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Chef Paulsen and Farm Owner, Greg Reynolds visit Orono High School


Chef Marshall Paulsen, head chef at Birchwood Café in Minneapolis visited Orono High School on March 2, 2012. Chef

Paulsen generously donated his time, expertise and his prized recipes for fresh turkey burgers and black bean quinoa burgers topped with cilantro aioli and jalapeno mayonnaise.

Students came during their morning flex time to be part of the hands on demonstration. They had questions about entering the field of culinary arts and what it’s like to be a chef in the Twin Cities area. He said, “You really need to possess a strong passion, a real love for cooking because the reality is, it’s hard work- it’s not the glorified version you see on television with celebrity chefs”. Although, speaking of celebrity chefs, Chef Paulsen is a bit of a celebrity himself.

The March issue of “Minnesota Monthly” magazine, deemed Chef Marshall Paulsen one of the 18 upstart talents remaking the Twin Cities food scene, claiming these chefs have the fresh young talent that will define the next taste of Minnesota. Chef Paulsen is famous for making clean, good food at one of Minneapolis’s busiest sustainable restaurants, the Birchwood Café.

Voted "Best Tasting Veggie Burger" in Twin Cities area by Minnesota Monthly Magazine.

Both burgers were sampled and voted on by the students and although the black bean burger received several positive comments the turkey burger was the clear winner. Some of the comments were: yum, super good, really tasty, loved it, everything tasted top notch and amazing- come to our school! We plan to start offering the turkey burger as a meal choice at the high school this spring. Thanks for your inspiration Chef Paulsen!

Orono High School also received a visit from Greg and Mary Reynolds, owners of Riverbend Farm, located on the North Fork of the Crow River just west of Delano. Greg Reynolds has been a longtime advocate for the MN Farm to School. His mission is to get more fresh local produce into school lunch programs. Greg was very willing to come and meet with Orono High School students to answer questions about organic produce and organic farming practices which matched well with a unit they were currently discussing in class.

Riverbend Farm has been certified organic since 1994. Vegetables are produced on 30 acres that are in a four year rotation. The main crops are tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, salad and cooking greens, radishes, onions, winter squash, and potatoes. The focus is on high quality, good tasting produce using sustainable practices and organic methods.

Their major markets are local natural food co-ops (like Harvest Moon), independent, chef driven restaurants, Farm to School, and a Community Supported Agriculture program.

Chef Marshall from Birchwood Café uses Greg’s black beans in his burger recipe and cornmeal when making Riverbend cornmeal-crusted catfish.

Birchwood owner Tracy Singleton has been a patron of the farm for the last 15 years, she encourages her employees to do “crop mobbing” at the farm. Crop mobbing is a term used to describe any group that flocks to a farm to help get a specific task accomplished. The idea behind the mobbing is to give people a “hands on/hand in view on where their food comes from.”

It’s a common refrain that people have become disconnected from the food they eat, the migration from country to city leading people away from farm fresh produce and towards frozen, ready-made dinners. Mobbing brings you back to the source.

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