Thanks – and welcome – to one of Chefs Collaborative’s newest members (via our new member campaign – check it out). Scott Pampuch, Executive Chef of Corner Table in Minneapolis, Minnesota, found time in a really busy schedule to trade emails with us about what’s happening in sustainable ag in the Twin Cities, whom he considers a mentor, and what he values most. Read on to get to know Scott better, and after you finish, check out his CSK program and his deli case (a Midwesterner’s dream spread).
How did you get where you are today?
First, I got lucky and have been in the right place at the right time. A number of people have been willing to help me. For that I am grateful.
A ton of work is the bigger reason. By not wondering if I can or can’t do something, I don’t wonder if it will or won’t work, I just do. Then work it out on the way.
Your cooking aesthetic in five words or less. How about style?
My nature is to just blow off this question, but the more I think about things, the more I am feeling like I am just feeding people in every way. Sustenance, energy, community, hospitality.
Your favorite childhood memory of food. How about earliest?
Making sauerkraut and grilling with my father. Eating ground cherries right out of the husk as they are warm from the sun. Seeing my grandfather take a salt shaker and pocket knife in the garden and peel kohlrabi and eat it right there.
What’s your favorite food to work with? Favorite season?
Ramps. Spring. Everything to be tastes so fresh and new. I only cook seasonal in Minnesota.
What’s your prized possession?
I do not put a lot of weight in possessions. The only thing I prize is the ability to cook.
Whom do you consider a mentor?
A number of people I have never met. One mainly being James Beard. Everything I read of his, just continues to be an expression of what I have been thinking about food.
My farmers are running out of food. The demand has increased so much, that there is a need for more farmers and more people to be producing in a sustainable way. That is a good problem to have.
Where do you source your food?
There is a long list of farms that I work with, most of whom I have been using for the entire time I have been open to new farms and have a growing list I have one independently owned distributor that I use for certain things, dry goods, spices, vinegar, etc.
Tell us about Tour de Farm and Corner Table.
Well, you will have to check out the websites, because if I started talking about them, we would need about four or more pages for this interview.
Corner Table was first, 7 years July 4th this year. Tour de farm spawned out of Outstanding in the Field. I asked permission to rip off Jim and he laughed and said, “Sure, you were the first person to ask permission.” So, we did.
We noticed that you’re on Twitter a lot. How do you use social media as a chef?
Twitter, yes, it is great to stay that connected to my customers. It has opened up a whole new way to communicate with people around the country. I have talked with Michael Ruhlam via Twitter and I don’t know if that would have happened otherwise.
People are always curious to look behind the curtain since the “Wizard of Oz” . I think that certain people love the idea of what kind of work and thought goes into what we do. It does translate for customers and money. If you are on the mind of customers on a Friday afternoon cause you talked about what you just made or are thinking of making, you have a chance at feeding them that exact night. It is a great way to network with other media and meet others.
Are you psyched about the Chefs Collaborative new member campaign, or what?!
Well, not sure that psyched is the right word, but I will say that I have heard about CC for some time and now more than ever we need to get together and make some things happen.
Why did you become a member of Chefs Collaborative?
Seriously, there is so much to be done in our country with food. The only way that we are going to get anything to do is to work together to raise awareness. It may take some time, but when James Beard, Julia Child, Pierre Franey, Jacques Pepin, Paul Bocuse and all those great chef’s out their in the great “northeast”, did they think they were changing the our countries way of looking at food? Either way, they made great food, worked together, ate together, drank together and celebrated each others accomplishments. They did it together. Look what they did.
Anything you want our members and friends to know about you?
Wow, if anyone is in need of a farm in the Midwest, let me know. If you want to talk about local and sustainable food, let me know. Seriously, Minneapolis is a great food city and we are becoming greater by finding who we are and not trying to be any other food city in the country.