Chef at Vergas restaurant, Blackboard, creates recipes for new cookbook – Detroit Lakes Tribune

DETROIT LAKES — When Sara Watson showed up at a recent author signing event in Detroit Lakes for her new cookbook, ‘Cabin Chef,’ the co-owner of the Blackboard restaurant in rural Vergas was quick to point out that while the recipes were his, the writing and photography were not.

“It was a collaboration,” she said as she sat down to start signing copies of the book at Mainstream Boutique that morning, Saturday, May 28. “I feel bad that it’s only my name on the cover.”

Copies of “Cabin Chef” are available at Sara Watson’s restaurant, Blackboard, as well as Creative Kitchen, Zandbroz Variety, Plains Art Museum and Ferguson Books, all in the Fargo-West Fargo area.

Vicki Gerdes / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Inside, however, it’s a different story. The copyright page lists Amanda Henke as a “wordsmith”, with Dirk Ockhardt’s name appearing just below hers, as creative director.

“Dirk came to my restaurant one day,” Watson said, recalling how she got involved in the project. “Cabin Chef was something he had in the works for a while. I only really take credit for the recipes.”

These are Watson’s own words, however, which can be found on the dedication page and in an “About Sara” section that precedes the recipes. She pays tribute to her husband, Eric – “the most famous chef Watson”, as she puts it – as well as their four children, Miles, Olivia, Keena and Sophie, and her friend and partner at Blackboard, Terry Trickle , for their support.

“I didn’t plan on being a chef,” she said. “In fact, I had no intention of getting into the restaurant business. Far from it! It took me time to understand what I should become.”

She also discussed all the experiences that led her to open Blackboard (in the building that once housed The Pickle Factory), stating that she was glad she did.

“Here, among the rolling hills and open green spaces dotted with lakes, I feel like I have space to breathe and spread my culinary wings,” she said.

Ockhardt wrote the book’s “Guten Tag” homepage himself, noting that after moving to the Lake District from Germany 10 years ago, he discovered a passion for cooking: ” Finding local ingredients, spending time preparing, experimenting with recipes, getting together with friends and family, all the wonderful times we spend in the kitchen and at the table have become very fun and memorable moments for me.” he writes.

He also mentioned how he met Watson when she worked with him on a podcast recording highlighting his new restaurant.

“She was so lively and approachable that I asked her outright after the interview was over, ‘Do you want to work on a cookbook with me?’ ‘Yes’ was his immediate response, and here we are today,” Ockhardt wrote.

Ockhardt and Scott Thuen are both credited for photography on the project; Watson prepared the food that appears in these images.

Copies of “Cabin Chef” are available at Blackboard as well as several Fargo stores: Zandbroz Variety in downtown Fargo, Creative Kitchen in Fargo’s West Acres mall, the Plains Art Museum, and Ferguson Books in West Fargo. Watson said she also hopes to find other local book outlets in the future.


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Rozella J. Cook