Chef Erick Harcey has been a huge part of putting Minneapolis on the national culinary map in the past few years, especially as one of the Twin Cities' pioneers in both experimental and Nordic cooking. His groundbreaking Upton 43 was named Best Restaurant of the Year 2016 by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and Eater recently named it one of the 21 best new restaurants in America. Erick has been an incredibly generous friend to Share Our Strength Minneapolis and the No Kid Hungry campaign over the years. Whether representing Victory 44 or Upton 43, he has brought impeccable, creative, vegetable-forward dishes to Hotlist and Taste of the Nation, and when La Belle Vie closed shortly before a Taste of the Nation event, Erick jumped in to cover their table and make sure the guests seated there had a wonderful experience.
We love hearing about Erick's kids and how they've inspired him, and we take great inspiration from culinary creativity and his generosity.
How did you become involved with No Kid Hungry?
Man, it’s been a long time -- I’m pretty sure it was Chef Seth Bixby-Daugherty of Minneapolis that first asked me to get involved.
Why is ending childhood hunger important to you?
I am a father of four young boys, ages 7, 8, 10, 11. They eat - they eat well and they eat a lot. It seems impossible for me even to fathom a child not being able to eat. In a country with so many resources it’s unacceptable for any child to go hungry or not get proper nutrition. The food we eat forms the basis of our health. Kids who have access to the food they need are better supported both emotionally and academically in school. Regular meals like school breakfast and school lunch provides kids with sustained energy to thrive in sports and other physical activities. And, with a mind toward service, for those of us blessed with prosperity or financial stability, there is simply no reason not to get involved and put an end to this problem!
If you were giving advice to a fellow chef looking to get involved in ending hunger, what would you tell them to do?
- Use your social media platforms and your strong reputation to bring awareness to the issue of childhood hunger in the US.
- We are able to donate our time and culinary resources to large events – like Taste of the Nation – that raise lots of money and awareness. It’s a simple way to give back.
- We work with food for a living and can be highly effective in helping to end childhood hunger. Get involved with your local school district, be involved in your community.
It’s hot! What’s are your favorite meals to stay cool in the summer?
I absolutely love summer salads: tomato salads, melon salads, corn salads. Keep it fresh and simple.
It’s growing season! What veggies are you cooking?
Ramps, green garlic, nettles, radishes… a bounty of delicious product is available now. Sometimes it’s hard to find time to play with everything!
Why did you become a chef? How long have you been cooking?
I have always loved food and farming and wildlife. I think it was a really natural gravitation for me to become a chef. My grandpa Willard was a chef with a strong influence in Swedish cuisine and I am not sure if I really ever thought of doing anything else. I have been cooking professionally for 16 years.
Which chefs have been influential in your career?
I have had so many chefs influence me. On a world-class level, Ferran Adria, Marco Pierre White, Niklas Ekstedt, and Magnus Nilsson. I have also been influenced by stellar local chefs, including Alex Roberts, Steven Brown, and Gavin Kaysen.
What is your most memorable experience in the kitchen?
Having the opportunity to cook a special meal for Magnus Nilsson in an intimate setting and then eating quickly so we could get out bass fishing together… Somehow I always involve fishing or hunting into my great experiences!
What do you cook or where do you eat on your day off?
This time of year I mainly cook at home with my wife and kids. I love to cook over open fire. Slow-cooked meats, charred vegetables, simple presentations.
Would you be interested in sharing a favorite recipe with us?
Of course! Here’s my recipe for Kroppkaka, salt pork with pickled carrots and Vasterbotten cheese.
Salt Pork, Pickled Carrots, Vasterbotten Cheese
- 1 lb salt pork or bacon, cut into small dice
- 2 ea large onions, cut into small dice
- 1 T chopped fresh thyme
Fry the bacon in a large pan until it’s about 75% done. Add the onions and continue to fry until everything is crispy and golden brown. Sprinkle in the thyme, give a stir, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- 3 ½ lbs potatoes, peeled, boiled, then put through a ricer and allowed to cool
- 1 egg, beaten
- ½ -1 c all-purpose flour
- pinch salt
- pinch white pepper
- pinch freshly grated nutmeg
Fold beaten egg into riced, cooled potato. Add salt, white pepper, and nutmeg. Slowly add flour, stirring gently. Continue to add flour until a dough forms and no longer feels sticky.
Take a small ball of dough and flatten in the palm of your hand. Add 1 tablespoon of the bacon-onion mixture, folding dough around filling to completely enclose. Set aside and continue with remaining potato and filling.
- 2 large carrots, thinly sliced into coins
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 T yellow mustard seed
- 1 c cider vinegar
- ½ c honey
- ½ c water
- 1 T kosher salt
Pickled Carrots Ingredients
Place carrots in a bowl large enough to hold all ingredients. Season carrots with the kosher salt to release a little of the natural carrot liquid. Add remaining ingredients to a pot and bring to boil over high heat. Remove from heat and let cool until just warm to touch. Pour warm liquid over carrots and let sit for 2 hours at room temperature or preferably overnight in the refrigerator.
Vasterbotten Cheese Sauce Ingredients
- 2 c whole milk
- 4 oz grated Vasterbotten cheese (or substitute your favorite hard cheese, like cheddar)
- 2 T butter
- 1 T all-purpose flour
- pinch salt
- pinch white pepper
- pinch freshly grated nutmeg
Vasterbotten Cheese Sauce Method
Melt butter in large pan over medium heat until browned. Add flour and stir together to create a roux, cooking for a few minutes. Slowly add milk, continuing to stir, cooking until the mixture starts to thicken. Add cheese, salt, pepper, and nutmeg, stirring until combined. Set aside.
Prepare a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Drop the prepared Kroppkaka into boiling water and cook until they float. Remove with a slotted spoon and move to your serving dish, spooning cheese sauce over the top and garnishing with pickled carrot slices and your favorite fresh herbs (my favorites for this dish are fresh dill or chives).