Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Dinner with Michael LaDuke & New Foodie Friends

With Executive Chef Michael LaDuke.

Meeting the chef. Knowing where your food comes from. A restaurant that listens to its costumers. That focuses on healthy eating. On fresh ingredients. These are not conventions commonly associated with a chain restaurant. But conventions change all the time. And this time it is being done by Red Lobster.

I was thrilled to have been invited to meet executive chef and Red Lobster's Senior Director of Culinary Development (and a regular judge on the Food Network) Michael LaDuke yesterday. Red Lobster has dramatically changed their menu to incorporate dishes that use simple, wholesome ingredients but most importantly taste good. An emphasis is being placed on healthy eating. Chef LaDuke and his team recognize that "food" and "healthy" should just go together. Plain and simple.

New items on the menu include Mango Jalapeno Shrimp Skewers, Maple Glazed Chicken - with a sauce that could make cardboard palatable - and a wide selection of fresh fish choices that are, in some places, characteristic of the region. For example, walleye and halibut feature predominantly on Minnesota menus. Furthermore, locals head chefs have full control over these selections. And being someone who appreciates the simplicity of flavors, I was quite impressed.

Yes, this a restaurant chain that is receptive to the wants of its customers. While you can still get traditional fare such as coconut shrimp, crab legs, and oh-so-good-but-with-a-billion-calories cheddar biscuits, this is a vibrant, modern family restaurant that's worth every morsel of fish and crumb of rich, dark chocolate cake.
Clockwise from top left to right: Maple-Glazed Chicken, Chocolate Wave, Tilapia in Spicy Soy Broth, New York Style Cheesecake with Strawberries, Maui Luau Shrimp and Salmon, Lobster Pizza, Mango-Jalapeno Shrimp Skewers, and Warm Chocolate Chip Lava Cookie.

This was also a great opportunity to meet three other Minneapolis bloggers. From left to right in the photo below:

Jennifer @ Prior Fat Girl

Four Minnesota Bloggers.

One final group shot with the chef.


Sophie said...

That's great for you & meeting other Minnesota fellow bloggers & the chefs too!

Every time, I go in a slendid restaurant with 1 , 2 or 3 Michelin stars, I meet the chef!! That experine is allways awesome!

What a lovely experience !!

zabina said...

omg.. those dishes look fabulous from red lobster.. When I'm in the country.. we have to go!

Natasha said...

Thanks Sophie!

Yes, we will. So when you're visiting?

Erica said...

It was such a pleasure to meet you in Minneapolis. Your post made me smile and I am thrilled you were able to have a wonderful evening with your husband at Red Lobster! I'll be in touch about the FL running race :) Cheers, Erica

Tristan said...

This must have been a meaningful time with meaningful conversations and new friends. Nice!

Natasha said...

It was a pleasure meeting you as well! Glad you liked my little post. :o)

Yes it was. It's always fun meeting fellow bloggers and fellow food lovers.
Btw, see ya in Toronto!

Anonymous said...


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You can check one out at or on