The Chef: Uriah Hefter of the Ledge Rock Grille

Philosophy: Simple is better.

The Story: It’s not mine. It was there long ago and far away before me. North Shore Minnesota is Scandinavian/Eastern European all rolled up in pessimistic optimism. We bourbon soak a cedar plank so you get those rosemary pine-needly scents. We get fresh sockeye salmon from Alaska. It’s nice and tender and delicious and sucks in a lot of that cedar flavor. Then we take brown sugar because maple syrup is Minnesotan, you glaze it and it’s good to go. You can’t glaze maple syrup so you actually have to use brown sugar to emulate the flavor. Don’t try maple syrup at home because it will go wrong for you fast.

The Pairing: Your knee jerk is probably unoaked Chardonnay. Ken, that works for Borealis Fermentery makes a great Raisin Liaison Saison. It really works well with that brown sugar and cedar flavor.

What are your favorite cookbooks or magazines?

elBulli, Modernist Cuisine. There’s a lot of interesting stuff in there.

What’s in your fridge at home?

I’m actually at home so I can go down to my kitchen, open the door, and tell you. We’ve got…some fruits and vegetables, pork sausage, one half bottle of wine, one full bottle of wine, some salsa, some sour cream, a couple of different dressings. We have a couple of kids so a big gallon of milk. And then, definitely some hot dogs, butter, and sea salt caramel ice cream up in the freezer.

What’s your favorite drink?

I like everything brown. Right now it’s a three-way tie between a Sweet Manhattan, Captain Morgan and Coke, and a Caipirinha.

How did you end up becoming a chef?

I almost went into the Air Force and didn’t do it. I decided I wanted to do something no one else I knew had ever done. I looked at a salary guide in the high school library and saw executive chef.

If you were a historical figure which would you be?

Nobody famous. I want to be the other guy in the room when Escoffier or Carême was out in the field and said “let’s do this, and this, and make [the first] soufflé” and go “seriously? you really want to try this?” I always thought that would be fun. Everything came from a mistake.

What question have you always been afraid a journalist would ask you?

I’m not afraid. But “what’s a go-to meal”? Because all chefs are one end or another for what they eat…really obscure or super simple. I’m super simple. I’ll grab a Totino’s Pizza or Hamburger Helper. It makes you embarrassed.

Would you rather fight fifty duck sized horses or one horse sized duck? Explain why.

I would go horse-sized duck because after I won I could eat the duck.