Mar 17, 2024 - News

Inside the life of David Fhima, the Energizer Bunny of Twin Cities chefs

A head shot of David Fhima

Photo: Courtesy of Fhima's Minneapolis

David Fhima was prepping his Maison Margaux kitchen in the North Loop on a February morning, less than 12 hours after working the previous night's Wolves game.

He looked down at his smartwatch, which told him that he'd logged 37,414 steps the day before β€” which is about 17 miles for a guy his height.

Why it matters: Fhima is the Energizer Bunny of Twin Cities chefs, and he's also become a leading booster of downtown Minneapolis and the metro's culinary industry.

State of play: In addition to his upscale North Loop restaurant, he also owns Fhima's in the core of downtown, Mother Dough Bakery, a catering business and has a few more projects in the pipeline.

  • He's now in his seventh season as executive chef at Target Center, where he oversees concessions and food service in clubs and suites for games and events.

Between the lines: When the Timberwolves hired Fhima, I figured he would create a menu, train staff and then never be seen in the arena again.

  • But at recent Wolves games, I've seen him helping expedite food behind one of the concessions stands and cooking for a taco bar in the Lexus Courtside Club.
  • Fhima told me he's never missed a Wolves game in seven seasons. I had a hard time believing that, but Wolves chief operating officer Ryan Tanke, a longtime friend of Fhima, confirmed his perfect attendance.

What they're saying: I asked Fhima, 62, why he's being so ambitious at this stage in his life, when others might be winding down toward retirement.

  • "I have the same energy as I had when I was in my 20s. I really do," he said in between the near-constant ringing of his cellphone. "It keeps me young."

πŸ—οΈ More projects up his sleeve

Fhima is working on four other food projects.

🍝 He plans to open an "authentic Sicilian" restaurant in the west metro late this year or early next. He said he will share details soon.

πŸ‡²πŸ‡¦ Fhima's 2.0: Downtown restaurant Fhima's is getting a light remodel shortly.

  • The French cuisine component will be dropped in favor of more Spanish, Mediterranean and Moroccan cooking. Fhima lived in Morocco until he was 7 and, as one of 17 kids, helped his mother cook.
  • Included in the project will be the addition of a small room where people can sit on pillows and smoke hookah.

🏈 Soldier Field: Fhima said the Chicago Bears have hired him to oversee a revamp of Soldier Field's food and beverage program. Bears CEO Kevin Warren is a former Vikings executive and got to know Fhima during his Minnesota years.

πŸ— Developer Sherman Associates is planning a massive redevelopment of a former Wells Fargo office building in downtown Minneapolis and has tapped Fhima to open a restaurant and to find other restaurateurs to come to the project.

About "The Golden Bachelor"

The Fhima name gained national attention last fall when David's ex-wife, Leslie, was a finalist on ABC's "The Golden Bachelor," a reality dating show for seniors.

The intrigue: David said his friends tease him about the show, but most people are afraid to bring it up around him.

Context: David said he met Leslie in Los Angeles, where he was working as a chef in his own restaurant. She eventually convinced him to move to the Twin Cities, where she's from.

Yes, but: They've been divorced 26 years. David remarried long ago and has two kids in addition to the two he has with Leslie.

The bottom line: While David didn't watch the show, he said he's happy for Leslie.

  • "I think it's great. Her and I are friendly. We have two amazing children together."
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