A Butcher, A Forager, and Bon Appetit: Meet the Chefs of Chef Camp’s Second Session

Becca Dilley Photography
Becca Dilley Photography

This post is sponsored by Chef Camp.

Chef Camp is a three-day wilderness culinary retreat where chef-led campfire cooking classes, foraging, and gourmet meals mix with classic summer-camp activities. We take over an entire camp 90 minutes north of Minneapolis-St. Paul and fill it with feasts, camp activities, and cooking classes taught by some of the best chefs in the region. Open to everyone who loves food and cooking!

Interest in our first session (Sept. 1-3) was so high we booked a second weekend with five new chef-instructors for Sept. 8-10! If you’re up for an adventure, join us in the north woods!

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jd horizontalJD FRATZKE

JD Fratzke was born in the Mississippi River Valley of southeastern Minnesota in the last quarter of the 20th century. He began working in restaurants as a teenager and is now the chef and co-owner of Bar Brigade in St. Paul. JD lives in Minneapolis with his wife, Lisa, a painter, and their daughter, Nina Jeann. He continues to dedicate his life to kindness, deliciousness, and a fierce desire to be outside.

leone horizontalBRAD LEONE

Brad Leone is the test kitchen manager at Bon Appétit in New York City. Fermentation and offbeat methods of cooking have been his passion both at work and at home as documented in his video series It’s Alive! Born in northern New Jersey (the pretty part), Brad grew up hunting and fishing with his dad and got to spend a lot of time in the woods. Now he channels his love of cooking into keeping up an eye-popping pantry at Bon Appétit, nowadays full of projects like homemade miso, kombucha, and a Mexican fermented-pineapple brew called tepache.

colon horizontalNETTIE COLÓN

Born in New York City and raised in Puerto Rico, Nettie Colón spent her formative years learning the traditional cooking methods of the island with her grandmother and her friends. Nettie was chef de cuisine for over a decade at Luciaʼs Restaurant & Wine Bar in Uptown, Minneapolis. For seven years Nettie taught Mayan cuisine classes in the Biosphere Reserve of Sian Ka’an in Tulum, Yucatan Peninsula. She currently runs creative pop-up events through her company Red Hen Gastrolab.

merkel horizontalBRIAN MERKEL

After an enjoyable childhood in Michigan, Brian Merkel hit the road. Artist-turned-meat-guy, his path has led him to Portland, Detroit, New York, and San Francisco. He is now one of many men to have followed a woman back to Minnesota. These days you can find him as the in-house butcher at Tullibee, making sausage and charcuterie and tending to his custom dry-aging program. To Brian, the craft of butchery and charcuterie is a creative practice that’s rich in cultural history. He prefers cold winters, freshwater fish, old country music, dry riesling, sour beer, and a stiff boning knife. When he says heʼll put a ham in your chimney, heʼs not speaking in metaphor.

leaf horizontalLUKAS LEAF

Lukas Leaf spends his free time fishing, foraging, hunting, camping, and cooking his way through the great outdoors. He serves on the board of the Minnesota chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, is the chef of Modern Carnivore, and works as the sporting outreach coordinator for Sportsmen For the Boundary Waters. He was the executive chef at Al Vento restaurant in Minneapolis for five years.