Skip to main content
Publish date:

The latest chef at acclaimed Travail Kitchen? A 13-year-old boy

Spencer Venancio is putting together a 13-course, pop-up meal for the restaurant.

Travail Kitchen & Amusements in Robbinsdale is known for being a hotbed for young cheffing talent, but not this young.

On Saturday, in charge of the kitchen at Travail will be 13-year-old Spencer Venancio, from Woodbury.

The precocious cook is leading a 13-course (geddit?) tasting menu of his own design in what is a pop-up event for 16 lucky diners around Traveil's U-shaped bar.

He'll be working alongside Travail supremos James Winberg, Bob Gerken, and Mike Brown to serve the menu, having had their help over the past few weeks to develop his menu.

Travail spokeswoman Megan Leafblad told BMTN that Venancio has done a number of stages (kitchen internships) around the Twin Cities, which brought him to the attention of the Travail Collective.

"He came in and we got to know him a bit and learned he had done a pop-up dinner at his home," she said.

"We invited him to come up with a concept and that we would help him produce a pop-up. We've done pop-ups with our own chefs and a number of other folks around town, so it's not totally new to us either."

Follow BMTN on Instagram

The $65-a-head tasting menu includes a beef ribeye taco, scallop crudo, butter poached lobster and foie gras.

There are still some tickets left for the 8:15 p.m. seating, which you can book here.

Here's the full menu:

1. Poached and marinated clam. Charred jalapeño and fermented turnip relish. Crispy ham and ham oil. Smoked Salmon Caviar possibly marinating in fermentation juice

2. Grilled wedge of watermelon. sweet spice. Cilantro. creme fraiche. radish. green onion. Micro cilantro. Konro grill

3. Scallop crudo. aguachile. Fresno Chile. gooseberries . Green onion. plating help

4. Corn pudding w/ smoked corn kernels. Bacon style pork tenderloin Bushi. Maple syrup gastric. cornbread crostini. Chive tips. 

5. Beef taco (ribeye). Corn tortilla. Fermented peppers. Pickled radishes. Cilantro aioli.

6. Grilled chanterelles. Crispy chicken skin. Pickled ramps. Cherrywood smoke.  

7. Duck roulade. seared cherries. polenta. Duck jus seasoned with cherry juice.

8. Butter poached lobster. Carrot purée. Turmeric tuile. Buttermilk. Watercress Vinaigrette. Micro carrots. Watercress.

9. Foie cashew crunch roll. Rhubarb jelly (quenelle). Fresh fig. Sherry gastric. Small sourdough boules

10. Soft cheese (Buche St. Maure). Cherry fluid gel. Clementine cells (nitro shattered). Pumpernickel bread crisps.

11. chai tea in small mug with a sphere of frozen chai cream. miniature cream puff filled with chai pastry cream.

12. Cryosicles. Raspberry cells. Blackberry foam. buttered pecan consommé.

13. Carbonated Miso ice cream. Miso caramel. Honeycomb candy

(Bonus to take away) – Mexican hot chocolate cookie.

Next Up

Mike Zimmer

Vikings fans clamor for change after latest bad loss under Mike Zimmer

The "fire Mike Zimmer" tweets are raging on Twitter again.

Tony Oliva

Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat are finally heading to Cooperstown

The Twins legends were elected to Baseball's Hall of Fame on Sunday night.

Tanner Morgan

Report: Gophers to play in Guaranteed Rate Bowl

The Gophers will reportedly head to Phoenix to take on West Virginia.

Adam Thielen

Winless Lions beat Vikings on final play of game

Adam Thielen also left early with an ankle injury

Payton Willis / Gopher Basketball

Gophers improve to 7-0 on Willis' late 3-pointer

The Gophers earned back-to-back road victories for the first time since January 2017.

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Woman in critical condition after being shot in the head in St. Paul

Officers responded to the incident at around 2:45 a.m. Saturday.

Alexander Mattison

Vikings-Lions: 5 things you can count on

It's a great time for the Vikings to play the Lions.


Omicron variant confirmed in Wisconsin man who traveled to South Africa

Five other cases have been confirmed and linked to a Wisconsin wedding.

Sharon Mollerus - duluth - snow plow car

Sunday snowstorm walloping MN's North Shore with huge totals

Just ridiculous snow totals expected the rest of Sunday.

Screen Shot 2021-12-05 at 6.49.03 AM

Saturday snow causes havoc on Twin Cities roads

There were countless spinouts and crashes across Minnesota.


Travail is bringing its unique dining experience to Minneapolis for 6 months

The unique Robbinsdale eatery will take up temporary residence near the Walker.

Travail starts 6-month Mpls. residency by bringing back Umami

The food innovators are in Minneapolis while their new Robbinsdale digs are constructed.

Travail is bringing BBQ to Northeast Minneapolis

The Robbinsdale food collective has lofty ambitions.


After a year away, Travail nears its return to Robbinsdale

It's opening the basement bar at its new $1 million home on Wednesday.