Chef on the Roof in Wisconsin!

I recently had a chance to take my act on the road when I took a trip with my girlfriend and her family up to northern Wisconsin. Please enjoy this special post from Chef on the Roof... On the Road... In the Woods...


In advance I would like to thank my lovely girlfriend and her equally lovely family for being good test subjects on the trip and for being a part of the Chef on the Roof experience. Thanks all! You guys are the best!

We were way up north in St. Germain for nearly a week and it was nice to get away. It's a little remote, just 20 minutes away from the Island City of Minocqua. The trees, lakes, and trails are beautiful and I now understand why so many Chicago natives come here for their summer vacations. This was the last hurrah for my girlfriend's family at this particular resort they have been going to for the last 35 years. Unfortunately, the owner passed away over the winter and the property has been willed to a local youth organization to be turned into a summer camp.

Naturally, my first inclination is the desire to cook great food for my loved ones. Normally meal responsibilities are divided among multiple individuals on any given night, but I had Friday all to myself! I wouldn't have it any other way. With a little convincing, I talked my girlfriend into bringing my smoker with us in the car. Success! Soon enough, on Friday the whole area smelled like hickory smoked chicken wings and chicken thighs. I can't think of a better way to spend a Friday afternoon and evening on vacation... smoking meat right next to a picturesque lake with a beer in hand (several), preferably Moon Man by New Glarus Brewing. I must admit though,though, my guilty pleasure beer is none other than the champagne of them, yes, Miller High Life. Judge away...

The whole meal came together perfectly. Including the already mentioned chicken items there was coleslaw, shaved zucchini salad (rooftop zucchini of course), cheese bread (in WI after all), and Carolina Red Rice. For dessert there was a chocolate caramel layer cake, and banana pudding. There were not that many leftovers after 20+ people tore through!

As a surprise new tradition I made a great brunch on Sunday for everyone, consisting of creamy hash brown casserole, orange creme fraiche pancakes, sausage links, homemade bacon, eggs, and monkey bread. Most important of all, mimosas!

I'm incredibly happy and honored to have had the chance to cook for those that I care about. I'd do it all over again if given the chance! A nice side benefit to doing all that cooking is I never had clean up duty. More time for beer and sitting by the lake! Thanks once again to my girlfriend and her family. I'm definitely saving the date for next summer.

John Hughes