Executive Chef Rolando Diaz Feeds a Crowd at the Maple Grove Farmers Market

Executive Chef Rolando Diaz feeds a crowd at the Maple Grove Farmers Market.
Marna's Catering executive chef Rolando Diaz.

AGENT: Executive Chef Rolando Diaz

MISSION: Create a meal made entirely from ingredients found at the Maple Grove Farmers Market

Extended Mission: Feed a crowd.

When Marna’s Catering executive chef Rolando Diaz agreed to take on his assigned mission, he knew the risk of danger was limited. He’d visited the market often and was familiar with its extensive fare. But could he make an entire meal from these local wares? Could every single ingredient be found on a Thursday afternoon in this very public venue? And, could he create a meal large enough to feed 75 people at the Community Center? Well, they don’t call him an executive chef for nothing!

Off the record, chef Diaz agreed to share the details of his undercover mission with Maple Grove Magazine readers…but you didn’t hear it from us.

Maple Grove Magazine
: What process did you go through to choose the meal?

Rolando Diaz
: I first went to the market like any other customer and I walked around and tried to get inspired. After seeing the great selection of proteins and vegetables, the meal selection process ended up being very easy for me. I grew up in beautiful Costa Rica and my everyday shopping there was very much the same as the farmers market. The last element to finalize the menu was to contact the market vendors to check the availability of the products that I needed for the meal and to take a small tour of the kitchen space and verify the equipment available to me at the location.

: Tell us about the combination of tastes in this meal.

: The combination of flavors came from my experience of living in Minnesota along with my Latin background. I enjoy mixing the two cultures together in most of my dishes. I was able to create an excellent combination of a dish consisting of chicken with a Latin flair including fresh tomatoes, cilantro and lime, a sweet onion apple roasted pork loin, a Minnesota favorite of bread stuffing using a great selection of breads from two different vendors (I even added a very good olive bread) and, of course, roasted potatoes with some beautiful purple and orange carrots.

MGM: Did you have other ideas that didn’t pan out quite as you planned?

RD: We had to change the options a couple of times, because either a vendor was not going to have the amount of product that I needed in time or the product just simply was not available, so then it was time to improvise. Now, owning a catering business for the past three years, planning ahead for the “what if” scenario, is something that I think about daily, so it was a road bump, but I was able to come up with an alternate plan. The day of the actual event went very smoothly.

MGM: Are there variations to this meal that could be made with ingredients found at the farmers market?

RD: There are endless variations that can be made to the meal. I believe the market has a great selection of the “basics” that, with the right direction, anybody can make delicious, and most importantly, non-processed and healthy meals. It all comes down to the basics of cooking and simple techniques.

MGM: Is there anything that you see consistently at the market that shoppers should not overlook?

RD: The varieties of bread, cheese and definitely the cucumbers. If the bread will only last two days, it is a very good thing because there are no preservatives in it. Anything that has a shelf life of more than one year can’t be good because that means it is packed with preservatives, which ultimately are not good for you. I love the cheese because they use local grass-fed animals. The cucumbers there are great. When I walk around and don’t see many people getting them, I wonder if they think that they are for salads only, but they are so fresh. [They are] a great healthy snack.


Agent Diaz slipped us two of his recipes before disappearing into the market crowd...

Roasted Vegetables:

2 lb. red potatoes quartered
2 lb. carrots
1 diced yellow onion
2 sticks sliced celery
1 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. black coarse pepper
1 tsp. fresh rosemary
1 tsp. fresh thyme
1 Tbsp. granulated garlic
1 cup sunflower oil (or olive oil)

Wash potatoes, carrots and celery with cold water. Cut potatoes into quarters and slice carrots into 1” pieces. In a large mixing bowl, add everything but onions and celery and mix well with herbs and spices. Transfer mixture onto a cookie sheet and bake for 45 minutes at 375 degrees. In a sauté pan, add a little sunflower oil and cook onions and celery until translucent. Once potatoes and carrots are done, add cooked onion and celery. Mix well and serve.

Sweet apple onion roasted pork:

5 lb. pork loin
2 sliced apples of your choice
2 Tbsp. jalapeño jelly (or your choice)
1 large yellow onion
1½ cups white wine
4 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. granulated garlic
1 Tbsp. dry oregano

Combine paprika, salt, granulated garlic and oregano to make a rub.

Rub the blend all over the pork and sear in a pan with olive oil; once outside of pork is seared, put in oven at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

In a separate pan, add a little olive oil and a tablespoon of butter, then add sliced onions and apples and sauté until translucent. Add wine and reduce to half, add brown sugar, jelly and cook for five minutes. Serve with pork.

Chef Diaz’s secret Farmers Market meal menu:

(Well, no longer secret… but you didn’t get it from us.)

Appetizers: Chicken satay, hummus w/ assorted bread and veggies

Main Course: Garden salad with homemade vinaigrette and roasted pork with sweet jelly sauce, Latin chicken, roasted seasonal vegetables, pickle mix and bread stuffing

Dessert: Baklava, ice cream

Flowers: from the market

The following vendors’ products were used in the creation of Chef Diaz’s farmers market meal:

  • Aki’s Backstube
  • Behrens BBQ Sauce
  • Breadsmith
  • Collegeville Bakery
  • Gardner’s Garden
  • Gingerbread Jersey Cheese
  • Mao Lee
  • Na Lee Lor
  • Naturally Delicious Ice Cream
  • Neumann Farms
  • Schwartz Family Farm
  • Schyma’s Pickles & Preserves
  • Sito’s Authentic Lebanese Cuisine
  • Smude Sunflower Oil
  • Sweetwater Roasters Coffee
  • Tantalizing Taste
  • The Oilerie
  • Trumpeter Swan Farm
  • Vang Me Her
  • Yang’s Fresh Produce
  • Yer Yang

What you will find at this year’s market:

  • Ready-to-eat snacks and treats
  • Live music every Thursday (through September)
  • Free weekly recipes highlighting seasonal products
  • A wide variety of vendor-grown vegetables, produced conventionally, sustainably, and in some cases, organically
  • Locally grown strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, melons, apples, pears, and (hopefully) plums
  • Local raw honey and maple syrup
  • Farmstead pork, chicken, beef and eggs, grass fed lamb and heritage turkeys
  • Artisan breads, sandwich breads, buns and pretzels
  • Gluten-free breads, muffins, sweets, and bake-at-home mixes
  • Canned and preserved items
  • Ice cream, coffee, tea and smoothies
  • Other agents attempting to complete their mission
  • Canned and preserved items including sauces, salsas, jams and jellies, cucumber and vegetable pickles and relishes, bloody Mary mix, mustards, horseradish and more
  • Prepared foods including pierogies, dumplings Lebanese specialties, ice cream, coffee, tea, and smoothies


WHAT: Outdoor Farmers Market

: Maple Grove Community Center parking lot

12951 Weaver Lake Road, Maple Grove

WHEN: Every Thursday June 12 to October 23, 2014

3 to 7 p.m. (June thru September)

3 to 6 p.m. (October)

INFO: maplegrovefarmersmarket.com


Make your own meal entirely from ingredients from the farmers market. As always, should you or any of your team be caught, the magazine will disavow any knowledge of your actions. This message will self-destruct in five seconds.

Good luck

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