-written and photographed by Susan Powers-
The day Patisserie 46 opened its doors was a very lucky day for Minneapolis, indeed! Uber award-winning pastry chef John Kraus brought his extreme talent and deep passion for all things pastry to the corner of 46th and Grand, creating a little corner of heaven for all who visit.
When Chef John Kraus first walked into the corner space, he knew it was just right for the neighborhood patisserie he was dreaming of. The silver tin ceiling would stay and be complimented by beautiful warm orange walls and brightly lit pastry cases filled with all kinds of decadent goodies.
The space is inviting. Transformed by a lot of Chef Kraus’ own sweat equity, it has become the perfect place to gather. Neighbors are greeting each other, coffee is shared and the delightful pastries keep a smile on everyone’s face. You can pull up a chair at a nearby table, take your treats out to the patio or in the winter, curl up in the big leather chairs by the fireplace.
It is a place that you quickly get used to and desire to return to often. Or, find yourself making excuses to drive across town just to pop in.
It’s 4 am and the level of concentration in the kitchen is intense. Bread is coming out of one oven, croissants going into another. Delicate pastries are being assembled at the same time as the artisan sandwiches are being made for lunch. It is amazing to watch the different points of focus all happening at once in this seemingly small space. It is quiet. Everyone moves with precision as though they are parts of a clock, working together to keep time.
Chef John Kraus picks up a pastry bag and starts piping filling into a strawberry rhubarb danish. That accomplished, he opens an oven to quickly check the doneness of a batch of baguettes. They look perfect. Nothing gets past his eye. He gathers his line chefs together to taste something he is not 100% pleased with. Point taken, all nod and return to their spots as the activity continues.
Growing up with a Sicilian mother who always seemed to be cooking, John started learning about food at a young age. His mother’s kitchen was very organized as she always had the entire week’s meals planned out. Somehow those early memories seem to connect the dots to John’s love of the techniques and precision required to make breads and pastries. Baking is creativity combined with science. John finds that interesting.
Like many chefs, John’s culinary career started as a dishwasher. In a restaurant in Yellowstone National Park, it didn’t take very long (about a day) for him to figure out that while he loved the kitchen, it wasn’t soap and water that drew him there. The food was calling and before long, John found himself in London, England, at the prestigious Dorchester Hotel, making stocks.
Wanting to become an executive chef, he meticulously attended to his duties in the kitchen. But it was the bakers and the pastries that were being created for afternoon tea that caught his attention. He kept up his duties in the kitchen, but found that he was staying almost 24 hours a day, baking for high tea. He was amazed by what could be achieved with such simple ingredients. When his visa was about to expire, he enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu in London.
Still wanting to be well rounded, he accepted a position with Chef Michel Perraud at the famed Fleur De Sel. It was there that he learned the importance of the quality of ingredients and knowing where your ingredients come from. He carries that with him still as he sources the freshest ingredients from as many trusted local sources as possible.
When John returned to the U.S., he worked in pastry at the five-star, five-diamond restaurant, The Wild Boar in Nashville, Tennessee under Chef Robert Waggoner. Waggoner was considered to be the Godfather of low-land cuisine. He then became the executive pastry chef at Magnolia Restaurant.
John attended a pastry intensive at The French Pastry School in Chicago (the country’s most prestigious pastry school) and caught the eye of Chef Sebastien Canonne and Chef Jacquy Pfeiffer. They offered him an assistant position that developed into a full time position for over 9 years. During that time, Chef Kraus not only won Patisfrance Pastry Chef of the Year and the National Dessert Champion of 2002, he has been named as one of the top 10 pastry chefs more than once and even won a Food Network’s Chocolate Challenge amongst his numerous other awards.
His kitchen is happy. All who work there agree that it is a great place to work. One might add, it is also a great place to learn from one of the best. John wants work to be fun and rewarding for his employees and it appears that he is accomplishing that.
How did Minneapolis get so lucky as to have this magnificent chef in our midst? The short version tells the story of a chef who wanted a neighborhood bakery, a chance class taught at MIA (introducing him to the Twin Cities), a desire along with his beautiful wife to raise their young sons closer to her home in a family friendly city….well the rest is history and our tremendous gain.
The only word that comes to mind when describing the offerings at Patisserie 46 is perfection. Breads, pastries, cakes, tarts and chocolates that immediately put you into a state of nirvana. The recipes are classically French based with a bit of a modern twist. Flavors balanced exquisitely, crusts flaky and divine, you will spend hours dreaming of the next time you can return after just one bite.
I will let these speak for themselves.
Along with the stunning pastries, at lunch you will find lunch items such as ham and gruyere baguette or a roasted red pepper, shallot, asparagus and goat cheese tartine, not to mention the handmade ice cream, decadent chocolates and delicious coffee drinks.
One more thing…
You can also find John and his wife, Dawn at the Fulton Farmer’s Market on Saturdays. But be prepared to wait in line, the secret is out!
For Your Kitchen
Chef Kraus gave us one of his favorite recipes for us to prepare, Financiers! They were uncomplicated and delicious! To see the recipe, Stephanie’s notes and preparation and more of Susan’s photographs of the preparation, click here: Financiers
Patisserie 46 4552 Grand Ave. South, Minneapolis MN 612-354-3257
All images and content @SusanPowersPhotography 2011