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A Practical Guide to NWS: Intro to Catering

Catering at Northern Waters Smokehaus comes in many forms—as simple as an All-Season Atlantic Salmon Fillet on a platter with an assortment of crackers, a pop-up at your venue slinging an item or two tailored to the theme of your event, or enough pulled pork and slaw to feed a small army; or, depending on your needs, as complex as a fully-staffed overnight company retreats or weddings in conjunction with our partner Hemlock Preserve.

Hemlock Preserve barn
Inside the barn

We believe that food has the potential to bring people together and define memories, so our catering service is aimed at those who value delicious, high-quality food and want it to be a part of the collective memory of their event. We use the same thoughtfully-sourced ingredients as you’d find in our deli, and whenever possible we use seasonal and regional produce.

Our service is highly customizable, and from the get-go we will work closely with you, giving you detailed quotes along the way. While we have a number of tried-and-true standard and favorite menus at our fingertips, your input is welcome and encouraged. We love the challenge of crafting an impactful menu based on our customer’s vision.

Marble bench for aesthetic purposes only & unfortunately not included. NWS catering is strictly B.Y.O.M.B.

In 2018, we had the honor of catering the annual gala at the Glensheen mansion. The theme was “Secret Garden: Unlocked,” an allusion to an early 20th-century English children’s novel. The menu—which featured English hand pies with lamb, peas, mint, and potatoes; watercress finger-sandwiches with Devon butter on hausmade pullman white bread; gravlax and scallion cream cheese atop rye crisps; Stilton puffs with pancetta and candied walnuts; cucumber cups with fresh pea soup, crème fraîche, cured herring roe, and pea shoots; a selection of cheese with paired fruits and preserves; and a number of desserts, including lavender macaroons and raspberry trifle pies—was meticulously planned and strategically executed to guarantee that each bite could be enjoyed at peak flavor and freshness.

Various cheeses & paired fruits
Macaroons & trifle pies
Watercress & butter finger sandwiches garnished with pansies

Sue Watt, from Hemlock Preserve, went above and beyond with gorgeous serviceware and memorable decorations. A favorite unexpected decoration was the moss-covered remains of a swinging-bench frame, found in an eroded section of a friend’s lakefront property. The piece suggested such nostalgia and history, it wove itself right into the fabric of the magical, overgrown English garden theme. 

Even if you’re not working with a Glensheen mansion-sized budget, you don’t have to miss out on the variety and quality we can offer.

Antipasto platter
NWS salad

For smaller events, we have short menu of favorite platters, organized and priced around your estimated headcount, available for delivery or in-store pickup. Within this menu we are able to adjust items to accommodate dietary restrictions and specific preferences. For most catering orders that don’t require staffing or extensive planning, we ask for 24-hours’ notice. The more time we have to plan for it, the better.

Mary serving tacos at Hoops Brewing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For events that require minimal staffing, using our pre-planned menus with minimal deviations, a couple weeks to a month of advance notice should suffice. Think rounding out the food offerings at your company holiday party, or a pop-up bratwurst stand at your show. 

Fried chicken is never a bad idea

 

 

 

 

 

 

For larger events and events with large staff & travel requirements, 6 months to a year is ideal. Typically, we try to meet face-to-face with you as soon as possible to ensure a mutual personal connection, with time for several meetings and correspondences along the way. Don’t limit your thinking to food and service alone, alongside Hemlock Preserve, we can take care of the venue, flowers, decorations, and settings too.

The Hemlock Preserve barn is lit
All hands on deck at one of our staff parties

Ultimately, however, the best part about working with us for catering is our staff. We’re an eclectic and eccentric bunch of skilled folks who know that work doesn’t necessarily have to feel like work if you have fun doing it. On on top of all that, we all believe in the importance of the work we do, and we know how to throw a good party. Catering is a chance to show off our skills and abilities that aren’t necessarily apparent in the day-to-day work around the deli.

Catering is nothing new to us, but it is always exciting. Join in on the excitement. See how we can help you make your event a hit.

For catering inquiries, call (218)724-7307 and ask for Hannah, or email us at catering@nwsmokehaus.com

 

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Northern Comfort – A Barn Dinner with Northern Waters Smokehaus

On July 22, 2017, we welcome you to another Smokehaus/Hemlock Preserve collaboration at the barn in Esko.

We can’t help but reminisce.

It’s August 2015, a heady day amid a heady summer, and I am slogging through piles of prep in the Smokehouse. There are smokers, dishwashers, managers, prep people, and miscellaneous fishermen who need their fish custom-smoked endlessly pouring in and out of the long oblong space, slipping on the moist bricks of the kitchen floor and talking as loud as they can in order to be heard above the clamber of our industrial fans and Daft Punk. Fresh smoke is in the air from a recent truck (a large, rolling cart that has little shelves to load perforated racks for smoking) of smoked pork shoulder, which is cooling magnificently in the center of the room, a white-handled Dexter knife placed on the top rack beside a chunk that has been hacked off and savored. I’m “supervising” cornbread: Eric’s recipe, which includes lovely fresh corn off the cob and lovelier butter and cream, needs to be backed in batches and served while still warm to guests 45 miles and 2 hours away. We have heirloom tomatoes to delicately dismantle, Octo-Vin (fresh and unashamedly from the pages of the Momofuku cookbook) to make, herbs to pick, pasta salad to season, servers to wrangle, and the almighty “gather” list to attend to. I’ve got an empty stomach, a torn t-shirt and filthy apron, and it’s about time to load up.
On the way to Esko, just as we crest Thompson Hill, I get a frantic call from my partner in crime, April. She can’t account for the Octo-Vin – and neither can I, so I scramble to the back of my Volvo as my husband continues speeding towards our destination, and I’m digging through towels and warm (read:hot) cast iron skillets of cornbread and adorable menu cards that Flo magically whipped up and I touch a mystery Cambro, extract it from its nesting place – and voila! – our not-so-secret sauce. “Good news,” I tell April over the Volvo’s failing muffler, “I found the Octo-Vin.” “We need ice!” April laughs. We’re pretty used to these situations – we kind of live for them.
There’s a little cloud of dust as we turn down the dirt road toward Hemlock Preserve, obscuring the brambly ditch weeds and meandering path for a few minutes, but we make the turn toward Sue Watt’s estate and everything becomes clear. Two straight rows of pale pebbles guides our tire, a manicured strip of hyperactive green grass down the center. Our kitchen – a ten-by-ten foot tent that we use during farmers markets along with a propane-powered set of turkey fryers and a few folding tables smartly lined with Epicurean cutting boards – is pretty much ready for action and we pull up to unload. I leave the Volvo empty handed in order to get the lay of the land and walk toward the barn.
The barn – white, stately, adorned with Rhododendrons – I haven’t seen it for a few months, when it was closed off for the season. Now it is in full blossom. It is elegant and country, mismatched and perfectly appointed, it is the Henri Matisse of barns – it is natural but it is secretly, expertly organized. Every nook and cranny is a still life. The sunlight is somehow captured in the vaulted holiness of the barn’s wooden ceiling arches, and I get the feeling I am smelling hay from pre-war Minnesota. There is twinkling from the silverware and creaking from the floorboards. Ned has started to tune up his guitar and starts playing a Pavement song gently to himself. This is perfect. I think this to myself, but I’m saying it out loud, and everyone else is saying it too.
The food that follows has no choice – it is also perfect, as are the guests, the drinks, the wacky chauffeur, the soft ice cream, the distant lightening. This place is like that – inexplicably, effortlessly glorious. The day’s preparations, anxieties, arguments and oversights have vanished into the evening, drifting down the meadow into the St. Louis River Valley with the embers of our bonfire, soaked up and overturned by our guests and their laughter.
We invite you to join us once again to Hemlock Preserve. Dinner will be served – fried chicken and fixings – as well as drinks and dessert. We figure we all deserve a little Northern Comfort.

Hemlock Preserve barn with table by Sue Watt, dinner by Northern Waters Smokehaus, and menu cards by Flo.