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Finding Minnesota: Minne’s Diner & Minneapple Pie

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(credit: CBS) Angela Davis
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ROGERS, Minn. (WCCO) — This is the time of the year many of us head out to an apple orchard and pull out our favorite apple pie recipes.

If you were at the State Fair last month, you may have seen the deep-fried apple pie stand.

It was a new food this year that caught the attention of foodies like Andrew Zimmern of the Travel Channel, and the editors of City Pages. The paper named the pie its No. 1 food at the State Fair.

This week in Finding Minnesota, we travel to Rogers to meet the family that came up with the recipe, and see the restaurant where it all started.

It’s called Minne’s Diner and it’s right off of Interstate 94 and Highway 101. Joanne Atsidakos and her brother George are the owners.

“This is the finished project. Deep-fried apples are inside with cinnamon sugar on top,” Joanne said.

They are eager to show you their distinctive dessert, but don’t even bother asking them about the recipe.

“The No. 1 ingredient is love, lots of love goes into them,” George said.

Joanne and George say it’s their parents who deserve the credit for what has taken their family business to new heights.

In April, their Minneapple Pie debuted at Target Field.

“We’ve had friends and people have said, ‘The apple pie goes really well with baseball, you have to get into Target Field.’ We met with them, showed them our product and they loved it,” Joanne said.

“They tried it there and told us a few months later, that once they had that first bite we knew we had to have that in there,” George added.

In August, those individual-sized, deep-fried apple pies made their way onto the state fairgrounds. This was after three years of applying.

Their father, Andy Atsidakos, couldn’t have been more proud.

He moved to Minnesota to Greece in 1966.

“When he immigrated from Greece, came to Minneapolis, first job was a baker, that is what influenced us to bake here at Minne’s Diner,” George said.

Andy went on to open a few other restaurants in the metro area, before retiring.

But then three years ago, his wife Libby encouraged their kids to open this place in Rogers, right off the highway.

At first, it was called the Cottage Grill and it had a traditional apple pie on the menu. But then, the family had an idea — figure out a way to cook it at the State Fair, instead of a kitchen.

“It actually took my mom nine months, every day, trial and error, how we could make it that perfect, flaky crust and not greasy at all. A lot of people do say it’s deep fried, so it has to be greasy. Honestly, it is not. It’s something we have worked very hard at,” George said.

After years of working to stay afloat in a difficult economy, this family-owned business may have just turned the corner.

“We still talk about it. What a great year. 2011 has been a great year. We have been really blessed,” said Joanne.

The type of apple that is used in that deep-fried pie is a secret. Joanne and George said it is a rare and special type, but would not reveal it’s name.

As for the flaky crust, they did say the pies are deep-fried in canola oil, and served with a scoop of cinnamon ice cream.

To learn more about Minne’s Diner and the Minneapple Pie, just go to their website.

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