad News Bears when you came to Minneapolis?
No, I mean I knew what I was getting into and I was excited to get into it. I think the learning curve in the beginning, especially in the kitchen, was talking to the cooks and letting them know we’re not going to train you differently because we’re in Minneapolis. We’re not going to wear our hats backwards and roll our pant legs up and listen to rock and roll music and drink beer during service. I’m sure there’s restaurants that do that. We’re not the one. It’s clean and quiet and efficient.
How is the clientele at Spoon different than the Upper East Side?
The Upper East Side has more art dealers. Other than that, I mean it’s kind of the same. We have locals. We have tourists. We have famous people that come in to eat. I left earlier today and they had 160 reservations on the books for a Monday night. In New York City that’s a fucking great Monday night.
What happened with Bellecour? When it closed, you attributed it to COVID, but there’s already a new restaurant in that spot—your landlords were obviously willing to make something work.
I don’t believe you should be unhappy in your life, and I wasn’t 100 percent happy with the space and the setup, and the seasonality of it. I think a lot of people in Wayzata took offense to me closing. What makes the restaurant’s personality is not me. It’s the team plus the guests, and the guests are the ones who really create that personality. So if a restaurant closes, the people who helped develop that personality take it personally, and I totally get it.
Was there more of an expectation for you to kiss ass out by the lake than there is in the North Loop?
It wasn’t the vibe. It was really hard to run a business from a seasonality perspective. I ran into this couple in Napa three weeks ago. I was having dinner at Bouchon with Thomas Keller and the team and I’m getting up to leave and this couple behind me was like “Gavin!” I turn around. He says, “we live in Wayzata and we miss you so much.” And we’re talking and I asked how long you in Napa? I’m expecting two, three days. He says we’re out here in the winter. I said that’s why we closed. I said Thomas doesn’t need your money, I do. And they just kind of laughed.
Will there be a different calculus for success for Mara? It feels like a more ambitious project than Spoon and Stable, just in terms of scale.
I mean I’d say this is super ambitious because it’s in a new building. And I think Minnesotans feel it’s less romantic to go into a large building and eat dinner versus going to Spoon and Stable or Owamni or whatever. Right?
You’re supposed to be this auteur with a personal vision—it feels like that’s what people want out of chefs now. Will working inside the Four Seasons impact the impression you will be able to make on people?
We all want to support the owner in the tiny little business or restaurant space. We shop at really big places too, because we have to do that too. To me Mara is reflecting a full-circle moment in my career. I’m in a hotel again. I want people to walk in and be like “holy shit.” I want to have people sit and let their guard down and be like yeah, this is cool. Let’s absorb what’s being created here. And I’m not afraid to take that risk because I believe that we can support it, and I believe the community can support it.
Three things about Gavin Kaysen:
1. Kaysen represented the USA in the 2007 Bocuse d’Or, the Olympics of gastronomy, but finished 14th. “I said to my wife, ‘We will never be embarrassed like that again.’”
2. And they haven’t been. Kaysen was the team’s coach in 2015 when they took silver, and he was VP when USA finally took gold in 2019.
3. In 2020, Demi was a finalist for Best New Restaurant at the James Beard Awards, but the ceremony was cancelled due to social inequity and COVID.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.