Chef Timothy Fischer Harvests the New Season
Fall harvest season in Minnesota signals a transition to cooler weather and shorter days, fall colors and frost on the ground. Despite the eventual return of winter, there’s a lot to celebrate with the arrival of fall.
At Loews Minneapolis Chef Timothy Fischer oversees Cosmos restaurant, Apothecary Bar & Lounge, and Relevé Lounge, along with in-room dining and banquets. Fischer, an avid fisherman and forager, gardener and gatherer, partners with local farms and purveyors in order to utilize the best and freshest ingredients the Midwest has to offer, including some that he has grown or foraged himself. The result? A true taste of Minnesota.
As he prepares for a fall dinner series at Cosmos Restaurant to highlight some of his foraged wild edible finds, Fischer shared which fall ingredients he’s looking most forward to, how Minnesota influences his cuisine, and some of the local treats you’ll find on your plate (some picked right from the hotel’s rooftop garden).
You incorporate a lot of seasonal ingredients into your dishes. Do you have a favorite season in Minnesota?
I’m excited about the return of fall. Finding the first Hen of the Woods mushroom in late August or September is like finding gold. Fall is also the season for chanterelles. During summer, I grow produce that we use throughout the hotel on our rooftop garden and fall is a great time to enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of that labor. The spring is when everything returns — morels, ramps, ferns, garlic scapes — and farming kicks off. There’s an exciting sense of renewal. I guess I’m partial to all four seasons — even winter. You can still fish (although on the ice) and forage if you know where to look. Chaga mushrooms are a great winter find.
Have you always enjoyed fishing and foraging?
I’ve been fishing my entire life. I’m a muskie fisherman by heart, but always happy to catch the biggest fish in any lake. You can make a fantastic meal out of freshly caught fish with just a little salt and butter in the pan.
As a kid, I picked berries and helped make jelly so that was my first gathering and foraging experience. As a professional chef in Aspen, I learned to forage for chanterelle mushrooms and I was hooked. Nothing tastes better than a meal made out of what you can grow, find and catch.
What is the most unusual ingredient you’ve foraged?
Cattails. I use the fluffy brown “tails” to make cattail fritters. Cattails are such a versatile plant yet not a lot of people would know that they’re edible.
I also brew wild sumac to make a delicious iced tea.
What are your favorite local ingredients to use?
Too many to list! I truly enjoy creating a meal out of anything I can catch, grow, or forage myself. I also prefer ingredients to be organic whenever possible and heirloom when available.
At Loews Minneapolis, we use a lot of local farmers with small operations who, like me, appreciate the reward of slow food grown correctly.
Loews Minneapolis has a rooftop garden that gives you access to locally grown ingredients in the heart of downtown. What are you growing this season?
We have over 55 varieties of plants growing including herbs, garden greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, and mushrooms, and flowers to help the bees.
How do you showcase the local cuisine at the hotel for guests visiting from across the globe to try?
Most of our menu is inherently local. We currently source products from 26 Midwestern farmers and use local meat and local produce whenever possible. You’ll also find ingredients in your salad or a garnish on your dish that was picked from our hotel’s rooftop garden.
We also work with our local Flavor by Loews partners to give our guests visiting from across the country and the world a taste of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
If guests could only try one thing, our Chicken Wild Rice Soup is truly a Minnesota dish.
You’re always in the process of updating menus as the seasons change. Where do you find inspiration for new dishes?
By talking to local farmers and growers about what’s fresh, what’s new, and what’s unique. Sometimes I find inspiration from my own backyard. That’s how I created my hosta kimchi.
I’m also inspired by conversations with our guests. Our Chef’s Table experience gives guests a chance to dine in the kitchen while we cook for them. No two menus are the same and they are customized on the spot, tailored to the group’s likes and dislikes. We often create seven to nine courses so it’s a real treat.
What can we expect from your upcoming fall dinner series?
I love the chance to interact with the public, share knowledge about where your food is coming from and who made it. Each dinner will feature a different theme – Northern Foragers Dinner, Fall Harvest Dinner, and Pork & Pinot, and each menu will completely unique.
Try Chef Fischer’s taste of the Midwest at one of three upcoming fall dinners. Each dinner will showcase his talent for foraging and love of local seasonal ingredients — and will celebrate a different culinary theme including foraged ingredients from Minnesota, harvest season, and heritage breed pigs.
Northern Foragers Dinner – Thursday, September 6, 2018
Fall Harvest Dinner – Thursday, October 18, 2018
Pork & Pinot Reception – Thursday, November 8, 2018
Loews Hotels & Co.