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Long before it was trendy, the local food movement was at the heart of menus and dinner tables in Door County. It wasn’t a marketing tactic, but a necessity. When you live on a peninsula surrounded by a Great Lake, accessible only by bridges, you can’t help but lean on local farmers, fisherman, and artisans.
That's why in Door County, field to table is more than a slogan.
“Some local products we’ve used for decades,” said Andy Coulson, longtime owner of the White Gull Inn. He turned it over to his daughter a couple years ago. "But often just because it was the easiest way to get them. Now there are a lot of restaurants featuring local food and doing a good job of marketing it. The interesting thing is we’ve been using them so long without thinking about it that we never thought to use it in a marketing sense.”
It’s little wonder then that the two things Door County is most famous for – cherries and fish boils – highlight the local harvest of orchard growers and the fresh catch of commercial fishermen. Take The Cookery Restaurant and Wine Bar, which has been a must-stop for decades for those who love their local preserves.
But with an influx of young chefs and restaurateurs in the last decade, Door County dining has taken another step forward. Chefs are highlighting the products from the farmers, gardeners, and artisans of the area as never before, bringing that authenticity to your table.
At Grasse’s Grill in Sister Bay, owners James and Jessica Grasse keep it in the family. A fourth generation resident of the Door, Grasse gets much of his produce from the family farm and works with more than a dozen local producers.
At Ellison Bay’s Wickman House, owner Mike Holmes works with an array of farmers to create their acclaimed dining menu. Whether it’s beef from Waseda Farms, fish from Henricksen Fisheries, or produce from Hidden Acres, diners eat knowing they’re supporting local families and getting a true Door County experience. In 2014, they began growing some of their own produce on-site in a garden out back.
Check out one of the regular community farmer’s markets in Jacksonport, Fish Creek, Baileys Harbor, Sister Bay, and Sturgeon Bay, and you’ll meet many of the producers that supply local kitchens. Like John from Sully’s Produce, who supplies chef JR Schoenfeld at Chives in Baileys Harbor, among others. Or Mike from Pat’s Patch, a mainstay at area markets for years.
These are just a few of the dozens of restaurants highlighting local products. Kick your taste buds into gear with our Savor Door County video series, featuring local ingredients and recipes.
If you’re looking to source locally for your own table, you can find a comprehensive list of local producers in Door County here.
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