Michigan Catch and Cook Restaurants by Debbie Kay
If you have always felt like you are a better fisherman than chef, this may be the program for you. Michigan has gathered a series of participating restaurants throughout the state who will take your catch of the day and turn it into something spectacular. The program is open to anyone who is willing to jump through a few small hoops, and offers you the chance to impress your friends and family with your fishing skills, even if you can’t impress them with your cooking skills.
How to Sign Up
In many cases, all you need to do is find a participating restaurant and they can direct you to the charter captain with the food handling permit that makes it legal for you to bring fish in. Make sure you let the restaurant know that you are coming and ask them if you need reservations and how much in advance you need to bring the fish, and to verify any additional details beyond state rules. A few of the restaurants don’t specify a charter boat captain, so you will need to verify with the restaurant about who you choose and any other requirements needed to bring your catch to them through the rules. (You can take the food handlers course online here for $7.) You need to determine where and how the restaurant wants the fish delivered. Some will pick the fish up from your boat to determine the cleanliness of the fishing environment, while others will have you bring the fish to them.
The restaurants, charter captains and participants must follow food handling guidelines, fishing seasons and other fishing advisory rules (found here.) Fish must be adequately cleaned, gutted and scaled before delivery to the restaurant. They must be iced with potable water, and cooled to a temperature of 41 degrees or below. The fish need to come with documentation that shows the date and time they were caught. Restaurants will inspect any fish you bring and ensure that they have been properly cooled and are healthy enough to be good to eat.
Kinds of Restaurants Participating
The participating restaurants vary from bar and grill style establishments to steakhouses to artisan bistros. Fish may be fried, baked, grilled or poached. Some of the Michigan catch and cook restaurants dishes in participating restaurants run the gamut. They include
- trout with crispy brussels sprouts, quinoa with pancetta, cider and cranberry butter
- flash-fried fish and chips with homemade tartar sauce and mustard slaw
- Fried or broiled walleye, bluegill, or hand-breaded Lake Erie perch
- Whitefish broiled with Italian seasonings, topped with parmesan basil sauce
- Potato-parmesan breaded walleye
Many of the participating restaurants offer mooring for those who want to travel to dinner by boat. Some also cater, if you have a large amount of catch and a lot of friends you want to share with. Typically, you will bring your fish in and reserve a table at the same time so that you are sure that your fish equals your dinner.
Learn more about Michigan catch and cook restaurants (or sign up as a charter captain or participating restaurant) at the program’s website.