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Dokken: Culinary creations add tasty touch to recent Ontario fly-in fishing trip

Brats and beans? Not when this pair is in the kitchen. No wonder we never made it out fishing after evening meals; we were too stuffed to move.

Jason and Peter with stuffed shells.jpg
Wearing their “kitchen goggles,” modeled after the glasses made famous by the Hanson brothers in the movie, “Slapshot,” Jason Laumb (left) and Peter Hinderlie prepare to serve up an evening meal of Stuffed Pasta Shells with Roasted Roma Tomatoes on Thursday, June 30, 2022, at Headwaters Lake outpost camp in northwestern Ontario. The designated kitchen chefs on all of their hunting and fishing excursions, Hinderlie and Laumb served up a tasty mix of culinary creations during the June 30-July 7 fly-in fishing trip.
Brad Dokken / Grand Forks Herald
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Brad Dokken
Brad Dokken

HEADWATERS LAKE, ONTARIO – The menu, I’m told, was hashed out on the tailgate of a pickup truck on an October evening nearly three years ago after Jason Laumb and Peter Hinderlie had finished a successful ruffed grouse hunt in northwest Minnesota.

Known for their memorable menus on previous fishing and hunting trips, the pair really outdid themselves during our June 30-July 7 fly-in fishing trip to Headwaters Lake, an outpost camp in the Ontario wilderness 120 miles northwest of Red Lake, Ontario.

While breakfasts and lunches consisted of traditional fishing camp fare such as eggs, bacon or sausage and sandwiches, evening meals resulted in culinary creations worthy of a five-star restaurant.

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Like everything else in the past two years, our trip to Headwaters Lake didn’t go as scheduled. There were times, during the darkest days of the pandemic, when I wondered if the trip would ever happen.

Here’s just a sampling of our evening meals: Stuffed Pasta Shells with Roasted Roma Tomatoes, Leg of Lamb with Garlic and Rosemary Red Wine Reduction Sauce and Twice-baked Potatoes, Pork Loin in White Wine Sauce with Au Gratin Potatoes, “Surf and Turf” consisting of Filet Mignon and Fried Walleye with homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce and Currant Crumble for dessert and, another night, Spicy Fish Tacos.


All of this built up to the feast they served up on Wednesday, July 6, our final night in camp: Walleye with Black Butter Caper Sauce, Chocolate Cake made from scratch and Homemade Ice Cream.

Brats and beans? Not when this pair is in the kitchen. No wonder we never made it out fishing after evening meals; we were too stuffed to move.

In the months leading up to the trip, which originally was scheduled for the summer of 2020 but delayed for two years because of the pandemic, Laumb more than once said he was just as excited about the menu as he was about the fishing.

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He even ordered custom chef uniforms for him and Hinderlie before the pandemic. Unfortunately, the chef uniforms were lost in the ensuing two years, and Laumb couldn't find them as the trip approached.

Instead, the camp chefs wore “kitchen goggles” modeled after the glasses worn by the Hanson brothers in the movie “Slapshot.”

That was only fitting, since they both play beer league hockey anyway.

The entire food bill came to about $100 a person. Considering what you’d pay in a five-star restaurant for just one of those meals, the bill was money well-spent for those of us who enjoyed the meals Laumb and Hinderlie created.

In the history of that outpost cabin, which I know dates back more than 30 years, I highly doubt better meals have ever been served.


Hinderlie, 34, of St. Paul, picked up his culinary skills from his father-in-law, Paul Hinderlie, who once ran the Harbor View Cafe, an acclaimed eatery in Pepin, Wisconsin. Reduction sauces are one of his specialties.

There’s no room for error when it comes to reduction sauces, Hinderlie says, and he has spent the past decade perfecting the craft, both at home and on hunting or fishing trips.

The Black Butter Caper Sauce, he says, was the most difficult dish he prepared on the trip because it has so many moving parts.

Laumb, 47, is the grillmaster on this team, and painstakingly tended the grill and the deep fryer for each of the evening meals. He even brought a bluetooth meat thermometer on the trip to make sure the leg of lamb was prepared to his specs.

It was. Paired with Hinderlie’s Garlic and Rosemary Red Wine Reduction Sauce, the Leg of Lamb was a highlight of the trip.

I won’t call it “the” highlight because every evening meal was a highlight. As grillmaster, Laumb says the leg of lamb was the most difficult “because overcooked lamb is junk.”

Which begs the question, of course: Why go through all of this effort at a fishing camp way out in the boonies?

Their answer is simple: Why not?


“You're in a completely awesome location so why not eat awesome,” Laumb said.

Besides, Hinderlie says, making good food is fun.

Sure it cut into their fishing time a bit, Laumb says, but the final afternoon, when they baked a cake and made ice cream with the Cuisinart he brought on the trip, was rainy anyway.

“Especially on these fly-in trips, you pretty much can catch fish at any time so an hour here or there isn't going to change too much,” Hinderlie said.

Trimming leg of lamb.jpg
Jason Laumb trims a leg of lamb, and Peter Hinderlie works in the background Friday, July 1, 2022, while preparing an evening meal at Headwaters Lake outpost camp in northwestern Ontario.
Brad Dokken / Grand Forks Herald

No two outpost cabins are the same when it comes to cooking utensils, so Laumb and Hinderlie bring a few essentials, just in case they're lacking in camp.

“I always bring my favorite spatula, and Jason always brings his good knives,” Hinderlie said. "Honestly, all you need is a good knife, spatula and a frying pan. Everything else can more or less be done on the fly. Fancy equipment is at times nice but not necessary to make a great meal.”

The homemade ice cream, which required bringing a Cuisinart to camp, “was more vanity than anything else,” Laumb admits.

Still, it was a tasty way to cap off a great week.

“We wanted this menu to be our biggest and best,” Laumb said.

That it was, but it can be even better, the chefs say. All they'll need, they say, is a different trip to new lake (preferably a lake with both walleye and lake trout).

And another 15 minutes on the tailgate.

Brad Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and has been the Grand Forks Herald's outdoors editor since 1998.

Besides his role as an outdoors writer, Dokken has an extensive background in northwest Minnesota and Canadian border issues and provides occasional coverage on those topics.

Reach him at bdokken@gfherald.com, by phone at (701) 780-1148 or on Twitter at @gfhoutdoor.
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