Say hello to Ben!
Ben is one of our rockstar line cooks at TNG•University — you’ve probably heard his joyful laugh ringing out from the kitchen. For Ben, cooking is a joyful experience, from a steady stream of jokes on the line, to making customers smile with every bite.
Ben’s been cooking for a while, now. He grew up a stone’s throw away, in Frogtown and Midway, and after attending St Paul College for culinary arts, found himself in Arizona. There, he learned dedication & finesse in fine dining and fell in love with the nearly ubiquitous Mexican cuisine around him. And it was there that he first tried the California burrito that would change his life — and in a funny way, give him a home at The Naughty Greek.
“It’s all about the tortilla,” he says. Handmade, large flour tortillas - traditionally made with lard - envelope the meat, crema, veggies and notably, french fries, before getting another kiss on the flattop.
He returned to St Paul with an armful of new skills and a fire in his belly to bring the California burrito home. He worked his way to the top, as executive chef at W.A. Frost, building his repertoire block by block, not just with admirable cooking, but also in management and team-building. One day, after leaving W.A. Frost, he found himself at The Naughty Greek and discovered the french fries inside our Athenian gyro pitas. “I wanted to get in that kitchen.” So he did!
His years of experience are a treasured asset to us, but have also allowed Ben to create a name for himself with El Norte Kitchen, a pop-up with Sonoran food and those California burritos that, well, pops up across the Twin Cities. One day, he’ll have a brick & mortar establishment with a tortilla press. In the meantime, catch him at his pop-ups, at TNG•University, or clearing his head on a neighborhood walk, listening to hip-hop, and planning his next big move.