After Culinary and Literary Acclaim, She’s Moving to the Woods

The chef Iliana Regan created a hit Chicago restaurant and wrote a tough, award-winning memoir. But her real dream lives in a cabin in northern Michigan.

Comments: 268

  1. "The Milkweed Inn is all Pendleton blankets, deer taxidermy and wood smoke. The water pressure is great, and the basement is filled with new fishing gear and inflatable kayaks." "She had two walleyes hanging by their lips over a fire outdoors..." Walleye is the best fish I have ever had. My husband and his friend caught them on Lake Sacandaga, filleted them on-site, packed them in ice and drove the almost 3 hours home, where we sauteed them for dinner. Out of this world delicious! Sign me up.

  2. I hope they are successful. Interesting vision they have there. Best of luck!

  3. Love stories like this! It's my hope and prayer that someday that working poor who yearn to experience a treat like a $759-$1k outing will be afforded the opportunity, since such an opportunity can both be a life changing experience it can be the story that lives on in the life of families for generations.

  4. @Beth Grant-DeRoos I join you in that prayer. Just a week/weekend would be a life-changing experience for children. It's my prayer to do just that, on a smaller scale.

  5. @Beth Grant-DeRoos All they have to do is give up a couple family trips to Disneyland.

  6. @Beth Grant-DeRoos The 'working poor' do not yearn for this kind of treat. They have access to parks and rivers and probably cook simple food if they have family who remember the old recipes.

  7. Aside from a gazillion other reasons, I would go simply for the moose tartar. That would be a peak culinary challenge for me.

  8. Ms. Regan's story has inspired me to be more proactive in my cabin cooking adventures. After finally making a sauerbraten from venison hunted by my neighbor and so delicious even I ate it I am now inspired to tackle a roast from wild turkey that my same cabin neighbor says he will shoot for me but is doubtful can be made edible. No Michelin stars for me but there really is good eating to be had from the woods.

  9. @Barb Davis There sure is! My dad hunts for birds (duck, goose, turkey, pheasant) and we both forage for mushrooms. On my plane ride back home to New York state from California, where I grew up, after the holidays, I enjoyed a sandwich made with Afghan bread and wild goose breast. Divine! The trick is either barbecuing it or cooking it low & slow for many hours.

  10. @Reader Eating off the land is great and healthy too. Tell your Dad thanks for being a conservationist and supplying natural food that some corporation didn’t raise full of stuff that is harmful to you.

  11. @Barb Davis No surprise there Barb. That's we started in our existence; we must have been reasonably good at it in order to talk about it as we speak some 500 generations later.

  12. What an inspiration to use local ingredients! The duck came from just outside Chicago, from Timberfeast Farm. Love the idea of smoking it.

  13. The article describes Ms. Regan's book as "...perhaps the definitive Midwest drunken-lesbian food memoir." I am not familiar with the genre, didn't know it was a genre, and was surprised to learn, as the description implies, that there is more than one "Midwest drunken-lesbian food memoir." If the book is one of a kind, then of course it is definitive. Makes me wonder if there are Southern, Western, New England, French, German, etc. drunken-lesbian food memoirs. I no longer live in NYC, so perhaps I am missing out on more than I realize. As someone who now lives in a quieter place where local food sourcing is an everyday thing at home and in restaurants, I do hope that the $600 tasting dinners include a whole lot more than one thin slice of duck and one even thinner charred carrot. Even with the astronomical prices, I also wonder whether the business model of a seasonal, hard-to-reach inn with 3 guest rooms, a platform tent and a tiny trailer can generate enough profit to live on, or much of a profit at all.

  14. @Mon Ray Growing up in Colorado and living in NYC for the last thirty years, I'm sympathetic to your skepticism. Even the Swedes have expensive restaurants. What they are doing in the restaurant business echoes the NYC art market: get the PR (good and bad and everything in between), then winnow your clientele down to the few and exceedingly prosperous. In order for you, the chef and owner, to become prosperous as well. Having lived in Queens for the last twenty years, I thrive on the storefront places all over Queens -- virtually every kind of Asian, some Mexican -- because it's usually a family running the place and the experience, depending, can change your life or be mediocre. Whatever: it's always an adventure and it's always cheap by almost any metric. My biggest concern -- i.e., loss -- once I move to New Mexico. I'll adjust, but I certainly will not seek out the Davos crowd when I get there.

  15. @Mon Ray The drunken-lesbian food memoir reference produced an eye roll, but the photo of the walleye "smoking" over a fire was puzzling. Fish can be hot or cold smoked, but first it has to be cleaned, filleted, brined, then placed over smoke, not directly over a fire. Those fish looked like they'd be seared outside and somewhat raw inside. Maybe the addition of a high or lowbush cranberry/crabapple sauce would work miracles. But seriously, best of luck to the couple.

  16. @DJE, good point. Those fish aren’t smoking at all. Years ago I remember cooking chicken that way, hanging next to a fire. It’s a kind of slow roasting process.

  17. It is my hope that Iliana Regan and Anna Hamlin find true success. Milkweed Inn and the food and how these two are combining them are a wonderful concept whose time has come. I hope my library has Regan's memoir so I can read it. But I'm still stuck on the "inflatable kayaks." The Funko and the road food, and even the Mario Stars and Yoshi eggs, yes, but I hope Milkweed Inn is long-lived enough that the '"inflatable kayaks" go by the wayside.

  18. It sounds intriguing, but way beyond my price range. Nonetheless, I welcome both to the Water-Winter Wonderland and hope their venture works for them. The world is lots better for the likes of people like this. Thanks for reporting this.

  19. This isn’t so much about cooking, cuisine and social justice for marginalized groups as it is about Instagram opportunism, narcissism and the most insanely open form of elitist Manifest Destiny available today. Travel anywhere outside of enlightened rural bubbles like this, where guests might spend up to $1k for exceptional experiences and you’re face to face with hundreds of thousands of citizens struggling to survive on small town pizza and Dollar General groceries.

  20. @Darko Begonia This. All day, this! It is not uncommon in my neck of the woods to see someone late at night walking in the middle of nowhere carrying Dollar General bags of food because they have no vehicle, share transportation to commute hours to a low paying job, get home late, and live in a food desert. I don’t begrudge these two their ideals but neither are they “pioneers”.

  21. @Darko Begonia The locals will definitely not be attending the dinners there, but it's not at all rare in the UP to find expensive "cabins" in the woods owned by rich city folk.

  22. @Darko Begonia Finding any jobs, much less those that pay benefits, is very difficult in rural areas like the Upper Peninsula, Catskills, Adirondacks, Smokies, etc. Do the staff of Milkweed Inn (dishwasher, prepper, waiter, cleaners, etc.) receive minimum wage, plus medical and other benefits? Do they get tips based on the exorbitant cost of the meals? If so, great. If not, they are subsidizing the outrageous lifestyles of the 1% who can afford such an expensive experience, as well as the get-away-from-it-all-but-have-your-cake hopes of the inn's owners. The NYT gives a lot of ink to income inequality, but one hopes this idyllic-sounding story that glorifies catering to the 1% is not in any way based on exploitation of the poor underclasses.

  23. I am married to a Yooper and have spent a lot of time up there. Good luck to them, but - there's one airport that still leaves travelers over an hour's drive away. The average monthly income of a Yooper is right about at the low weekend price for this restaurant. This isn't close to the "population hub" of Marquette, which may have a few logging company CEOs who could afford it. Due to mining, you really shouldn't eat local fish. So this isn't even beginning to be for "da locals." How sustainable is having to import by air all of your clientele?

  24. I mean, it sounds like it’s more of a B&B professional cooking than just a restaurant in the woods. The whole business model for those places is flying in all their clientele.

  25. @Griffin Oh c'mon! Eating local fish is just fine and perfectly healthy, despite the tailing effects of past mining in some spots. Ain't died yet from good old Yooper salmon and whitefish!

  26. @Emma Gregory Well, there's also the epic snows up there - it has snowed in May, June, August, September, October, all lake effect and heavy. This B&B is 67 miles from the nearest airport, and all the roads are 2 lane, paved if you are lucky. Selling game is against the law. Plus, as anyone who has actually done much backwoods cooking knows, you want coals, not flames,for cooking, and, backwoods or no, if you are charging money for food, you cannot have vermin in your kitchen, and mice are everywhere in the woods.

  27. This is the most fascinating read I've had in a long time. Thanks Kim Severson!

  28. What in heaven's name is that item that looks like decorated jacket buttons??? I've never seen that shade of aqua/turquoise blue in a food. There's blueberries, but they're much darker and leaning toward black. Is it food coloring?

  29. There was a chef in upper New York State doing this a few years back, Damon Baehrel. He was concocting amazing dinners with foraged and locally caught ingredients.

  30. Love reading about these remarkable women and wish them all the best. I lived in a cabin in the woods for a few years and found it to be one of the best (and most sobering) experiences of my life. Though I'm back in city life, I always long to return. They are doing something beautiful and I hope to make it out there someday.

  31. Friends, experiences like this are available in every state in our great country. This doesn’t have to be a movement; just going outdoors and walking around and realizing that we are part of a system is enough to awe inspire anyone. It is costs little to nothing to start this experience. People today in general are disconnected from the rest of the world and thus the reason for much of the insanity.

  32. Lovely article. Our children go to college in the UP, and we are there often. It's a place beyond superlatives. Also, thank-you for explaining the Viking cap - Yoopers and Wisconsinites look askance at folks wearing that logo. Go Pack.

  33. The food looks wonderful but the lodging looks terrible. An airstream trailer, a tent area, and 3 rooms? People like rustic that much? I am a former tent camper who liked to eat at restaurants when possible. But if spending a thousand dollars, i would want to be on a comfortable place to relax. I would eat until comatose!

  34. I am hoping that the "young milkweed pods fried until the insides turn as silky as cheese" served in the 15-course dinner are grown from seed in a kitchen garden and not foraged from the wild world of the Monarch butterflies summering in Michigan that need them more than we do to sustain a life cycle.

  35. Monarch caterpillars crave milkweed leaves not the pods. If you have seen a milkweed pod exploding with seeds on their puffy parachutes in August, you know there are plenty to propagate. The roadsides and fields of the Midwest are full of milkweed and won’t miss losing a basket of pods.

  36. Trust me, there are plenty of milkweed pods here in Michigan for both butterflies and culinary endeavors.

  37. @Karen Reed The caterpillars definitely eat unripe seed pods. I watch them do so in my backyard every year.

  38. I have a strong feeling that the amazingly wise for her age Ms Thunberg would not appreciate the analogous pairing of her with Ms Regan. Suffice it to say that there is some amazing irony (if not hypocrisy) in the idea of spending somewhere near a grand to "experience" some palatable and meticulously pieced together " 'deep nature' cooking". Now perhaps if she made the guests forage for their own fare, but alas, 9 out of 10 would starve.

  39. @DKM Yup, I stopped readig when I saw the comparison to Greta Thunberg. Great Thunberg, um, is not a symbol of exploiting nature to please a bunch of rich people in search of diversion.

  40. @minkybear Yes! 100% correct. I am so tired of these curated experiences being offered up as something we should all experience.

  41. @DKM - I think Greta would be okay with this as long as we rode a bike to get there and packed out our own garbage.

  42. Fantastic to walk away in pursuit of a deeper passion. I keep viewing the very heavy splitting axe and keep remembering when I switched a heavy wedge for a Fiskar's Axe - please try it out. It was very light, and maintained a very sharp edge and chopping wood became fun. At first almost dangerous, as it went thru the wood so easily I almost removed a toe... Much easier on the back and shoulders. Good luck living in the bush - there's nothing better.

  43. You will know the end of civilisation is near when people who make food are elevated to celebrity status

  44. @John : The beginning of the beginning. Civilization when they can feel and be completely safe and totally free anywhere and everywhere.

  45. Because athletes, actors, and politicians are any more interesting. Artistry comes in many forms, and the artists who understand the delicate work of flavors and presentation deserve their share of the spotlight as much as any painter or singer.

  46. @John Every profession has its own celebrities since the term merely means those who are "celebrated." Chill.

  47. "Jeff Gordinier, the food and drinks editor for Esquire magazine and a former reporter for The New York Times, called it “a funky, foraged, magic-realist vision of the Midwest” when he included it on his recent list of the last decade’s 40 most important restaurants" If I were to write a book satirising the celebration of food and elevation of people who cook into celebrities I probably would include the sentence above.

  48. @John As opposed to the elevation of talentless people who do nothing but appear pretty and vapid into celebrities?

  49. cranberries.....from a tree?

  50. Looks like crabapples..... definitely not cranberries.

  51. @Stew Hamilton Yes.. tree cranberries.. that's why the menu starts at $1000.

  52. @Stew Hamilton Cranberries grow on trees. Like money. Yeah, right...

  53. I'm speechless. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

  54. @Het Luilekkerland I'll second you, since my more detailed comment about there being no ethical consumption under late-stage capitalism seems to have been deemed "uncivil." At least we'll always have cranberry-gate.

  55. They seem like lovely, creative, hard working people and i wish them the best. But seems to be another example of creating experiences for rich people who have nothing else to do but obsess about finding the next new thing or a remote adventure or culinary experience. The food I am sure is amazing but they will need to continue to fix up the house.Their customers wont want to be too rustic and the kitchen needs a total makeover.

  56. Cranberries growing on trees? What? The most innovative thing about Milkweed Inn seems to be how Ms. Regan and Ms. Hamlin are creating gourmet meals from fresh ingredients they themselves forage from their 150 acres of western Upper Peninsula land. That’s a place practically no one thinks about, let alone understands. No, $750-$1K experiences aren’t for the locals. But the area is amazingly rich in other ways. I’d be interested in hearing more about the fishing and foraging. (Gourmet magazine, are you listening?)

  57. @Julianne -- I hate to break the sad news to you, but Gourmet magazine stopped publishing over a decade ago...

  58. @Julianne The 'locals' are thinking about and do understand their area without the help of the visitors. The money they make will possibly not contribute to local lives. Although the taxes they pay will help their area.

  59. Okay, the actual point of my comment, @J and @pat smith, is that cranberries don't grow on trees. Not even close. (If I had to take a guess at what Ms. Regan is actually picking in the "cranberries" picture, it would be lingonberries.) Which is why I say Milkweed Inn appears to be an innovative endeavor, and one that's sorely needed. I would bet that pretty much anyone living in the neighborhood of Milkweed Inn (off the beaten track, between Munising and Nahma Twps) already knows how cranberries grow. It's those who live elsewhere who are confused. Of course the Upper Peninsula locals "understand their area without the help of the visitors." It's the visitors I worry about - and the place. When very few people experience a place, get to understand a place, and fall in love with a place - well, I worry for that place. I worry for Michigan's Upper Peninsula. As I worry for many other places that people in NYC (or London or Paris or Tokyo or...) don't seem to visit much. By attempting to deeply embed themselves in a chronically overlooked and undervalued place, and attempting to share their love for and understanding of that place with those who have overlooked and undervalued it, Ms. Regan and Ms. Hamlin appear to be doing something truly innovative. I wish that were more acknowledged in this article. (@pat smith - good call on Gourmet magazine. I clearly have never read it. I guess because lingonberrries.)

  60. I am moving back to my family home in the UP, and look forward to stopping in!!

  61. My wife and I were originally from Chicago, but decided after honeymooning on a remote beach in the Upper Peninsula many moons ago, to leave the city permanently and live in the UP in deep woods; we have done just that for the past 31 years and have really never looked back. Simple living, simple pleasures and the best people one could ever want to meet. Bravo to Ms Regan!

  62. @B. Granat Bruce, we miss you in Jacobsville. And Maureen too! Be sure to come back and visit the real U.P. once in a while! We'll leave the lights on for you. Billy

  63. Oh, this is wonderful. I've been up there, and done that. She may be a great chef, but even a complete incompetent can't ruin fresh walleye right out of the Lake. It is fabulous just with lemon wrapped in foil and tossed on the fire, though I suspect she did something even better. We were dropped off by guides, living in half-wall tents. This looks like luxury. It was good without luxury, and I hope that the addition of such luxury will be a spectacular success. It deserves it. I'd like to go.

  64. @Mark Thomason A Michelin star six years in a row better.

  65. I really, really want to like Ms. Regan and Milkweed, but as a native of the U.P. and one who currently lives ~1 hour away, I just can't get my head around re-creating UP camp culture ('camp' is the local term for rustic cabin) and pricing it so far above what the locals could even dream of affording. It just feels so wrong to me. I'm lucky enough that I could afford to go, and I happily build vacations around what restaurants I will visit, but I could not bring myself to spend a weekend here.

  66. @Barbra W I’m aware that many lower peninsula residents were effectively pushed across the bridge when property around Traverse, Petoskey, and Charlevoix became too expensive due to the influx of new residents with deep pockets. It will take time however for places to develop the polish and upscale offerings of places like Door and Traverse area. And a reminder, Thanksgiving a family visiting their cabin for the weekend had to be rescued when stranded due to heavy snow. Even rescue vehicles had problems getting thru!

  67. @Barbra W I know that sounds unfortunate, but with visitors who are successful and imaginative people who appreciate the local culture and respect the people, more activity and ideas can emerge for the region. Hopefully they are attracting people who have that respect.

  68. @SFE Of course, any visitors who want to pay a lot of money for this 'experience' are 'entitled' to do so. But they are not experiencing the 'local culture'.

  69. It is beyond me why couples use "husband" or "wife" anymore. Two men are not each other's "husbands." Even the term means to guide or oversee. It is misogynistic in origin and use and it ought to be done away with as should the outdated and pointless "wife." For those of us in same-sex relationships, we should not be using these terms that have to do with ownership more than caring for one another.

  70. @Larry Esser These women have agency and should have the freedom to characterize their relationship however they wish without anyone mansplaining their choices.

  71. @JBC They want a ‘modern’ arrangement but use old terminology? Every thing just gets too confusing nowadays. Words are important, how they’re used has impact. Maybe go back to generic ‘spouse’?

  72. @ellie k. Spouse works if you are married and ignores all of us who "cohabit" intentionally. I had a relationship with someone for 40 years: he definitely wasn't a boyfriend beyond year 2. Not married - and no common-law in NYS. I called him my "significant other" when forced to describe the relationship, as spouse didn't apply. The Census Bureau once came up with POSSLQ: Person of the opposite sex sharing living quarters - which defined nothing, was awkward, and never even considered the existence of committed same sex couples. At some point friends and I tried "co-vivant." A bit art, and it puts too much attention on the description. Partner is a lame but fairly simple designation.

  73. This sounds so much better than Door County! If you doubt they’ll get business, don’t. Illinois floods The Door, as it’s called, and it will flood the Milkweed in the UP. These women have made their Chicago mark. Chicago will follow them “way up north” and everyone will be happy, cabin owners and “cooks”, Chicago visitors. This will not be much about locals. But the locals will probably benefit, too. In the meanwhile, beauty, peace, love, and good food in the UP....their hope.

  74. We, too, have a cabin in northern Michigan, and we, too, have dogs including one who is part Old English sheepdog. A gentle warning to the chef — do not let the dogs run free in mid-August through October, even though it is not yet hunting season. They would have a marvelous time but you would have no time to cook because you’d be spending all your hours removing burrs. Trust me on this one.

  75. @Inamuraj - My ex lives in this area in a cabin. His female Doberman came up missing one night and he's pretty sure coyotes got her.

  76. The fruit Ms Regan is shown harvesting in the photo is probably wild crabapples. Cranberries do not grow on trees. Best wishes to this couple, may they build the life they are hoping for.

  77. @Joanne Heidkamp they do now. It’s 2020.

  78. High-bush cranberries. Not at all related to actual cranberries.

  79. I love the U.P. and we take out tent up there regularly. This is not a "cabin in the woods," but a house made out of logs, which likely has indoor plumbing and room for a hot water heater, and maybe even a furnace! Not what we in Michigan consider a "cabin."

  80. @Ruth Van Stee No, we call it a "cottage," even if its a 10,000 square foot mansion on Glen Lake.

  81. Ever hear of The Peekamoose Restuarant in the Catkills? Or The Catskill Rose Inn? Or countless other "gastro inns" in the wilderness of upstate NY? Great chefs have been doing this in the Hudson Valley for decades. And many of them probably did.it with a lot less capital. The trail blazing mentioned in this article is way over-stated.

  82. @bytegently thanks, had the same thought! Interesting backstory, but nothing new, finely hewn for the instagram set...

  83. @bytegently The trailblazing part might be about two lesbians taking a risk in living in potentially threatening territory in order to achieve a dream, or about women being able to build up enough capital to fund a significant life-AND-professional change, or about a woman being famous/recognized and then giving up her successful venture. Or maybe all 3 of those each-one-seemingly-novel storylines are also exemplified by one of the other examples you cited?

  84. @bytegently, having spent time in the Hudson valley and the U.P. of Michigan, I can assure you that they are quite different.

  85. Cranberries grow in bogs in my area, glad someone else caught this.

  86. From the internet: Highbush cranberry - Often mistaken for true cranberries, the highbush cranberry (Viburnum trilobum) is a landscape bush that develops edible fruit in the fall. This fruit looks and tastes similar to a cranberry, but it's not exactly the same thing. Also, the highbush cranberry plant takes five years or more to bear fruit, unlike the common lowbush variety that takes two years. This makes the lowbush vine better for commercial production.

  87. @Andy That's not what's in the picture, though. Highbush cranberries are very round, smooth and glossy without a prominent blossom end (like cranberries or grapes), and their leaves are serrated with three lobes (more like a grape leaf). This fruit's blossom is still very obvious on the bottom of a somewhat squat fruit (like a crabapple), and it has pretty basic oval or elliptical leaves (like a crabapple).

  88. @Andy That 'tree' looked more like a crabapple tree than highbush cranberry shrub. Oh well, you can eat the fruit from both, so all is good.

  89. Well then, I just booked for October! Now I have to figure out how to get there from NYC! Exciting!

  90. @AS Your best bet is to see about getting a flight into Marquette, Michigan, the biggest city in the Upper Peninsula and renting an SUV. Other possible alternatives are flying into Green Bay Wisconsin, or Duluth Minnesota, but that would mean a longer drive. That's not necessary a bad thing if you enjoy beautiful scenery.

  91. @AS Duluth is over 300 miles away of backroads driving and not-especially well plowed roads in snow season. Green Bay is 150 miles away, same snow and roads. There is no Uber in Marquette. Be prepared.

  92. fly into Marquette. if you want a good long drive but also to get to cross the mighty mac fly into traverse city

  93. Oh, come on. How about if instead of making a celebrity out of someone who charges $1,000. per meal to people with more money than sense, we celebrate that we can all get out into the woods, for free, in many parts of the US?There are forests with trees all around us that we can walk in, hunt in, and with a little self-education, forage in. Environmental groups need donations to protect forests, how about giving that $1,000. to the Nature Conservatory or your local land trust rather than a status meal in the wilds of the UP?

  94. @Susan Abbott I lived in a seasonal tourist area in Northern Wisconsin about 30 years ago. Worked and cooked in restaurants. Off season, we all had dinners like these at each others houses (mostly rentals) Culinary delights, good wine, and the only price was to bring your best self. Cheers!

  95. @Susan Abbott Make sure to reach out to your VT Warren organizer and knock some doors so your ideas have a shot at a wider audience -- we need them. Second, I grew up in Michigan and they have been losing young people since the late 70's because of the economy. If folks come to the Northern Lower Peninsula, they will need to travel through many small towns to get there -- they will need gas, food and maybe lodging. Vermont is also paying young people to move to it's small towns for similar reasons. If young people like these two can make it work and boost surrounding areas, let it be.

  96. @Susan Abbott The $1,000 covers lodging and 3 other meals. Still not a "cheap" weekend getaway, but not a single meal costing a grand.

  97. The chefs sure sound talented. However - clearly aimed at a super well off clientele. $1500-1800 for 2 nights in a cabin and 4 meals. You can have a better (probably subjective but likely true) experience for much less at a million agriturismos in Italy. Flights cost $500-1000 or cheaper if you find one at the right time. Go in spring / summer, work the farm a little, partake in the fresh cheese and endless wine and good food.

  98. Website?. simply dying to go.

  99. Just a lovely piece about two authentic beautiful and gifted woman. I send them both all my love. Millennials are so much more authentic than the rest of us. We have much to learn from them. God speed ladies!!!!

  100. I've been a Michigan resident for about 10 years. One of the things I enjoy most about being here is the scenic beauty of the state. I've been fortunate enough to spend a considerable amount of time in the Upper Peninsula as referred to as the "U.P." There are couple of things the author should know. Michigan consist of two peninsulas. The lower one is where the majority of people in the state live and the northern part of that peninsula is referred to as "northern Michigan." The Upper Peninsula is seldom if ever referred to locally as "northern Michigan". The area has a distinct heritage, culture and pace of life. The people who live there are referred to as "Yoopers." They are a hearty bunch with a dry sense of humor, and some speak a dialect of English that is closer to what you would here in Canada than the United States. They see themselves as a completely different region than people who live in the lower peninsula in the state. The area attracts quite a few people who simply want to live a simpler pace of life.

  101. @Carl Thanks for the note. I spent my teenage and college years in Michigan and know the UP well. Are you making a reference to the headline, which uses the phrase northern Michigan? I was careful in the story to call the UP the UP. We work with some space and other constraints when we cast headlines, so we appeal to the widest audience possible and have to be conservative with word count. Thus the very general reference to northern Michigan. That's not to say your point isn't a great one. Here's to more cinnamon toast!

  102. @Kim SEVERSON I grew up in "Northern Michigan" (Traverse City, Alpena, Petoskey) and we visited the U.P. often for camping and to visit family in Marquette. I'm also a former editor for several Northern Michigan county newspapers. Totally got what you were doing, and that headlines are a tricky business all to themselves. Reading your lovely piece, all geographic references felt on point (though I did wonder if those cranberries were crab apples). ;) Rest assured: you did good, Grrl! Now where did I leave my cinnamon toast...

  103. @Kim SEVERSON Kim, my main goal was to provide more context about the U.P. to readers who are not familiar to the area. It is truly a special place with some truly special people, who are authentic and true to themselves and whom I hold dear to my heart.

  104. One of the photos that shows Ms. Regan picking "cranberries" off a tree. I don't think cranberries grow on trees--rather, they grow on long perennial vines. Could these "berries" be something different?

  105. From the internet: Highbush cranberry - Often mistaken for true cranberries, the highbush cranberry (Viburnum trilobum) is a landscape bush that develops edible fruit in the fall. This fruit looks and tastes similar to a cranberry, but it's not exactly the same thing. Also, the highbush cranberry plant takes five years or more to bear fruit, unlike the common lowbush variety that takes two years. This makes the lowbush vine better for commercial production.

  106. @Laurie The highbush cranberry shown in the article is a Viburnum - a forest shrub. The "cranberry" we all know and love from juice and sauce, and dried like a raisin, is a Vaccinium and grows in open bogs. These plants are in different families and not related (relatively speaking).

  107. @Laurie: These are not viburnum, not highbush cranberry, not ordinary cranberry. They are crabapples: Note the tuft of old sepals opposite the stem, characteristic of the genus Malus (apple). Note also the few remaining leaves: viburnum has opposite leaves.

  108. The article and comments are classic NYT urban fascination with exotic rural experiences where people sleep in cabins, eat wild food, even animals and fish, pick cranberries from trees, make a fire, work outside, and are afraid of black bears. The extent of interest and willingness to pay a lot of money for new ideas in food is increasing to astonishing, almost unbelievable, levels.

  109. @drj Welcome to the new Gilded Age. People are willing to spend money on these types of experiences in many cases are signaling to others they have the money spend.

  110. @drj It is true. But if I could, I'd rather support people doing this kind of thing for work than many other occupations.

  111. Is this the Age of Retreat to Nature and Privacy? And good cooking? Bravo!

  112. I grew up in the 1950's in far northern Minnesota. We picked berries of many kinds, fished in the lakes, hunted game and found wild mushrooms. In addition we had a large potato patch plus some planted carrots and onions. Non of the food was gourmet but it certainly was good. Glad to see these women recreating that life style. Not sure about the cost for city folks though. Pretty expensive.

  113. Sounds like a brilliant life full of courage, wisdom, nurturing inner talent, nature, friends, family, and heart filled risk, wow go for it, maybe we will see you in Michigan!

  114. Good story! But those are crabapples on the tree. Not cranberries. Cranberries grow on low shrubs, not trees.

  115. Well, I definitely wasn't expecting to find cranberry-gate in the comments. Anyway, I think the price is reasonable. $1800 for the weekend for 2 for lodging, all meals, booze, and activities included, taking into account we're talking a Michelin-starred chef. And they can only open 6 months/year and have to afford to run the place. It's not like they're making millions, or anywhere close to it.

  116. So much vitriol and misinformation flying around on all sides of this cranberry/crabapple debate. I suspect Russian trolls. Can’t we take a page from Ocean Spray, whose Cran-Apple blend has been bringing people together for generations?

  117. @Kas I've taken all your comments into account, and I largely agree. Except for the fact that she's carving out yet another niche for only the very seriously affluent (i.e., rich). Having grown up in Colorado and having lived in NYC for the last 35 years, I honestly and serious doubt anyone needs that at this juncture in our nation. Except maybe the rich.

  118. Kinda reminds me of one of my favorite classic old films, Holiday Inn, where Bing Crosby decides to quit the rat race of city life/live performances in clubs for his solitude of country life, only to discover that he actually isn’t fully prepared for the hard work of the farm full time, only. So he makes the Holiday Inn, where they perform on holidays only, which is what really helps him run the farm. Funny. Interesting that this article comes alongside the “Quitting” series. Everyone is looking for their green grass on the other side, trying to find out if they can make it in another way. I wish these women the best of luck in their newfound lives.

  119. Those are not cranberries. Cranberries grow in a BOG, not on a leafy tree branch. Cherries perhaps?

  120. @stuart Not to belabor this, but those are not highbush cranberries in the photo.

  121. @Cranberry Expert Clearly not a cranberry of any sort.... why does it have a leaf like an apple or something? A highbush cranberry (Viburnum trilobum) has a three lobed leaf more like a maple then an apple or crabapple leaf. Also the tree clearly has the structure of an apple type tree with what appear to be spurs (or prickers or whatever the specific term for sharp things on the end of the shoots of apple branches are) are on the axillary shoots? I sure hope the mushrooms were identified by someone else.....

  122. It sure looks like tart crab apples being harvested in Fall from the tree and not cranberries from a bog.

  123. As a Michigander myself, I can say, looks like a terrific escape from the metropolis. The lure of the U.P. and the north woods is strong. While visitors are there they may want to check out Pictured Rocks, one of the best summer hike escapes possible in the country (with the beautiful panorama of Lake Superior). As well, read a bit of Jim Harrison's writing about the place before you go and perhaps you'll want to change your life forever.

  124. @Robert Detman, most definitely Harrison’s memoir. So much of Harrison’s fiction and nonfiction was infused with the love of good food.

  125. Harrison’s “True North” and “The Big Seven” are set right in their back yard and he knew his cooking and wine. I found his work spine tingling good and there’s a new regard for bears to be found; however difficult it is for ladies to get through and you’ll see what I mean if you have a go at it.

  126. I am praying for a happy pregnancy and birth for this hardworking couple. I love they're sharing their story and am rooting for all their desires to manifest. I will never look at my milkweed pods again the same. Thank you.

  127. Great piece; thanks for sharing it. Good luck to these intrepid women. Made me hungry just looking at the photos.

  128. I raise my cup of chaga tea to this intriguing couple, with a hearty cheer that everything works out harmoniously. And, to some extent, you get used to bears. But be careful of having any food outside. And be certain your dogs are big and hearty from now on....

  129. "no more wondering if the dishwasher will show" -- If you pay them a decent wage and treat them as a decently, they will show.

  130. And then you have to raise prices and potential customers don’t want to pay the freight. Restaurants operate on slim margins and prices are already too high. There will come a great culling during the next economic downturn.

  131. True, at $600/menu, the margins must be thinner than the micro-portions.

  132. @Ronald Weinstein You obviously have never worked in a restaurant before. Even if you pay well and treat them decently, they might not show up.

  133. As the climate changes, the UP will become a paradise of cooler weather and wonderful color and growth. She's investing way ahead. That said, suerte to these two and their new adventure in life, work, and love.

  134. @North Carolina As a native of KY and after spending four years in St Louis I told my MN born wife that wearing a long sleeved shirt on the 4th of July in the UP was a luxury. After spending decades in the UP in all seasons at our lake cabin I can only hope the guests are prepared for tiny black flies in May that raise nasty bumps, mosquitoes until mid June followed by deer flies that hurt when they bite and leave a very large, itchy bump. Other than that the western UP is a great place. Black bears are not to be feared, cougars and wolves are keeping the deer herd in check, grouse have suffered from West Nile, wild ramps are abundant and the trout fishing is great.

  135. @North Carolina Shhhhhh! Don't tell everybody. For people who know and love the U.P. it's getaway from rest of crazy, frenetic, chaotic world that we live in. Every time I cross the Mackinac Bridge and head west on U.S. and get outside St. Ignace, I am overwhelmed by a sense of calm. It's extremely hard to be in the U.P. for an extended period of time and not feel more relaxed. :)

  136. My goodness what a wonder. I’ve got a 1950’s vintage deer shack rather near this place and should I ever cross paths on a wander would be a very nice old white man indeed. Mosquitoes of May can be daunting (we used to trout fish wearing rubber gloves with the finger tips removed), wood ticks of June no delight, but one overlooks grocery store limitations cooking brookies in a skillet with Neuskies. Venison over alder compares well, too. Good luck young ladies.

  137. Hats off to this kind response. You notice the same anxieties that some other commenters have answered with judgment, and offer instead the kind of neighborly good will that converts carpetbaggers into community members. I hope those women have the good luck to run into you. (And props to PA!)

  138. @John Wow! Such a great comment. It's possible to build community anywhere, isn't it? With the right people. Happy fishing!

  139. One thing is certain: it will be a learning experience.

  140. @Benjamin Teral, and source material for another book. Which will be made into a movie.

  141. Yes. Like learn how to split wood, for heaven's sake! ...and where is the woodpile, anyway?

  142. I want to support the endeavor of this young chef, but Kim Severson's drenching of the story with identity politics made it difficult to like it. Take this last quote: “I know we’re safer here than when we’re in the city, but I am scared of bears and I’m scared of old white men sometimes,” she said. Maybe Kim's point is that these two women are simply prejudiced and are making little effort to integrate into a rural community where people are, in fact, probably friendly and welcoming once you look past their gender, age, and skin color. But I doubt it.

  143. @Andy No, it's not unreasonable to worry, and your point is solid. I don't begrudge Ms. Regan and Hamlin their views, my comment is on Kim Severson's choice to make it such a prominent part of the article. It was her choice to make this an "us versus them" story, rather than focusing more on their successes or on other aspects. The subjects of Times profile pieces certainly have lots of fears and personal views that may or may not be prejudiced or otherwise warranted. It's up to the author and editors to decide when to include those views and how to shape the narrative. If this were a piece about a white chef opening a new restaurant in Brooklyn, I doubt Kim would share their concern about local residents--it would be inflammatory. In this piece, the decision to include those views strikes me as easy but maybe not warranted.

  144. @Bryan Bryan, the quote that ... "I’m scared of old white men sometimes" is not really about identity politics--far from it. I am old and I am white and I am scared of young white women. Stating that fact does not make me prejudiced or a practitioner of identity politics. Young white woman in the wilds of the Upper Peninsula are more rare than black bear. Given time and some polite conversation I could probably put my fear behind me.

  145. @Bryan Bryan, it must be hurtful to be lumped in with a toxic population ("old white men"), but when you've been insulted, threatened or sneered at enough times just when you were enjoying your day, you tend to keep an eye out for the enemy. It's not prejudice; it's survival. I'm a 70 years old lesbian and I'm still keeping my shoulders hunched. Give the kid a break.

  146. Yep. Been there and done that. Good to do this for a few years--opt out of the swarming noisy mess that is urban life in favor of "the wilds." Then, as time in the natural world passes you begin to notice in a hundred little ways that the wild is not doing so well. You begin to experience grief and anger at the sickening trees, the absence of frogs, the proliferation of deer with no lions or wolves to keep them down, the sudden clear-cut in your favorite forest patch, the invasive off-road vehicles and eventually it becomes too much to bear. That's when the real story begins.

  147. Plus, the biting cold, the heavy snow, dearth of places to spend your money on food and fun. I'll never return to the UP in this lifetime.

  148. @dressmaker agreed: I have a cabin in rural PA. The bird music has dropped , I just had to have 20 ash trees cut down because they are dying from the ash borer, we now have ticks coming from the south bringing disease, in a place where there were never any ticks. The arborist told me trees across the country are dying. Plus PA is also the fracking capital of the US so the frack trucks are busy dumping contaminated water in rivers and streams, including the mighty Susquehanna. Nature is all that matter to me on a spiritual level so to witness all this is beyond heartbreaking. No longer any escape from " capitalism."

  149. sounds like a fantastic excuse to go to the beautiful UP !!! congrats to the couple on their new endeavor - no matter how it turns out, i'm sure we'll get a great story out of it. as for the cranberries v. crab apples - lol !! i'm sure it matters not once the master chef has applied her magic!

  150. @Joe A chef needs to be careful of wild picked foods incorrectly identified. Wouldn't want that $600 dinner to be poision.

  151. Why does everyone have to have an opinion on this talented young woman's life? Let's wish her and her family the best and be thankful they are sharing their story (which is a good one).

  152. Gina, because shes seeking to be covered, to seen and heard and be a celebrity. As such you garner criticism. no one gets out alive.

  153. Addendum comment on wild apples of the UP. Long abandoned “stump farms” can be found all over often with remnant apples seeded along fence lines, the progeny of Finn and Swede farmers who I imagine had brought cold hearty varieties with them. Every once in awhile one finds a spectacular variety, a bit of fortune locals know must be kept secret

  154. I first visited the U.P. in 1990, staying near Ontonogon. When I asked the locals how bear aware I needed to be out in Porcupine Mtns State Park, they laughed at me. This article prompted me to learn that the bear population has been on the upswing ever since then, which is great. Don't go to the U.P. much anymore, after being to Beaver Island, it doesn't seem remote enough. Wonder how long before somebody gets the idea/gumption to create an experience like this there.

  155. @Outdoors Guy True enough, bears are way more scared of humans than humans are scared of them. If you are lucky enough to see a black bear, count your blessings. It doesn't happen often. Incidentally, Outdoors Guy, I am a lifelong Yooper and am scared of people in the downtowns of big cities. If I ever go hiking in a downtown, any survival tips?

  156. Don’t make eye contact.

  157. @Another Perspective, it has been way too long since I lived in Chicago's South Loop to be of much help. But . . . . blend in (which works anywhere). Don't wander deserted areas at night or early in the a.m. If you're around a group of young ruffians and some change hits the ground near your feet and one of them says "sir, you dropped your change," don't bend over to pick it up.

  158. The photo shows Highbush Cranberry which are not related to true cranberries at all. Still a tasty fall treat!

  159. Just a quick horticultural note. Those aren't highbush cranberries. Judging from the size and leaves left on the branch I'd make an educated guess they're crab apples. But definitely not a cranberry. :)

  160. @Stephen Flanagan I agree they are not cranberries. They look very much like thorn apples, but the branches of the tree doesn't have any thorns. But still good eating, especially if wild (thorn apples are most often wild, the seeds spread by ruffed grouse, which love them!)

  161. @Stephen Flanagan Hi. Thank you for that clarification. I was confused by the identification as "Cranberries" and was trying to find the answer.

  162. @Jennifer Milligan Hi, Jennifer. My brother Kevin lives in Christchurch. And he has also spent time here in the Upper Peninsula. Small world, eh?

  163. The UP, maybe should be the 51st state, the State of Superior. Very scenic, blistering cold and grey for at least half of the year! Interesting cuisine, wrong location, UPERS are practical folks, as they have no choice.

  164. @OLG, I agree about the location being a challenge, and perhaps not an optimum choice. I have been a guest in rustic lodgings like this, where food is one of the main draws. It sounds as if Iliana Regan is enough a draw all by herself, to bring in dedicated foodies, no matter what the challenges. But what the average target consumer for this kind of destination wants is this: cozy comfort (high quality bedding and snug rooms, adequate hot water, toilets that don’t come with a page of instructions for use), accessibility balanced with the right degree of remoteness (that rutted road and the distance from the city will be problematic for them), and summer camp activities (without the worry of being shot by hunters). Optimum location for this kind of business would be three hours or less from a major city, within a reasonable distance from a private airport (you want to attract monied customers), in a place where medical helicopter evacuation is feasible. And they need to invest in a high capacity septic system, which I assume they don’t have at the moment. And keep that little biting dog away from the guests.

  165. Haaaa! My Finnish grandmother and mother were “Upers” at the beginning of the last century. Foraging, fishing and hunting were life skills. My grandmother was an amazing gourmet cook on the wood stove. She was so good that every summer she would go to work at “cottages” of rich easterners who had lodges on the Lake Huron islands called Les Cheanaux. They valued her so much that she was imported to NYC to continue to cook. Iliana won’t really have it right until she can do it on a wood stove without electricity or running water.

  166. @Karen Reed Just FYI it’s Yoopers

  167. You know what boinked me on the head when I dined at Elizabeth years ago? Deer blood soup, complete with a runny egg yolk île flottante taunting us in the center. Not kidding. And yes indeed, it tasted precisely like you're imagining. As did the mushroom caramels for dessert. My dining companions and I STILL talk about that dinner... so the impact was... well... quite real. Hope the ladies find peace in the woods. I'm more interested in trying the gas station chicken thighs.

  168. @J.B., I nearly lost my lunch over that description. But then, even the mention of taxidermy at their cabin bothers me. BTW, I write the odd Yelp review, so I guess I am part of that giant, hated, head bonking appendage. People need to know when things go well, or not, at a restaurant. You can’t trust professional reviewers all the time.

  169. This is amazing. As an immeasurably lucky frequenter of the robust world-leading Chicago culinary scene and a passionate North Woods disciple bordering on unofficial UP’er, my dream is to retire to the sparsely populated beauty of the the Upper Peninsula. While I’m a bit more biased to the Keweenaw, I look forward to being a regular guest at the Milkweed Inn and wish Ms. Regan the best of luck in her endeavors.

  170. I hope these folks have enough success in the woods to do all right and to find some measure of happiness. This kind of independence, grittiness, and creativity give hope for others.

  171. @Cacho Fuentes It sounds like they already have.

  172. I think the picture of picking cranberries is actually picking crabapples. Just saying.

  173. @cyn I agree. I am pretty sure cranberries grow in a bog, in water, and not on branches well above ground

  174. @cyn Cranberries do not grow on trees!

  175. @cyn I was coming to point the same thing out. Hopefully her Identification skills are MUCH better when it comes to wild mushrooms....

  176. As someone who moved to the woods 24 years ago, I get it. I purchased a battered, old house with “carpet in the bathroom,” but did not cry about it not be not being perfect (unlike Ms. Hamlin). Sometimes you need to work for the things you want, slowly, and with patience. My imperfect house is still a work in progress.

  177. @Passion for Peaches I interpreted as she cried because she felt overwhelmed about the prospect of the eventual multiple renos.

  178. When we bought our first house I was sad about the raw pine paneling in the half bath. Definitely a symbol for all the ugly, run down, poorly done, falling apart and sometimes dangerous/disgusting features of a fixer upper. I knew exactly what “bathroom carpet” meant.

  179. Don't know exactly what it was; the author or the subject, but this story made my day and put me in a good place that will linger for awhile.

  180. A farm accident is far more likely than anything involving 'old white men' (as there are few young black men there) or, especially, any black bear. These fears seem irrational. It might serve her well to culturally assimilate a little as she adopts elements of the local gastronomy. Preserving context is important (and doesn't require communing in the woods with Ted Nugent). It gives liberalism a bad name when liberals are out of touch with local common sense.

  181. @carl bumba I agree the reference to old white men was terrible!

  182. It wasn't clear from the article, but the inn's website notes that 8 of the maximum 10 guests share a bathroom; the 2 guests who stay in the tiny trailer have their own bathroom in the trailer. I hope the owners have their own bathroom. It is not clear which bathroom the staff use. (In my early years my family numbered 8, and 2 bathrooms were nowhere near enough.) Especially at these prices this is definitely not glamping.

  183. @Mon Ray, the shortage of bathrooms is not a small matter, nor is the probable overuse of an inadequate septic system. I live in an area where many people run various sizes of unlicensed guest accommodations, or rent nonconforming, non permitted outbuildings to lodgers. I can tell you from personal observation that overflowing and clogged septic tanks are unpleasant. They foul local waterways, too.

  184. @Mon Ray There might be a few two holers and there are plenty of trees.

  185. I think Native American chef's ought to do this too, it would be an excellent way to be back in nature with great food. Congratulations you two....may the wind be at your back and the sun shining on the path before you.

  186. I bought my piece of heaven in the wilderness 22 years ago..... one thing you learn quick? control the rodents. given a chance they will destroy those pendeltons and invade every space during a long cold boarded up winter. not to mention what they will do all year around to the wiring of any vehicle left sitting for more than a week (hello airstream). our cabin guests like "rustic"? but not that rustic!

  187. @coale johnson, not to mention chewing the wiring in your automobiles. Thousands of dollars in repairs there. My pantry was invaded by mice a couple months ago. They were definitely not “hosting a mouse party.” There was not being twee about the disgusting mess they left.

  188. How absolutely wonderful to read about these ladies and the life they have chosen to live. May they live long and realize all of their dreams.

  189. A friend who doesn't like to be bothered by facts would love the caption for the picture that reads cranberries as being picked from trees. I joked one morning in her B&B in the Northern Neck, Flowering Fields, about the cranberries that spilled on her kitchen floor that they where returning to ground. Susan said they came from trees. I thought everyone knew they came from low growing vines. And my what large cranberries she is picking! (not cranberries though).

  190. @Sean Cairne American Cranberries are low to the ground and typically what people think of traditionally, but what she appears to be picking in the picture could be a highbush or "tree" cranberry. They aren't quite the same but not so dissimilar that I would correct anyone calling them a cranberry.

  191. @Sean Cairne The berries are probably Viburnum.

  192. @Sean Cairne Thanks for reading the story and for your comment, Sean from San Diego. They're high-bush cranberries, a common name for a fruit which is different than the true cranberries you are referring to.

  193. We have had a lake cabin in the UP of MI about an hour west of the Milkweed Inn since the mid 80s. We have just sent our children and grand children a notice that since reading this article the rates have just gone up at Duck Lake on a logarithmic scale. Ms. Regan might have better luck wooing the locals if she did not wear a hat with a MN Vikings logo.

  194. @Edward B. Blau Many Yoopers are Vikings fans including this Yooper. But I will admit that Packer Backers out number us.

  195. I am mystified by the flood of petty comments. (Cranberries/v. crabapples: “I’m glad someone else caught that!” ) These are people creating memorable experiences for others, in nature. Not affordable by everyone, but not decadent or wasteful. It takes so much hard work and creativity to realize something like this inn. Must be dispiriting to have it picked apart by bitter-sounding armchair critics.

  196. @printer, you don’t understand plant people.

  197. @printer Ms. Regan cooks with mushrooms. I wouldn't want her guessing.

  198. The fact that people are so snarky and worked up about cranberries vs crabapples demonstrates the sad state of our Republic in 2020. Jeez. Lighten up folks!

  199. Running a restaurant is little more than indentured servitude.

  200. @Clark Landrum My brother is in the business. Profits are under 5%. You have to love it and have a long term plan. It's a terrible investment.

  201. Their prices are probably too low, actually. Surprised to see how many people think they are too high. Motivating to see women trying and trying to be financially independent. xo

  202. @interesting, in California the price would certainly be higher, even for such rustic accommodations. But maybe that isn’t the case in northern Michigan.

  203. As a native Manhattanite I cannot imagine the challenges these two courageous women face. It makes rush hour on the subway and urban madness seem like child's play. It's inspiring and refreshing to read about interesting people who have chosen such a different life than the one I lead. Thank you for publishing it and all the best to this lovely couple! More of this please as it is a good distraction from the divisive and uncivil narrative we are living through every day.

  204. I too want to leave all the noise, pollution and mostly the people of the urban environment where I currently reside. My paradise is near of the small forest towns of northern or western New Mexico. Good for Ms. Regan that she has the skills to make it a reality while she is still young.

  205. Those berries are not cranberries and those fish are not walleye.

  206. @Paul Ruszczyk Yep: it's the FIRST thing I noticed and I even said out loud "cranberries don't grow on trees, sweetie." possibly saskatoons, but definitely not cranberries....

  207. @Paul Ruszczyk I think they are actually. We call them Pickerel. The shiny reflective eye is an indicator. Sander vitreus

  208. @Paul Ruszczyk Please, don't burst the rainbow balloon.. cranberries in trees, walleye that isn't one, bears almost as scary as old white men... the story has all the ingredients to please the readership..

  209. There has got to be a culinary medium between eating at the Waffle House (which is delicious, by the way), and this sort of precious haute cuisine.

  210. @TNB This type of cooking is analogous to the role played by high fashion as described by Meryl Streep in Devil Wears Prada. It is innovative (ingredients and technique), and thought-provoking, and subsidized by the 1%. But the ideas trickle down to more affordable restaurants and accomplished and not-so-accomplished home cooks.

  211. @TNB - Vietnamese pho - runs about $4 a bowl and is a gift from the people of Vietnam. I would put a simple bowl up against anything Gordon Ramsay has ever done.

  212. As someone who actually lives, works and thrives in the UP, this story left me with mixed emotions. When I heard about Milkweed opening I was excited to visit but the prices even for great food are way out of reach for most who live here. I get they are trying to attract people from outside of the UP, but local support can go a long way and be beneficial...isn’t that the essence of using and placing value in your local resources? People too, not just the milkweed and apples. How about finding a way to use the mosquitos in a sauce? We have TONS of them!

  213. @B, this is what happened to Anderson Valley, Mendocino and nearby rural areas of northern California. What was once a place for affordable back woods living became the preferred area for inns, winery tasting rooms and high end vacation homes. Back in the 1980s, a foodie couple built a hotel and restaurant in the the little town of Boonville, which was then considered the boonies. The restaurant became a foodie Mecca, until the owners ran off after being accused of stealing their employees’ tax withholding (they now run a similar operation in Oregon). Now Boonville is just another wine country tourist town, and the locals can’t afford to buy homes.

  214. California year round gentrification can never happen in the UP because of the weather. And the bugs. And the bad roads.

  215. @D.Annie How awful! Why isn’t all of that more widely known? Thank you for posting.

  216. I found this article to be an inspiration, in spite of all the misgivings commenters expressed about the price, the footprint, the ethics of catering to the rich, the woods being gentrified, etc. From the Hudson Valley to all parts of France, these kinds of ventures are nothing new. They are an accepted part of the culinary tradition and experience. Out of the way places like the Milkweed Inn provide people an adventure grounded in cuisine. They do not hurt the local economy; instead can certainly help it along!

  217. Wish I could be friends with these women. Such grit and independence. Inspiring.

  218. @E - Write them. They might really appreciate a California pen-pal come dead of winter when they are buried in snow inside for a few months. Or maybe they would come visit to get away?

  219. I’m not a foodie but a 61 year old grey haired guy riding a train and I loved this story. I wish the girls all the luck they will probably need in their new venture and a happy successful life.

  220. As another reader mentioned, the fruits in the principal photo aren't cranberries, as the subject of the story would know. Cranberries, real ones, grow in delicate creeping vines in bogs and bog-like places. Highbush cranberries, which aren't really cranberries but are tart like them, grow on bushes, but that's not what we're looking at either. Those fruits look like crabapples.

  221. Dissimilar plants are known as cranberries (e.g., the highbush vs bog varieties). Neither is any less a real cranberry than the other.

  222. @B - This is why latin plant names are important! So many plants have the same common name and it can be very confusing.

  223. @B But a crab apple is not a cranberry of any type.

  224. What a glorious profile of a very special human... Though my budget prevents me from dining at Elizabeth, I blissfully recall Ms. Regan's pierogi. I first enjoyed them at a tasting she held at a friend's shop in my neighborhood, and often purchased them to enjoy at home. Yes, she is most certainly a quiet, humble soul - when she opened Elizabeth, blocks away from my home, I could not have been happier for her. That she's seen such success is both not a surprise, yet also miraculous.

  225. The picture of her picking some berries are not cranberries. Cranberries grow in damp areas on the ground, or bogs. They grow on small vines, not on trees. I can't tell what that is she is picking but they might be Mountain Ash tree fruit or Hawthorn berries.

  226. @Greg McCartan They do look more like crab apples than cranberries. We do have highbush cranberries here in North America (not related to the bog cranberry), part of the Viburnum family.

  227. @Tim Thanks Tim. Never knew that. Maybe they might be those kinds of cranberries then!

  228. Cranberry trees! How delightful. Harvest them with a cranberry rake to get at those luscious ones at the top! But be careful leaning a ladder on a cranberry tree, there are branches above your head!

  229. @Guy Walker I forgot to include in my previous comment. Could also be Amelanchier sp. nothing better than plant ID to take my mind off politics !!

  230. I can't afford their prices, but I wouldn't mind being their neighbor and helping with the dishes.

  231. « Ms. Regan is its Greta Thunberg » is a poor analogy in an article about a chef and the food she prepares. Greta is vegan and promotes a vegan diet. This story is interesting but disappointing. Just another chef who cannot be « creative » making delicious food without killing and exploiting other animals.

  232. Just a rustic retreat for the 1% to pretend they are roughing it.

  233. As a Michiganian, I so appreciate what this wonderful chef is trying to do. The remoteness of her place is an obstacle but if anyone can pull it off she can. Clearly a woman of grit and determination. We vacation every year in the vastly more populated northern tip of the "mitten." If they fail to make it in the woods, we could use a few good restaurants in the Harbor Springs, Petoskey area on the shores of beautiful Lake Michigan.

  234. "Smoked" walleye? You don't smoke fish putting them over an open flame--every outdoorsman and outdoorswoman knows that.

  235. Great example of following your dream - best of luck with your endeavor

  236. I'm clapping..You two rock!

  237. I never knew that cranberries could grow on trees, as shown and captioned in the article's photo. Are those really cranberries Ms. Regan is picking ?

  238. The log cabin stood out - looks like a great place.

  239. Iliana - her background, her businesses, her personal life and dreams - fascinated me. Kim Severson wrote a truly wonderful story! However, I question her description of "Burn the Place," Iliana's book: "perhaps the definitive Midwestern drunken-lesbian food memoir." "perhaps the definitive..."? You mean there are more of this genre? Please post a list of the others, as I can't wait to read them all!

  240. Good for her! Chaque a son gout! At what point does continuing to push your own culinary boundaries turn into narcissism? Is it the chef’s fault that her customers are willing to pay $750 to enjoy the her efforts? So she decided to quit the madness of the Chicago restaurant scene...dramatically... to start a family among other things. How different is this from what many other chefs have done, except that it’s in the UP and on a very limited schedule? It’s her life. Let her live it.

  241. Sounds pretty 10%-esque to me.

  242. Millionaires paying for roots and shoots. I love it! Next comes the ultimate experience, leaves for TP.

  243. @Wang An Shih I needed a good laugh tonight, and you provided it. Thank you!

  244. Great read. Wishing these two women all the best.

  245. Seems very ten percent-esque to me.

  246. Some unsolicited “Dad” advice: invest in some good steel toed boots for when you’re swinging that splitting maul.

  247. Cranberries grow in bogs, not on trees! The photo shows a crabapple tree, much like the one framed by my kitchen window.

  248. Perhaps those "cranberries" in the photograph are really crab apples? Cranberries grow in a bog, not on a tree.

  249. @Katrin Cranberries can be harvested without flooding a bog -- that is a relatively new method which became the standard in the 1960's. It was common in the "old days" to use hand-held rakes to pick the berries, a method that tends to leave the fruits more intact.

  250. @Katrin Cranberries grow on vines. These days they are usually harvested by flooding a bog full of vines -- a relatively new method which became the standard in the 1960's. It was common in the "old days" to use hand-held rakes to pick the berries, a method that tends to leave the fruits more intact.

  251. @Katrin Yes, cranberries grow on vines, not trees. These days they are usually harvested by flooding a bog full of vines -- one of the most beautiful fall sights. Harvesting in water is a relatively new method which became the standard in the 1960's. It was common in the "old days" to use hand-held rakes to pick the berries, a method that tends to leave the fruits more intact.

  252. Like Keith Richards said: “It’s the price of an education.” All the best to them.

  253. "On Friday night, after the staff at Elizabeth had served the last fresh doughnut dusted with blueberry powder, which capped her 14-dish fall tasting menu, the couple wrangled their three dogs into an S.U.V. and drove six-and-a-half hours to get here. Around 2 a.m., they got lost on the network of profoundly muddy, one-lane logging roads that lead to the cabin." It is a certain impossibility that the "last fresh doughnut" was served at around 8 p.m. on a Friday night, considering the scenario which the author presents. Although, it's certainly possible the two ladies left early to arrive at a reasonable time to get some sleep before the next morning.

  254. Cranberries do not grow on trees. They grow very low on the ground. The picture is very misguiding.

  255. I brace myself every time a New York Times writer uses “Northern Michigan.” Do they mean Gaylord, Traverse City, or Cheboygan … which would be like saying Chicago is in the Northern US? So, hooray for a writer who gets it right! And huzzah for the majestic Upper Peninsula.

  256. Switch "old white men" with any other race and decide if it's acceptable. Can't wait until we look back on this phenomenon 60 years from now, and those who paint themselves as saints today are seen for what they really are.

  257. @Amy - Can't a white woman say a white man scares her? I'm an old white man and they scare me, too.

  258. @Amy Can you remind us whose ancestors were primarily involved in the genocide of Native Americans, the enslavement of Africans and their descendants, and the withholding of voting rights to non-Whites and women in this country for as long as possible, by hook and by crook? Were those old Cambodian men? Old Latino men, perhaps? This "phenomenon" is America growing up and reckoning with its disgusting history.

  259. Stop telling people to go to the U.P. Okay, I guess they can go if they spend money. If you go in late May or June or July, and sometimes in August, you will have lots of girlfriends wanting some of your blood. Permethrin clothing helps a lot. I wonder if they will ever do a vegetarian weekend.

  260. In the winter, when food for the wildlife is scarce, it is inappropriate for humans to gather it for their own consumption. We can go to the grocery store. Deer & squirrels cannot.

  261. @Ann eat the deer and the squirrels. problem solved.

  262. @Ann May to October !!

  263. The deer and the squirrels will be just fine.

  264. My folks had a sweet little camp on Lake Beaufort in the UP for 50 years. Fish, canoe, swim and hike in the summer; in the winter it’s xc-skis and snowshoes and snowmobiles. Good fun! Been up there long enough to know that the usually nice local people would mock this as the crazy shenanigans of the ignorant self-important rich down in Chicago. And they should know. Not to be a Negative Nancy, but this enterprise is doomed. Won’t last a year.

  265. @Jim Jam So you say. But according to their website, their 2020 Wildcrafting Workshops are entirely sold out. You can still get a reservation for 2021.

  266. @Jim Jam One only has to drive along US 2 to see all the high end resorts that were going to be the best ever and ended up decaying wood. You can also see the For Sale signs on the "cottages" and "camps" after one summer because the owners didn't like the nearly day long commute and isolation. I love the UP and would never leave IF there were jobs and medical care.

  267. @Jim Jam Except...according to their website they're already booked solid for 2020. Bummer, Nancy.