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Taste of Minnesota showcases the state’s culinary diversity

From Polish-Jamaican fusion to Southern barbeque, hungry visitors could taste some of the best cooking in the state.
Image by Gabriel Brito
The two-day festival featured vendors, musicians, a zipline and live wrestling.

The Taste of Minnesota festival hosted restaurants, food trucks and vendors from across the state in downtown Minneapolis last weekend, allowing visitors to savor the state’s unique and delectable cooking.

Festival goers could treat themselves to shrimp ceviche, flown in fresh daily by the haute-cuisine Oceanaire Seafood Room, and follow it up with an elote pizza served by Pizza Lucé.

Teke O’Reilly, the community ambassador for the festival, said the organizers wanted to include a diverse lineup of vendors to represent every culture and part of Minnesota. Vendors from around the state came to the festival, selling everything from jerk chicken to pierogies.

Five restaurants were featured by Taste of Minnesota as part of a “road trip round-up” to showcase some of the best cooking from around the state. 

Pimento Jamaican Kitchen, one of the featured restaurants, was so busy during the festival they ran out of rice multiple times throughout the weekend, according to David Riano, Pimento’s vice president of sales and development. He said he would love to return next year with another grill despite this year’s small hiccups. 

Another one of the five featured restaurants was Krewe, a Creole restaurant from St. Joseph that served a small selection of delicious foods from New Orleans in a tent on Marquette Avenue. 

Krewe Chef and Co-founder Mateo Mackbee prepared a special menu for the festival, combining traditional Creole cooking with influences from Southeast Asian cuisine. Mackbee said he was inspired by the popularity and influence of Southeast Asian cuisine in Louisiana.

Mackbee created a dish called boudin lumpia, which combines Creole pork sausages with the fried pastry shells of spring rolls, served with a tasty Vietnamese green sauce. 

“We take boudin, which is a classic New Orleans steamed sausage, braised pork mixed with Creole seasonings and rice and onions and garlic. Mix that together and then put it into a lumpia wrapper and fry it up like you would lumpia,” Mackbee said. 

For dessert, Krewe offered traditional Louisiana pralines and a mouthwatering cheese pie inspired by a recipe from Mackbee’s grandfather. They also gave out Mardi Gras beads with each order.

Krewe was not the only vendor specializing in cooking from the Big Easy. 

Taste the Real Nawlins food truck served fried seafood, New Orleans style. Crispy and light, fried catfish was served on French bread as a po’ boy sandwich or on a platter with fries and hush puppies. 

Soul food, barbeque and southern cooking seemed all the rage at this year’s festival. Different combinations of smoked meats and barbeque sauce could be seen on almost every menu at the festival.

The Purple People Feeder, a food truck whose name is an homage to the Vikings defensive line of the ‘60s and ‘70s, has a section dedicated to pulled pork delicacies. Their delicious pulled pork fries include coleslaw, jalapeños, gouda, bacon and, of course, barbeque sauce. 

Spread out around Nicollet Mall and the surrounding areas, Taste of Minnesota also featured four live music stages, a zipline along Washington Avenue and wrestling hosted by F1rst Wrestling. 

O’Reilly said the wrestling ring was a fan favorite at last year’s festival. He said festival planners sought to make this year’s festival both fun and weird. 

“We just wanted to make it kind of zany,” O’Reilly said. 

Throughout the weekend, large crowds gathered near the wrestling ring and roared as cartoonish wrestlers took turns slamming one another into the ring.

The Taste of Minnesota Festival doubled in size since its first iteration last year, something O’Reilly said he hopes continues as it grows.

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  • Randy
    Jul 14, 2024 at 2:18 pm

    Get any pictures of the food at the food festival?