Depot chef puts passion into workThe Depot Family Restaurant is a crowded place on Thursday afternoons. One reason is their knoephla soup, and another is the man behind the food, head chef and co-owner Mike Ganser. Ganser has been cooking at the Depot, located in the Jamestown Business Center, for close to 22 years.
By: By Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
The Depot Family Restaurant is a crowded place on Thursday afternoons.
One reason is their knoephla soup, and another is the man behind the food, head chef and co-owner Mike Ganser.
Ganser has been cooking at the Depot, located in the Jamestown Business Center, for close to 22 years.
“We go through 30 gallons of knoephla on a Thursday, and I’ll make it for about three hours,” Ganser said and added, people will buy gallons at a time.
Knoephla is just one of the Depot’s several homemade soups.
According to Ganser, other popular items include hot dishes and a wide variety of daily specials.
“We like most anything that we’ve ordered,” said Clara Christ, a regular patron at the Depot.
Christ and her group were sampling cookies and coffee but said they enjoy eating breakfast there as well.
“At 9 a.m., we will have people waiting at the door to come in,” Ganser said.
The throng of hungry patrons doesn’t faze the seasoned chef.
“After the first five years I learned that you can’t break down,” Ganser said. “You just got to keep cooking”
This is exactly what Ganser has been doing for the majority of his life.
“I’ve cooked all my life, minus a few years with Twin Cities Roofing,” he said.
His former cooking duties include working at two different Sergio’s (one in Dickinson, N.D., and one in Jamestown that became Paradiso) and the Dakota Inn, before he came to the Depot.
“I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t enjoy it. It’s a way of life,” he said.
Ganser warned that just because people can cook at home, doesn’t mean they can cook in a restaurant.
“Right away you know if they got it or they don’t,” he said.
He said that there have been a few college students who tried their hand at cooking for the Depot and were ultimately let go.
“It takes a special person to cook and it’s something I’ve always had a knack for,” Ganser said.
Even though he has a knack for cooking, Ganser has created some dishes that didn’t make the grade, like the time he wrapped a walleye with sage dressing and covered it with a cream gravy. The owner at the time told him never to make that dish again.
According to Ganser, the menu has pretty much stayed the same, but they do take suggestions for soups or specials and try to make those.
“Almost every recipe out there, somebody else has,” he said.
He said he will tweak recipes. He doesn’t measure everything all the time and will sometimes add a secret ingredient.
Depot Co-owner Dani Paul said she is grateful for Ganser’s kitchen presence.
“Mike is phenomenal; he’s got the knowledge that keeps this place running food-wise,” Paul said.
Ganser taught Paul to cook. She also hosts, serves, caters and manages the business.
“Good, solid, quality cooks are hard to find, I’m fortunate to have him,” Paul said.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org