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A Shore-to-Shore Celebration

Minnesota Sea Grant and Wisconsin Sea Grant and 250 people paid tribute to those involved in managing, harvesting, selling, studying and preparing Lake Superior's commercially harvested fish... particularly cisco (lake herring) and whitefish.

Seven chefs from Minnesota and Wisconsin competed for $1,000. The competition, which focused on creating an entrée out of cisco or whitefish (or both!) from Lake Superior, ended before the public event, but the excitement was far from over.

At 5 p.m., ticket-holding guests grabbed a fork and indulged in Lake Superior fish recipes created by the chefs. While savoring the flavors, attendees enjoyed North Shore musician Michael Monroe, chatted with the chefs and sustainable fisheries experts, and voted for their own favorite dish of the night. At 7:15 p.m., the judges announced the winners of the professional chef competition and the results of the People's Choice award.

Feel the energy! Fish Smart caught The Lake Superior Fish Classic vibe and Robert Wohlfeil (MN), executive chef, Oceanaire Seafood Room, Minneapolis, Minn., on video.


Seth VanderLaan (WI), banquet chef, Potawatomi Bingo Casino, Milwaukee, WI. Champion and People's Choice Winner. Click to view recipe.

Scott Graden (MN), executive chef, New Scenic Cafe, Duluth, MN. Superior Honors.  Click to view recipe.


  • Fresh Lake Superior fish samples
  • Cash bar
  • Door prizes
  • Music by Michael Monroe

Competing Chefs

Avery Cassar (MN), executive chef, At Sara's Table Chester Creek Café, Duluth, Minn. A seven-year star of Chester Creek Café, Chef Avery epitomizes sustainability. An avid gardener and volunteer on sustainable farms, he is passionate about sharing fresh and locally harvested foods with his family and the Café diners. He applies his talents to bring food lovers closer to the roots of their favorite foods. Watch how he prepares cisco in this video.

Adam DeSanto (MN), restaurant chef, Woolley's, Bloomington, Minn. Having grown up in Duluth, Chef Adam has a long-standing affinity for Lake Superior fish. After a stint on the coast of Oregon, he returned to Minnesota to cook with Chef Peter Christenson. On October 4, Chef Adam returns to his roots to compete in the Lake Superior Fish Classic. Welcome home, Adam!

Scott Graden (MN), executive chef, New Scenic Cafe, Duluth, Minn. Chef Scott's culinary aspirations manifested when he and his Aunt Rita B. bought and renamed the Scenic Cafe to the New Scenic Cafe in 1999. Since then, the Cafe has become a "destination restaurant." Constantly working with the idea that sustainable and local ingredients make the best food, Chef Scott has evolved into one of the premiere chefs in Minnesota.

Tom Linderholm (MN), executive chef, University of Minnesota Duluth, Duluth, Minn. After learning the basics of scratch cooking from the best culinary artists the Twin Cities, Chef Tom moved to Colorado to impress diners at a legendary restaurant near Vail. Returning to Minnesota, he turned Odyssey Resort's hotspots into "North Shore cuisine" destinations with his use of seasonal and regional ingredients. The University's new chef and Lake Superior's fish are no strangers since he is also a Lake Superior charter captain.

Christopher Mangless (WI), executive chef, The Traveling Chef and Three Three Five private dining studio, Green Bay, Wisc. Green Bay native Christopher Mangless is the founder of The Traveling Chef Hospitality Group, featuring Three Three Five, Jac B Caramel, and The Traveling Chef, all based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. A '05 graduate of Johnson & Wales' culinary arts program, Chef Mangless fell into cooking at an early age and was determined to make it his career focus. Prior to his return to Green Bay, Christopher cut his teeth at many highly touted restaurants throughout Colorado, Florida, and Chicago. Three Three Five is his private dining studio committed to local, sustainable, organic agriculture and local artisans.

Seth VanderLaan (WI), banquet chef, Potawatomi Bingo Casino, Milwaukee. VanderLaan regularly oversees catering events for upwards of 2,500 guests in his work for the Potawatomi Casino. His culinary style is simple, contemporary American cuisine with unconventional influences. He emphasizes using high quality, sustainable ingredients when developing dishes. VanderLaan began working as a line cook when he was 16, and graduated from the Great Lakes Culinary Institute in Traverse City, Mich. He is certified by the American Culinary Federation and has worked as a sous chef in Mount Pleasant and Detroit, Mich. At home, VanderLaan works to perfect his canning and food preservation skills, experimenting with pickles, jams and sauces.

Robert Wohlfeil (MN), executive chef, Oceanaire Seafood Room, Minneapolis, Minn. Chef Wohlfeil kicked off his career in the restaurant business in Fargo, North Dakota, at an early age. After relocating to Minneapolis, he earned his BS degree in Culinary Management, and worked as Oceanaire's sous chef. His secrets to fantastic seafood include fewer ingredients and simpler preparations that accentuate the food's profound flavors.


Donald Miller, CCE, AAC, executive chef, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana. Born along the Lake Michigan coast, Chef Don graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in New York. As Notre Dame's executive chef, a priority has been finding ingredients that are harvested in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. Notably, Chef Don's work helped Notre Dame become the first university in the U.S. to obtain Marine Stewardship Council certification.

John Occhiato, executive chef, Cosmos, Minneapolis. Chef John earned the Grand Champion title at the 2012 Salute to Lake Superior's Sustainable Fisheries, a chef competition focused on cisco held in Minneapolis. He grew up in coastal New England before pursuing a theater career in the Twin Cities. While working in restaurants to support himself he discovered his destiny: to become a culinary artist. When he's not in the kitchen, Chef John can be found foraging in the woods, digging in the garden, playing with his children, or working on a cookbook.

Ryan C. Schroeder, Jr., C.E.C., executive chef, co-owner, Big Tomatoes, Green Bay and Neenah, Wisc. Having cooked for patrons of The Heidel House Resort and The Pines at Bristlecone, Chef Ryan is a decorated and talented member of Wisconsin's culinary scene. Schroeder graduated with High Honors from the Culinary Institute of America, where he was the recipient of the Frances L. Roth award for Outstanding Performance. He has competed in the International Culinary Olympics and won over 20 American Culinary Federation competition medals, including four Best of Show.

Honorary Judge:

Juli Kellner, can tell you stories about cooking and many other things. Since Kellner started as a TV reporter over 30 years ago she has produced over 175 documentaries. She is the executive producer of "Native Report" on WDSE, a PBS affiliate that reaches northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin audiences. She regularly contributes to the food section of Lake Superior Magazine and hosts WDSE Cooks.



This page last modified on February 15, 2017     © 1996 – 2020 Regents of the University of Minnesota     The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.
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