It’s not that Adam Lerner (formerly Adam Eaton) was looking to step down as longtime executive chef of Sainte Dinette. But when James Beard Award-winning chef Ann Kim calls you, you answer.
Kim, the chef/co-owner of Vestalia Hospitality and its four Minneapolis restaurants — Pizzeria Lola, Hello Pizza, Young Joni and Sooki and Mimi – named Lerner executive chef of the catering group. He will make the jump across the river next month and slowly transition into the role.
“It’s not going to be this immediate bombshell all of a sudden. I’m going to grow through the business,” Lerner said. “It’s not something Ann is getting away with, that’s very clear. It’s just a way for me to help share some of the weight with Ann, because it’s a lot for one. nobody.”
The hiring gives Kim “the bandwidth to continue exploring additional creative possibilities,” she said in a statement.
CEO Becky Lemon said, “Welcoming Adam to this new role and helping to support Ann as she engages with us in new ways is a giant leap that opens up a new and even more exciting future for us.
Kim does not shy away from her role as chef/owner, a spokeswoman for Vestalia Hospitality said. And Lerner says he has no plans to alter Kim’s culinary footprint at restaurants. Instead, he says he will make his mark on the leadership side.
“It’s so personal to her,” he said of Kim’s food. “His inspiration and his vision are never replaced.”
Lerner, a native of St. Paul and former La Belle Vie, had a fruitful collaboration with restaurateur Tim Niver. He was head chef at Niver’s Strip Club Meat & Fish, opening chef of Saint Dinette in 2015, and chef and co-owner of the short-lived Meyvn, where the menu was inspired by Lerner’s Jewish family roots.
“This new role for Adam is exactly what I would have imagined for him,” Niver said in a statement. “Growing Saint Dinette alongside him was a real pleasure. In anticipation of our next steps, I’m excited to open the heart of our restaurant to someone new and continue to serve St. Paul and the Great Twin Cities.
“It’s not leaving, it’s just an opportunity,” said Lerner, who recently adopted his middle name as his last name. “Thanks to Saint Dinette and thanks to Tim, I had a lot of opportunities. And the way that I grew with Tim and the mentorship that he gave me, it’s really the culmination of it all . It makes a lot of sense to me.”
In other chef news…
Niki Heber has been appointed Executive Chef at Resto Wood + Paddle, the restaurant at Royal Sonesta Minneapolis Downtown (35 S. 7th St., Mpls.). Heber will oversee the hotel’s culinary operations as well as the restaurant’s seasonal menu, which is inspired by local dishes (see pickerel cutlet and smoked cauliflower with cheese curds). Heber is a household name in Twin Cities restaurants, with a resume that includes Corner Table, Octo Fishbar, 4 Bells and, most recently, the Market at Malcolm Yards.
And the Hewing Hotel (300 Washington Av. N., Mpls.) has announced Marque Collins as its new executive chef. It will take over the menus at Tullibee and Hewing Bar & Lounge. The self-taught chef has been cooking across the Midwest for a decade — most recently in Des Moines — and will bring a nose-to-tail butchery program to the restaurant as he showcases Minnesota’s seasonal ingredients.