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5 Chef Teams Leading the Local Food Scene


It’s no secret that Door County’s food scene has grown wildly in the past decade or so, mostly thanks to restaurants led by chefs with big-city cooking credentials and a small-town, hyper-local ethos. 

These chefs champion simple, elegant food made with authentic flavors and fresh, locally grown products that support regional farmers and artisans. Their restaurants are a huge part of what has put our humble county on the culinary map, kept diners coming back year after year, and inspired more than a few culinary getaways.

The next time you’re headed to the peninsula and islands for a little food-fueled fun, be sure to stop in at one of these six beloved restaurants serving up hyper-local and hyper-delicious food.

Note: the video spotlights were filmed in 2019. Menu offerings and other details may have changed since then.

Mike Holmes, Wickman House

Also known as one the region’s top cocktail bars, the Wickman House in Ellison Bay is known for its “upscale supper club style” and focus on locally grown ingredients.

The restaurant serves up familiar dishes and ingredients in elevated ways. Favorite recent dishes have included local mushrooms with greens and a horseradish vinaigrette, poached whitefish with kimchi and fish sauce aioli, ramps with homemade ravioli, heirloom tomato carpaccio, and a classic cioppino made with Lake Michigan whitefish.

Sara Doherty & Collin Doherty, Roots Inn & Kitchen

Roots Inn & Kitchen is the perfect spot when you’re seeking something simple, honest, seasonal, and undeniably on-point. They’re also known for vegan and plant-driven takes on bar favorites like wings and tacos that are gentler on the environment but never skimp on flavor or inventiveness.

Try the famous truffle chips with cashew “parmesan,” herbs, and a deep, earthy black truffle oil or go for the crispy cheese waffle with lemon-basil sauce or a loaded bratwurst topped with local veggies and fixings.

Jimmy Grasse & Jessica Grasse, Grasse’s Grill

Grasse’s Grill in Sister Bay is a beloved local staple that’s been slinging some of the best gourmet burgers and handhelds in the county for more than a decade. This family owned and operated restaurant aims to serve up scratch-made food using “locally sourced ingredients that are lovingly prepared to order.”

Don’t miss the vegetarian Hippie Breakfast with southwestern flavors, the cherry-filled Harvest Salad made with the freshest local produce and whitefish available, the wildly popular and generously topped Fiesta Burger, or the mimosa flight (yes, flight!).

Katie Gill & Andy Gill, Heirloom Cafe & Provisions

“Gourmet” and “grab and go” aren’t often uttered in the same sentence, but in Heirloom Cafe’s case, they are inseparable concepts. The restaurant, which these days operates like a market but does have tables for dining, offers high-end sandwiches, salads, soup, and deli sides made from fresh, flavorful ingredients.

The menu items change regularly, but expect standbys like breakfast sandwiches with house-made pepper jelly, a turkey club sandwich on a hearty bun with thick-cut bacon and giardiniera mayo, and plenty of plant-driven meals like veggie wraps, a mediterranean hummus plate, or fresh broccoli-kale slaw with a stunning basil-cashew vinaigrette.

Fish Boil Masters

Often the unsung heroes of the Door County chef world, boil masters are true-blue master chefs in their own right. Not only do they prepare large kettles of delectable fish and side dishes, they do it over massive outdoor fire pits in peak summer heat, in front of dozens of guests at a time, several times a day.

Exact menus vary, but a traditional fish boil has fresh-caught whitefish, potatoes, and onions, plus cherry pie for dessert. Check out this list of restaurants offering fish boils to experience this tradition for yourself.

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