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Saint Paul College A Community & Technical College

Jack Riebel - Standing Out with a Legacy of Culinary Leadership
Photo: Jack Riebel by Caitlin AbramsPhoto by Caitlin Abrams, MPLS/St. Paul Magazine

Saint Paul College embodies a learning environment where students can fit into an inclusive, safe, energizing setting and stand out as leaders in our local community. Jack Riebel, aka "Chef Jack," 1986 Culinary student, stands out as a celebrated chef in the Saint Paul community with extraordinary talents and a passion for mentoring others. Riebel did all this from a background as a blue-collar 15-year old high school drop-out who learned a craft and worked hard to succeed by serving others with endless passion. Tragically, a rare form of cancer recently took Jack's life way too early at age 55, but his legacy continues throughout the local culinary profession.

Jack Riebel's culinary career reads like a pinnacle guide for Twin Cities fine dining, starting as Executive Sous Chef for 12 years at Goodfellow's in downtown Minneapolis where he cooked for numerous celebrities, including Billy Joel, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Julia Child. His next job was Executive Chef at La Belle Vie in Stillwater. Following that, he served as Chef & Owner for Butcher & the Boar in downtown Minneapolis where he earned a James Beard Award nomination for Best Chef Midwest and landed on Wall Street Journal's 2013 Top-20 Modern Meateries in the US. In 2014, he sold his restaurant ownership and came 'home to Saint Paul' as Chef & Owner for The Lexington on Saint Paul's Grand Avenue. In 2020, he was named Outstanding Chef at the Charlie Awards.

Photo of Jack Riebel by Courtnry PedrozaPhoto by Courtnry Pedroza, Star Tribune

Chef Jack is known for his work ethic, and his tireless dedication to the craft and has influenced countless professionals across the region. With a heartfelt passion for sharing his knowledge and skills with others, Jack collected 500 high-quality cookbooks and culinary texts he recently donated to Saint Paul College. This generous donation propels the Saint Paul College Library as the most extensive culinary collection in Minnesota available to the entire state through our resource-sharing network.

Jack has served in numerous leadership capacities, crediting much of his success to Saint Paul College. His leadership included employing and mentoring hundreds of students, providing gifts and in-kind donations, and serving as an advisory committee member. He frequently encouraged students as a guest evaluator. Meaning so much to Saint Paul College and its foundation, Nathan Sartain, Culinary Arts Instructor, presented Mr. Riebel with the College's first Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree before his passing.

Saint Paul College Culinary Arts Professor Emeritus Manfred Krug recalls Jack as a serious student who desired to master fundamentals.

"Whether it was cutting vegetables, simmering stocks, and sauces, or fabricating a piece of meat or fish, he never lost touch with how important it was to have a firm understanding of the basics and an appreciation for those who did them well. The genuine hunger to learn, teach and exemplify excellence is what has endeared Jack to our culinary program, institution, local restaurant industry, and city."

Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl with MSP Magazine captured the heart and courage of Jack Riebel in this moving article. Other recent articles that highlight his ability to Stand Out amongst his peers include those on WCCO TV, the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune.

The Jack Riebel Memorial Culinary Scholarship helps support future culinary students and honor his one-of-a-kind legacy.

Learn more about the Scholarship

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