Walker Art Center Announces New Culinary Program, Curated By D’Amico’s Finest Chefs; New Restaurant "Gather" Launching In April

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New Catering Concept, Modern Events By D’amico: Featuring Unique, Walker-Exclusive And A La Carte Catering Events; New Event Series Celebrates Local Chefs: Minneapolis-St. Paul Guest Chefs “Curate” Monthly Bar Menu, Give Cooking Demonstrations, And Serve Complimentary Samples

“Richard and Larry D’Amico have made huge culinary contributions to the Minneapolis St. Paul community,” said Walker Executive Director Olga Viso. “Many of the best chefs in the region have been mentored in D’Amico kitchens."

The Walker Art Center and D’Amico & Partners announced today that D’Amico & Partners will become the Walker Art Center’s new food service provider, effective April 18, 2011.

“We are ecstatic to be working with the Walker Art Center. It’s a world class organization, and without a doubt, one of the most cutting edge arts institutions in the world. We’ve developed restaurant, bar and catering concepts to complement the extraordinary creativity that is the Walker trademark,” said Richard D’Amico, president of D’Amico & Partners. “We wanted to create a dining experience that truly reflects how the Walker brings visitors together, by providing a casual and inspiring setting with exceptional food,” said D’Amico.

“Richard and Larry D’Amico have made huge culinary contributions to the Minneapolis St. Paul community,” said Walker Executive Director Olga Viso. “Many of the best chefs in the region have been mentored by Jay Sparks in D’Amico kitchens. The Walker was at the forefront of the Twin Cities’ chef-driven restaurant concepts six years ago and we’re thrilled to partner in this latest innovation in local dining. Having the D’Amico team create a new restaurant, a new bar menu featuring local chefs, and a new type of private event space is incredibly exciting.”

Gather: An Elegant and Relaxed Lunchtime Destination

-D’Amico and Partners has created an entirely new restaurant for the Walker, featuring locally-sourced, globally-inspired modern American cuisine.

-Gather will offer a casual and convivial dining experience, with the look, feel and flavor of a world class restaurant. The restaurant’s breathtaking view of downtown Minneapolis will be complemented by a culinary punch.

-The redesigned restaurant, with furnishings by some of today’s most innovative designers, will be an ideal setting for lunch, Thursday night bar service, and evening events.

-Gather will be open for lunch six days a week (11 am–3 pm) and Thursday evenings (5 pm–10 pm).

Gather: Guest Chefs Curate A Thursday Night Bar Scene

Every month, D’Amico and the Walker will partner with a local guest chef who will “curate” a grouping of small plates that will be featured the entire month. “I’m extremely excited to be involved in this new culinary concept,” said Larry D’Amico. “The Walker has long inspired me as an arts patron and I will now take this inspiration into the kitchen to develop uniquely Walker creations.”

The guest chefs (six drawn from D’Amico restaurants and six celebrating Minneapolis-St. Paul restaurants), will be on site at the Walker for the first Target Free Thursday Night of each month, providing cooking demonstrations and a special complimentary sampler plate for Walker members.

“The opportunity to present food as art and to feature so many talented chefs—12 annually—is something I’m extremely excited about. Much like the Walker’s artist-in-residence programs, this exciting series will bring chefs-in-residence to the Walker,” said Viso. “It’s a chance for our audiences to experience some of the finest culinary artists the Twin Cities have to offer.”

Gather: An Innovative Private Event Destination Featuring Modern Events by D’Amico

On most evenings, Gather will be transformed into one of Minneapolis-St. Paul’s finest event spaces, featuring the ability to host private catered events from a la carte, restaurant-style menus. It will offer unrivaled opportunities for both intimate and large-scale staged events. “The opportunity to provide dinner-style a la carte service for private catered events is something that isn’t available anywhere else in the Twin Cities’ catering scene,” said Larry D’Amico. “We’re excited to bring this quality of service to the Walker.”

Modern Events by D’Amico, will also be the Walker’s new exclusive caterer, providing food service for all Walker events—both Walker-sponsored and private. Featuring entirely new, Walker-specific menus, as well as new servicing details, Modern Events by D’Amico will bring a new level of D’Amico catering to the community.

And More…
D’Amico and Partners is also crafting special menus for the Walker’s Garden Café and seasonal Garden Grill (located on the Walker plaza across from the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden). Each will feature seasonal selections of salads, sandwiches, soups, and summer grill items in addition to a variety of local beers and wine.

Who’s Cooking?
D’Amico Catering Executive Chef Mike Sneen will oversee development of the lunch and catering menus along with D’Amico rising star Chefs Josh Brown (lunch service) and Ryan Haas (Modern Events), both moving from D’Amico Catering to the Walker. D’Amico Executive Chef Jay Sparks will serve as a featured guest chef at the Walker and will be available to create menus as part of Modern Events by D’Amico.

What’s Changing?
Following a successful six years of critical and public success, during which 20.21 Restaurant and Bar became a local favorite, the Walker and Wolfgang Puck are amiably parting ways. “We have immensely enjoyed our partnership with Wolfgang and will miss his passion for both fine culinary experiences and the art that inspires him,” said Viso. “However, the Minneapolis-St. Paul restaurant and dining landscape has changed dramatically over the past six years. As part of our ongoing mission to provide new experiences and to actively engage and better serve our audiences, we felt the time was right to chart a new direction for the food service program at the Walker.”

About D’Amico & Partners
D’Amico & Partners, one of the nation’s preeminent restaurant and catering developers, owns and manages 24 restaurants in Minneapolis and Florida. Their properties include: D’Amico Kitchen, Parma 8200, Campiello (2) Café and Bar Lurcat (2), D’Amico & Sons (12) and MASA—featuring upscale, contemporary Mexican cuisine. The Wall Street Journal hailed MASA as one of the United States’ “top 10 most anticipated restaurant openings…” when it opened.

About Walker Art Center
The Walker Art Center is a catalyst for the creative expression of artists and the active engagement of audiences. Focusing on the visual, performing, and media arts of our time, the Walker takes a global, multidisciplinary, and diverse approach to the creation, presentation, interpretation, collection, and preservation of art. Walker programs examine the questions that shape and inspire us as individuals, cultures, and communities.

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John Larson
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