Cultivating Communities with One Bite at A Time
Introducing Cook in St. Paul
You can give a person a fish and they have a meal, or you can teach them how to fish and they will have many meals. Like the proverb, owner of Cook in St. Paul, Eddie Wu is giving chefs an opportunity to flex their entrepreneurial skills by allowing them to do pop-ups in the evening. For Wu, giving back is a way to ease some obstacles of running a restaurant. The Korean Fusion dinner serves traditional dinner favorites with a twist. It’s a “silver spoon” taste without the strain on your wallet. Eddie values everyone and strives to provide a means to strengthen the community.
Breaking from traditional restaurant models, he embodies one of his favorite Voltaire quotes, “let us cultivate our garden,” embodying this mantra both figuratively and literally. “Our restaurant, like our food, is designed to keep things fresh and local. We make our dishes in-house from locally sourced ingredients,” he explains. His commitment to locally sourced food and his focus on providing space for other cooks to grow and experiment in the restaurant is a risk he thinks is important for growing the restaurant business in the larger community, “when a new chef or restaurant succeeds, we all benefit – it’s not just about competition,” states Eddie.
Eddie has always had a passion for cooking and from a very early age, he was expanding his palate and experiencing the culinary arts. Eddie found that his interpersonal relationship strengths, combined with his skill set from the Marine’s internal motivation, led him to strike out on his own in the food industry and establish a restaurant. His drive was fueled by the idea that he could serve high-quality breakfast and lunch, while also intentionally using the dinner hour to feature other chefs from the community.
The goal at Cook is to bring a range of traditional American breakfast, lunch, and dinner foods like cinnamon rolls, French toast, omelets, burgers, sandwiches, salads, and more to the highest level of quality. “We also have some Korean fusion dishes if you want to try a little variety,” he explains. For the adventurous brunch-goer, try the Chicken and a Cake, Chef Larry Schultz makes organic chicken wings that are tossed in a house-made Gochu BBQ sauce and served on a buttermilk pancake.
Each One, Teach One
Cook is a place for chefs to creatively solve problems and learn adaptability without life’s stresses getting in the way. “When you’re starting out, you have a good dream and drive, but the business side of it can crush you. I appreciate the passion and energy of these entrepreneurs and serve as somewhat of an incubator for them.” However, it is more than that it is a place for all dinners, the adventurous and the simple. Cook’s menu has something for everyone.
Even after the chef’s night to shine, Eddie is finding ways to strengthen his relationship with them. He provides feedback and walks through the analytic side, which shows the difference between the total sales dollars versus the profits after all the bills are paid. “There are so many great chefs or people who are doing food trucks or food carts or whatever…that can’t get the help they need,” said Eddie. Cook is a place for these chefs to decide if they want to take on a brick and mortar location without the commitment of a $400,000 loan. Either way, it’s a place to grow, cultivate your passion, and enjoy great food.
Whether it is your appetite or entrepreneurial spirit that brings you to Cook, Eddie and his staff are ready to embrace you as part of their family. The goal of Cook is to educate diners and chefs alike.
Some Guidelines for Cook’s Pop-Ups are:
* All pop-ups must use one of Cook St. Paul’s dishwashers. Their dishwashers can work for you for $12/hour. Experience has shown it makes everyone’s life a lot easier to have a person that knows the space doing the dishes.
* Cook St. Paul requires that you use experienced servers. If you don’t have any, then Cook can bring some of their servers.
* The affordable house fee includes the space, utilities, aprons (for up to 6 employees), towels, cooler and refrigerator space for food prepped ahead of time, propane for outdoor heaters (if needed), and limited access to Cook St. Paul’s ingredients in a scenario where you run out or forget something.
* For anyone that is planning on doing a “Prix fix” style menu, and wants to pair drinks with their food, Cook St. Paul can order any wine or beer you may want to pair. Cook St. Paul needs your beverage list at least two weeks before the date to ensure their ability to get your desired beverages. When choosing your pairing beverage, take into consideration that your cost of the beverage can be no more than 20% of what your beverage sales are going to be.