This Popular Minnesota Dish Has Ties To Owatonna
Mention Minnesota to non-Minnesotans and they instantly think the movie Fargo, Prince, and the word 'cold'. When I think Minnesota I think Tator-Tot Hotdish, Wild Rice Soup, and Bushel Boy Tomatoes. And coincidentally Bushel Boy out of Owatonna and Wild Rice Soup share a common thread. That common thread? Keith Kersten. He’s now the CEO of Bushel Boy.
According to this Star Tribune article, it all started back in the 1970s. (I'm sure the soup was out there somewhere but this would be the introduction to the 'mainstream'.) Kersten at the time was a recent graduate of cooking school and working downtown atop the IDS tower at the Orion Room.
The head chef at the Orion Room had fallen in love with wild rice and always seemed to make too much, so instead of throwing out the $16 a pound, at the time, rice he wanted to repurpose it in another dish. In comes our Owatonna connection. He told the Star Tribune in the article that:
"So I went in and I whipped up a wild rice soup. I took that [leftover] wild rice, I incorporated a bechamel, and then added ham, which brought it all together. Everyone loved it." - Keith Kersten on making Wild Rice Soup
Just think that without his ingenuity to re-purpose the expensive wild rice, we may not have had the current CEO of Bushel Boy.
Fun wild rice soup fact: Kersten told the Star Tribune that he was hired by Byerly's grocery store because he knew the recipe and from there he ended up "supplying frozen wild rice soup to supermarket chains in 11 states!"