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Profile of a Cabin Country Chef

Edgar Jacobs, Exec. Chef, Boyne Highlands Resort

By Tony Bennett
Published: March 1, 2010
Photo by Boyne Highlands Resort
Edgar Jacobs has a quote from J.R.R. Tolkien as the signature in the e-mails he sends. The quote goes like this: “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
Jacobs is the Executive Chef at the Boyne Highlands Resort in Harbor Springs, Mich., and he’s doing his part to make the world a little merrier. It’s something he’s been working at since he was a young boy on a farm in Northern Michigan.
“We all had chores to do,” Jacobs recalls, “which included picking and processing fruits and vegetables grown on the farm. I also remember hunting and fishing the surrounding woods and lakes for all sorts of indigenous game and fish. I spent a lot of time in the kitchen cleaning and wrapping fish for the freezer.”
These early experiences helped Jacobs to learn the value of a good meal. “[It] really left a lasting impression on me, and I believe it was the foundation of my love and respect for the culinary arts. As I get older, I realize what a blessing it was to have such an experience.”
Jacobs eventually found himself cooking for a living, preparing meals in a wide variety of settings. “I’ve worked in everything from small rustic lodges to 5-Diamond hotel properties,” he says. “I have prepared small intimate dinner parties for clients in their homes in these regions, and some of the cabin kitchens were quite small and rustic. Others were very modern and decked out with the latest commercial equipment and cookware. I think that cooking in a variety of different kitchen settings trains a chef to be creative with their cooking methods and techniques.”
Today, as Executive Chef at Boyne Highlands, Jacobs is the leader of a small army of cooks, and he is employing his lifetime of cooking experience to make a kind of “beautiful music,” if you will. “The Executive Chef is very much like the conductor of a symphony orchestra, organizing and leading the culinary team to produce beautiful food together in an efficient, harmonious manner,” Jacobs says.
And, like a quality symphony is supposed to, it makes the audience’s world a little merrier. When you eat in Edgar Jacobs’ restaurant, you get not just a meal, but a one-of-a-kind experience overseen by a man who makes food for the soul.

Tony Bennett is a freelance writer and a musician. Though, not the musician you’re thinking of. He has never left anything anywhere near San Francisco.

Edgar Jacobs, Exec. Chef Boyne Highlands Resort
Photo by Boyne Highlands Resort
A Cut Above
A good set of high quality knives and hand tools is a must. To the untrained eye, a kitchen knife is a kitchen knife, but to a trained cook, each knife has a special purpose. You can pound a nail with pipe wrench, but it isn’t the best tool for the job. As far as cooking appliances for a cabin kitchen go, I think a good set of cast iron skillets, a flat top griddle, either gas or electric, and a slow cooker or a crock pot of some kind will go a long way in allowing a cabin kitchen cook to prepare some very nice meals.    

– Edgar Jacobs

Click here to view Edgar Jacobs recipe for Northwoods Venison Rub
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