Independent restaurants drive innovation

Michael V’s Restaurant & Bar honored as 2017 Neighborhood to Nation Recipe Contest winner

Some of the most innovative, inspiring dishes are showing up in family restaurants and neighborhood diners across the country. Think about it: beyond serving up the familiar favorites we know and love, these independent restaurants are known for their creativity and their ability to turn out signature menu items their customers crave and can’t find anywhere else.

Each year, General Mills Foodservice celebrates independent restaurants, showcasing their one-of-a-kind menu items and those special dishes that are often unique to their region. This is the second in a three-part series to share the stories of the 2017 Neighborhood to Nation Recipe Contest Winners—the chefs behind the recipes, their restaurant operations and what inspires their creativity.

Michael V’s Restaurant & Bar (Tulsa, Okla.)

Michael Minden serves up “classic cuisine with a creative twist” to locals and visitors in the restaurant he and his wife Carol have owned and operated since 2006: Michael V’s Restaurant & Bar in Tulsa, Okla. He enjoys baking almost everything in-house and creating the restaurant’s own spice blends, sauces and dressings—not to mention the camaraderie of the restaurant business.

“I have always loved food…I dream food,” said Michael. “We are all about quality over quantity and sharing incredible food with others.”

Some of the restaurant’s renowned menu items include entrees such as beef Wellington, rack of lamb and halibut with a pistachio crust as well as several versions of classical “Oscar” dishes with veal, chicken, salmon and beef tenderloin. Michael also takes great pride in offering his customers amazing desserts, including his beloved coconut cream pie, which comes with a money-back guarantee. More than 30,000 pieces have been enjoyed (with not a single person asking for their money back).

Yet Michael still aims to outdo himself and come up new decadent desserts to wow his customers. One of his favorite things to do is experiment with different ingredients such as cookies and candy to add texture and crunch.

One of his latest creations, Butterfinger® Cream Cheese Brownie Pie, wowed the Neighborhood to Nation judges this past year and earned Michael 1st place in the 2017 contest and a $15,000 cash prize.

As delicious as it sounds, the award-winning pie is a decadent combination of flavors layered to create indulgence and delight. Starting with a Gold Medal™ brownie crust baked with Butterfinger and Oreo® pieces, it adds a peanut buttery cream cheese layer topped with luscious chocolate ganache and completed with more candy bits. Luckily for Tulsa fans, the pie is now on the menu every day.

Since winning the contest, Michael has enjoyed some much-deserved time in the spotlight in his hometown media and a local food show.

“Right after we won, people were calling to congratulate us and ask if they could get the award-winning dessert,” said Michael, who is already brainstorming new dessert ideas for the 2018 contest. The Butterfinger Cream Cheese Brownie Pie even beat out his famous Coconut Cream Pie for one month after the contest.

For more information on the Neighborhood to Nation Recipe Contest, including details on how to enter this year’s contest as well as past winners and their award-winning recipes, please visit

This post is sponsored by General Mills Convenience & Foodservice


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