Au revoir, bon appetit to Bob Bennett Thursday and Friday

Duluth foodies are abuzz at the news that noted chef Bob Bennett will be leaving Restaurant 301, which he created for the Sheraton Duluth hotel.

According to local media reports, he will be leaving to build a new kitchen at the Arrowhead Country Club in Rapid City, S.D., which is being extensively remodeled.

Here’s the text of the news release from the Sheraton that mentions some good-bye events tommorrow and Thursday:

The past 17 years Chef Bennett has brought an awarded level of
cuisine to our community through his own restaurants and lastly
through the Sheraton Duluth Hotel. Please join us as we wish Chef
Bennett all the best and thank him for his dedication
to our community.
Farwell Executive Chef Bob Bennett
Wednesday, September 23rd or Thursday, September 24th
At the Sheraton Duluth Hotel

Along with others who have followed Bob Bennett from Superior Street to Fitger’s to the Sheraton, we wish Bob well. Come on out and show your love Wednesday and Thursday!

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Come to Chili Cook-off Today at the DECC

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Duluth Dishers –

Please get yourselves over to the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center arena today for the Duluth area United Way’s annual Chili Cook-off.

I”m one of four judges, along with Bob Bennett, Dan Flesch and the original Redneck Princess, Tina Louise Larson of the DNT. You pay a small ticket price at the door for all the chili you can eat, and drinks and sides are available too — I think? I’m just showing up to judge.  Anyway, it should be a hoot! Info below is from the United Way’s web site –

When: Thursday, September 17th, 2009
Where: DECC Arena
Time: 4:30-6:30 pm

Prizes will be awarded for the chili that’s the Hottest-Yet-Edible, Most Unique, Vegetarian, Spicy Spirit, People’s Choice, Best Amateur Chili and Best Professional Chili.

Taste of Duluth-Superior from Duluth~Superior Magazine

Despite torrential rains, 175 hardy souls descended on the first-ever Taste of Duluth-Superior Wednesday evening to sample dozens of wines and fresh-made culinary delights from four of the Northland’s top restaurants.

In Ferguson Enterprises’ kitchen and bath showroom on Airpark Boulevard, they tasted  yellowfin tuna tartare, hoisin baby back ribs, roasted and fresh beet salad and loin of rabbit with prosciutto and honey fennel glaze. They tasted glasses of Italy’s Astoria Lounge Prosecco and Toad Hollow’s classic Russian River pinot noir.

And they toasted the evening’s chefs - Sean Lewis, Scott Graden, Bob Bennett and Tom Linderholm - as well as its host, Duluth-Superior Magazine, and its beneficiary, the American Heart Association.

For more of this article click here » or check out the video on Duluth Dish TV.

For the love of food, journalist trades notepad for hoe

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by Janna Goerdt

I think it’s because I like dirt.

I like the way it feels between my fingers, underneath my nails. Gritty and good. Earthy.

So I think that being around dirt is one reason I became a farmer this year, one reason among others to leave journalism and turn towards growing food.

Former newspaper journalist Janna Goerdt has never been afraid to dig for the good stuff.

Former newspaper journalist Janna Goerdt has never been afraid to dig for the good stuff.

For years and years, my dirt time was restricted to weekends and the occasional early morning weeding session. I had to keep my fingers and hands reasonably clean for work, and I spent a lot more time with a computer and notebooks than seed packets and earth.

That all changed this spring, when I started a small farm at our home in Embarrass. It’s a small but well-rounded farm - carrots and cantaloupe, free-range chickens and turkeys, hayfields and honeybees.

I wanted to grow good, simple food for people. I have been lucky enough to eat this kind of food for most of my life, and, as people learn more about how most of the food in this country is grown, there is more and more demand for the truly fresh, home-grown variety. People should be able to eat a locally-grown, honest carrot, not a tortured, tasteless orange torpedo raised on chemicals and trucked in from across the country. We should care more about what’s good for our bodies, what tastes good naturally, rather than some kind of corn-based snack product that’s glued together with chemicals to make it taste like something exotic.

And so I’m farming.

So far, it’s been good to be around all this dirt. At small farms, farmers do a lot of dirt work with their hands, unlike at corporate-owned thousand acre farms where most everything is done by machine. Here, my hands are in dirt all day long: planting seedlings, pulling weeds, checking the soil moisture, breaking up lumps of clay, working in compost.

I give my hands a good scrub at the end of each day. The soap lather usually turns a bright yellow as it mixes with the pollen covering my skin, and some of the dirt is so worked into the creases of my fingers that it never does come off.

But I like it. It feels good to be so grounded, so entwined with the soil that we all depend on for our food, though we often forget that. It feels good to grow.

On their car, Duluth musicians really cook


One cold winter not too long ago, Jason Wussow needed a ride to Taos, N.M., to visit his girlfriend. He needed to do it cheap, and he needed to eat well. The eating well part was mandatory.

So he teamed up with his friend and musical collaborator, Dan Dresser, to help him drive. They played some gigs to pay their way, and they cooked all of their hot meals on the manifold of their car.

The proof of their excellent adventure  is in their 18-minute short film, “Cooking on the Car,” culled from 6 hours of raw video shot in February of 2008 and released this spring. In July, it premiered at Wrenshall, Minn.’s Free

Range Film Festival.

Wussow runs Beaner’s Central Coffee Concert Coffeehouse in West Duluth, and his restaurant’s carefully crafted menu, from blueberry scones to red pepper hummus, speaks to his love of food. He’s not the kind of guy who’d fast food it all the way to New Mexico.

Despite the fact that two musicians were involved, their journey was not “all about the music.” It was all about the car, or more specifically, the manifold, and what they could cook on it.

Dresser convinced Wussow that they had to acquire a certain 1987 to 1991 vintage Toyota, for its ideal cooking attributes, which they bought and fixed up just for the trip. “For doing what we wanted to do, it was totally important,” Dresser says. “You could do baked potatoes or heat up cans on any car,” Dresser continues before Wussow interrupts.

Venison quiche, the first of many meals, cooked on the manifold of Dresser's 1989 Camry.

Venison quiche, the first of many meals, cooked on the manifold of Dresser's 1989 Camry.

“I’d heard about canned beans and hobo stew and ‘Manifold Destiny’ all that,” Wussow says, naming a book on the subject of car cooking. “Dan told me if we found this certain car, the engine holds a bread panjust perfect so it doesn’t spill.”

“It’s got an alumnimum heat shield so it holds the pan about a half inch off the manifold so it doesn’t burn,” Dresser says of the 2-liter marvel.

Dresser scoured the classifieds and used car dealerships for a month. Finally, for $900, they bought two totaled 1989 Toyota Camrys at a car boneyard  somewhere near the shores of Lake Superior. They raided one for parts and the other they dubbed Ellen, named after the woman whose name was on some receipts in the glove compartment. It was a Saturday in Febuary, five days before departure.

Dresser, a former body shop mechanic, scrambled to get Ellen ready in time, using a tree limb and chain at one point to bend part of the body back in line. The test drive happened Wednesday night at 11 p.m., mere hours  before their Thursday morning departure. “It drove perfectly,” Dresser says. Never mind the dings and two-tone door/body styling, it got an average of 35 mpg on the trip and had a kickin’ new stereo besides.

They wisely drove up Duluth’s steep hillside before placing their first dish in its foil-covered bread pan atop the manifold shield. “We didn’t want it to spill going uphill,” Wussow explains. About two hours — make that 90 miles later,  despite sub-zero wind chills, their noses told them their venison quiche was done. And it was good.  Surprisingly good. “I can’t believe how perfectly it was browned,” Dresser says in the film.

In Aberdeen, S.D., they bought provisions at Natural Abundance, a whole foods store, and later performed at The Red Rooster coffeehouse.  They used a similar approach to

Sara Softich, Jason Wussow and Dan Dresser, musicians and rustic gourmands, share a meal of mahi-mahi, broccoli and new potatoes in Taos, N.M.

Sara Softich, Jason Wussow and Dan Dresser, musicians and rustic gourmands, share a meal of mahi-mahi, broccoli and new potatoes in Taos, N.M.

cook their way through Hot Springs, S.D., Boulder, Colo., and Alamosa, Colo., where a blizzard waylaid them. The delay was frustrating, but it set the stage for their triumphant finish: mahi-mahi in Taos with Wussow’s girlfriend, Sara Softich, a musician who had some gigs in town.

One word of advice: don’t make “cowboy coffee” on the car engine, even though dumping grounds in a pot and boiling seems so right when you’re traveling the West. “It was bad,” Wussow admits. “I’m a coffee snob and I should have known better.” His suggestion: get the water boiling in a separate pot and use a French press for brewing.

They’d like to turn their recipes and knowledge into a cookbook to go with their video. They have a website — — which is under construction. And they’re talking about another trip (note the sly “Episode 1” on their DVD’s cover.) They’re toying with ideas of combining music and food and car cooking, maybe even bringing other musicians in on the act. Picture this: player-chefs car-cook their way to a great big gig in a central location and share the food, love and music in a sort of “traveling fun show,” as Wussow puts it.

For now, they’re glad they brought the camera, which doesn’t blink. “The best stuff, you don’t even remember,” Wussow says.

Venison Quiche

Below is recipe for Wussow and Dresser’s first dish, taken from their short film, “Cooking on the Car.” Cooking distance: 90 miles, give or take 30, depending on wind-chill factor.

6 eggs

1/2 pound ground venison
1/4 cup diced green pepper
1/4 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic
Canola or other high temperature cooking oil
salt and pepper to taste
Aluminum foil
Oil pan to prevent sticking. Mix ingredients. Pour into large loaf pan, cover with two layers of aluminum foil.  When it smells done — 40 to 60 miles — lift foil to check. Caution: watch for burns, a burst of steam will escap.

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