A Spirited Spotlight on Patti Soskin & YUM! Kitchen and Bakery

by Cindi SutterFounder & Editor of The Spirited Table®

One very cold and snowy day Laura Chin and I sat down with Patti Soskin, the owner of two YUM! Kitchen and Bakeries in Minneapolis and Minnetonka, Minnesota. I believe Patti's history of success in the restaurant industry revolves around a love of human interaction, a belief in the power of sharing a meal and the spirited joy she exudes when discussing her restaurant employee teams and guests at YUM!. 

When Patti Soskin was a little girl all the other little girls played house while Patti played restaurant. So began this love affair with food and the restaurant business, at home, in the kitchen, nurtured by her Mom and sisters.

Next step? She took her first cooking class while in elementary school. Yes, she was fortunate to discover the passion behind the plate very young. Family dinner was very important in her house. Patti thought everyone ate the way they did, everything was served family style on beautiful platters full of attractively presented food. 

“Dinner was a very important time; everything stopped at dinnertime and everyone congregated. After dinner my parents would leave the table and every night my sisters and I would do the dishes.” Patti realized early on that this tradition was a connector of family and history.

What did your journey from an upscale restaurant to the fun faster food of YUM! entail? “I began YUM! during the recession and was proud to serve good food at a reasonable price in a casual atmosphere. I feel very, very blessed when I come to work everyday. I love the kids I work with, I love mentoring them and watching them grow and thrive. When I see our payroll numbers it actually makes me feel like I’m supporting a community of foodies and their families. I LOVE THAT! One of my first employees began working with me when she was 16. She went to the University of Minnesota, graduated from college, got a job at General Mills: when they gave her a car she drove it over to YUM! to show me!” That’s the joy Patti serves up to her employees and restaurant guests. She knows their stories and loves the connection to the people around her. 

When you go home tonight in the snow storm, what’s for dinner?
“Today I said to Robbie, my husband, we’re going out to dinner tonight and support people in the business and besides, we can get in any place we want to go. So tonight’s the night to dine out.”

What’s in your fridge? What’s your go to recipe?
“My kids are gone now, so we eat much healthier. I always have good oils, sauces and vinegars.”

Do you have a favorite dish? “It changes. I still experiment a lot at home with recipes for the restaurant. So I’m always tweaking. Sundays include kids coming home for dinner. Last Sunday I cooked from 11 in the morning till 6:30 at night. I send stuff over to my kids because they’re working and I love to do it. My daughter-in-law loves to cook and entertain; she too grew up like my family, where dinner was a very important part of the day.”

What do you think about food and lifestyle traditions?
“I’m all about traditions. Traditions in my world are religion. Growing up Jewish we are all about celebrating every Jewish holiday and this is huge for me. Easter morning we have the neighborhood kids over for an Easter egg hunt, afterwards they go to their homes to celebrate their traditions. Thanksgiving is my favorite day of the year and my tradition includes 50+ people around my Thanksgiving table. My kids know they can go anywhere on any other holiday but they better be around our family table for Thanksgiving. Even the ones who got married the week before Thanksgiving went on a mini-moon and came home for Thanksgiving dinner.”

“I think tradition is so important and I believe food is the soul of tradition. Whether it’s the Matzo ball soup, latkes or the same brisket recipe my mom made. Traditions are a huge part of that.”

Do you feel that your kids and the young people that come here want to continue those traditions? 

“Yes, but what I think is even more interesting is the world has gotten so much smaller and they want to experience everything. They definitely want to try every cultural trend and every hot new food item. They want to experiment but then they want to go back to their friends and family traditions.”

Reaching back in time who is your all time favorite chef? “My Mom” 

What was the impetus for Minneapolis becoming the foodie city we have become? “I think the whole chefs becoming celebrities has changed the landscape of restaurants. I think people traveling more has changed the world and the way we eat.”

Patti’s infectious and playful attitude about food is a passion, a love affair that began in elementary school, nurtured by her Mom and won’t end until the last Patticake comes out of the YUM! kitchens.