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Winner, Winner, FISH DINNER!

Northland chefs will battle it out at this year’s sold-out Lake Superior Fish Classic. University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) Dining Services Executive Chef Tom Linderholm enters the fray for the first time this year. He has tough competition. He’s up against the winner of last year’s Superior Award, Scott Graden, executive chef at New Scenic Café, as well as the winner of last year’s People’s Choice award, Avery Cassar, executive chef, At Sara’s Table Chester Creek Café. Tony Beran, executive chef at Lake Avenue Restaurant, also wields his spatula as one more competitor from Duluth to fight for the title.

The University of Minnesota Sea Grant College Program and University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute have joined forces to present the third annual Fish Classic, which takes place on Fri., Oct. 4 from 5–7:30 pm at The Duluth Depot. Over 200 lucky attendees will enjoy a professional cook-off, a tasting event, and a special tribute to those who have been involved with the success of Lake Superior’s fisheries.

Russell Habermann, a junior at UMD and a student worker at Minnesota Sea Grant, has been involved in organizing and planning this event for three consecutive years. Previously named “A Salute to Lake Superior’s Sustainable Fisheries,” the event originated in the Twin Cities in 2011. This year, he is excited to see the event transition to Duluth. Habermann is an urban studies major and an economics minor.

“The commercial fishing industry on Lake Superior has a long, rich history,” explains Habermann. “In its third year, this event aims to celebrate the people who sustain the Northland through their work with Lake Superior fish.”

Habermann, a Duluth native, believes the Fish Classic helps promote the use of cisco and whitefish in Northland kitchens and restaurants. “Lake Superior offers a great food resource,” he says. “We hope this event will raise awareness of how Northland citizens can utilize and enjoy what Lake Superior provides.” Cisco is a delicate freshwater white fish from the trout family found in the Great Lakes and managed in Minnesota. Cisco, also known by the name “Lake Herring,” shouldn’t be confused with pickled herring, which is made from ocean herring. The Sea Grant program recognizes this event as a way to differentiate the fish to the public and to chefs.

The Lake Superior Fish Classic brings together seven chefs from Minnesota and three chefs from Wisconsin to make up a roster of ten of the Upper Midwest’s finest chefs. In addition to UMD, Duluth’s New Scenic Café, At Sara’s Table, and Lake Avenue Restaurant, professional chefs from the following restaurants are competing:  Woolley’s Steakhouse and Seafood Restaurant, Oceanaire Seafood Room, Three Three Five, Tempest American Fish and Oyster House, and Potawatomi Bingo Casino.

The cook-off allows each chef to create their own entrée from cisco or whitefish. The competition is fierce with a prize of $1,000 for first place, $750 for the runner-up, and $500 to the public’s favorite dish.

Linderholm began his career learning from the best culinary artists in the Twin Cities. Since then, Linderholm has designed and opened several restaurants along the North Shore, including turning the Odyssey Resorts into a North Shore cuisine destination. The new University chef said he is thrilled to continue to promote local products by cooking up his very own Lake Superior whitefish entrée for the competition.

“This event is a great opportunity to showcase the fresh sustainable fish we have from Lake Superior,” said Linderholm. “I’m honored by the invitation to compete against some good friends and promote local and fresh food products.”


Erin Lehman, September 2013.

UMD Feature News | News Releases
UMD Feature News editor, Cheryl Reitan,

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