A pop-up can’t pop up without a place to do so. No brick-and-mortar restaurant has been as welcoming to scrappy local pop-ups as Cook St. Paul. It’s not an accident. When owner Eddie Wu was dreaming up his Payne Avenue diner, making a space for others to grow was part of the business plan. He’s followed through, letting up-and-comers play restaurant every weekend. Those nights are an obvious stepping-stone toward ownership, one every would-be chef should try before taking the plunge. Cook has hosted dozens of restaurant hopefuls, and even some who simply want to cook but aren’t on the fast-track to ownership, a legitimate effort in itself. The Hmong cuisine of Union Kitchen, second-generation Chinese at Dumpling (now with their own storefront), the Filipino food of Lola Rosa, and many more have made their way through Wu’s wee kitchen. Cook St. Paul is an important addition to Twin Cities dining, both as a restaurant and as a training ground for the restaurants of the future.