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Lake Superior lake herring at last year's event. Photos by Chris J. Benson.
Ron Bohnert, executive chef of Danny’s Bar and Grill, winning dish at the 2011 "Salute to Sustainable Fisheries event."
The second annual “A Salute to Lake Superior’s Sustainable Fisheries,” hosted by the University of Minnesota Sea Grant Program, will take place on Tues., Nov. 13 from 5-7:30 p.m. at the McNamara Alumni Center in Minneapolis. A tasteful tribute by way of a professional chef cook-off and tasting event, the “Salute” celebrates the people involved in the success of Lake Superior’s fisheries. Admission for this event is $20. For Northland guests, Minnesota Sea Grant is providing a bus for transport at $10 per seat. For more information about the “Salute,” visit the Minnesota Sea Grant events page.
The Student Behind It All
Russell Habermann, a junior at UMD and student worker at Minnesota Sea Grant, serves as the event manager of the “Salute.” Having worked on the event last year, he takes a more involved role this year as he heads the charge.
According to Habermann, the event has two facets: an on-site cook-off for professional chefs and a public tasting event. “People can expect an event that they will want to attend again and again every November. With ten of the Midwest’s finest chefs using a delicate, seasonal, and local fish to create some of the most incredible entrees in one place,” he says, “you can’t go wrong.”
Some local Duluth chefs are making the journey to the Twin Cities to compete. "Local chefs Avery Cassar from At Sara’s Table Chester Creek Café and Scott Graden from the New Scenic Café are on our roster," Habermann confirms. “Especially this year, we wanted to have representatives from the North Shore.” Michael Monroe, a highly-acclaimed musician based out of Grand Marais, will also offer a tie to the North Shore when he performs as guests can “taste the lake” and applaud the winner of the on-site cook-off during the public event.
Juggling school and the event, Habermann attributes his ability to organize the event to UMD and Minnesota Sea Grant. “They say it takes a community to raise a child," he comments. "Well, it takes a community to organize an event, too; the staff of Sea Grant and the university has been extremely supportive of the "Salute" and me as a student worker.”
The Sustainable, Edible Lake Herring
Having grown up in the Duluth area, Habermann believes that the mission of the“Salute” is important. “At the very basis of the event is sustainability,” he explains. “UMD and other organizations have taken up this calling, and we want to promote that aspect of Lake Superior's economy and ecology, including the lake herring.”
Lake Superior lake herring is a relative of salmon and is a freshwater fish found in the Great Lakes. It is primarily harvested in November and is used completely to create fillets, gefilte, and gold caviar. It shouldn’t be confused with pickled herring, which is made from ocean herring.
Once at great risk, commercial fishermen and fisheries managers around Lake Superior have worked to preserve and rejuvenate the lake herring population. A testament to careful harvesting, as food it can now be found in Duluth locations.
“Lake herring is woven into Minnesota’s history,” Habermann explains. “It is not just connected to Lake Superior, but many of the people and industries around the lake. Because of that, we need to understand what it is, protect it, and enjoy the sustainable uses of the fish in the meantime. Right now, there is no better way to do that than to taste how professional chefs utilize it.”
Minnesota Sea Grant is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and University of Minnesota Twins Cities. It is part of NOAA Sea Grant, a nationwide network of 33 similar science-based programs. Minnesota Sea Grant identifies informational needs, fosters research and communicates results to help the environment and economies along Lake Superior and Minnesota's inland waters. Minnesota Sea Grant also assists in communicating these results between the public and scientists.
For more information visit Minnesota Sea Grant.
Written by Katarina Menze, October 2012
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