Kate Sidoti learned to cook in college—twice.
The first time she was studying environmental science as a student at the University of Canterbury in Christ Church, New Zealand. The norm was for roommates to cook "flat dinners," where everyone put $100 a month into a joint account and then took turns cooking meals—a far cry from the pizza runs and institutional dining U.S. students consume. From there she went to a nontraditional culinary school in New York, The National Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts.
"In the early 2000s, it was very progressive," she says about the school. "We’d take Betty Crocker recipes and take out the sugar or add in flax. "
Next up was an internship at a Michigan clinic where the food was organic and tailored to healing. But Sidoti still wasn’t satisfied that she had the credentials to do what she wanted. Her next move was home to Minnesota, where she attended St. Kate’s to become a registered dietitian. The program wasn’t a good fit, she admits. The FDA guidelines were the gospel, which was "not what I was passionate about," she says. It didn’t help that some of her fellow dietitians were indulging in mac-and-cheese pizzas.
"I shift-deleted that part of my life," she says, smiling.
Her approach to cooking—and her warm personality—landed her a job as a personal chef for a documentary producer and his artist wife in Utah. She was in charge of not only the couple’s personal meals, but also cooking for their celebrity-studded parties and events. A high was seeing the likes of Tesla CEO Elon Musk eating her healthy fare.
Sidoti has the glowing, healthy look of an athlete. She met her husband on a run around Lake Calhoun just a mile away from where the couple is opening their first restaurant, Brim, in August. She could easily be a cover model for Health magazine, but most likely would prefer the more culinary, Bon Appetit.
Opening her own restaurant has always been a lofty goal—but she understands teamwork. Her father was a motivational speaker, and she watched her mother work late at night with maps spread out all over the table plotting his travel.
Sidoti discovered the exact type of restaurant she wanted on a trip to New York City, when a big snowstorm delayed her flight home. She was walking around sampling all "the crazy-tasting lattes," when she overheard a couple having a tiff. The man stood up and announced he was going to the Botanist. Intrigued, she Googled it, and then followed him. "It was 100 percent vegan," she says. "It blew my mind, it was something I had never witnessed before."
Her restaurant, Brim, is patterned after that experience. It’s approachable, every-day real food served in bowls at a $13 price point. The décor will be "modern, earthy," with Venetian plaster on the walls—"literally earth on the walls," she points out. The menu will be small with customizable bowls of healthy ingredients, such as farmer-delivered vegetables, humane proteins and whole grains.
The couple—her husband Patrick is a producer/marketing executive—is financing it themselves. The location is just off Lake Calhoun on Lake and Knox.
She’s been fortunate to have worked as a line cook for Brenda Langton’s Spoonriver and to have healthy-eating pioneer Lucia Watson as a mentor.
"In essence I’m creating a Lucia’s to-go," she says.
Express orange cacao avocado mousse
2 ripe avocado
3 tablespoons almond milk
½ cup raw cacao powder
1 teaspoon organic orange extract
2 tablespoons fruit sweetened orange marmalade, (St. Dalfour or Cascadian Farms)
In a high power blender, blend avocado until smooth. Add all other ingredients, blending until mixture is uniform. Chill for a half an hour in the freeze, garnish with fresh fruit or chopped nuts.