Menu Master

If you’ve stopped
by the Wedge
Table in the last
few weeks, you’ve
noticed something new:
the menu. A fresh lineup
of savory snacks, ancientgrain bowls and burritos
on freshly-made tortillas
are now on offer, thanks
to Colin Cody-the
Wedge’s first-ever Product
Development Chef.

It’s a recently created
position: one person
dedicated to keeping
Wedge customers
happy with food that
reflects the season and
changing tastes. Cody,
who has a degree in
food science and spent
time working on an
organic farm in Japan,
got the job because of
his years of experience in the local food business,
his creative vision, and
his tireless drive to find
exciting new ways to use
and combine healthful
products.

“The Wedge is a legacy,”
says Cody. “You’ll find
our Deli recipes in co-ops
all over the cities. That’s
a huge compliment, but
we also want to move
forward and keep up with
the culinary world.”

To accomplish that,
Cody expects to be
changing up the menus
at the Table at least twice
each year, with smaller
updates more frequently
to accommodate local
produce availability. His
fingerprints will also be all
over a new menu for the
Lyndale location Deli and
hot table offerings when
the remodel is complete
in October.

To better understand
all that that entails, we
asked him to give us a
peek inside his creative process. Here’s what it
looks like:

Step One: “You have to
consider the space and
ask, ‘what are we trying
to do here?’ The Table
and Lyndale store serve
very different needs, and
the menus should reflect
that.”

Step Two: “Flavor
profiles, this is where we
ask, ‘what is the essence
of the dish?’ And then
we think about the
ingredients that define
that profile, whether they
be peanuts, lime, and
chile or soy, dashi, and
miso.”

Step Three: “Here we
determine the vehicle
for the flavors-will it
be a bowl, a sandwich,
a burrito, a salad, a
pizza? What makes
the most sense for the
ingredients?”

Step Four: “This is where
we ask, ‘is it a complete
dish?’ By that I mean we
figure out if it
needs something
extra: a texture, a
flavor note, some
crunch, some
sauce, a garnish to
pull it all together
and make the dish
sing.”

Of course, each
of these decisions
don’t get made
in a vacuum-the
menu has to work
together-an optimization puzzle that
Cody relishes.

“By the end of the day,
my office looks like one
of those detective shows,
with the peg board full
of photos and Post-its
tacked up, with lines
of string connecting
everything,” he says. “We
want to cross-utilize as
much as possible so that
we don’t waste product
or resources, while still
presenting each item as a
distinct dish.”

And while Cody is the
mastermind behind it all,
he doesn’t operate in a
vacuum either. He’s got a
team of tasters on hand
in the Wedge kitchen
to bounce ideas off of.
Culinary Operations
Director Missy Smith
is always shooting him
recipe concepts, while CPW Sales
Manager Lori
Zuidema fills him
in every week
on the best
local products
available from
the warehouse.
Then there are
all the customer
comments that also help
guide his decisions, as
well as the network of
local producers who
provide inspiration.

Cody is passionate
about showing off what’s
going on in the Twin
Cities food scene. He
sees the Wedge’s role
as somewhere between
creators and curators,
which is why he tries
to go the extra mile to
feature local producers
on his menus, like Lone
Grazer, Red Table Meats,
and Kadejan Chicken.

He also sees these
unique offerings
as a differentiator
for the Wedge, as
competition in the
local and organic
food space has
heated up in the last
few years.

“The competition
is flattering really.
It means we were
right all along,”
says Cody. “And
it’s not a bad thing that it
has pushed us to be more
creative. It shows that the
values around food are changing, not that our
values at the Wedge have
changed.”

Colin’s picks
See what he’s excited to eat and drink this summer.

Favorite item on the new Table menu

I’m really happy with the
avocado dressing. It’s
great on the Mayan Grain
Bowl and a great dip for
the sweet potato chips.

Favorite local meat/cheese/snack

Lone Grazer’s string cheese.
It’s next-level string cheese.

Favorite local beverage

Haymaker’s Punch from Saint
Paul Switchel or Sociable
Cider Works Freewheeler
Cider if it’s the weekend.

Favorite restaurant that works with CPW

Birchwood Cafe. They’re the
real deal when it comes to
local sourcing, and I don’t
know that there’s a better
brunch spot.

Favorite thing to grow in your own garden

Arugula! Growing my own is
the only way I can afford my
salad habit.

Favorite local condiment

Lucille’s Kitchen Garden
does this Garlic Pepper Jam
that’s both surprisingly good
and surprisingly versatile.

Most underrated ingredient

Lemons are easily
overlooked, but a little fresh
lemon zest or fresh lemon
juice (never bottled!) makes
everything taste better.

Favorite state fair food

I always get a cup of Swedish
egg coffee, first thing.

Most likely to be huge this year

I could see really hearty
salads being a big deal.
Every ingredient has a
story in a salad, whether
it’s cucumbers from your
neighbor’s garden, last-ofthe-season fiddleheads, or
a fancy cheese you’ve never
had before, every salad is
unique, and you get to eat a
ton of it without
feeling guilty.