What does an Artist in Residence eat?

In his spare time, Michigan Sea Grant graphic designer Todd Marsee is more than just an adventurous chef; he’s also an award-winning watercolor artist. We’re proud to announce that Todd has been selected as the 2017 Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Artist in Residence!

07 Marsee - Pictured Rocks PR -highres
Todd’s work features natural imagery overlaid on abstract, textured backgrounds. Photo: Todd Marsee

The competitive Pictured Rocks residency includes a three-week stay at a cabin within the park, just a stone’s throw from the shore of Lake Superior. For three weeks earlier this fall, Todd was free to hike, kayak, bike — and, of course, paint — surrounded by beautiful Upper Peninsula colors and textures. Read about his adventures on his artist website and blog.

Todd also seized the opportunity to cook with some locally caught fauna. Here’s what he wrote on his blog, reprinted here with his permission:

“I’ve had a few PB&J’s, but I’m also trying to keep it healthy by eating my greens. I’m very, very surprised that I’ve had several days where I have only had two meals a day! This is very unlike me, as I love to eat.

Being in the U.P. means that there is an abundance of lake whitefish. I brought a good amount of food with me, but by the end of the week I was running low on fresh veggies, so when I was in the Munising area for a hike at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, I stopped by the grocery store to restock. I was happy to find that they had some local, U.S.-caught whitefish at the supermarket. I was hoping to buy directly from the local fishery, but I always seem to be driving by when places were closed.

Photo: Todd Marsee

So, whitefish dinner it was. The cabin has a potbelly stove insert with a cooktop, which I really wanted to use, but it was so darn hot. I also discovered that the cabin’s smoke alarm is ultra-sensitive, so I wasn’t sure how this would work out. The potbelly stove top cooking option seemed much more the way fish was supposed to be cooked in a cabin.

My usual recipe is very simple (grilled fish with butter, garlic, oregano, and sea salt), but since I had very few of those ingredients (What!? No butter!?), I tried this instead.”

Broiled lake whitefish with pesto and oyster mushrooms


2 lake whitefish fillets
Homemade pesto
Chopped garlic
Suggested sides: sweet potatoes, kale, bread


  1. Set oven to broil (525 degrees), and spread desired amount of pesto on top of fillets. Pop these in the oven for 10 or so minutes, depending on the thickness of your fillets.
  2. Caramelize onions, garlic, and sweet potato. Add oyster mushrooms right at the end (so they retain their texture but get warm). Spread all this on top of the lake whitefish fillets (I separated out the sweet potatoes).
  3. Serve with shredded kale and toasted bread.
  4. Since it’s just me, I wrapped the leftover fillet and sides in some aluminum foil and froze it for later (bonus!).


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