Chef Michael Rakun is the executive chef/gm of Mill Valley Kitchen, a new Twin Cities restaurant. The menu is modeled after the cuisine of Northern California, where Rakun places emphasis on using fresh, local ingredients in a variety of vibrant, healthful dishes.
Rakun’s philosophy in the kitchen is that good food basically starts on the farm. Since his start, he has valued the farm-to-table tradition and has always sought out the best practices and best products from local sources. He believes that using the freshest ingredients and altering them as little as possible offers a fresher, better tasting and more nutritious product.
Rakun has been working in kitchens for more than half of his life, and first discovered his passion for food as a teenager, working in various culinary jobs in the Chicago area. After moving to Minnesota, where he attended Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, he took on an intense and rigorous internship at The Saint Paul Hotel, where his enthusiasm and creativity helped him earn a full-time position, and his drive helped him to quickly rise through the ranks in a variety of roles. From there, he helped to open Mission American Kitchen in Minneapolis, under the direction of executive chef Jordan Smith, where he played an integral role in building the restaurant’s initial menu. He spent a few years at Mission, continuing to hone his skills and eventually shifted into the executive chef role; a move that gave him the opportunity and the freedom to further explore the world of food and express his creativity.
Rakun was then lured to Florida to serve as executive chef at Truluck’s, a steak and seafood chain complete with its own fisheries and fleet of fishing boats. Rakun’s innovative thinking and creative prowess again helped him rise to a partner in the operation, and he spent four years in Naples and Fort Lauderdale working with fresh-from-the-ocean seafood and leading the company’s food program.
When mentor and friend Jordan Smith opened his popular Black Sheep Pizza in Minneapolis, Rakun returned to Minnesota with his wife Abby and his two children to assist with the management and development of the concept. This past August, Rakun formed a new partnership with Craig Bentdahl and began working with him on the development of Mill Valley Kitchen, a highly anticipated addition to the Twin Cities restaurant scene.