Shop Talk with KFAN's Dan Cole

KFAN's Dan ColeThis isn't a story about sports or sandwiches. In fact, the topics never came up in my recent conversation with KFAN's Dan Cole, a.k.a. "The Common Man." When I catch up with him, he's come from his son's soccer game. Naturally we start in talking about his kids and his wife, Helen, all three of whom it's obvious he positively adores. He also adores a little baby a few tables away from us. "I miss that," he coos. "Look at his face. He's so cute!" I'm having a hard time believing this is a guy who makes his living talking hockey and football. While the talk is easy, sports are the last thing on Dan's mind tonight. The subject of Subway and his role as "the Taste Fairy" never come up either. We do chat about how much he loved rocking his kids to sleep when they were little. Spas and his appreciation for a good massage also get mentioned. But for the most part, Dan is talking shopping.

"I LIKE shopping," he says without a hint of sarcasm. "I'd shop for other people if they'd let me." Smiling and sipping coffee, he fondly recalls shopping with his mom when he was a kid, facing her as he sat in the cart she pushed through the aisles of the old Red Owl in Coon Rapids. "I used to shop more, but Helen got a little tired of getting seven phone calls in a simple 20-minute shopping trip." As a result, Dan's been mostly relegated to only "emergency shopping." Still, he talks at length, describing what he enjoys most about his Woodbury Kowalski's. "I just like the feel of the place. The Deli is good – I like the Boar's Head meats. I LOVE the Olive Bar." Dan describes himself as a "meat guy." When he comes in he'll often make a point to stop by the counter to chat it up with the guys. "I like being able to say I have a butcher. They do a nice job with their cuts of meat."

But more than meat or samples or his favorite Kowalski's French Silk Pie, the thing Dan is most impressed with at Kowalski's is bagging. "Now THAT'S what makes a good grocery store," he says. "That's tough. I couldn't be a batboy."

Something else he says he can't do? Cook. "I don't have the patience for it." When I inquire if he wants to share a recipe, though, he's all in. He directs me to "take this one down": "Rip open the hot dogs. (We like Hebrew National.) Heat the water to a boil then let it sit for seven minutes covered. (The package says something else, but this is important.) Open the baked beans; bring them to a 'gentle' boil. And you have to use buns that are not precut." I'm scribbling and laughing. "What? You don't like that one?‚: he teases. "No, no. I LOVE it," I grin. "I'm definitely printing this."

Rachael Perron, Kowalski's Culinary DirectorHis audience seems to love it, too. No, not his radio audience – Danny and Peter, his grade schoolers. In a household with growing boys, such family-friendly (dare we say "common"?) fare is no surprise. And while the kids think their dad's "a good cooker," Dan especially appreciates Helen's efforts in the kitchen. Kebabs, steaks, beans, pot roast and lasagna are often in the household meal rotation. "And Helen makes a Parmesan chicken that's delightful. And Sloppy Joes – you know, with ketchup in them!"

As for why he's been known to discuss his Kowalski's shopping habits on air, Dan explains it's all about what his listeners want. "People like to think they know you, so we talk about our lives." For Dan, that involves a happy, albeit commonplace, life – with things like kids, family, grocery shopping, and apparently, though not evidently today, sports.

— Rachael Perron

Featured Recipes:

Common Man Sloppy Joes
Common Man Sloppy Joes

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