You could say that Northern Michigan cuisine is in Zachary Schroeder’s DNA. Born and reared in the Eastern Upper Peninsula, Zach spent his childhood learning that great, true food is as close as the nearest woods, waters and farms. Classes at the Great Lakes Culinary School in Traverse City polished up his childhood lessons, as did a degree in hospitality from Northern Michigan University. Along the way, Zach worked at Traverse City’s Red Ginger and Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel. Now, at the ripe young age of 27, Zach has assumed directorship of the newly established Les Cheneaux Culinary School in the Lake Huron waterside town of Cedarville, known—until Zach started cooking—mostly for its wooden boat festival.
- 3 cups Ceylon tea, richly brewed
- Canola oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cups diced carrots
- 4 cups butternut squash, diced, reserving seeds
- 1/2 cup sweet Riesling wine (preferably from Michigan grapes)
- 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg (fresh ground preferred)
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- Salt and white pepper
- Toasted butternut squash seeds,
- Butternut squash seed oil (find it at natural food stores such as Oryana in Traverse City)
- Crème fraîche
Brew tea and reserve. Place a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, coated with canola oil. When oil is heated add onions, carrots, and squash and sauté until onions are translucent but not browned (about four minutes). Add 1/4 cup of the wine to deglaze. Add tea, stock, and thyme. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until squash is tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in nutmeg, honey, butter, cream, the rest of the Riesling, and salt and white pepper to taste. Puree the soup using a blender or immersion blender. Taste and adjust flavor with seasonings.
Garnish with toasted squash seeds (toasted in 350 degree oven and tossed with salt), a drizzle of butternut squash seed oil, and a dollop of crème fraîche.