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Flair for French: Meet 2014 Honorary Chef Anthony Leonhardi of Salut Bar Américain

September 15, 2014
Plymouth, Minn., native Anthony Leonhardi

Born and raised in Plymouth, Minn., Anthony Leonhardi’s early culinary career included time spent working at Davanni’s, followed by enrollment in The Art Institute in Minneapolis. While at culinary school, Leonhardi landed a position at the highly acclaimed Lucia’s before moving to Oddfellows to work under Executive Chef Matt Williams.

Leonhardi then spent time in various restaurants: Opus Lounge, Northcoast Restaurant and Via Cafe. In 2008, he moved to Salut Bar Américain as a Sous Chef and was promoted to Executive Chef in 2010.

Leonhardi enjoys creating French cuisine. “So many of the techniques used in the industry, and so many of those I learned in culinary school were developed by the French,” he says. “I enjoy the challenge of putting a new age spin on them to create something special.”

Leonhardi values his involvement with the March of Dimes as something special as well. As the father of a healthy baby boy, he feels lucky and appreciates the March of Dimes working for stronger, healthier babies. He also appreciates those who support the Signature Chefs Auction. “I think what makes the Signature Chefs Auction a great event every year—in contrast to some similar culinary events—is the people attending,” he says. “They genuinely care about the food and about the charity.”

We couldn’t agree more. The Signature Chefs Auction pays tribute to the culinary excellence of local chefs and caterers in the Twin Cities community while raising funds to fight premature birth and to give every baby a healthy start. If you enjoy fine dining, wine, auctions and socializing, this event is for you!

Twin Cities Signature Chefs Auction 2014
Thursday, October 2, 6 p.m.
255 6th St. East, Sixth Floor
St. Paul, MN 55101

Learn more and purchase your seat or table now!

Be a part of something GREAT…

January 17, 2014

Love the chefs auction?  Want to be more involved?  Looking to beef up your resume?

The March of Dimes is looking to grow the Signature Chefs Auction Committee!


Position:  Volunteer Committee Member

Organization: March of Dimes – Greater Twin Cities Division

Location: Twin Cities, MN


The Greater Twin Cities Division is currently accepting applications for volunteer committee members to join our Twin Cities Signature Chefs Auction Committee.


The Signature Chefs Auction is a March of Dimes gala that pays tribute to the culinary excellence of local chefs and caterers in the Twin Cities community while raising funds to fight premature birth and to give every baby a healthy start.  It is geared towards individuals who enjoy fine dining, wine, auctions and socializing!


You can help, and grow your professional skills and network, by being a part of the committee that drives this effort.  Committee members are asked to commit to assisting in the development of:

  • Auction procurement
  • Chef/Restaurant recruitment
  • Sponsorship/Table Sales
  • Fund the Mission donations

Serving on a volunteer committee provides many benefits, such as gaining priceless leadership experience, industry networking and developing strong new skill sets.  According to Forbes, “One of the most powerful ways for younger managers to understand and experience the type of leadership needed for the C-Suite is to do volunteer work early in their careers.”


To join a force committed to helping babies, please email resume and brief description of interest to

A night to remember…in pictures

December 16, 2013

The lovely photographs of the 2013 Signature Chefs Auction taken by Tracy Walsh are in! Tracy captured the evening’s suberb chefs.

Chefs chefs3 JeremyLaFondandVincent

This is a wicked smile from our 2013 Honorary Chef Landon Schoenefeld from HauteDish.

Landon Schoenefeld

And we’re excited to introduce our 2014 Honorary Chef Anthony Leonhardi from Salut on Grand with Liz Jobe.

Anthony LeonhardiThe package of the night in the live auction came from Chef John VanHouse and Murray’s, offering up a trip to Ludlow’s Resort on Lake Vermilion.

Chef John VanHouseChef Van House competed for favorite dish of the night with the team from Mystic Lake Hotel Casino including Chef Richard Fisher and Chef Marshall Rosenthal.

Mystic Lake TeamEveryone was inspired by the stories shared from our ambassador families. Angel and Andrew Hackett presented this videotaped story on the birth of their triplets. Bonnie and Mike Sheridan shared their story in a live presentation.

Bonnie & Mike SheridanOur thanks to Farmers Insurance, our platinum partner, and Kari Berman Gross, our chair, for making the night a success. We can’t wait for 2014!

Successes and Highlights at GTC Signature Chef’s Auction

October 21, 2013

Thursday, October 3rd deemed yet another memorable and largely successful evening for the March of Dimes. Our annual Signature Chefs Auction held at the McNamara Alumni Center on the U of M campus brought together 11 honorary chefs who presented a variety of original and delicious dishes to our guests. Honorary Chef Landon Schoenefeld from HauteDish Restaurant served a roasted cauliflower soup with popcorn, kale and cheddar. Of the 11 dishes served, Chef Beth Fisher from Wise Acre served a Heritage hog sandwich with spicy farm slaw that proved to be amongst the most popular. Throughout the evening, samples were being enjoyed, silent auction packages were being bidded on, and wine was being served. The atmosphere was incredible.

The program that followed included a live auction and an opportunity for guests to “fund the mission”. Popular live auction packages included an Island Escape to the North Woods with Murray’s Restaurant and a Table for 10 at Hautedish served by Chef Landon himself. The combination of all of our fundraising efforts revealed a total raised amount of over $110,000 for the March of Dimes. Special thanks to our photographer Tracy Walsh who always does a great job as well as our committee member Penelope Austin for all of her hard work in making this event so successful. You can read more about the event at Penelope’s blog:

Finding inspiration from local ingredients – Chef Jeremy LaFond, Mission American Kitchen & Bar

October 1, 2013


Chef Jeremy LaFond got into cooking at the age of 15 by getting a job at the restaurant where his brother was working.  The two went on to attend the The Culinary Institute of America together in Hyde Park, NY.  “Other than a brief job at a tree company while in culinary school, I’ve only worked in kitchens.”

LaFond’s signature dish is his Guinness braised short ribs.  “I created the dish by playing around and thinking it’d be a good idea to braise meat in Guinness.  It took a couple weeks to play with it and get it right.”   When creating new dishes, LaFond gets inspired by local ingredients from local purveyors.  “I will go to the farmers market and ideas just start popping into my head.”   

LaFond’s three favorite ingredients are steak, sesame oil, and sambal (an Asian chili paste).  His least favorite ingredient is lavender.  “While lavender smells really good, I think it tastes like soap.”

The best compliment he could receive about his food is when someone loves a dish so much they ask for the recipe.  “I happily share my recipes.” 

For fun, LaFond enjoys spending time with his two children, participating in fantasy football, and camping and fishing.  

Chef LaFond is happy to be supporting the March of Dimes.  “I jumped on board because it’s a good cause and a great event to participate in.”

-Penelope Austin, volunteer committee, read her blog peneoplethefoodie

Bon appetit! Our 2013 menu revealed

September 30, 2013

Our 2013 Honorary Chef is Landon Schoenefeld from the Warehouse District favorite HauteDish. Renowned for putting a twist on classic Midwestern cuisine, Landon will delight guests with a tasting of one of his signature dishes. Landon will be serving roasted cauliflower soup with popcorn, kale and cheddar.

Chefs joining Landon on October 3 include:

Vincent Francoual of Vincent A Restaurant is serving pan-seared scallops with braised duck and baby bock choy.

John Van House of Murray’s Restaurant is serving smoked beef tenderloin with cider-braised Brussels sprouts.

Anthony Leonhardi of Salut Bar Americain is serving Peppadew stuffed peppers.

Jorge Guzman of Solera is serving smoked brisket bocadillo with green onion slaw and piquillo glaze.

John Kain of Town & Country Club is serving wild mushroom & herb bruschetta with Fontina cheese.

Carrie Nielsen of Mozza Mia is serving Junko’s Garden kale salad with mozzarella fonduta, vegetarian and gluten free.

Richard Fisher and Marshall Rosenthal of Mystic Lake Resort Casino. Richard is serving sugar pumpkin chowder with Scottish langoustine and pecan pie ravioli. Marshall is serving Gianduji Marjolaine with Tahitian vanilla bean reduction and macerated berries.

Beth Fisher of Wise Acre Eatery is serving Heritage hog and spicy farm slaw.

Jeremy LaFond of Mission American Kitchen & Bar is serving mini tuna tacos.

Bon appetit!

World traveler finds home in overseeing thousand of meals daily – Chef Richard Fisher, Mystic Lake Casino Hotel

September 24, 2013

Chef Richard Fisher worked at a café in high school that made homemade pastries, donuts and ice cream.  “I started making donuts from scratch and never looked back.”  After cooking from age 15-25 he decided that he should get a more formal degree and technical experience so that he could advance.  After attending culinary schools, he spent time cooking abroad in Paris, Hong Kong, and Vienna.  “Hong Kong was awesome.  It is very trendy and diverse; and at 6’3, I felt like a giant.”  After traveling the globe, he found that he liked working in resorts.


Fisher actually got to cook for Bill Clinton’s 50th Birthday party.  “It was fun to chat with him and feed the secret service.  In this industry, I meet all kinds of people and am not really start struck; well not anymore.  Just last week, I was backstage with Foreigner before they performed at the casino.”

At Mystic Lake, Fisher oversees a staff of over 200 people and 14 different restaurants and cafes AND room service.  “We serve roughly 7,000-8,000 meals a day.  For special occasions, such as New Year’s Eve, that number jumps to 12,000 meals.”

Fisher is drawn to American Regional cooking and likes to add French and German influences.  He likes to put a modern spin on the classics without being over the top or pretentious.  “I draw inspiration from everywhere; TV, books, magazines, and my staff; we are always challenging each other and working together creatively in an open think tank environment.”

Fisher has noticed that people are much more educated about food these days.  “There is so much more exposure to food and ingredients than there used to be; the average person today knows about as much as chefs did 20 years ago.  I like that people are willing to try new things; people are branching out from the basic meat and potato dishes and becoming more adventurous.”

The best compliment Fisher could receive about his food is a clean plate.  “We are only as good as the last meal we prepare.  Fortunately, there is a lot of instant gratification in what we do.”

For fun, Fisher likes to spend time with his family, run, bike, ski and travel.

Fisher is passionate about charities that help children.  “I was fortunate to be blessed with three healthy, happy boys.  What the March of Dimes does is important and it tugs at my heart strings.”

-Penelope Austin, volunteer committee, read her blog peneoplethefoodie


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