Native Texan Josh Cross comes to the Leland Lodge with a powerhouse culinary résumé from working under New York luminaries Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Tom Colicchio, Mario Batali and Alain Ducasse before eating and cooking his way around Europe. We sit down with Josh to get his take on the Northern Michigan food scene and talk earthy fall flavors.

As a fresh set of eyes on the Northern Michigan food scene, what are you seeing?

The raw product here is second to none. There aren’t a lot of places in the world where chefs can access this kind of variety of fresh locally grown produce, whole animals, cheese and wine. Even the honey I use is made up the road.

What does fall cooking look like in your kitchen?

I grew up in a hunting culture so I get really excited to work with wild game. Ducks, geese, venison; these proteins are so good with the earthy squashes and mushrooms and nuts we see this time of year.

So assuming we’re staring down a duck breast or venison loin, what’s a hearty fall side dish to go with it?

One of my favorite preparations is a simple lentil and squash salad. Cube and roast a butternut squash until it’s tender and toss the pieces with some cooked lentils, chopped toasted hazelnuts, some fresh chopped mint and dress with olive oil and a splash of aged balsamic vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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