A Night at the Light

Creating a fine dining scene on a lighthouse on a reef out in the lake
By chefross, Jul 1, 2018 | | |
  1. As a Chef I have been called upon to cook in some pretty interesting venues, but in my 47 years I have never cooked in a lighthouse on a reef.
    I was approached by a client who wanted a 5-course meal with wines for himself, his girlfriend, and his 4 kids. He wanted to ask his girlfriend to marry him and wanted all the stops pulled out. She had no idea what was about to happen.

    Here’s the menu:
    Course I
    Trio Amuse Bouche
    Salmon Quenelle with Chive Crème Fraiche
    Chilled Tomato Basil
    Caramelized Onion and Brie Tart with Fresh Thyme

    Course II
    Chilled Lobster Medallions with Sliced Avocado and Sauce Louis

    Course III
    Spring Asparagus Soup

    Course IV
    Roasted Spring Rack of Lamb or Pan Sautéed Filet of Salmon
    Island Ramps and Chanterelles
    Wild Rice with Shallots and Garlic
    Fresh Vegetable Medley

    Course V
    Chocolate Ganache Cake with Salted Buttercream and Copper Leaf

    The lighthouse sits on a reef about 5 miles off shore. My assistant and I were ferried out to the light by one of its keepers who does a regular schedule in season.
    I rented white tablecloths, white chair covers with bows. Plates, dinnerware, and other serving items were also rented.
    Now mind you, all of the food, and rentals had to be hoisted up the side of the lighthouse with ropes.
    People are placed into harnesses for safety as they climb up and down a ladder to the lighthouse.

    The preparation of the food took a back seat to the logistics of packing, tying, and securing all the items needed.
    Forgetting anything was simply not an option.
    You can’t get in the car and drive to the store if you’re on a lighthouse in the middle of nowhere.

    Now this lighthouse is registered as an historic preserved site here in Michigan’ eastern upper peninsula.
    It is only one of a handful of old historic lighthouses that have been rebuilt and preserved.
    People can take day tours or stay there overnight as a lighthouse keeper.
    Part of its charm is that it has been restored to an earlier version of itself dating to the early 1900’s.
    I cooked on a 1931` General Electric oven. It had quirks, as I soon discovered. I set the pre-heat to 350 and the thermometer inside read almost 500 degrees. It took some getting used to.

    I had to wait 12 minutes for hot water. It was very stuffy even with the window open.
    May flies, horseflies, and sea gulls all around
    Other than that, it went well.

    The group ate outside and we worried about rain all day, but the sun came out in time for dinner.
    We got to the light around 4:00 to set up. Dinner was a 7:15.
    Dinner went as planned, the guests were wowed, and she said “yes.”
    My assistant and I were packed up and ready for the ride back to the mainland by 9:30.
    I’ll let the pictures tell the rest.

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  1. rick alan
    Ahh, all's well that ends well. Nice of you to bring the sunshine too Chefross.
      Niftynorm likes this.