Celebrity chef joins forces with beloved Edina institution to stage the ultimate comeback.
Cooks of Crocus Hill was a cherished shop in Edina’s 50th and France area. It was sorely missed when it closed its doors. Now, it’s back and better than ever in a new iteration: Cooks|Bellecour.
Marie Dwyer and Karl Benson, co-owners of Cooks of Crocus Hill, joined forces with Twin Cities chef Gavin Kaysen of Bellecour, Demi, Mara and Spoon and Stable. Together, the trio created Cooks|Bellecour. Edina is its third location and opened its doors May 30.
“St. Paul is a retail store with a bit of bakery, North Loop is a bakery with some retail. And this is the first iteration where it’s retail and bakery in equal parts,” Kaysen says.
The open floor plan at Market Street grants visitors views to each of the areas of Cooks|Bellecour, whether it’s the kitchen prepping croissant club sandwiches or amiable instructors leading the latest in-house course. Visitors are welcome to enjoy freshly baked pastries, delectable salads and elevated bistro sandwiches at the large high top tables or on the expansive patio stretching almost an entire block.
Shelves inside are stocked with every kitchen necessity and indulgence imaginable. Among the top recommended items for any kitchen newbie or professional chef: a microplane grater, citrus squeezer, chef’s knife … and a bottle of calamansi (resembles a lemon vinaigrette, with nearly endless functions). From the bakery, select a must-try item, such as a hand-crafted Swedish cardamom bun or a delicately layered kouign amann.
Cooks|Bellecour has been welcomed to Edina with enthusiasm, but the team has taken note of a few changes in regard to the evolution of the city.
“What we’ve found since we’ve been back is that the city is so vibrant, particularly on this street. When we left many years ago, it didn’t have this kind of street presence,” Dwyer says. “Now, there are many people out and what we’re seeing now, lots of young families, people on bikes, lots of people sitting outside or coming in and using the class tables. There’s a good community spirit that happens here. We’re just happy to be a part of it.”
What sets Cooks|Bellecour apart from other cooking schools, bakeries and kitchen supply stores is the connection among the three.
“On your first visit, you may come in and grab a croissant, a coffee,” Kaysen says. “Then, in three weeks when you need a set of new knives, you think, ‘Oh, I know where to go. And I know I can grab some pastries for Sunday brunch, too.’”
Kaysen, Dwyer and Benson call the store’s concept “experiential.”
“We also want to be thoughtful and show people ways to use the product that surrounds them. It just feels very authentic and genuine,“ Benson says. “We love things that energize and inspire people to be in a kitchen. We offer that and package it up really nicely. It’s not just about the stuff. The idea of having a strong, highly functional cooking school and then adding a bakery, that consumable portion to it … that doesn’t exist elsewhere. It’s truly a unicorn.”
The trio says this unicorn runs on a healthy mix of Kaysen’s creativity and passion with Benson and Dwyer’s strategic and intentional retail experience. On top of that, much of it depends on communication, curiosity and a dependable team.
“There’s a lot of trust that we put into the team. We’re not a three-person team,” Benson says. “Behind the scenes, we have a strong methodology for staying on top of things and making sure our team is feeling supported. With all that planning, collaboration is key. Things that happen at the store level, in the bakery or cooking school site, they’re planful, very deliberate.”
Looking ahead, classes offered at Cooks|Bellecour this winter will encompass all things holiday. Think sugar cookies, craft cocktails or maybe even a Christmas ham. And along with in-house courses, Cooks|Bellecour will have many delicious, beautiful options for food gifting, whether scrumptious banana bread or artisanal shortbread cookies, which are sure to delight any recipients.