We are pleased to announce that Stephen Hesse and Tyge Nelson, chefs and co-owners of the Parajito restaurant in St. Paul, will be joining us as our guest chefs for our Fall Food & Wine Dinner this November. Our culinary team will be collaborating with Stephen and Tyge in the coming weeks to develop the menu for the event. We are excited to see the ideas that follow and will share the details with you as soon as we can.
“These two have been local industry luminaries for a long time, and if you listen carefully you can hear a big “OMG at last,” from many, many cooking lines in local kitchens. Both are Tim McKee protégés: Hesse opened Masu and has been making Libertine taste good since it opened in 2014, and Nelson started cooking for McKee in the kitchen at La Belle Vie Stillwater in 2000 … Hesse and Nelson’s new spot looks to … take food that people already like, and make it with all the cheffy insight and tricks of the trade which make it better.”
~ Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl, Mpls/St. Paul Magazine
About the Chefs
Parajito is a dream fulfilled for Stephan Hesse. Known for his rare combination of culinary artistry and business savvy, for years Stephan had been thinking about opening a neighborhood restaurant – bringing dining with character and originality to a community more typically home to chains and fast food. And, it would appear that Stephan was destined to open his own place – few chefs have racked up more than 25 years of culinary experience while still years shy of hitting 40.
Stephan started working in the restaurant industry at the tender age of 13 at his mother’s Maplewood Perkin’s restaurant and never stopped. After high school the St. Paul native took a job in executive dining at 3M; and it was there one of the chefs noticed Stephan’s talent and suggested he pursue a culinary career.
That decision quickly led Stephan to the Art Institutes International of Minnesota where he enrolled in the Culinary program. Upon graduation, Stephan’s early career was filled with work at the prestigious four-star St. Paul Hotel and St. Paul Grill as well as at Premier Restaurant Management where he was instrumental in opening such Minneapolis crowd-pleasers as Stella’s Fish Café and Prestige Oyster Bar, Tonic of Uptown and Major’s Sports Cafés.
For Stephan, Pajarito’s vision is to be a great neighborhood hangout with superb Mexican food:
“We want to push the envelope on traditional Mexican fare with modern touches and fresh, vibrant flavors. Tyge and I will both be building on our passions and strengths. I’ll be playing up my skills in in-house butchery and charcuterie, while Tyge will be playing up his extensive knowledge of the differences and subtleties between various Latin American and Mexican regional cuisines in his use of chili peppers and seasonings.”
To quote Star Tribune restaurant critic, Rick Nelson, when describing Chef Tyge Nelson, “Talented chefs beget talented chefs.”
Tyge’s interest in food traces back to childhood memories of watching his grandmother canning and baking, and trips with his grandfather to buy fresh milk from nearby dairy farms. However, his culinary destiny was not a foregone conclusion.
Like many other chefs, Tyge discovered his own interest in food only after pursuing other potential career paths. “I’d been going to school for awhile (at the University of Minnesota) and nothing really drew me.” But when he thought about becoming a chef, it just “felt right.” So, in 1999 he quit the University of Minnesota and enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Mendota Heights, graduating in 2000.
Upon graduation Tyge won a coveted internship working for uber-talented Chef Tim McKee at then just two-year old La Belle Vie, which was still located in Stillwater, Minn. Tyge was quickly promoted to sous chef. When Tim brought in Jack Riebel to serve as La Belle Vie’s executive chef as he began splitting his attention between the two restaurants, it created new opportunities for Tyge to learn from yet another talented chef.
Pajarito is an opportunity for Tyge to showcase his depth of expertise as well as his love of Mexican food and culture.
“With attention to detail, technique, and ingredients you quickly elevate the dining experience into something extraordinary. For example, a salsa can be a simple dish, but it becomes great when you put thought and effort into every aspect: the selection of the vegetables, how they’re roasted, type of heat you introduce, the amount of acidity. The end result still looks simple on the plate, but the effort elevates the final result and the overall experience.”
RSVP online now via the links below or call us at 218.663.7212.
Cost does not include tax or gratuity. Must be 21 years of age or older to attend. Registering online secures your rsvp for the event. Payment will be taken at Lutsen Resort.