The Kitchen is not included on public tours of the Residence, as Health Department regulations do not permit visitors in food preparation areas. The Kitchen has been remodeled several times to keep up with modern equipment and changing cooking styles. Currently the cooking area is a commercial battery that is ten feet long and includes a combi-oven, two traditional ranges, and a gas grill. Even though the Kitchen has large commercial equipment, it includes beautiful cherry cabinets and does have an eat-in nook for a quick meal.
The Kitchen is separated from the Dining Room by a Butler’s Pantry. Both the Kitchen and the Butler’s Pantry have been renovated for more efficient food service for the many functions at the Residence. The design of the cabinets was copied from the original. The counters are made from Minnesota Cold Spring Granite and the floor is hexagonal white ceramic tile with a gray and white checked border.
Clotilde Irvine kept the kitchen stocked with cookies and the pantry had bottles of Coca-Cola for the grandkids. She served popcorn in silver bowls, and was known for her killer brownies. The pantry was also a favorite spot for cocktails after SPA dances for son Tom Irvine and his friends.
The Residence has a full-time Chef and part-time assistant who prepare meals for state events. The Governor gets to choose the Chef, but some Chefs have stayed for more than one administration. Chef Ruth Knutson cooked for the Andersons, Quies, and Perpiches. When Governor Rudy Perpich lived here, Ruth often left for the evening before he returned. They developed a code. When she left a smiley face near a tray of cookies, he could eat as many as he wished. When she left a scowling face, it meant he would have to refrain from the treats were prepared for a special event.
There have been four books published by the 1006 Summit Avenue Society that include stories about the Residence and recipes from the kitchen. The books are The Governors Table (1981), Wild Rice; Star of the North (1985), Minnesota Times and Tastes (1993), and The Minnesota Governor’s Residence; A Century of Hospitality (2013). In 2011, the Society published its first children’s book, The Governors Mouse, which takes the reader on a delightful romp through the home. The Governors Mouse and The Minnesota Governor’s Residence; A Century of Hospitality are available for purchase at the Residence.