Mother's Day at the Dam Site

I often post about my Signature recipes – the ones to which I’ve devoted a great deal of time and effort, working to perfect them so that I can put my personal Signature on them. More importantly, I encourage Home Chefs to create Signature recipes of their own to share with the guests at their table.

I love nothing more than sampling the Signature dishes of other chefs – Home Chefs and Professionals alike – and always look for them on the menu when I’m in a restaurant. Today I decided to share with you about one restaurant that itself is a Signature. I share it with you now because Mother’s Day is right around the corner, and this one will be the first choice of hundreds of mothers and their families as their place to celebrate the day.

For a lot of the moms in our neck of the woods, there’s no question about where they want to celebrate Mother’s Day: They wouldn’t consider anyplace but the Dam Site Inn in Pellston, Michigan! Why the Dam Site? Because of their family style fried chicken dinners! Travel far and wide (in fact people do just that to eat at the Dam Site), and you won’t find a better fried chicken dinner anywhere on the planet! In fact, I’d have to say that the Dam Site hasn’t just put their Signature on their fried chicken dinner. They own it!

As the Dam Site itself describes, they are located “by the Dam on the Maple River.” It’s an idyllic country setting. The scene inside is just as inspiring as it is outside: families sitting around the table, enjoying each other as much as they are enjoying the meal that has been lovingly prepared and served by the East family. It’s not unusual to see five generations in a single family dining together on the family style dinner, complete with mashed potatoes and gravy, handmade noodles, homemade coleslaw, fresh biscuits with honey, and peas that are so fresh and delicious that they make believers out of even the most ardent pea-haters at the table. And, of course, all-you-can-eat FRIED CHICKEN!

I have to admit that I rarely eat fried chicken. And I never make it, because, well. Why would I? I couldn’t possibly do it justice – that is, in a Dam-Site-Inn-sort-of-way. If I’m going to enjoy eating fried chicken, I want it to be the best. That can only mean the Dam Site! And while there are other things on the menu at the Dam Site, I’m not sure why anybody would ever order anything but the chicken. One look around the restaurant tells me that everyone else agrees with me.

If you’re ever in northern Michigan, I hope you’ll make it a point to eat at the Dam Site. They’re open every year from Mother’s Day through Halloween. Plan to start in the bar, a throwback to the 1950s and 60s, where you’ll be served by Shane, the bartender. (Once he’s met you, he’ll never forget you.) Then go ahead and indulge yourself in their fabulous chicken dinner. One taste will have you writing home about it.

But for now, though, I hope you’ll be inspired by the Dam Site itself. They’re passionate about what they do. They’re passionate about their chicken, and they’ve put their Signature on it. As a Home Chef, I know you’re already passionate about cooking. I hope that you’ll start to develop your own repertoire of Signature dishes that will become as memorable as the fried chicken at the Dam Site Inn.

For more on our Signature recipes, check us out at

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