November 10, 2023

Northern Waters Smokehaus Cookbook

Welcome to another episode of the “Dishing With Stephanie’s Dish Podcast” Podcast! In this episode, we dive into the culinary scene of Duluth with special guests Greg Conley, Ned Netzel, and Nick Peloquin, authors of the cookbook “Smoke on the Waterfront” from Northern Waters Smokehaus. The hosts discuss the ins and outs of creating the cookbook, the significance of preserving food in the northern climate, and the upcoming expansion of the Northern Waters Smokehaus Along the way, they share their favorite restaurants and products in Duluth, celebrating the vibrant food and beverage culture of the city. Tune in to learn more about the art of smoking, preserving, and creating delectable dishes in the northern waters of Minnesota.



Stephanie Hansen [00:00:15]:

Hello, everybody, and welcome to with Stephanie’s dish, the podcast where we talk to cookbook authors and people in the food space that we just wanna spend more time with and get their stories. There is a restaurant in Duluth that is a sandwich counter, I guess, would be the best way to call it. And When you go to Duluth, people that I know actually will, like, beeline through the city, Navigate 35 just to get sandwiches at this place. I have been a fan for a long time, it is the Northern Waters Smokehaus, and they finally came out with a cookbook, Smoke on the Waterfront. And it’s funny because I got this book In the summertime, I got an early advanced reader’s copy, and I was so glad to get it in the summertime Because it’s kind of seasonal, and it goes, like, by the seasons, and I happen to catch it right at the end of the summertime When it was pickling season, and you guys had some great recipes for canning and pickling things. So we have a group of folks with us today. We have Greg Connelly. We have Ned Netsell, and we have Nick Pellequin.

Stephanie Hansen [00:01:33]:

We are delighted to have you guys. I’ve never had 3 Authors, chefs, all in the same space talking about 1 cookbook. So imagine the talent that’s in here.

Greg Conley [00:01:45]:

It’s probably not a good idea, but we’re doing it anyway.

Stephanie Hansen [00:01:49]:

Okay. And you didn’t the funny part about this, and I don’t mean to minimize it, it is, And you didn’t start the restaurant?

Nick Peloquin [00:01:55]:

No. Correct.

Greg Conley [00:01:56]:

No. None of us started the restaurant. The guy that started the restaurant’s name is Eric Gert. And he and his wife luckily handed off the project to us with his blessing and said, you know, I’m here as a resource for you. But, ultimately, our other collaborator, Mary Tennis. And these guys are great writers. And so, I think we all felt pretty honored that He just let us kinda take the reins and, go for it. So that’s what we did.

Stephanie Hansen [00:02:24]:

What’s cool about this cookbook to me Is it has a real sense of place. So you’re located in Duluth and you’re cooking from ingredients of the north, which appeal to me. But, also, it it doesn’t feel like it’s multivoiced even though I know it is. Like, it feels like you guys all have the Same intellect and the same voice and the same passion with which you’re doing things. So it would be hard for me to tell, like, oh, this So and so’s recipe or this is so and so’s style, that’s kinda cool. Like, you guys are all really aligned in this book.

Ned Netzel [00:03:02]:

Yeah. I think that came from us really writing it together. You know, like, maybe, initial parts of the process of compiling the recipes and, you know, reducing the size To the flow of it. You know? We we all, like, respected what everybody brought to the table and also, like, what they lacked. You know, kind of filling in the gaps. So, you know, an intro to a book or to a recipe might have been. Somebody wrote down what they thought made sense, and then we refined it together and talked about, What is really the story of this? Then we ask questions like, how how does it relate to, you know, the active food preservation? Or how does it relate to the city of Duluth or the region or in order to regionally sourcing things. It was all all very collaborative throughout.

Ned Netzel [00:03:42]:

So that that probably blends a little bit to it. And, moments where somebody really is Writing from their voice are actually directly called out

Greg Conley [00:03:48]:

in the book too. Greg’s got some some moments in there.

Stephanie Hansen [00:03:51]:

Looking on another cookbook, and I’ve written one, and it’s not easy. Did you, like, okay. You’re gonna do the intro. You’re gonna do the chapters. You’re gonna pick the recipes. You’re gonna write the intro to your recipes. Did you have all that work delineated, or did you have, like, meetings? How did this all flow?

Nick Peloquin [00:04:09]:

So we would meet weekly, just Us together, and and we we definitely parsed out some of the writing tasks, but it was really kinda all over the place as to, like, He’s doing a recipe. He’s doing an intro. And then we would come together and test together. And then sitting down and finalizing it was all together. So it was like a weekly meeting that we would all get together and and and review everything we had all written individually.

Stephanie Hansen [00:04:34]:

Other there’s a lot of recipes in here. I keep thinking about, like, Thanksgiving time. Giving time. And you’ve got kind of a lot of things that would be on a Thanksgiving table, like the green bean casserole and the mashed potatoes, But you’ve also got, like, the the riettes. And then at the very end is sort of where you get into the sandwich sitch, Which is sort of what you guys are known for. So I was curious that it was very at the end, some of your, like, greatest hits.

Greg Conley [00:05:04]:

Yeah. You know, in our mind, sandwiches are not something you usually have a recipe for. Although, you know, we’re pretty precise. Like, we’re not like Some other places where you can come in and say, here’s what I want on my sandwich. And, you know, they they do it. We don’t do that. I mean, we’ll put whatever you want on there Within reason, but we carefully craft those sandwiches. And so but I think that, you know, overall, it’s like, we’re kind of telling you how to do the recipes that lead to that Sandwich.

Greg Conley [00:05:33]:

You know? We’re not trying to tell you, yeah, make this exact sandwich out of your smoked salmon. You know? You can do that if you wanna Do what we well, exactly what we’re doing. But also it’s like, use your own flourish. Use this for whatever you and here’s a suggestion on how to use it, but use it however you want to. Yeah.

Nick Peloquin [00:05:50]:

And we kinda we kinda debated where to put that section to for a while. Yeah. It was kinda like, should it go in the middle and kinda be like this fold out highlight piece? Or, like, it make sense at the end or beginning or so it we went back and forth to where where that should live because it it is, like, a major part of what we do.

Stephanie Hansen [00:06:09]:

I feel like I should personally thank you specifically for the pork rillette recipe.

Nick Peloquin [00:06:15]:

Which one?

Stephanie Hansen [00:06:16]:

The well, the one that’s your basic, and then I know you use it in the, the ricotta ravioli. The not so spicy is probably the one I’ll start with. And you add more than 1. Riette is something that, like, you see it on a charcuterie board. And just speaking for, like, Maybe nonchefy people, like, you’re kinda like, oh, I don’t know. There’s a little fat there, but then it looks like there’s this Potted meat, which could be good, but I don’t know. But once you, like, get turned on to that, it’s like crack. Right? You just love it so much.

Stephanie Hansen [00:06:55]:

And I never felt like I could ever cook it, and I totally feel like I can do this recipe, and I’m gonna do it for Christmastime.

Nick Peloquin [00:07:04]:

Nice. Yeah. It’s perfect. Like, gifting.

Stephanie Hansen [00:07:07]:

Yeah. And it, like, stays forever.

Nick Peloquin [00:07:09]:

I’m I wouldn’t say forever. But yeah. We lead legally, we can’t. It seems a lot more intimidating than it actually is. You know? It’s it’s almost more similar to a braise. You know? It’s it’s like a comb keying technique. Right? So it’s just Meat, salt, and fat for a long time. You know? And and so it seems like it there’s a big skill gap there, but it’s it’s It’s very approachable.

Nick Peloquin [00:07:33]:

You know?

Stephanie Hansen [00:07:33]:

I loved it. One other recipe that made it in the book that’s, like, a 6 pager that I had In my book, and then I took it out because I felt like I was posing and I wasn’t the right person to put that in my book, And you guys were, was this whole, like, sourdough concept. Oh. Tell me about yeah. So tell me about why you felt like You wanted to devote time in your cookbook to sourdough when so many people have, like, written bread books and all of that.

Greg Conley [00:08:05]:

Yeah. Absolutely. And there are I think I even say in the Recipe that there are so many more comprehensive, probably better versions, than than my version of bread. But I think the whole idea of Putting that in there was initially, when we started writing the book, we had the idea of Calling it preservation because so many of the things that we’re doing are not only, preserving food, well, you know, so it doesn’t spoil or so it will last longer, or preserving yourself through the long winter months. So a breadwinner recipe seemed like kind of, Something that would round out the recipes that we already had, you know, because we do make sandwiches too.

Stephanie Hansen [00:08:47]:


Greg Conley [00:08:47]:

It’s like, oh, I guess we should tell people if we really wanna be holistic, Let’s tell them how to make bread too.

Nick Peloquin [00:08:53]:

So I’m gonna eat it on. Right.

Greg Conley [00:08:54]:

So I think that was really the the impetus for that. But then sourdoughs are are really, Obviously, it’s had a it’s had a moment, for the last few years. But it really is a cool thing. It’s it feels like you’re making something out of nothing. It’s basically you’re just starting with flour and water, and you’re attracting wild yeast to it, and you’re feeding that, and you’re making it into something. Then, really, the only ingredients are flour, water, and salt. You know? So it is really a cool and then one of the ultimate forms of preservation when, you know, people learned how to cultivate grains, and then they realized, oh, we can make this really stable food source for ourselves. So we felt like that just made a lot of sense in in the midst of everything else.

Stephanie Hansen [00:09:37]:

One other recipe that’s in here that I was so glad that you included, but I’m a little intimidated by. And the first line of the recipe is the bane of our prep department’s existence. It’s Northern Water So why did you guys feel like you should include that other than the fact that it’s super delicious? Because it is a little more requires a little more patience.

Nick Peloquin [00:09:58]:

I think it’s just one of our mainstay, like, spreads in house, so it’s it’s something that go it pairs really well with a lot of the things we do. Like, the smoked fish, for example, it’s it’s perfect for.

Stephanie Hansen [00:10:08]:


Nick Peloquin [00:10:08]:

It’s difficult in how tedious it is just by picking just picking fresh herbs is really like the the thing that people get hung up on a lot because it takes time to do, but it’s It’s pretty straightforward. Once you get through that initial mise en place, that initial stage of the preparation, then it’s you’re just throwing stuff in a mixer and and whipping it together until it’s a nice consistency. But it’s yeah. It’s really that just like tedious work upfront that really Throws people off, and it makes it less of a favorite project to start because you you know you’re gonna be picking time for a good half an hour.

Stephanie Hansen [00:10:42]:

Yeah. Exactly. So are you all Duluthians?

Greg Conley [00:10:46]:

No. I’m from Northwest Wisconsin. So so he’s close. So close. No cigar. It’s

Stephanie Hansen [00:10:53]:

Yep. Much fun.

Nick Peloquin [00:10:54]:

Ned and I are both, Duluthians. So yeah.

Stephanie Hansen [00:10:56]:

What does it feel like to Be and I don’t wanna, like, embarrass you or make it, like, this weird thing, but you really have Become, in my estimation as a TwinCidian, part of the home team For Duluth, like, people think of the restaurant, and people think of you and think of the sandwiches. And a while back, you guys had a more full Service situation and now are kinda more back to the deli side and it must be a source of pride.

Greg Conley [00:11:29]:

Yeah. Absolutely. And I think, you know, we, the 3 of us have worked for the business for a little while. And, But, you know, there’s so many people that came before us. And, of course, Eric, who founded the business. And so we’re basically just kinda building off of, a lot of what they’ve done and, I’m trying to preserve that too. You know? Trying to just do things the best that we can and really have that be our North Star of, like, really trying to Wow, people. So it’s an it’s an honor that people think of us when they think of Duluth.

Greg Conley [00:11:59]:

It’s really powerful, I think. Certainly something we wanna cultivate and actively wanted

Ned Netzel [00:12:03]:

to cultivate with this book. Wanted to make this book, very much not about only, you know, Eric and his story and his recipes and the business that came from it, but also, the place where, You know, we reside in, what has made us who we are. So

Stephanie Hansen [00:12:18]:

Well, I would say the goal is accomplished. Also, like, I feel like we’re Of the, people in Minnesota in particular, we’re uniquely positioned about the preserving and the canning and because we have to get through these winter months. Right? And so we’re preparing our vegetables and creating kimcheese and canning things and pickling things in order to get us through to the other side of the winter season. There’s a lot of that in this book that I really loved. Is that, like, Something that is in all of the recipes at the restaurant. It sure seems like most of it has some components of that.

Nick Peloquin [00:12:57]:

Yeah. It’s kind of almost, by necessity because of how we’re set up as a restaurant. Because, you know, we don’t have a full kitchen here, and we don’t really have the that utility that comes with All those things. So we do have to kind of focus on things that we can prepare ahead of time and then something that’s easy to and quick to serve that’s not necessarily Gonna go on a saute pan or, you know, a a bunch of gas appliances because we’re really restricted just in the old building that we’re in. And so that aspect of the business. But then, yeah, also the just the the area we’re in And and the the food that is kind of like the style of a deli is is gonna be geared towards kind of like Making things last longer than than they would otherwise crash.

Stephanie Hansen [00:13:44]:

You guys are undertaking a move, it sounds like, in the building. Do you wanna talk about that?

Greg Conley [00:13:50]:

Sure. Yeah. We’re actually in the midst be in there by this Saturday. So we just or Friday even. So we just we’re Really steaming steamrolling towards that. Yeah. We, you know, have existed in this building. At least our our deli proper has stood in a really a sliver of a space here.

Greg Conley [00:14:08]:

And, even when the pandemic happened and we had to close our doors, We ended up turning our entire space into a kitchen because it was the only way we could keep up with the increased business. Because we were on one of the only places open during COVID. We were open the entire time, and so we were we got a lot busier, and so we necessarily had to just turn that all into sandwich making. Once the pandemic kinda started to wane, then we have really no place to host anyone. So you could sit out on our deck, and you could sit in the hallway with in on some seats and, you know, 10 seats or whatever we have up there. So this move is really the culmination of a lot of dreams over the years of just having more space, being able to host people more effectively, and then also being able to just try, not only more food things, but also new ways of service and and beverages and all that stuff. So

Stephanie Hansen [00:15:01]:

How do you see it coming together? Do you see it, like, as maybe a, like, fast casual kinda thing?

Greg Conley [00:15:07]:

Yeah. That’s exactly Yeah. Exactly what it is. Yep. It will just have, a little bit more space to do it with, A little bit more space to host people. The sticking point, for some customers in the past when they would wanna just get 1 piece of fish, but they’d have to get in a Half an hour line of all these other people ordering sandwiches. So it’s really nice to separate out those those services.

Stephanie Hansen [00:15:31]:

As a customer, I love that.

Greg Conley [00:15:33]:

Yeah. You get way better service on both ends, so it’s just a lot lot more convenient for people to do it that way. So it’s really exciting.

Ned Netzel [00:15:40]:

Thing for Eric is to make it a a destination again. And when we were doing, you know, window service and you weren’t able to, as a customer, walk in and see your piece of fish, That kinda, I think, soured that a little bit for some people. I mean, our loyal customers have been with us because they just you know, they know it’s good food, but, now that we have A place to be in, like, a a location that you can kinda, you know, experience rather than just waiting in a line, you know, maybe during the winter. Hopefully, we’ll we’ll cultivate that again.

Stephanie Hansen [00:16:10]:

Well and I think a smoked fish purchase is kinda more straightforward maybe Then, like, you know, talking about sandwiches and people are sandwich nerds too. Like, they wanna talk about your sandwich.

Greg Conley [00:16:26]:

Yep. Well, I think the the the deli side of things too, that’s really one of the funnest things for us is that people on that side really wanna Talk about the food too. Even if they just are getting a piece of smoked fish, they a lot of times, people really, really geeked about food. We love talking people about food. So when a customer comes in and wants me to tell them all about the white fish that we have, I’m really happy to do that. I love talking about food. So That part is so fun for us. And I think even more so than talking about sandwiches, just talking about the components of those sandwiches that we Make olives in house, so it’s really fun.

Stephanie Hansen [00:17:05]:

There is 2 things to tell you. 1 is you inspired a recipe in my book, Which is a white fish trout spread.

Greg Conley [00:17:13]:

Nice. Sweet.

Stephanie Hansen [00:17:14]:

It the story that I attached to it was Actually, being with my niece who went to UMD for college, and she wasn’t very adventurous of an eater. And she got the love of the smoked fish in Duluth as a college student, and we went to Fitger’s and we were sitting there eating. And she said, does anybody wanna Let the smoked salmon dip, and I was like, what? Who are you? And then she was like, have you she wanted to, like, really talk about, like, have you had smoke trout at Northern Waters. I’m like, yes. I have. I’ve used it to make dip, and it’s like a holiday staple. So you have inspired a lot of people with your smoked fish.

Greg Conley [00:17:56]:

Yeah. But, you know, that’s kind of another thing too is that We really want people to come to us, you know? And that’s part of being, like, Duluth, you know, is like Duluth is not a suburb of the Twin Cities. Duluth is The major metro in the northern part of the state, and we probably have kind of a chip on our shoulder about that, because we’re not, like, You know, lane or something like that. Like, we are a a small city of our own, and we have our own thing going on that isn’t Saint Paul or it isn’t, Rochester or whatever. So we want people to come here and experience what we have to offer. We’re not, You know? Like, you can get a lot of great food in the Twin Cities. We can get some great food up here, and we’re part of that. So we want people to experience that as well.

Stephanie Hansen [00:18:43]:

Yeah. I’m glad you said that because I produce the Art in Bayfront Park Culinary Market that we do there. Yeah. And I really have, like, gotten front and center with a lot of cool Duluth makers both from the art side, but also the food side. And, you know, we hear a lot about Duluth and the cool, like, outdoor scene and the mountain biking and all the stuff that they’re working on, but, damn, I mean, the beer scene alone and the distilleries and the craft that’s happening in Food and ice cream and hot sauces and I mean, there’s a lot of cool stuff happening, and I feel just It’s so cool to be a part of that, and I’m glad that my work on that festival can bring people, like, Front and center with businesses that maybe they don’t know about in Duluth because there’s a lot of cool things happening.

Greg Conley [00:19:31]:

Yeah. Agreed. And and For us as a business that’s pretty well established and pretty well respected, we also wanna foster other food businesses and help them as much as we can. Because all of that, strengthening of our food scene here just strengthens all of us. So we really want people to be Successful and to bring really cool new things to food and the world.

Stephanie Hansen [00:19:53]:

Okay. So we’re gonna play a game. It’s not gonna be hard, But it’s kinda gonna be maybe, like, picking your favorite child or pet. So each of you, I’ve got an opportunity to have 3 of you in front of me. The game is, I would like you to tell me a favorite restaurant in Duluth, and it can be whatever, And also a product that’s made in Duluth that you’re obsessed with.

Nick Peloquin [00:20:19]:

Is it specifically a food product?

Stephanie Hansen [00:20:21]:

Not necessarily. No. K.

Nick Peloquin [00:20:24]:

Well, I think my favorite restaurant at the moment is Fuholic On central entrance.

Ned Netzel [00:20:29]:

Damn it.

Greg Conley [00:20:30]:

That’s what I was gonna say.

Nick Peloquin [00:20:31]:

Yeah. Yeah. It’s pretty it’s pretty banging spot right right these days.

Stephanie Hansen [00:20:35]:

And serving pho, I’m assuming.

Nick Peloquin [00:20:37]:

Yeah. So they do pho and other Vietnamese stuff. It’s it’s so good. As far as the product made in Duluth, man, that’s that’s tough. I would say, honestly, the beer. It like, it’s it’s hard to choose 1 of the the breweries, but, like, we we’re kinda spoiled for choice up here. I mean, Bed paddle is like a standby. You know? And it’s funny to go down to the Twin Cities or even major metropolitans and, like, See Duluth beer on tap, but places that’s a big source of pride.

Nick Peloquin [00:21:06]:

And I think because what people think of Duluth too, you know, is We’re a big craft beer town. So

Stephanie Hansen [00:21:11]:

Yeah. I think that Ursa Minor too is starting to make inroads into the Twin Cities. Their beer, I had a lot of different versions this summer. It was really great, they have a great taproom too.

Nick Peloquin [00:21:21]:

Yeah. Totally.

Stephanie Hansen [00:21:22]:

Okay, Ned. That leads us to you.

Greg Conley [00:21:25]:

Oh my gosh. We might have to come back to me. Okay. I

Ned Netzel [00:21:29]:

think I probably eat out the least of anybody here. Yeah. I don’t know. Greg, yes. Greg. Minutes.

Greg Conley [00:21:35]:

Sure. I probably would’ve said Faholic, but I’m gonna I’m gonna do a tut tut two way tie. There’s a place called Oasis Del Norte. Love it. It’s the only place that makes street tacos in Duluth. And so that’s really a great thing to have. And then, In my neighborhood of Lakeside, there’s a place called Lake Superior Brewing, oldest microbrewery in Minnesota at one point, the first established one. But they changed hands after a number of years, and then they moved to the Lakeside neighborhood.

Greg Conley [00:22:06]:

And they do pizza, smash burgers are kind of their main entrees, which they just do really good versions of those. They do, like, a brick oven style New York pizza that nobody in town does. So that’s kinda cool. But they also do a lot of really nice thoughtful, appetizers and great wines to go with some of their Food along with the really, good beer that they’re brewing. It’s really great to have that nice option in my neighborhood. So I really I really appreciate that.

Stephanie Hansen [00:22:34]:

I love it. Alright. Ned, are you ready? That leads us to you.

Greg Conley [00:22:38]:

I think I think so.

Ned Netzel [00:22:39]:

It’s it’s really hard for me to pick a restaurant, because I do most of my eating cooked at home or, with my my free daily meal, when I’m working.

Stephanie Hansen [00:22:52]:


Ned Netzel [00:22:52]:

But but one thing that kept coming up in my mind was Johnson’s Bakery, which is a bakery down in, what would you call it? Lincoln Park area. It’s like just behind really awesome bread. A lot of our specials back when we were open to the public, in the old space Used Johnson’s Bakery Bread. So, yeah, Johnson’s Bakery love their donuts. They’re like, such a great deal. Please don’t raise your prices, guys. So, yeah, Johnson’s Bakery and then, something made in Duluth. The the coffee made in Duluth is really great.

Ned Netzel [00:23:23]:

In addition to, like, the The brewing scene, there’s also a great, like, roastery scene. We love a lot of them. There’s like Duluth Coffee Company. There’s, Underwood Coffee who Most of what we, give to our staff to to see us through the day, is either Underwood or DreamCloud Roasters.

Stephanie Hansen [00:23:44]:

Wanna thank Ned Netzel. I wanna thank Nick Peloquin, Greg Conley for joining me. The book is Smoke on the Waterfront. It’s the Northern Water Smokehouse Cookbook. What I loved is you guys just recommended all places that I have never even heard of, and I have spent quite a bit of time in Duluth. So way to go. I appreciate you being here. I’m excited about the book.

Stephanie Hansen [00:24:05]:

It is Smoke on the Waterfront. Make sure that when you head to Duluth, And you should head to Duluth this winter, there’s so many cool activities that happen there. And of course in the summertime you can come and visit me at Arden Bayfront Park in August, And there’s just a lot of cool music festivals that happen down in Canal Park and at the Bayfront area, and Lincoln Park is a whole new area to discover for a lot of people. So it’s the Northern Water Smokehouse Cookbook. If you are into smoking or canning or preserving or you just love a damn good sandwich, make sure you pick up the cookbook. Thanks, you guys. I appreciate it. Thanks so much.