AT THE TABLE

Columnist served as guest chef for special dinner at the Zephyr

The Marquette Monthly’s At The Table columnist Katherine Larson served as the guest chef in March for the Zephyr Wine Bar and Cafe’s Guest Chef Dinner series. She made good use of the kitchen’s equipment, including the large stove. (Photos by Joseph Zyble)

 

By Katherine Larson
It started one night at Zephyr Wine Bar. As we happily finished the fifth course of one of Zephyr’s signature guest chef dinners, owner Daniel Rutz asked for suggestions for future guest chefs. Flown with good food and good wine, I wondered: how about me?
And, to my astonishment, delight, and trepidation, it became me. On two frigid nights in March, with the invaluable help of my husband Bruce Larson and my sister Jacqueline Wender, I had the privilege of serving a five-course meal to Zephyr’s enthusiastic patrons.
I’ll share with you, dear readers, my planning and preparation process, because there are lessons to be learned from tackling any unusually intimidating cooking challenge. Whether it’s preparing food for a restaurant full of people, hosting a quantity of ill-assorted relatives, or trying to impress a boss and her husband in a make-or-break context, the same set of emotions comes into play. So does the need to reduce the stress level to a point where one can function.
I knew right from the get-go what I wanted to accomplish: a five-course meal that would showcase the best of what the Upper Peninsula has to offer. I’m passionate about eating locally—local food is fresher, tastier, and more nutritious; local transportation uses far less fossil fuel; local purchasing contributes far more to the local economy. In short, local eating builds a strong community, and I’m all for it.
So this meal had to reflect that passion. But it was going to be offered in early March, in what turned out to be winter’s fiercest grip, and a mouthwatering array of dewy fresh-picked vegetables was just not going to happen. I turned, therefore, to root cellars and preserves, the two traditional staples of winter eating in snowy climes…

 

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