It’s arguably the very best omelet ever made — anywhere. Listed on the menu as The Basquais, this omelet is the chef’s forte at the Sunnyside Café, 1825 Glenwood Avenue North, Minneapolis. Its creator, French and Italian chef and culinary artist James Baker, personally makes and serves the mastercaft breakfast entrée by special order Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays when the restaurant is open to the public.
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1825 Glenwood Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55405
The beauty of the dish is that it is virtually impossible to consume in one sitting. Consequently, it’s a breakfast that will serve you an additional one to two days because you can take what you can’t finish home in a “to go” container. And believe me — this exquisite omelet just gets better when reheated in a stovetop pan, oven or microwave the second and third day. You can even freeze it, banking the savory delight to enjoy at a later date.
At Sunnyside, the making of an omelet is a huge affair. If memory serves us right, Chef Baker starts with eight extra large eggs. The omelets feature three types of cheeses. Pork omelets are made with ham and bacon and include four varieties of sweet peppers — red, green, yellow and orange, and two varieties of onions, yellow and red. It is tasty. You can request turkey as an alternative or you can go vegetarian and discover the garden medley. This light and fluffy omelet is served with toast and a choice of potatoes or grits. The grits, creamy, cheesy and buttery, are the embodiment of Southern culinary art itself. It’s comfort food at its finest! Then there is the venue. It is warm and inviting, with an air of authenticity that relaxes you like sitting in your own home.
Sunnyside Café is the retail restaurant division of Elite Catering. The company caters breakfasts, lunches and dinners for groups as large as 3,500. From weddings of all sizes to small custom affairs and business meetings, Elite Catering serves customers for whom quality in product, presentation and service is a must.
Owner James Baker specialized in French and Italian cuisine and ice sculpture at the renowned Washburn Culinary Institute in Chicago. He entered the culinary school after serving in the military, where he developed an interest in cooking and food service management.
“I was in Vietnam,” he said, “and the First Class Petty Officer noticed my interest in food preparation. He got me reassigned to the food service operation. Later, the commanding officer, complimenting me on what I had learned and accomplished, recommended that I pursue culinary school training when I left the military. That’s what I did.”
Baker’s partner in business and life is longtime Northsider Alice Bender Baker. Alice Baker is the daughter of the legendary chef and entrepreneur Timothy Bender, who owned and operated Timothy’s Pizza and Soul Food Restaurant on West Broadway and Emerson in the 1960s and ’70s. Bender, now deceased, retired and moved to Hawaii in the 1980s. Timothy’s Pizza, was one the first advertisers in the original Insight Magazine when the publication launched in 1974.
James Baker is a native of Chicago. He says that he thoroughly enjoys Minnesota for the quality of life this state affords anyone who is willing to work hard and honestly. That attitude, which is reflected in the quality environment of Sunnyside, is guided by the Bakers’ shared commitment to self-discipline and self-reliance. It is an attitude they share with our community by their decision to locate the successful catering operation in the heart of the community. Their business presence brings stability and confidence to Glenwood Avenue, the central corridor of the Harrison neighborhood, an area that is about to benefit from $250 million to $500 million in investment and renovation. The development of Heritage Park, the new baseball stadium and the reclamation of the city impound lot will converge to convert the area to what may become hailed as a “most livable, most desirable, and most diverse urban community.”
The values of discipline and respect that the Bakers invest in their excellent eatery are the same values that guide their family life and parenting. Pictures line the wall showing the Bakers to be the proud parents of young master J.T. Baker. A martial arts student, one of J. T. Baker’s main challenges in life right now is how to juggle the rigorous martial arts training schedule with his desire to become a pilot — at the age of eight.
The Court of Public Opinion in Session Friday Mornings at Sunnyside
As Insight News editors, we will hold informal Editor’s Roundtable meetings at the Sunnyside Café every Friday morning at 8:00 a.m. The meetings are intended to keep us in contact with neighbors and friends, business and civic leaders, politicians and advocates who want to share their issues and ideas with us and consequently, with Insight readers.
Our expectation is that community folks and business leaders who drop in to chat over breakfast, like us, will become adoring fans of Sunnyside Cafe and the impeccable elite service of James and Alice Baker.