New chef on the shoreThere’s no mistaking the new boss of the Superior Shores kitchen. The first clue, of course, is the crisply starched, white chef’s coat. The second is his hair—blonde and spikey like Guy Fieri of Food Network fame.
By: Tammy Francois, Lake County News Chronicle
There’s no mistaking the new boss of the Superior Shores kitchen. The first clue, of course, is the crisply starched, white chef’s coat. The second is his hair—blonde and spikey like Guy Fieri of Food Network fame.
Chef Kevin Aho looks the part, but he says he’s also eager to show diners that he has the chops to earn their business. At 44, he has spent years working in the Minneapolis-St Paul metro area— most recently at Izaty’s Resort on Lake Mille Lacs, but he says he’s happy to be back in the north country.
“I grew up in Cloquet and I like the area. It’s more laid back than the hustle and bustle of the Twin Cities,” he said.
There seemed to be little doubt among Superior Shores’ management as to Aho’s suitability for the job.
“I hung out, had dinner, we talked, I had breakfast the next morning and it was kind of a done deal,” said Aho.
Jenna Pederson, director of sales for the restaurant and resort agreed. She and Aho spoke to the News-Chronicle in the restaurant’s spacious dining room overlooking Lake Superior last week. Pederson said that the management was in consensus that Aho’s skills and approach were a good fit for their operation just north of Two Harbors.
“Our vision is changing and (Kevin) is part of a restructuring process. Kevin is motivated to give people a great meal and a great experience,” she said, adding that Superior Shores is interested in welcoming visitors to the area, but also people who live here year-round.
“I think people may have thought that we’re here just for tourists, but we love and need our local folks. We’re a community restaurant,” she said.
To encourage North Shore residents to visit, the restaurant offers a Community Card—good for discounts on food and drinks for local diners—and a wide range of menu options from comfort food classics like meatloaf to less common delights like escargot and mussels.
“The menu runs the gamut,” said Aho, who describes his cuisine as “American with a French and Italian twist, very innovative. I pair two different kinds of cuisine. For example, the cowboy beef tips appetizer is New Orleans meets southwest Mexico.”
Added Pederson: “Meatloaf is an old favorite and I’m not usually a big fan, because,” she said with a been-there-done-that expression,” it’s meatloaf. But this meatloaf is herb-filled, wrapped in bacon and has a balsamic glaze. It’s like medallions of filet mignon. It’s classic comfort food done in an innovative way. You won’t believe what you’re eating,” she enthused.
“We also want people to know we’re price-friendly,” said Aho. “Our lunch specials are $8.” Daily offerings may include jambalaya, panini or gourmet burgers and the chef says he has tweaked the fish chowder, a popular winter warm-up along the shore. Aho emphasized that although the prices are reasonable, he doesn’t take shortcuts on quality.
“Everything I do here is from scratch. Nothing is poured from a bottle,” he said.
“…except the wine!” Pederson quipped.
Aho comes to the North Shore with an impressive resume. Last year he was the recipient of the 2011 Certified Hereford Beef's Distinguished Chef Award from Certified Hereford Beef LLC. In addition to the personal recognition, the award allows him to serve Hereford beef in his restaurants—a product that he says is equally deserving of the raves bestowed upon Kobe beef. This and other awards will be on display at a meet and greet open house event January 17 from 5-7p.m.
“It’s going to be a show and tell and then they’ll go back in the closet,” Aho said.
” I tried to talk my wife into putting them up at home and she said ‘that’s not going to happen. You already have a big head,’” he said with a grin.
The evening of the event, Pederson and Aho say they want to showcase all the new and exciting things going on at Superior Shores. There will be appetizers, prizes, a cash bar and an opportunity to meet Chef Kevin. They say they want to keep patrons coming back in the future.
“We want to get people reacquainted with Superior Shores,” said Pederson, promising “there will always be something new for people to try.”
Planning to attend the meet and greet with Chef Kevin Aho? The event is open to the public, but RSVPs are required. Call Superior Shores or email Jenna Pederson at firstname.lastname@example.org.