Nathan Mileski, senior chef for Northern Michigan University Dining Services, won first place in the 9th annual National Association of College and University Food Services culinary challenge in Milwaukee in July, while NMU Dining Services, as a unit, picked up two gold medals this summer.

In the NACUFS challenge, six regional winners from around the country competed to create, in one hour, a nutritionally balanced plate using the featured ingredient of local (sustainable) organic rainbow trout with side dishes and sauces. Mileski's trout schnitzel with mohrengemuse carrots, sauteed beet and celeriac morel mushroom spaetzle with riesling beurre blanc was the winning recipe.

Mileski a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and the ACF Upper Michigan Chef of the Year in 1997 and 2002, earned ACF Certified Executive Chef status in January. Prior to NMU, he was the executive chef and food and beverage director at Drummond Island Resort’s Bayside Dining, which was featured in Gourmet and Bon Appétit as one of 12 “Great Restaurants of America” during his tenure.

Also at the NACUFS conference, NMU Dining Services received a gold medal for top residence hall theme event among mid-size institutions for its Lumberjack Brunch held during Winterfest and playing off of the Winterfest theme of “Timbrr…Get Your Lumberjack On.” The buffet featured recipes ranging from carved hardwood smoked breast of turkey and lumberjack meatloaf to red flannel hash morel mushroom soup. There were also two vegan dishes: pine nut stuffing and forest mushroom stew.

More than 75 trees, stumps and various wood products gave the facility an outdoor ambiance. The tables were decorated with oil lanterns and there were displays of logging implements on loan from the Marquette County History Museum. Student employees dressed as lumberjacks. NMU students were able to participate in a Paul Bunyan pancake eat-off contest and a lumberjack lookalike contest.

At the 15th annual Tastes of World Chef Culinary Conference in Amherst, Mass., in July, Mileski and colleagues Jill Hayes, Marty CaseyandJim Rector took gold in the American Culinary Federation K9 mystery basket challenge, Teams received a mystery basket with a list of 13 ingredients that had to be used in their menu. NMU’s three-course menu included braised beef short ribs with shiitake mushroom risotto, Boston Bibb lettuce with sautéed shrimp, caramelized nectarines with a strawberry rhubarb vinaigrette and pan-seared striped sea bass in a lemon herb beurre blanc served with a parsnip and beet hash. Its buffet menus included pan-seared beef sirloin with classic whipped potatoes, sautéed asparagus and carrots finished with a red wine pan sauce.


Prepared By
Cindy Paavola
Director of Communications