#profile This is Ben Allen (@chefbenallen), a chef and entrepreneur with serious shoe game (swipe to see). He’s cooked across MSP, with stints at @heirloomstpaul, @wafrostcompany, @brunsonspub, and @thenaughtygreek. With @twincitiestricia, he runs “El Norte Kitchen,” a pop-up series featuring the food of Northern Mexico (next is July 25, see Allen’s bio for details).
MEAL: Why pop-ups?
ALLEN: I really love the pop-ups. I love cooking food, and just creating cool atmospheres. It doesn’t feel like work to me. But the end goal is to have a burrito shop. I really love the food down in Tucson, Arizona. It’s so different down there. It all starts with the tortilla—hand-stretched flour tortilla, super thin, almost translucent. And wood-grilled meats, like carne asada, just grilled, rested, and fried on a flat-top. So simple. And good beans, not canned, just stewed from dry. And salsas; I love making seasonal salsas. That’s the end game, to bring Sonoran and Tucson food culture up here to Minnesota.
MEAL: What makes you happy as a chef?
ALLEN: Working at Heirloom was one of the most satisfying jobs I’ve ever worked, being a line cook there—just starting something and seeing it all the way through and being like, “I made every component on that plate, and they really enjoyed it.” There’s nothing more rewarding than … making someone happy with food, especially food you made all yourself.
MEAL: What should people know about working as a chef?
ALLEN: It’s hard work. I’ve been through the gamut. I was exec at W.A. Frost for a while. I started there as a pantry cook and worked my way up. People in the kitchen work hard, and a lot of them don’t get paid enough …working their butts off and not making anything. So always think about those people in the kitchen – because I’m one of them; I’m back there grinding it out. [@redmedicine99] #MEALmn