By Sabrina Hornung
“If you had talked to me five years ago or even a year ago and told me I was gonna be a chef in Fargo I probably would have looked at you pretty funny. It's wild where food is taking me in life,” said Austin Covert, executive chef of the Rosewild restaurant and the Jasper Hotel's dining services. Chef Covert got his culinary start in Detroit Michigan, but he’s worked at fine dining restaurants in New York, Chicago and now Fargo.
He developed a taste for the restaurant industry at 14 and eventually worked his way up through the ranks of the kitchen and in those 16 years, he’s managed to build an impressive résumé.
Rosewild is a hyperlocal farm-to-table restaurant and is indeed the new kid on the restaurant block, opening in June. In fact the Jasper Hotel’s concept is built around the hyperlocal experience. The walls are adorned with local art, the mini bars are stocked with local booze and the rooms are stocked with books from Zandbroz, our favorite local bookstore. Think of Jasper Hotel as an F-M sampler platter. At Rosewild, Chef Covert’s menu blends midwest comfort with a Nordic Twist
We had a chance to catch up with him at Rosewild to savor a little local flavor.
High Plains Reader: As a Detroit native, have you noticed a difference between Michigan food culture and North Dakota food culture?
Austin Covert:: Oh 100%, 100% yeah. You guys definitely like your meat and potatoes, but yeah, I mean, they obviously have their differences. The biggest difference is just the seasonality of produce.
In Michigan, we're starting to see spring produce in March, April. Here the ground is hard until May. So the growing season here is a lot shorter which has its pluses and minuses. For me and through this restaurant, locally sourced is everything. We are as farm-to-table as it gets. Our chickens, our eggs, we're making our own pasta in-house. The sous chefs are from Fargo, the plates are from Fargo, these boards are from Fargo. You know, it's all as local as we can possibly get, and I think Jasper Hotel kind of embodies the Fargo-Moorhead community throughout.
HPR: When you create a dish, are there certain flavor profiles that you're more attracted to?
AC: Um yeah, like anything else you kind of drift to what you feel comfortable with, but for me this is all brand new. I tell the guys in the back, “get comfortable being uncomfortable.” That's how you grow, that's how you become successful. I think this restaurant is a great example of that. From the cooks in the back to myself to even the guests, trying to provide an experience that might not be your traditional Fargo dining experience, by trying to take familiar flavors and elevate it in a way that's going to make not only the customer happy, but to make myself happy as well.
Yes there's obviously certain flavor combinations and things that I've done in the past, but being able to kind of put a Nordic and kind of Fargo twist on it that's where all the fun comes in. We go through a very extensive process in changing the menu, so nothing goes on the menu if it's not ready.
We don't really run specials. As far as flavors go, it's all new, it's all exciting, and for me that's half the fun of it!
Somebody brought in their mother's old cookbooks and I have all these church cookbooks in the back and just trying to find ways to connect in a community that has so much culture and history.
There's a dish on our Chef's Choice menu that is an homage to the Indigenous people who lived here. One of our farmers, Noreen Thomas at Doubting Thomas Farms, is entrusted with some of these sacred herbs and grains for certain tribes. You go to the farm and you can talk to her and you'll come up with three new menus. She's got so much history behind her that it makes my life a lot easier.
YOU SHOULD KNOW
Jasper Hotel, RDO Tower Block 9
215 Broadway N, Downtown Fargo
Reservations: opentable.com or (701) 532-5170
September 15th 2023
August 15th 2023
July 22nd 2023
June 14th 2023
May 14th 2023
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