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5 Things That Happened This Week At NWS

Perhaps you’re a regular reader of this blog, or perhaps this is your first time. Either way, I’ll begin by saying that, by and large, most weeks at NWS end up being very similar—we work the grind. Exciting stuff happens around here so often that the extraordinary ends up feeling pretty ordinary. As such, I usually default to some sort of cheekiness in my introductions to this blog. It livens up the writing process for me. However, I’ve had a realization that some of these seemingly mundane happenings in my workplace might actually be more interesting than I had previously realized, and that maybe I take for granted working one of the coolest jobs I have had/one of the coolest jobs to be had. So, with that, here’s five things that are either pretty rad, or that I’m going to spin into radness, that happened on or around this week.

  1. We got a new POS! For the uninitiated, that’s point-of-sale, not piece of [excrement], though sometimes technology feels like that, doesn’t it? Xevious Stevenson, our awesome Client Success Manager (nabbed that title from his business card, since it seems very fitting, considering the work he put in on our transition day) spent a very full workday installing the system, fielding our plentiful (excessive?) questions, reprogramming the system to our specifications, and cracking jokes alongside us as if he had been a part of our team for years. Transitioning to the new system happened on a very busy Thursday, so we’re grateful to our customers for bearing with us. Our hope is this new system allows us to fully integrate all of our departments seamlessly, to limit the confusion between our several distinct departments we have recently come to know. As a nearly five-year employee, I have been amazed every year by our continuous growth and success. Hard work and commitment to quality appears to pay off, friends.
  2. We have new employees! I’m not sure how shy they are yet, so I’m not going to start dropping names to the masses, but it seems like we’re hiring the cream of the crop. New coworkers are great, because they tend to have very positive outlooks on what a jaded, bitter old soul like me considers tedious work. All jokes asidecough*where’s the joke?*cough—it’s great to have more hands on deck, because the workload has not slowed down for us here at Northern Waters. It’s also always exciting to add to the wall of heights.
  3. We have a tomato surplus! Inventory/ordering/production is a challenging speculative enterprise. Sometimes you’re slotted in a tight barrel of tomato-heavy salads, sauces, and sandwiches, and the next week you realize the weekend crew was totally skunked, and now there’s twelve full racks of tomatoes and nowhere to put half of them. Yes, I just googled surfing slang, and no, there will be no glossary at the back of the book. Anyway, I was very amused by my coworkers’ reactions when the order came in on Monday, doubling our tomato supply. Today, the prep department has been hard at work on a 160-sandwich pickup order, so hopefully that puts a dent in the inventory. And if it doesn’t, I’m crossing my fingers for the return of Meatball Mondays at NWS. Relevant to the topic, here’s a favorite song of mine. The only thing that’s wrong with it is its <2 minute duration.
  4. Olivia sliced a ton of bacon and was pretty excited about it! To be honest, there’s a few people I’ve met in my life who probably dream about slicing and handling this much bacon, so her excitement doesn’t surprise me. This is part of the Sisyphean preparation for the infamous Mail-Order Season, which never really ends, but has vague terminal points in the middle of November and the beginning of January. Back to the bacon—she even provided me with a photograph. Enjoy.
  5. We are on the cusp of two awesome weekends! As I have previously mentioned, this weekend we are heading down to Best of the Wurst, hosted by Sociable Ciderworks. That in itself is pretty cool, but I have no doubts the following weekend is going to top it. On September 29th, at Hoops Brewing and then at Rex Bar, we are throwing a big ol’ public hootenanny to celebrate twenty years of smoking something (mostly fish and meats). There will be free food (provided by us), free beer (provided by us in conjunction  with Hoops), and free music (provided by bands featuring members of our team—curated by myself, Greg the H.R. wizard, and dynamic design duo Jacob and Zac). We’ll be closing the shop’s doors at 4pm, so that all of our employees can party down with you. I didn’t know Eric when he began this business, but just a few moments of interacting him will give you an insight into how proud he is of this little deli.

So, there you have it. Count ‘em up, because you just got six things (and some slick anecdotes) for the price of five. That’s what they call extra value. See you at next week’s five things blog, unless my in-progress exposé on bison pastrami, or the first installation upcoming Practical Guide to Northern Waters Smokehaus series hits the web first, or if you come in and talk to me while I’m working in the deli. Anything is possible if you follow your dreams.

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5 Things That Were, Are, Or Have Not Yet Come To Pass

There will be no lengthy preamble to our 5 Things™ this week. Just gaze into the Mirror of Galadriel—

  1. Oktoberfest at Hoops! Gosh, we are pumped to be a part of this event. On Saturday, October 6th, from 1-11pm, we’ll be bringing our German A-game to Hoops Brewing to the kind of pop-up this Goerdt-owned business has been waiting for. There’s no definitive menu yet, but preliminary discussion has mentioned our Classic German brats, hella sauerkraut and beets. Check out details (beet-tails?) here and here.
  2. Anniversary party raffle! A growing list of businesses are joining forces with us to raise funds for Together For Youth, “an inclusive, supportive and welcoming group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, two spirit and allied youth in Duluth and Virginia, Minnesota,” that works to offer a safe space and resource network for area youth. $1 raffle tickets will go on sale next week in our shop, and will be sold until the end of our 20th anniversary party and afterparty. Winners will be announced the following week. This is an opportunity to raise some serious cash for an organization doing important work in our community. 100% of raffle proceeds will go to Together For Youth. Tune in in the next few weeks for a complete list of participating businesses: The prizes are sure to be awesome.
  3. A Dewitt-Seitz Marketplace collaborative picnic basket is in the works! This egregiously long subheading is for the outdoorsy types and leaf peepers, and it pretty much does most of the work for the body of text. The picnic baskets will go on sale in October. Participating businesses at time of press include Amazing Grace Bakery & Café, Blue Heron Trading Company, Hepzibah’s Sweet Shoppe, and yours truly. Combine this with some warm beverages from Duluth Coffee Company, or some craft brews from one of our many local breweries, then head out to Hawk’s Ridge, some length of Lake Superior shore, or a spot along Skyline Parkway and you’ll be well on your way to being about as ‘Luth as it gets.
  4. Option 1 is in full-effect! For more information about Option 1, check out the press release. I have enjoyed several of my breaks in the new seating areas, and it is definitely nice to have more outdoor public seating options in the area. This week I am very excited about the sweet new paint-by-numbers mural—Akawe Nibi, by Moira Villiard—located on Buchanan Street. Villiard designed the mural, and the locals and tourists in the community came together over two days to paint it. Come down and see it in person, and have a relaxing lunch amidst the chaos of Canal Park.*
  5. We had an all-staff meeting on Sunday! Four-ish times a year, we gather as many of our 40+ employees as we can fit in our third-floor office and discuss the goings-on and future of the business—new products, the fate of our enormous menu**, new employees, precisely how many new employees we still need (hit us up with those résumés), and the latest inside jokes. As always, the true purpose of the meeting is to make it to the end and consume pizza and sudsy beverages.

I hope you have enjoyed this week’s installment of 5 Things™ and keep tuning in each week. It is my pleasure to keep you updated. Perhaps I should go home and watch The Fellowship of the Ring, because it has begun to affect my work.

*Note: Not all opinions expressed in this blog fully reflect the views of Northern Waters Smokehaus, and chaos is not inherently bad.
**It’s going to stay enormous, but we’re working on developing a quick-start menu those new to our store, interested in knowing the must-try items.

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5 Things That Happened This Week

As Summer pushes onward toward its inevitable end, Northern Waters Smokehaus finds itself embroiled in growing pains and the joy of new beginnings. A lot has been happening around here in the past week—continuations of capital improvements, commencements of new bargains, and the laying of plans for special occasions.

Before my preamble becomes too amble-y, let’s get to our five things:

  1. We have a sink upstairs! This may not sound as exciting as I have made it out to be, but it’s a significant step in the renovation of our third-floor office. For some time we have wanted to expand our food prep capabilities, and that dream is well on its way to being a reality. Next week we’re tearing out the carpet, and then it’s Food Safe City in this joint! Aside from the chaos of remodeling a jam-packed office—who can’t enjoy a little chaos from time to time?—the only drawback is that we’re taking a brief pause on mail orders. Mail order will be on hiatus August 6th-9th due to temporary lack of space.
  2. Totes! We have new tote bags for sale and a special deal running throughout the month of August. It totes slipped our minds to let you know earlier, but here it is:
    When you buy a tote, at time of purchase you get 20% off every item you can fit in that tote. Sandwiches, smoked fish, cheese, tube meats, posters, crackers, beverages, olives, slaws—I could go on,but I believe you get the gist—are all 20% off, so long as you can fit them in your tote bag. Please note, you’ll be buying the tote itself at full price, and the sale is limited to one full tote of discounted goods per customer.
  3. Last pop-up of the Summer! Tonight (Friday) we’ll be at Hoops Brewing slinging tacos from 5pm until they’re gone. The tacos will be tasty and the salsas will be fresh.
  4. Business is good…sometimes too good. Thanks to you, our awesome customers, we have been regularly selling out of a bunch of our inventory. This is a double-edged sword, of course, as our business is thriving, sometimes at the expense of our customers being able to get their favorite items. A frozen Berkshire ham that arrives at our store takes two weeks to become the delicious smoked ham in our deli case, and our salumi cures for up to a month.  Ciscos are fantastic when we have them, but I still haven’t quite figured out when they’re in-season. Production doesn’t really ever slow down for us, and we do our best to keep our little deli fully stocked. So shoutout to you, dear customers, for keeping us on our feet, but please bear with us if you ever catch us without your favorite item. If you’re curious, you can check in with us to see if and when we’ll have a particular item in stock.
  5. Bread joys and woes. Our beloved baker, Jerry, has been steadily honing his craft in our kitchen. All of our rye bread is now made in-haus, as well as the rosemary potato rolls upon which we serve our Monday smokers’ choice special. White bread and stiratos are in the works, but not quite ready for mass-production. Baking bread is truly an art-form, and one we are glad to be adding to our establishment. We recently purchased a new (much larger) oven to bake said bread, though it hasn’t been a perfectly smooth ride thus far. There have been a few technical issues with the oven over the past week that have put a hitch in our production. Fortunately, Jerry is a gosh-darn workhorse, and has us stocked on rye and potato rolls for weeks to come.So there you have it. It’s been a pretty exciting ride around these parts. Thanks for bearing with us in the long lines, and for your patience with us during our growth spurt. You, and our love of good food, are the reason we’re here.

    Stay tuned for exciting updates in the near future. Planning for our 20th Anniversary party is ongoing and we’ll be making announcements soon. Unless I decide to write another blog post in the meantime, I’ll see you next week.

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Glensheen Gala: Unlocked

We’re catering a mansion party and we want to invite you!

THE 5TH GLENSHEEN GALA: UNLOCKED

Focusing on Glensheens’s twelve acre estate and gorgeous gardens, this year’s theme is Secret Garden Party. Gala guests will have the opportunity to explore the grounds, newly opened spaces, and, of course, the mansion.

SATURDAY, 8-18-18  |  7PM – 10PM

Cost: $100 per person

Time travel to Duluth’s best lake party and enjoy the revelry throughout our historic, 12-acre estate. We’re unlocking the mansion for Gala guests to experience what’s behind closed doors.

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We’re Going To The Super Bowl!

In a mere week and a half, our amazing catering crew are going to pack two vans, four coolers, our 6-foot-long Douglas fir serving board, and around 100 pounds of smoked goodness and head to Minneapolis to cater (along with several other folks) the Official Super Bowl Tailgate Party. It’s the biggest crowd we’ve ever catered, but we feel like all our years of catering have been great training for an event like the Superbowl.

We were thrilled to get an email from a company that organizes the Superbowl village vendors: it was a huge logistical challenge but in typical Smokehaus fashion we rapidly decided to do it and figure out how later. I filled out the application, answered some follow-up questions, and left it on the horizon for the better part of December. To participate, we would need to essentially staff a condensed version of our already-condensed deli in Duluth: sandwich coolers, prep areas, abridged menus, and (most troublingly) a staff who a) could find an affordable place to stay in the Twin Cities for a week during the Superbowl inundation and b) would not leave a hole in the schedule with their absence.

I was in the middle of loosely sorting this out and fielding plenty of interest from all corners of the Smokehaus when we got the congratulatory email, and above all the logistical concerns I knew we were in for a great adventure. About a half an hour after that the second email came in explaining that the first missive was sent by mistake – but congratulations, we were first on the waiting list. Annoyance was mixed with a splash of relief, but every time the Superbowl came up, I felt a little baby kick of rejection.

A few weeks later, Eric was contacted through an old friend from Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and was asked to participate in a different Superbowl event: as a caterer at the  2018 Players Tailgate Party. This was a BIG deal – 2,000 people – by far our largest headcount, kitty-corner to a major event in Minnesota, with plenty of opportunities to share our smoked fish, charcuterie, and years of food styling trial and error with a brand new group of customers. We once again assumed the formation, said yes, and figured it out. Staffed, condo’d (thanks to a staffer’s parents), prep listed, and fully stoked, we’re going to the Superbowl(!), and once again, we’re in for a great adventure.

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5 Things – Vol. 10

What a week! Only 5 things? JUST 5 things? Ok. Have it your way. Here we go:

1 / Local Food Fare
 Stephen and I went to The College of Saint Scholastica last Friday for their first ever Local Food Day representing Northern Waters Restaurant. It was THE BEST time!   We hit ’em with some S.W.A.G. (Stuff We All Get), served maple sambal ribs with kimchi and an assortment of sandwich samples while those ravenous collegians lost their damn minds! We made sure to collect some email addresses to offer them further deals in the future before they went completely bonkers. Thanks to our pal Jordon Moses for setting the event up!

 

 2 / Meat & Greet
Smokehausers Flo and TK are the principals at Prove Gallery in Duluth; a fantastic and inclusive pillar of the arts community here, and 10/18 brought their annual Meat Raffle Fundraiser! Not familiar with the Meat Raffle concept? Buy one of 12 chances for a cut of meat and wait for the wheel to land on your number. If it does, you get meated handsomely! Prove managed to get Pete and Sam from NW Restaurant to emcee and sell tickets respectively, while Ned from the Smokehaus DJ’d. Plenty of our coworkers from both the restaurant and the Smokehaus got in on the gamble for meat as well as a pretty great silent auction. The whole event was a huge success and also just a lot of fun.

 

3 / Photo Frenzy
 Stephen and Flo continue to work on photographing our many products in preparation for mail order season, and the composition of these photos has really been coming together beautifully. So beautifully, in fact, that it drives our thoughts towards doing a cookbook. Seriously, wouldn’t that be fantastic?

 

4 / Pop Up Restaurant at Hoops!
At Northern Waters Restaurant, we always try to keep it poppin’; the beautiful plates we send out, our chic decor, actual delicious soda pop… It’s a thing for us, ok? So how excited are we that our pals at Hoops Brewing have invited us to come and do a pop up restaurant at their place? Pretty dang excited to say the least. We haven’t firmed up a date yet, but look for that coming soon. Pop in and say hi! Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

 

5 / Listen Up!
 Jams! Not the kind you eat with your mouth, but the kind you eat with your ears! It’s called ‘listening’! Up at the restaurant, we begin our days by sweeping, mopping and kicking out the sweetest jams possible. Afrobeat, DJ Earl and Steely Dan have been in heavy rotation recently, but it’s really anyone’s guess as to what will get heavy play next. We think that this whole ‘eareating’ thing is going to catch on big-time.
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5 Things – Volume 7

Keeping the fire alive – Volume 7!

 

1 / A Really Fishy Photo! We took this photo of our traditional smoked salmon and we think it’s pretty neat! Mmmmm…Hold up while we break for a snack…

2 / Catering Extravaganzas  1: Sue is the owner of the Hemlock Preserve in Esko and we catered her daughters wedding last Saturday. It was crazy humid in the barn but we managed to work fast and pull through for a feast of epic proportions. Photo recap!

2: On Sunday we went to the Oldenberg House in Carlton for a wedding showcase. Food was served, food was eaten and we all had a blast! This historic building is right on the edge of Jay Cooke State Park and is lined with an abundance of rock formations, greenery and other natural goodies to take your breath away. Check them out for bed and breakfast services, special events, jazz dinners, live music, and much more. Thanks for having us!

3 / Restaurant Bits & Bites 

1. We are running an Heirloom tomato and chèvre salad special with fruits from the tomato growing experts over at Hammarlund. I overheard them talking to Eric (The Owner) about the different varieties of tomatoes and the flavor differences. The green striped ones are the all around favorite, the yellow ones are fruitier + sweeter and the dark red ones are kind of like a roma, but with more flavor. We running this with honey-dressed Boucheron chèvre, a balsamic reduction, and Maldon salt flake. Stop in and try one before it’s gone!

2. We have a new side! This couscous salad is delicious and beautiful.

4 / Basement Anthems The delivery and prep department needs music to stay sane. The work they do is incredibly fast paced, super detailed, and downright chaotic. They add to this insanity by BLASTING their music at full volume with no remorse for any nearby ears. In fact, they recently upgraded their stereo system by pooling tips because the old one wasn’t loud enough. Kudos on the teamwork y’all! This week it just so happened that Propagandhi’s new album dropped and it has been on repeat ever since. I asked Jeremy for a few words about it and his response was “Can I say it’s f***ing rippin’?”

5 / Insider Tip!  There were three employee wedding anniversaries this week! On the 27th, Stephen and Robin celebrated their 3 year and Woody and Kiah celebrated their 1 year. On the 28th Mary and Greg celebrated their 7 year! Many more to come, but don’t worry, we won’t post about them next year….. <3

 

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5 Things Volume 5

Volume 5 – Les Sgo!

#1 / Boot in the Barn was a success! The folks came, The cooks cooked and the staff worked really hard. We are really proud of everyone involved!

#2 / Beer in hand – Sandwich in Mouth The Cedar lounge is one of our favorites places to catch a drink and relax. Starting this week you will find ultra fancy, co-branded menus throughout the establishment! That’s right, you can order a sandwich straight to your bar stool at the Cedar Lounge. We think you’ll love the way our sandwiches taste with a cold one.

#3 / The Future Holds New… Photographs! Our creative crew (Stephen & Flo) took a trip to Mary’s (GM) house to scout locations for our new product photos. The abundance of trinkets, textures and materials was inspiring and we can’t wait to get cracking on this dream project.

#4 / Happy Mistakes Our restaurant (Northern Waters Restaurant) makes ice cream from scratch. But what do you get when you burn the base for this sweet treat? Cream Brûlée ice cream! It’s quickly becoming one of our favorite flavors, although the curry is pretty dang tasty…. Nothing like a good happy mistake!

#5 / Our Bread’s First Voyage Our Baker Jerry has been cranking out loaf after loaf of his delicious rye bread for our deli and we are loving it! Although the loaves are living the good life in Canal Park I could tell they were feeling a little antsy and longed for a bigger taste of the world. Low and behold they took the grand voyage to Woodland Ave. and became a permanent addition to our restaurant’s Reuben (The Thursday and sometimes Friday special). This sandwich is truly a legend in the making and now it’s one step closer.

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5 Things Volume 4

Volume 4

The backpack kids are back in town. School is back in session and with a new season comes its ups and downs.

  1. Our co-workers have less time for us! Some of our really hilarious and youthful souls are back in the world of academia. Study hard: Cedar, Asher, Keira, Jake, Cy, Cal, Ian, Kjell, Lucy and Thomas. On a very, very exciting note- Penti (our summer spunky basement daredevil) is studying abroad in India and we wish him all the luck and encouragement on his grand adventure overseas.

Pictured above is the Mr. Deli Manager TK — not going back to school — who’s been keeping his nose in books while researching more and more about fermentation but that’s for another 5 things.

 

2. We have been joined by a local jean-vest-wearing-rockstar Jacob. When he’s not slaying sandwiches, Jacob’s a multi-media working artist in Duluth. He makes short films, shoots video and plays in several bands in town. Welcome to the island of food weirdos!

Ok… So if you add the look, the knife and the t-shirt… You might get the wrong impression of him. He’s actually an incredible sweetheart. We just wanted him to be fierce for the internet. 

 

3. Earlier this summer our assistant manager JT (read: Coach) took a leap of faith and moved across the country to Montana. We were heartbroken to lose him as he brought in a stellar sense of humor to the workplace, but we knew that he had a different scenery calling his name. So since we’re in the middle of testing our new sandwich kit, we sent JT the first four person Cajun Finn Kit! Reports say it arrived safely and made for a sentimental meal with a piece of home. We miss you, JT!!!

This could be you. Stay tuned as we will announce the Cajun Finn Kit this fall!!

 

Barn dinner. Barn dinner. Barn dinner. Those two words have been on everyone’s mind for the last month here at the Smokehaus! So we are happy that tomorrow is finally the day that we will be sharing and making a wonderful experience with 50 guests and co-workers. Eric Goerdt sure knows how to throw a damn party!

4. Stephen and Mary made Mozzarella from scratch for our antipasto platters that we are serving at “Boot in the Barn” this Saturday at Hemlock Preserve. To make Mozzarella you have to bring up your curd mixture to 105 F. There was talk about double gloves, hot hands and other phrases that confirms that love and labor went into the making of the Mozzarella. 

 

5. Three large Porchettas will be smoked, roasted and fire licked as the main event for our “Boot in the Barn” dinner. This week Eric and TK rolled Berkshire pork loin and bellies together. Each Porchetta was massaged and slathered with white wine, lemon, rosemary, sage, garlic and olive oil and will be cooked until tender-perfection. Each Porchetta weighs about 20 lbs!!!! That’s a lot of mouth-watering Berkshire pork.

 

Excuse our raw image, processing isn’t always glamorous but the outcomes are worth the mess. 
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5 Things Volume 3

Volume 3

It’s the last official Friday of the summer! We’ve been honking right along, despite the competition (or welcome reprieve) of the State Fair, with catering, special events, and delivery.

  1. We cranked out 67 BEAUTIFUL raviolo for our Boot in the Barn Feast on September 9th. Eric’s special pasta recipe is stuffed with Bayfield sheep’s milk ricotta, Parmigiano Reggiano, Minnesota sweet corn, leeks, and love. 
  2. Stephen finished the Cedar Lounge menu – making this cozy Superior watering hole even more unique: it’s the only place in Superior we will be providing regular delivery!
  3. Northern Waters Restaurant has been offering a Burbot Po’ Boy sandwich – based on the New Orleans original but adapted for the Northwoods, it’s a must-try! 
  4. Ken Hammerlund, mystical vegetable genius (aka our tomato guy), appeared with his own blend hot sauce. We’ve been working on our own recipe, and his zesty, veggie-infused concoction is a great inspiration.
  5. Woody’s brand new baby boy has robbed him from our basement! Jeremy has been holding down the prep room nonetheless, even as the sandwich cooler has been on the fritz, employees have called in sick, and delivery has exploded! Thanks, Jerbaby Boi.
  6. BONUS: Boot in the Barn planning is revving up. We’ve selected a remarkable amount of crystal, travertine, bronze, and silver to make a Medici marvel. Ci vediamo li!