Rikki Giambruno isn’t Jewish, but the chef and owner of St. Paul’s Hyacinth has long been a fan of Hanukkah traditions – a combination of working in Brooklyn and having a Jewish brother-in-law. The combination of those two things is leading to what could be a new tradition at his restaurant.
Sunday night, Giambruno is holding a ticketed Hanukkah meal dinner featuring our takes on Hanukkah favorites and much more. Wine pairings will be available as well as a specially curated cocktail menu.
“I thought a lot of people in the Twin Cities Jewish community would be really excited about it,” said Giambruno. “It was a no-brainer for us. We’re trying to be as inclusive as possible with the diverse community we have here.”
Giambruno, when he was in New York, was a chef at Franny’s in Brooklyn. Each December, the restaurant had an annual Feast of the Seven Fishes and Hanukkah feast. He said that introduced him to the traditions of Hanukkah that he’s since fallen in love with.
“I’m drawing on a few things: my limited but hopefully growing knowledge from (Hyacinth manager) Annie Blumfield, and my time in New York and things did we did at Franny’s,” he said.
At Hyacinth, Giambruno typically cooks primarily southern Italian/Mediterranean/Sicilian food; he seems some similarities and flavor overlap with Israeli food.
“I’ve tried to make bridges between them,” he said. “I’ve spent a good part of my adult life in New York City, and drawing those experiences with the East Coast Jewish dining culture, when put all together, what I get as a chef is a big thing to draw from. It gives us the opportunity to take it and put it through a different lens.”
Tickets were $100 each but are no longer available for this year. With the menu that Giambruno has planned, we should all hope he does this again next year.
“I’m happy to be cooking and living in a diverse society, and I want to have a place that is inclusive and inviting to all walks of life,” he said. “We are still pretty new so every day presents a new opportunity to try new stuff. We’re always looking for opportunities to stretch our wings, and have fun, but also get to service a group of people that are a little underserved in our dining community.”