The Local Stir - Mankato, MN
The Local Stir - Mankato, MN

Welcome to our new blog about local food and partnership!

I am Natasha, owner of Wooden Spoon in Mankato.

“B” (Brigette), Nicole, and I are thrilled to have the opportunity to share what we are excited about every week. We are going to focus on the food world, which we live and breathe. We want to bring you the fun stories that you might not get to hear. If you walk in our door and hear hysterical laughter from the kitchen, we might be cooking up the very story that makes it into The Stir that week!

We believe that food is a feeling as much or more than a taste.

Let’s start with some introductions

I opened the business as Friesen’s five years ago with two other owners. It was crazy. Lots of growth. Lots of loooong days. Oh, did I mention I have a public health lawyer job for a non-profit in the cities? Who needs sleep!? It was the perfect synergy of worlds, since in my day job I work with communities who want to improve the food system to increase access to healthy, affordable, locally sourced foods. Sound familiar? A mile a minute describes my life well.

Typically, life veers in directions we don’t anticipate. That’s what happened in the summer of 2018. Fortunately, I had the amazing women I’m about to introduce standing with me.


Nicole Lange is my sister, my rock, my problem solver. She can literally do anything! One minute she’s managing the books, the next she’s building a website, fixing anything, prepping food, decorating cakes, providing comic relief, creating a vision, and being my light during the most difficult time of my life.

Sam Cline is my cheerleader, my visionary, my listener. She is the decorator who grew into a leader. She is leaving for Florida soon, but we are working at setting up a weekly video conference so she can continue to be the glue that holds us together!

Sam Rients is the baker extraordinaire. Sam R. has kept the bakery side of the operation humming during her over-night shift. We tried to get Sam to come to the day shift, but her days are dedicated to supporting the amazing growth of our neighbors at Whimsy & Weathered, who happen to be Sam’s sister and mom.

Brigette Rasmussen, aka “B,” is my collaborator, my partner, and the executive chef who runs the kitchen. B’s leadership is remarkable, which is not surprising since her “day” job is running two convenience stores at MSU.

We want these food stories to inspire and uplift, since that is what we have been doing for each other.

The Heart of the Blog

These women are the very essence of Wooden Spoon. With the rest of the team, we worked carefully and thoughtfully to rebrand the business after 4½ years as Friesen’s. We wanted to keep what worked and change what didn’t. If you’ve visited since the rebrand you may have noticed the visual changes like the new logo and the furniture. But, more importantly, we hope you feel a difference. We believe that food is a feeling as much or more than a taste.

Which brings us to this new blog on MankatoLIFE. We want to create a spot to feel the spirit of the food world that we live in. It is messy, fun, crazy and brilliant. B, Nicole and I are going to bring you The Local Stir, using the same collaborative process we have used all year. We want these food stories to inspire and uplift, since that is what we have been doing for each other.

We’re excited and glad to have you on the journey!

Additional Links

Wooden Spoon on MankatoLIFE
Whimsy & Weathered on MankatoLIFE