SUTTONS BAY — Chef Jack Wenz wanted to add a little spice to the Black Star Farms’ Hearth & Vine Café’s seafood boils.

The traditional Great Lakes fish boils have been going on for years and have a great following, said Sherri Campbell Fenton, Black Star Farms managing owner. But this year, Wenz and Fenton decided to alternate the Thursday fish boils with a Cajun shrimp boil.

“I first thought, ‘Let’s do a crawfish boil,’ but you can’t ship live crawfish to Michigan because it’s an invasive species,” said Wenz, who has spent time in New Orleans. “So it went from a crawfish boil to a low-country shrimp boil.”

The shrimp comes from the Mississippi Gulf Coast region and andouille sausage comes from New Orleans, he said. Wenz uses very traditional country-boil spices like zatarain, cayenne and peppercorn — and two bottles of Black Star Farms white wine.

“I try to stay as traditional as possible, so it’s relatively spicy,” he said.

The meal is cooked in a 35-gallon pot outside over an open fire and takes about 45 minutes to finish, he said. All the food goes in a large basket that rests inside the pot — it takes two people to lift it out by the end, he added.

About 10 pounds of red skin potatoes go in first, followed by 15 pounds of corn and the andouille sausage 20 minutes later, Wenz said.

Twenty pounds of shrimp goes in roughly 10 minutes later and the pot is taken down from a boil to a nice simmer, he said.

Diners are welcome to come out and watch the chefs work, Wenz said. Most people seem to like hanging around by the fire with a glass of wine and talking about the food, he said.

But if it rains?

“The chef gets wet and everybody else eats inside,” Wenz joked.

Dessert is a white chocolate bread pudding souffle with Buchan’s Blueberry Hill vanilla ice cream.

It’s the first year Black Star has done the Cajun shrimp boil, but people have loved it, Campbell Fenton said.

The atmosphere is casual and fun, she added.

“Just last night (Thursday), when I was here, the compliments people asked me to extend to the chef were tremendous,” Campbell Fenton said.

The final Cajun shrimp boil takes place Sept. 19. Dinner is served at 7 p.m. — guests are asked to arrive at 6:30 p.m. Reservations are required.

Tickets for adults are $35. Children 12 and under are $15 and those under 3 get in free.

Great Lakes fish boils take place Sept. 12 and 26.

Hearth & Vine Café’s regular menu items also will be available during the boils.

“I first thought, ‘Let’s do a crawfish boil,’ but you can’t ship live crawfish to Michigan because it’s an invasive species. So it went from a crawfish boil to a
low-country shrimp boil.” Black Star Farms Chef Jack Wenz

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