By: Katie Fraser
The holidays are a time of traditions.
Often, these center around food. The special preparation of stuffing, the ham on Christmas day, no matter where family or friends are in life they often come together over the holiday meal.
It's this common ground that Minnesota Gopher Victor Keise III is hoping to highlight with his new business, The Get Together.
As with many great food adventures, Keise’s story begins at the Minnesota State Fair.
Two years ago, while attending the fair with his wife and daughter, he noticed a booth advertising free bacon.
“There was a sign that said, ‘Win free bacon for a year.’ And, obviously, that’s all you need to say,” Keise said.
To advertise their work, the Minnesota Pork Board was hosting a competition for fairgoers to attempt to win 52 pounds of bacon for a year. The challenge was to post a photo on social media using provided props and clever captions to get enough likes.
Keise and his family took their photo, which he posted boasting if he were to win he’d throw a bacon party for everyone, and went on their way.
“I kind of forgot about it until I got a DM one day saying, ‘Congratulations, you won!” he said.
They could receive their prize all at once, twice a year or 13 pounds every three months. They chose the latter.
When their first batch arrived, the first thing they did was throw that bacon party.
“Being a man of my word, one Sunday I [threw the party],” Keise said. “The weather was nice, we went to the park across the street. I bought some glazed doughnuts to make French toast and we had spicy guacamole deviled eggs.”
And, of course, bacon.
The gathering consisted of former teammates, colleagues and friends from miscellaneous groups.
“Everyone was outside, and I was bringing out my last tray and it was a moment of clarity. I stopped and I looked at everybody,” Keise said. “I just felt so good…and I was like this is what I want to do.”
More than just the cooking, Keise felt moved by the power food had to bring people of all backgrounds together. He knew he wanted to continue to use food as an agent of fusion, but he still wasn’t clear on how.
Then, in the spring of 2017, Keise experienced two major losses. In the span of one week, he lost his job and his grandmother.
“For about one to two weeks I didn’t do much.” Keise said. “[Then one day, I] woke up and said ‘This is not who you are. Stop feeling bad for yourself.’”
With new found motivation, Keise returned to his passion of cooking and bringing people together.
He decided to start a business that would focus on community with food as the center point.
Thus, The Get Together was born.
The concept was simple, host an event that brings people from all walks of life together in a new environment to try really great food.
The first event was scheduled for May and Keise decided he would serve three dishes. But as he began to prep he realized it was a bit more time consuming than he planned. One of the dishes he planned to serve was an eggroll and, like the bacon party earlier, a lightbulb went off.
“When you think of an eggroll, you think you can put anything in there. It’s a combination of so many different things,” Keise said. “So many people in one place is kind of like an eggroll.”
Like his gatherings, Keise began to fill eggrolls with unique flavors such as Jamaican jerk chicken with bacon and ranch, eggs and bacon, apple pie and even Thanksgiving leftovers.
As the concept continued to grow, so, too, did the business.
Keise hosted several events in 2017 and will soon be selling his eggrolls at the Minneapolis Farmers Market. In 2018 he hopes to open a food truck, and, eventually, a brick and motor store.
And while an eggroll is nothing new, Keise believes it’s his message behind it that will set him apart.
“Food is food,” he said. “It’s a way to reach people.”
The Get Together’s next event is 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16 at 3200 Inglewood Avenue. Tickets are available on Eventbrite.
For more information on events, follow @thegettogether_ on Instagram.