Les Cheneaux Culinary school

Lake State Partners on Culinary Arts Certificate

Lake Superior State University is teaming up with the Les Cheneaux Culinary School to deliver a culinary arts certificate beginning in September. The certificate will offer students a focused, year-long training and internship experience to learn the art of cooking under the auspices of master chefs.

The nonprofit school was established in 2014 and features a 5,000 square-foot state-of-the art kitchen and on-site restaurant that can accommodate eighty-plus guests, open mid- May through early September. The entire menu is drawn up and prepared daily by students as part of the training.

If ever there were a reason to join friends in Hessel for a five-star meal typically found in New York or Paris, this would be it.

Dave Karczynski, a food writer for Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine, talks of a three-part main course that featured whitefish cakes with “the tender press of the savory, spicy, and aromatic fish; the subtle nuttiness of the beurre blanc;” an au poivre bison in cognac crème sauce with three varieties of peppercorns; and smoked duck raised by Amish neighbors and seasoned spruce tips collected from an adjacent forest.

LSSU expects prospective students will come from the eastern U.P., giving them a chance to commute from home or rent a place in the Les Cheneaux area. Because of the program’s intensive course of study, students will need to be within driving distance of the school’s facilities in Hessel. LSSU will offer room and board on its main campus as an option.

Tuition will be set at LSSU’s current worldwide rate, with kitchen and specialize culinary gear covered by fees. Coast Guard personnel and their dependents are eligible for tuition reduction, thanks to a standing agreement between Sector Sault Ste. Marie and Lake State.

Aside from small yearly cohorts and personalized study, the school advocates an industry trend towards farm-to-table and sustainability that seeks locally-sourced food. Students are taught how to source meats and produce from local farmers.

“This farm-to-table trend is going to stick around,” said executive chef Matthew Nelson, who heads up the kitchens at Mission Point Resort on Mackinac Island. Nelson is a graduate from the very first graduating class (2015) of Les Cheneaux Culinary School. He was speaking with Michigan Meetings magazine.

“The school is strictly farm-to-table,” said Nelson. “We learned about what grows there, the livestock, harvesting our own ramps and morels and root vegetables. I’d say most of what we cooked with came from within a 100-mile radius.”

Check out the Les Cheneaux Culinary School, either as a diner or burgeoning master chef. You know you want it.

About the Author

John ShilbeyJohn Shibley
Photographer/Staff Writer

Shibley has been a writer, editor, photographer, and videographer in the public relations office since 1991, except for a five-year stint as hobby and planetary science editor at Astronomy magazine in the mid-90s, where he was a finalist for the American Astronomical Society’s Jonathan Eberhart Planetary Sciences Journalism Award.