Amy Thielen left a career cooking in Manhattan’s most esteemed restaurants (“the tour of duty went Bouley, Boulud, Vongerichten, Gallante, in that order”) to move with her husband back to their home turf of Northern Minnesota. Going rural, I’ve always noticed, usually makes hard-charging chefs even more creative and inspired—although, as Thielen, writes, her “brunoise may not be it used to be.” She now writes about food for various publications, teaches cooking classes, and maintains the excellent and informative (and funny!) blog Sourtooth.
One of my favorite posts is about cooking steak in the sauna (pronounced “sown-ah” per a native Northern Minnesotan I know), inspired by her haute-cuisine experience with cooking sous vide and a Finnish tradition of cooking sausages while you shvitz. Another favorite is a recipe for Vietnamese Shaken Venison, a gamy take on one of my favorite dishes. (If you like that, you will also enjoy Lisa Ramsey’s recipe for Deerloaf.) Turns out, venison is common in parts of Southeast Asia. Writes Thielen, “maybe it was Minnesota deer hunting that drew the Hmong people to Minnesota, not the Lutheran Church, as widely thought. They certainly didn’t come for the weather.”