Chef fave eyes national spotlight

Antigoni “Tig” Sander McCloud could land a one-time appearance on the Rachael Ray Show.

Antigoni

Liam James Doyle

Antigoni “Tig” Sander McCloud poses outside of Kafe 421 in Dinkytown on Saturday afternoon. In addition to her managerial position at Kafe 421, she regularly appears as a food personality on the local television program Twin Cities Live and has recently become a finalist in a competition to co-host one episode of the Rachael Ray Show.

Nick Wicker

Antigoni “Tig” Sander McCloud grew up with a passion for two trades: cooking and show business. 
 
The Dinkytown Kafe 421 co-owner became a Twin Cities television favorite seven years ago after appearing on “Twin Cities Live,” representing her family-owned restaurant near the University of Minnesota. Now, the University of Wisconsin-Madison performing arts graduate and Food Network-lover could land her own spot on national television if she wins a competition to co-host an episode of the “Rachael Ray Show.”
 
Sander McCloud was the family’s go-to baker growing up, her mother and Kafe 421 co-owner, Georgia Sander, said. 
 
“She was very curious in the kitchen,” Sander said. “We kind of did everything, so it became a little bit of a family affair.”
 
Having grown up in a Greek family, Sander McCloud said she uses recipes and flavors from her heritage to add unique elements to her cooking.
 
The young cook strayed from the food industry, however, when she reached her teenage years, Sander said. 
 
She performed with the Minnesota Children’s Theatre Company in 1992 and followed her post-college theater dreams to New York City, where she participated in a one-year acting program. 
 
Sander McCloud waited tables and managed restaurants while acting, but she left show business when her company sent her to manage a newly opened restaurant in Chicago in 2004. That’s when she discovered the Food Network, she said.
 
“I would watch Rachel Ray, and I would watch Paula Deen and Bobby Flay and all of the sort of first generation Food Network personalities in their prime,” Sander McCloud said, adding that odd hours at work left her time in the morning to enjoy a television break. 
 
Tig’s Homecoming
 
Sander McCloud returned to Minnesota in 2006 to take on co-ownership of family-run Kafe 421, she said.
 
“We asked her because she was already in the restaurant business and we had a restaurant,” Sander said. “I needed the help, and we thought it would be good for her.”
 
Sander said her daughter’s cooking and business-management style brought a fresh customer base to the restaurant, she said, which now fills about 40 catering orders weekly.
 
Sander McCloud was asked to channel her inner-performer and take the stage on “Twin Cities Live” in a 2008 segment featuring the Dinkytown restaurant. 
 
“Twin Cities Live” Executive Producer Mandy Tadych said she found Sander McCloud by accident, but asked her to become a regular guest after sensing her personable and camera-friendly disposition. 
 
“She’s on probably about once a month, sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on her schedule” she said. “She’s great to work with.”
 
Tadych said Sander McCloud, now a close friend, is one of the best food experts “Twin Cities Live” features because her dishes are creative compared to the norm. 
 
“She’s really passionate about creating unique recipes,” she said. “Tig is able to do both gourmet and complex recipes. … She’s able to bring it to a mass audience.”
 
Though Sander said her daughter has always been a passionate performer, she was surprised with her quick devotion to the broadcasting world.
 
“As a mother, I go ‘Wow, she can really do this,’” Sander said. 
 
And it’s Sander McCloud’s thirst to reach unique audiences that she said led her to audition for the “Rachael Ray Show.” 
 
From local to national
 
After her video took third place in the online Food Network competition, Sander McCloud said she’s hopeful the judges will deem her the winner.
 
Website visitors voted on their favorite of about 150 videos, posted by chefs and food experts from around the world. 
 
Now, contest officials will sift through the applicants and choose the winner of the contest on Friday.
 
Still, runner-ups won’t be announced until the week of Nov. 9, culminating in the winner’s announcement on Nov. 13.
 
“I think that she is national quality,” Tadych said. “[She has] strong Greek roots, and that’s definitely something she’s proud of and isn’t just a shtick. It’s what she lives.”