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Can You Help Us With Four Questions?

We started a survey to gauge our performance company-wide. It’s been a week and we already feel improved – won’t you help us get even better? Four short questions could mean everything to us!

 

 

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Phones Have Gremlins

What a day! Our phones are down, but delivery is up, up, up! You can place your order online via email: catering @ nwsmokehausdotcom ! Just leave your phone number and we will call you back on one of our faithful cell phones.

Thanks for bearing with us, and enjoy the snowy day.

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Expanded Delivery & Catering Services

We at the island of food weirdos love any excuse to get together and eat good food. Creativity has its ways of blossoming relationships and inspiring co-workers to entice both themselves and customers. Late nights lead to planning other late nights. In this case, we kept it not-so-late, but we did combine a lot of our favorite things in one place.
We are excited to invite our fellow food lovers and Smokehaus friends to our “Delivery Debut & Catering Cotillion” (for the love of alliteration) at the Red Herring Lounge.
This is your opportunity (YES!) to come and sample some bites of our slow fast food. We can’t sample our whole *brand* new catering menu, but we can sample the cult-classics and party pleasers.
What can you expect?
A showcase of our talented, creative catering and delivery crew. They’re food lovers, musicians and entertainers. Our talented Seym0ur, Ned Netzel, will set the mood as you can delight yourself with small bites and participate in our raffle that includes tons of Smokehaus $wag. Our raffle has a small price ($1 per raffle tickets) and all of the funds that are raised will be donated to the Damiano Center located in Duluth.
What kind of $wag?
Anything from our classic Rick Allen Tees that are loved by Duluthians and transplants to free All Season Platters and sandwiches.

Here’s the low-down:
When? July 7th, 2016.
Where? 208 E 1st Street
Time? 7-9pm
Cost? Free. $1 Raffle tickets.

We can’t wait to share our love for food with you!

xoxo-
Team Smokehaus

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A Brief History of Northern Waters Smokehaus

1998 Eric and Lynn Goerdt, having met and married in Sitka Alaska, found Northern Waters Smokehaus in Superior Wisconsin. Eric had been experimenting with the craft of smoked fish for many years at this point – he used to smoke fish and meats in his homestate of Iowa, even – but perfected his unique kippering style in Alaska.

Eric initially smoked fish in small batches out of a business incubator (The Superior Business Center) and sold exclusively via mail order and to wholesale clients such as Allouez Marine (run by Jim Banks and Bill Rogers), The Park Bench, and Twin Ports Brewery (now Thirsty Pagan Brewery).

2001 – 2002 Eric and Lynn open a retail location in the Dewitt Seitz building. Offering smoked fish, picnic bags, crackers, olive oils, balsamic vinegars, and a world-class cheese case, the store was a hit for gourmands. Two sandwich prototypes were offered: a bagel with cream cheese (no toaster, Lender-style bagel, plain cream cheese, and a scoop of flaked smoked salmon) and a salmon wrap (salmon pate, diced peppers and cucumber in a vinaigrette, wrapped in a giant tortilla). Employee Count: 7

2003 The smokehouse moves production to the basement of Dewitt Seitz. The move to Minnesota enables the Smokehaus to start producing meat products and sell them in the retail area. Early examples include Polish, andouille, and ham.

2004 A small sandwich menu is developed – The Gorilla, Cajun Finn, and Pastrami Mommy are all offered, as is the Dewitt Setzer (for $4!). It’s a year of trial and error – many free sandwiches are given, meat and fish are sliced to order, there isn’t a sandwich line, and orders aren’t even written on tickets.

2005 The idea of the special is introduced – featuring a Polish sausage on Mondays, bison brisket on Wednesdays, and a gigantic bison burrito on Tuesdays. Mail order continues to be the busiest time for the Smokehaus, with December offering one third of the overall yearly revenue of the company.

2006-2009 The sandwich menu begins to take off. After many years, the Duluth News Tribune runs a story on our sandwiches and we start to see a spike in business, with the spike going off the charts when the Star Tribune writes a glowing essay about the business. The first Tall Ships event also lends a dramatic amount of business to the Smokehaus. Innovations include: moving the cheese case to accommodate a sandwich line, writing sandwich orders down for sandwich makers, developing portions of protein, making prep and stock lists, and hiring extra people to work during busy times.

Other developments include:

  • Boxed lunches and platters are also offered at this time, and Eric makes deliveries.
  • Mail order becomes an orphaned department, moving to many locations during December and staffed by smokers, Eric, and deli staff alike.
  • Catering begins to take off, with salmon platters and cheese boards custom-built by customer request.
  • Eric begins to experiment with dry-cured salami, enters the Salamini in a contest sponsored by Seattle’s esteemed deli Salumi, and wins first place in the professional challenge.

2010 A defining year for the Smokehaus. National exposure from Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives gives the company a huge boost – sales of sandwiches, salumi, and whitefish (the products featured on the show) are up 50%. The staff doubles, and the triage formation assumes the position for the next several years.

2011 Working fast and furious!

2012 We are forced to prep after-hours in the Smokehaus!

2013 We renovate the former Taste of Saigon storage space into a prep/delivery room and rent out the third floor office, where we foolishly plan on lavishly entertaining (instead, it becomes storage for mail order and dry stock).

2014 We put a massive freezer on the third floor and begin to renovate the Smokehouse.

2015 The shop undergoes a major renovation, bumping into the loading dock, removing the sinks, and separating the sandwich line from the deli line. Work begins on a new restaurant project at Mt. Royal shopping center.

2016 The Smokehaus opens a restaurant in Woodland! New staff is hired, new menus are made, a bar is designed and executed, and the doors are opened! (Company-Wide) Employee Count: 80.

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We’re Coming To Minneapolis

Once again, we will be visiting our beloved Minneapolis this summer!

Because of the busy summer we have planned, we are only able to make it to Mill City Farmer’s Market a few times this season, but if you are in town on one of the following Saturdays,  please stop by and say hello.

We will kick off the season this Saturday, June 25, and return on August 27 and October 29. The markets run from 8AM – 1PM and are located at 704 S 2nd St, Minneapolis, MN.

We will be bringing a selection of smoked Atlantic salmon, smoked Sockeye salmon, smoked Lake Superior Lake Trout along with dry-cured salamini, chorizo, saucisson sec, and pepperoni.

As usual, we will be offering samples, conversation, brochures, menus, and other Smokehaus ephemera.

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A New Bearing: Smokehaus Smoked Atlantic Salmon and True North

a piece of smoked Atlanitc salmon cut into slices on a wooden board

By Fiona O’Halloran-Johnson, NWSH Sustainability Chief and smoked Atlantic Salmon lover

Here at the Smokehaus we go through a lot of fish, specifically smoked Atlantic salmon. It goes on our sandwiches both at the deli and the restaurant, on catering platters, it’s shipped straight to your door, or goes home in your bag on your way out of Duluth.

For many years we have been committed to providing you with delicious smoked fish and smoked meats, while adhering to sustainable practices throughout the business – from composting to bike delivery. We have been working on creating programs to decrease our overall waste and impact here at home, but that’s not enough. We have a responsibility to know about our meat and fish, not just the process of how we make it so tasty, but where it comes from.

We are one of the largest buyers of Atlantic salmon in the United States. Yes, our humble little shop buys more Atlantic salmon than restaurants in New York, or huge resorts in California. With this, we have felt a responsibility to look for a sustainable source of salmon that could keep up with our high demands. Prior to the switch, we have been getting Atlantic salmon off the coast of Chile.  While there were many positive attributes to this salmon, simply the length of travel was enough for us to realize we needed a more sustainable source.

We began to look for an option closer to home, but we were not willing to compromise our commitment to sustainable aquatic farming. There is so much that can go wrong when farming fish, from assuring water is not permanently polluted, to making sure the fish are not carrying disease, such as sea lice, that can be transferred to the native populations of aquatic life. We also wanted product that was not full of chemicals, dyes and hormones. We had set our standards pretty high.

And then we found True North.

We are thrilled to announce that we are now selling  Smoked Atlantic Salmon made from True North Salmon Company, a family owned company based out of New Brunswick, Canada. This is exciting for us because we have been concerned about our environmental impact on aquatic life for some time now.   

True North is certified to the Best Aquaculture Practices and the British Retail Consortium Global Standard for Food Safety.

True North is the quintessential sustainable fish farm.

True North uses ocean pens, but rotates crops regularly and uses a fallowing system to ensure that the water and ocean floor rest in between crops. They also stock their salmon in pens at a rate of less than 2% percent of the volume of the pen, which means these salmon have plenty of room to swim around freely and develop healthy muscle tissues naturally.  Their fish also grow on a natural cycle, with no growth hormones, taking two years for the fish to make it to market.

True North is committed to finding fish food that is made sustainably. They use fish meal and oil that are byproducts of fish that is harvested for human consumption, maintaining equilibrium in the local aquatic life. True North has decreased its carbon footprint by using fuel-efficient trucks, and driving a little slower to reduce their carbon emissions when transporting their fish. With their commitment to preserving fresh water they also have a water recycling and filtration system at their freshwater hatcheries. They have also invested in shipping boxes that are made from 100% recycled material.

We are excited about our new Atlantic salmon provider, and we’re excited about taking another big step towards consuming smoked Atlantic  salmon responsibly so we can keep making all your delicious snacks for years to come.

For more information, please peruse:

True North Atlantic Salmon

BAP

 

 

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Great Moments in the Smokehaus Lexicon: The Story of The Gorilla

Every business has their unique jargon. The restaurant industry in general is fraught with code – a hold-over from expediting short orders coupled with the Tower of Babel-scale mix of languages that populate many American eateries, there are general terms we all seem to know: “86,” “all-day,” “to fly,” “slammed,” etc., but each place usually creates its own set of slang over time and the Smokehaus isn’t an exception. Today we shall reveal the story of one of our most mystifying sandwich titles: The Gorilla.

We didn’t always smoke meat. We started off sticking to fish – Eric had one smallish smoker off-site in a commercial kitchen and a license that allowed him to smoke and sell it but forbade him to distribute anything that had hooves, fur, or mammary glands (like fish versus swine, the FDA and USDA are also two different animals, and one has deeper pockets and some pretty outstanding long-term relationships with big ag that pretty much eliminates small-time processors like us from selling to anyone, anywhere except our own storefront, but that’s a story for another time). Eventually, we moved our operation to Dewitt Seitz, directly under our retail space. This enabled us to start smoking sausage, pastrami, ham, and pork loin. Eric would tinker around with backyard-smoker recipe favorites, adapting them to the more formal demands of our commercial Vortron units, and we the few employees at the time would reap the rewards. What a time to be alive and carnivorous!

Eventually, like so many crossroads in life, it came down to perfecting the simplest recipe: the ham.

The first perfect batch was glorious – rosy, glistening mounds of promise, made even more pristine by the charred unholy walls of the smoker. Like Aphrodite in the lap of Hephaestus, the natural beauty of the ham was elevated to irresistible by its company, and we sawed off pieces straight from the rack, surrounding the smoker and taking turns with the knife. There is nothing like meat from the smoker. Smoky, yes, and tender and salty and sweet – but there is a delicacy when it is newly made that wears off after it has been cooled and stored. Even more heavy-handed items like pastrami or andouille are touched with this grace note when the smoke clears and we open the big stainless door. Ham is perhaps most demonstrative of this phenomenon, and this first batch was a revelation to us all.

Eric’s best childhood friend Dan was in town, and was among the few to enjoy this singular experience. The two had grown up together in Iowa, Dan was currently living in New York City, and they still keep in touch. As the silence that fell over our greasy mouths began to dissipate with the mumblings and exclamations of pleasure, Dan began to tell us a tale.

“I had the craziest dream last night. I don’t know if it’s because I was sleeping in Eric’s basement where it’s extra dark, extra quiet and extra cold? Anyway, I dreamt like all night last night, but all I remember is this one part. I was in my parents’ house back in Iowa, it was at night, I was alone. There was a sliding glass door off the living room, and the deck was lit up. There was this enormous gorilla pounding on the door to get in, and it was terrifying. He pounded and pounded, and would pace back and forth in between poundings. I didn’t know what to do – the thing must have weighed a ton and there was just this thin layer of glass between us, but I couldn’t run away. It just kept taunting me, rattling the glass. It was one of those full-grown silverback types you see on PBS, with smart, shiny eyes and big yellow teeth.  But the thing is, the gorilla was wearing a jean jacket.”

Urban worldliness mixed with childhood fantasy? Wilderness anxiety? Brain flush? We didn’t know what Dan’s psyche was up to, but we did know that we thought it was hilarious. The image coupled with the meat high was enough to send us into cry-laughter for several minutes. It was a wonderful feeling. Eventually, when we calmed down, we started to talk sandwiches. We knew this basic but beautiful meat deserved the same on the menu, and settled for a simple ham, Swiss, lettuce, mustard, and mayo sandwich on rye. Name-wise, we half-heartedly tossed a few around. I particularly wanted it to be called the Bukowski, but we all knew that it really could only be The Gorilla.

Later, when we discovered that our most popular two sandwiches (The Cajun Finn and Cold Turkey) were significantly boosted by the addition of cilantro and Sriracha, we found a place to hang the Jean Jacket – a secret menu addition that delights many customers to this day, though few know the origin. In fact, you can add a Jean Jacket to nearly anything on the menu, though I still think the Gorilla is best au natural. So, the next time you order a Gorilla, or add a jean jacket, remember that it comes from a very honest ether – and you are having a taste of Smokehaus history.

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Our New Restaurant is Now Open!

We are super proud to announce that our newest baby, Northern Waters Restaurant, is now open for lunch, dinner, and good times! It took us 6 extra months, hundreds of hours, too many dollars, and a ton of heart and soul to open the restaurant – from recipe development to flatware finding to the very best staff-searching – but we are extremely happy with the result.

The restaurant has a unique identity – it offers a multitude of seating choices, has an eclectic menu, and also serves beer and wine. Simultaneously, it stays true to Northern Waters Smokehaus in terms of quality, creativity and its commitment to take care of its employees.

Menu favorites (yes, there already are a few) are the pork tacos (with scratch-made corn tortillas), The Iowa (a pounded, breaded pork tenderloin sandwich), and the almighty chowder (who knew such a traditionally mellow soup could be so arousing?). Lunch time is just as fast-paced as our deli in Canal Park, with a brand new selection of upscale sandwiches and salads served fresh and fast, but the added feature of our Bar Royale Menu, which features more warm options (including some mighty fine wings).

The staff is comprised of a good mixture of brand-newbies and veterans, all eager to learn our innovative approach to food and share it with the Minnesota (and beyond) food community. We are particularly proud of these hard-working people: it’s a challenge to open a restaurant, especially one as unique as ours. The fact that they have gone out on a collective limb with us is particularly poignant in terms of our non-tipping policy – we’ve had some criticism (not to mention skepticism) over this issue, and these folks are on the front lines.

So, if you’re in the area, come by and see us. We’re the place on the left with the fishy wallpaper and Elvis Costello soundtrack, right next to the dry cleaner’s.

 

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The Northern Waters Restaurant mascot

 

 

 

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Winter Gatherings, At Home, In the Office

a photo of eric goerdt, northern waters smokehaus, standing in front of his wood-fired pizza oven in the winter

Thinking of holiday food for gatherings? Northern Waters Smokehaus may be able to give you a leg up.

December is a natural month for gatherings – just cold enough to wet the appetite and light the fires, but not yet the prohibitive deep freeze of January. And what is better for a gathering than hand-made smoked fish and meats?

We at the Smokehaus love to roast ourselves and our meals together, defying the dark and the snow, in our garages and backyards. We have a long and passionate history with gatherings – providing them and participating!

What’s your company tradition? Do you love your company’s company like we do? Let us jump in: we are offering platters, gift boxes, and lunches all through the holiday season – from the coveted All Season Fillet of Smoked Salmon to our Small Sampler Gift Box, we are eager to please – and, between our mail order department, catering department, and our Duluth delivery, we can offer our stuff  pretty much anywhere.

Our smoked fish and meats are perfect for entertaining – they are  ready to eat, luxurious, local and unique. We provide wooden platters brimming with slices of smoked pork loin, salami, olives, and cheeses for the boardroom or break room; we ship insulated boxes full of carefully packaged and impeccably smoked salmon, whitefish, and lake trout (or anything else your heart desires) straight to the office, the home, or the nearest campfire (if has a physical address, FedEx will find it!).

So, go on – get toasty, eat well, laugh together, and enjoy a little holiday spirit. We all deserve it a little, right?

smoked whitefish on a platter from northern waters smokehaus  bonfire for a winter gathering at northern waters smokehaus  a bowl of red onions for a gathering at northern waters smokehaus

 

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We’re Headed South

We are headed down to the big city this weekend to sell our salami and – for the very first time – smoked fish! Come see us at Bachman’s Garden Center for the Kingfield/Fulton Farmers Market.

We are genuinely delighted to bring our fish to Minneapolis! Last summer, our new customers at Kingfield were loving the salami but begging for our unique smoked fish. So, we worked on logistics, bought a NSF milk cooler, a trailer, and an extra vacuum packer;  activated the mail order department (April is AMAZING, for real), the smoking department (those dudes, equally amazing – but I reserve all caps for April because we’re close like that), and the marketing department (that’s me, I went to a Google seminar and got a You Tube mug); and made very bizarre arrangements with an Airbnb host.

All this falderal is for a mere four and a half hours of commerce, and we’re dying to see how it goes – come say hi, hopefully we’ll be the booth with the peaceful frenzy enveloping it.

We will be at Bachman’s Garden Center at 6010 Lyndale Ave South from 9-1:30 on Saturday, March 28th.

We will be selling Salamini, Pepperoni, Chorizo, Saucisson Sec, Smoked Lake Superior Lake Trout, Smoked Atlantic Salmon, Smoked Atlantic Salmon with Black Pepper and Coriander, All-Season Fillets of Smoked Atlantic Salmon, and Smoked Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon.