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  • Chef John Politte

Long before Emeril, Giada, The Neely’s and Bobby Flay picked their produce and sharpened their knives to perform culinary magic in front of the camera, there were other famous chefs that have not gotten the respect they deserve for bringing the joy of food to the magic of television.

Here is a top 10 list that will bear witness to their greatness for decades to come. Top Ten Greatest Television Chefs:


#10: Aunt Bea from “The Andy Griffith Show”. Nobody was better at feeding the family on a tight small town sheriff salary than that beloved domestic goddess in the frilly apron. She even had her own TV cooking show until artistic differences interfered.

#9: Alice from “The Brady Bunch”. Cooking for a large family, back before dysfunction became the norm was no easy task, but Alice showed that she could handle the task with her signature Pork Chops and Applesauce.

#8: Igor from “M*A*S*H. Taking constant criticism for all the meals you prepared and served in a war zone, and not killing anybody? That really is dinner impossible.

#7: Cpl. LeBeau from “Hogan’s Heroes”. Whether he was cooking for the Third Reich or making pastries for his bunk mates. He was the stereotypical perfectionist in the kitchen. And being French most likely used more butter than Paula Deen. No wonder the German’s lost the war.

#6: Sue Ann Nivens from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”. Just like Sandra Lee, she put the “happy” in “The Happy Homemaker”. I thought nobody could upstage Mary, but Sue Ann stole the scene when she strolled into the newsroom and rubbed Murray’s bald head. And she made one hell of a Veal St. Olaf.

#5: Mary Ann from “Gilligan’s Island” . Long before Survivor captured our attention and Rachel Ray annoyed us with her perky cuteness, Mary Ann was baking coconut cream pies, all without an oven. Just keeping the Skipper fed was work enough.


#4: Arnold from “Happy Days”. He was the first owner operator of a restaurant on television and a brilliant marketing genius as well. Who else would have served chicken wings at a motorcycle jump in his parking lot? And were there even chicken wings in Milwaukee at that time? The very first Diner Drive In and Dive.

#3: Hop Sing from “Bonanza”. Anyone who could keep Dan Blocker fed and happy had to be a great chef. He also led the way for the employment of immigrants, who are the backbone of the food service industry. Without him, Arnold may have never had the chance to open his drive in. And he made more sense than Aaron MCCargo Jr.

#2: Jack Tripper from “Three’s Company”. When he wasn’t frolicking with beautiful roommates or hanging with Larry at the Regal Beagle, Jack was fooling his landlord and attending chef school, where his grades were good enough for him to graduate and eventually own his own Bistro. Sort of the first Tyler Florence, but Jack was much smoother with the ladies.

#1: Mel from “Alice”. Another successful owner/operator. Everybody made fun of his food and he was abusive to his customers and wait staff long before Bobby Flay , but Mel had a heart of gold and became a father figure to Tommy and gave each of the waitresses $5000 when he closed the diner.


Honorable Mention:

*Granny from the “Beverley Hillbillies” *Mr. French from “A Family Affair” *Uncle Charlie from “My Three Sons” *Frank De Fazio from “Laverne and Shirley *The Swedish Chef from “The Muppets” *Mrs. Livingston from “The Courtship of Eddies Father” *Mrs. Krause from “Benson”

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  • Chef John Politte

Opened in November of 1977 on the property that used to be The Sandpiper Restaurant, Kozlak’s Royal Oak Restaurant is one of the premier family owned eating establishments in the Twin Cities.


Emanating a 1980’s mood with its opulent crown molding, plastic plants, high ceilings and bay windows allowing a look onto the patio and garden, Kozlak’s takes you on  a trip back in time to the supper club days before chain restaurants and hip food trends spoiled the pleasure of dining out.


The service is top notch, attentive and knowledgeable of the menu, wine and chef specials.  The dining room is spacious but lacking an intimacy that couples may be looking for.  The tables are draped in white linen, set properly, and carefully displayed for the sequential tour through the meal.


The appetizer of bruschetta is a bit of a disappointment.  The tomatoes are a bit oxidized and flavorless, and for a cold first course, curiously served on a hot plate.  The house salad is remarkable, somewhere between a garden salad and a Caesar, tossed with a salty sweet mayonnaise-based dressing refreshingly created by the chef.  The twin medallions of beef are tender and perfectly cooked; the mashed potatoes are real potatoes, and are wonderfully whipped, seasoned and piled high alongside the entrée.  The vegetables are fresh, and not a frozen boxed variety that are delivered to restaurants these days. The risotto cakes were boring, bland, and undercooked, lacking the enjoyable crunch that accompanies something grilled with Panko bread crumbs.  The White Zinfandel was a good choice to match the earthiness of the beef, and paired along with the seasoning in the vegetables quite well.


The dessert choices are fresh but limited. The apples, caramel, and whipped cream served Neapolitan style in a small chimney glass is elegant, simple, and a wonderful way to end the meal.


Kozlak’s also has banquet space, on and off-site catering and an outstanding New Orleans Jazz Brunch on Sunday’s.  Too find out more, visit kozlaks.com.


When searching for a pleasant, uncomplicated meal, with a menu that has a proven shelf life and a staff that treats you like a customer and not a number, then you will enjoy Kozlak’s Royal Oak Restaurant.

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  • Chef John Politte

Our first visit the Keys Café in Spring Lake Park, at 8299 University Ave NE was not a pleasant one to say the least.  The waitresses and the supporting staff passed by our table numerous times before any kind of recognition or inquiry about coffee or juice, which I found interesting since once you are seated by the hostess, your waitress is informed of the seating and presumably greets you ASAP.


As a breakfast diner, I like to be greeted and have my coffee within five minutes of being seated, but this experience infected the whole dining endeavor.  And to top it off, my wife was rudely cut in front of by a certain state senator and his entourage trying to pay the check.  A fact I was not made aware of until afterwards, luckily for everyone, as I am quite protective of the fetching Mrs. Politte.


Months later, we decided to give Keys another try.  So with open minds and empty stomachs we made our way back to the famous Twin Cities eatery to give it another try.


Seated immediately, and acknowledged instantly by our waitress, I had coffee and juice on the table in less than a minute.  I know this because I timed it.


The food was exceptional.  The Florentine Benedict was a cleverly designed toasted English muffin layered with tomatoes, fresh spinach, basted eggs and topped by a creamy hollandaise, with crispy hash browns and toast made from bread baked in the back of the house.


The farmer’s omelet is definitely one made for eating before milking the cows or harvesting the crops.  Literally stuffed with ham, onions, hash browns and cheese, this breakfast entrée is also served with homemade toast and preserves, and can feed 2 people or a hungry Border collie that is mad that you left her at home.


The first Keys Café opened for business in 1973, in St. Paul on Raymond Avenue. Barbara Hunn founded this first adventure, refining and improving her successful formula until the second Keys opened in New Brighton in 1983.


Together with her family, the Keys Cafés have expanded to nine Twin Cities locations and have been recognized and awarded both locally and nationally for their fine food.

The Keys Café philosophy is simple: memorable service and absolutely the best food … breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and desserts created from scratch recipes “you grew up with”.

As noted earlier, Keys has a full bakery and a display case that shows of their wares.  From cookies, pies, cakes and bars, there is a dessert to please everyone.


Check out the website at keyscafe.com to see all eight Twin Cities locations and the one in Wisconsin, yes Wisconsin; where you can enjoy the home made family atmosphere and food.  And if it doesn’t work out the first time, by all means give it another try-you’ll be glad you did.

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