Walker Art Center welcomes Denny Smith as Executive Chef. Denny’s primary focus will be leading the kitchen in Chef Doug Flicker’s restaurant Esker Grove, but he will also oversee catering services at the Walker. Chef Flicker comments, “Denny is destined to become a true voice in the Twin Cities dining scene.”
Dennis “Denny” Leaf-Smith has been working behind the line since high school. But it was a few years after graduation when he truly found his passion for the culinary industry during his time in Marin County, CA. Returning to his native Minnesota he spent time at Café Lurcat and later held the Executive Chef position at the 112 Eatery. A new opportunity took him to Philadelphia, PA where he further honed his skills in well-respected chef-owned/chef-run restaurants. He most recently worked at Eastside Food +Drink as the Executive Chef before joining the Walker.
Located at the new entrance to the Walker Art Center, chef Doug Flicker and his team celebrate seasonal ingredients at Esker Grove. Designed by Joan Sorrano and John Cook of HGA, Esker Grove features wooden floors, expansive skylights, a cozy bar, and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and the downtown skyline. Savor a craft beer or cocktail with your meal in the 94-seat dining room or the shady 60-seat patio. An outside stairway takes visitors from the new front door to the restaurant’s green roof, connecting with a series of accessible pathways that wind up the hillside through the trees and sculptures. Esker Grove is conveniently and centrally located near the new Vineland entry, main lobby, and parking ramp.