Featured Chef and Restauranteur – John Schiltz of the Lake Elmo Inn

I recently had the honor of meeting with John Schiltz, owner of Lake Elmo Inn- Restaurant and Catering.

At a young age John had two passions in life, cooking and woodworking. While in high school John dabbled in both. At 16 years old John worked as a dishwasher at the Lake Elmo Inn. He also worked  at the high school cafeteria and took O.J.T. at a local cabinet shop.  While testing the waters in these fields, John didn’t find that he could express all he had to offer.  The one thing John knew was that he enjoyed being in the restaurant!  After graduating from high school John decided to attend the culinary program at St. Paul Technical College.  While attending culinary classes, John had the honor, from his peers of being “Most Likely To Succeed.”

After graduating college John spent the next few years traveling to different parts of the country, working at some of the finest restaurants.  After gaining more experience he landed a highly coveted spot at the Registry Hotel in St Paul. John had the privilege of working under a top German chef.  Eventually, John moved on to bigger and better things. 

It was in 1983 that John got word that the owner of the Lake Elmo Inn had put it up for sale. Although John was young, had decided to purchase the restaurant. John has now owned the restaurant for 29 years. In 2006 the restaurant underwent an extensive renovation to modernize and create more space for diners.

Over the years, The Lake Elmo Inn has grown to include many additional services and venues –

  • Lake Elmo Inn Restaurant
  • Lake Elmo Inn Catering & Event Center
  • Lake Elmo Inn Corporate Catering

The newly remodeled patio & restaurant:

If you could only eat one thing the rest of your life, what would it be
Beef, because there are so many varieties

Describe your dream kitchen in five words
Spacious, lake view, efficient, powerful appliances, and refrigeration

What is your comfort food
Hot dish or fried chicken, I really enjoy cooking at home for my wife.

Appliances you couldn’t live without

Tilting kettle, broiler, gas burner, and convection oven

If you could only have 5 tools in your kitchen, what would they be
Good knifes, cookware, food processor, tongs and spatula

What is a typical work day like
There are never two of the exact same days in this business.  I work 6 days a week and try not to work on Sundays, but usually I end up working for about 7-8 hours, which I consider a half day. A few weeks ago I had my first full day off in decades.

I wake up at 5:30 and get into the restaurant about 7 am and stay until the night crew arrives which is about 5pm. If we have a catering event,  those days are always longer.

If you could give a new cook, one tip what would it be
Concentrate and focus- it’s as simple as that…

If you haven’t eaten at the Lake Elmo Inn, you need to; and make it soon! 
It’s a truly magical place during the Holidays, just check out the amazing ornament display on the ceiling in the bar.