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Summer Vacations in Northern Wisconsin

Board games, bonfires, citronellas, and pot lucks... For Kelly Sears, summer vacation is the big dining table that can seat sixteen and teaches us all that sometimes the people that sit around your table make what’s on your table seem that much better.

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Kelly Sears describes the memories of that one week every summer when her family loaded up the station wagon, the kids fought to sit in the “way back” along with the coolers, the sleeping bags, extra pillows, and piles of beach towels that stuck to them like sand to wet feet. As much as that week was about sun, fun, water, and bug spray, it was also a membership card to an exclusive club of food memories from the lake. Board games, bonfires, citronellas, and pot lucks—summer vacation is the big dining table that can seat sixteen and teaches us all that sometimes the people that sit around your table make what’s on your table seem that much better. For Kelly Sears, that was summer vacation in Northern Wisconsin.

Kelly Sears, executive chef for Marcel’s Culinary Experience in Glen Ellyn, IL, is a lifelong Midwesterner who has spent nearly every summer of her life in Northern Wisconsin. She and her husband currently have a weekend home near Hayward where they host friends and relatives all year long. The goal of her talk is to describe what summer is like in Northern Wisconsin, especially from a culinary perspective.

This talk was part of the Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance‘s fifth annual symposium, “Road Food: Exploring the Midwest One Bite at a Time.” Other events from this symposium recorded by Chicago Amplified—listed in the order they were presented—are as follows:

Marked for Life: My Travels on Route 66 in ’53, with Terri Ryburn
State Fair Heirloom Recipe Contest, with Catherine Lambrecht
Mobile Food in 19th-Century Chicago, with Peter Engler
Food Trucks: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, with Louisa Chu
Will Success Spoil Regional Food?, with Michael Stern
The Drive-In Restaurant: Before and After the Dawn of Fast Food, Food Theater, with Mary Bergin
A Gopher Turned Badger Eats Hoosier, and Vice Versa: Midwestern Culinary Traditions in the Small-Town Cafe, with Joanne Stuttgen
What Happened to Horseshoes?, with Julianne Glatz
Pies on the Road, with Shirley Cherkasky
Ethnographic Food Writing, or How I Ate My Way Across Wisconsin and Lived to Tell About It, with Joanne Stuttgen
Culinary Tourism in the Land of Meat and Potatoes and Green Bean Casserole, with Lucy M. Long
Summer Vacations in Northern Wisconsin, with Kelly Sears
Born to be Mild: Oral Histories and Pathways of the Midwest Supper Club, with Dave Hoekstra
Farmers Markets of the Heartland, the Ultimate Road Trip, with Janine MacLachlan
On the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail, with Clara Orban
Remarks by Marilyn Wilkinson of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art Curator-Led Tour


Recorded Saturday, April 28, 2012 at Kendall College.

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