Business Matters: Cajun Twist Opens at Wirth Park Trailhead
In a place where Minnesotans embrace winter, there’s a chef adding a southern twist.
“The Loppet members definitely come in here daily and tell me that I need to go, of course, and ski with them,” said Teona Washington, chef and owner of Cajun Twist, a new restaurant that recently opened at the Trailhead lodge at Theodore Wirth Regional Park in Golden Valley.
Washington opened the restaurant after months of hard work. She literally helped build the restaurant from the ground by laying tile in the kitchen.
“My blood, sweat and tears are in this grout,” said Washington.
She designed the Cajun Twist logo too. But much of her hard work goes into what she cooks. Washington says her favorite dishes are the ones that take the longest.
“I love the dishes that take a long time to make. And I know that sounds crazy. But I love the dishes with the gumbo where I make the roux.” said Washington. “I could be cooking it for two hours.”
Washington says they are dishes that require a lot of heart, but also something else.
“The most flavor, yep, and the most flavor,” she said.
Cajun Twist is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. For breakfast, a favorite is the beignet, a New Orleans original French doughnut topped with powdered sugar.
For lunch and dinner, popular items include the gumbo, and the red beans and rice with smoked turkey. But Washington says the yaka mein — seasoned beef or shrimp and noodles served in broth with green onions and a boiled egg — is another dish that people keep coming back for.
“I think the yaka mein more than anything, when they taste it, that’s what they come back for,” said Washington.
Cajun Twist also serves vegan dishes, which are denoted with the French word “zydeko” in front of them.
A Lesson in Nawlins Cuisine
Washington grew up in Minnesota, but moved to New Orleans as a teenager with her father following Hurricane Katrina.
“We did a lot of mission stuff, serve, give clothes, all kinds of things,” she remembered.
It’s also when her love of Nawlins cuisine took root.
“Going down there and tasting gumbo and red beans and rice. This is amazing. This food really has flavor, culture,” Washington said.
She worked at various places learning to make Cajun food. Eventually, she took those memories and cooking lessons back home to Minnesota.
“Minnesota, we’re such a melting pot. We have so many different cultures here and so many different types of people here. To me Cajun is so fitting. This is definitely the perfect space for this food,” said Washington.
A Minnesota Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras celebrations take place around the country Tuesday. Cajun Twist will have its own Mardi Gras celebration on Saturday, March 16. The event includes live music and a special menu. Admission is $20. You can find more details on the Cajun Twist Facebook page.