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The Simple Plate
"The Simple Plate" is a new feature on Northland Morning every other Tuesday at 8:00 am, featuring tales of local food made and produced by local people.You'll hear conversations with local chefs and local food growers. We'll discuss food culture, visit area food events, and even share a few recipes."The Simple Plate" is supported by Whole Foods Co-Op of Duluth.

The Simple Plate: At Sara’s Table Chester Creek Cafe

Mark and Jillian Forte
Henry Elholm

For our premiere episode, we sat down with Jillian Forte, executive chef of At Sara’s Table Chester Creek Cafe. We dove into the importance of locally sourcing your ingredients, for moral and flavorful reasons, and a mysterious dish that both of us found compelling and delicious. 

Take a stab at the recipe below after you listen and learn about the mystical okonomiyaki


You may think of pancakes as a go-to breakfast menu favorite, but we all know that the combo of sweet syrup and cakey fluffiness is appealing at any point of the day. We may also feel the same affinity towards steak and eggs, a savory and salty dish that unites scrambled eggs with a cut of meat that we traditionally know as, “what’s-for-dinner”. I'm certainly guilty of indulging in these dishes late at night and I know I'm not alone. You know the saying: different strokes, different folks.

Despite the delicious nature of these two dishes, and as much as I’d like to luxuriate in pancakes or steak and eggs for every breakfast, I know it isn’t the healthiest way to start my day. I also know that I’m doing my palette a disservice to walk the alternative, hearty route of oatmeal and brown sugar in the AM. 

So, how do we satisfy our desire for flavor while keeping it fresh and avoid the flapjack-crash or steak-stomachache? The answer is much simpler than we thought. 

All hail, the okonomiyaki: a savory, Japanese pancake. You can add as many different veggies or meats as you like because “okonomi” translates to “how you like” and “yaki” means cooked. This recipe is composed of a nutritious array of vegetables and is topped off with gut-health promoting and sinus-clearing kimchi. It’s inexpensive, delicious, and easy to make. Jillian’s recipe is top secret, but I’ve thrown together a great recipe through a lot of trial and error. I tried to make a vegan version as well; see the substitutes in parentheses. Try it out and let me know what you think in the comments. 


2 medium pans

2 spatulas 

2 large mixing bowls 

1 plate


  • 1 cup dashi (sub cold water)
  • 4 eggs (sub w 4 tbsp flaxseed or other vegan egg replacement)
  • 1 tsp mirin (sub sherry with a pinch of sugar)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (sub 1/2 cup oat flour + 1/2 cup buckwheat flour)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups napa cabbage
  • 1 carrot
  • 4 green onions 
  • 1/4 cup shitake mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • Kimchi
  • Sriracha Mayo

Don’t forget to source locally!


  1. Thinly slice your cabbage, mushrooms, carrots, and green onions. Place half of the green onions to the side and place the rest of the veggies in a large mixing bowl.
  2. In your other bowl, whisk together your dashi (or cold water), mirin, and eggs, then slowly mix in salt and flour until you reach a smooth consistency. 
  3. Pour your batter over the vegetables. Mix well until vegetables are completely covered. 
  4. Heat your pans to medium-high and toss 1 tbsp oil into each. Wait until the oil is shimmering, then pour equal parts okonomiyaki batter into each pan. Pat the top and round the edges of the pancakes. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover for 9 minutes.
  5. Check the bottom of the pancake for a golden brown color and if it isn’t, wait, but if it is, take your two spatulas and carefully flip both pancakes.
  6. Apply pressure to the top of the pancakes and wait until you arrive at golden brownness on the other side. 
  7. When the pancake has finished cooking, transfer to a plate and top with sriracha mayo, kimchi, and the remaining green onions. 


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  • The Simple Plate airs on The North 103.3 in Duluth, Minnesota and features tales of local food made and produced by local people. You'll hear conversations with local chefs and local food growers. We'll discuss food culture, visit area food events, and even share a few recipes. The Simple Plate is supported by Whole Foods Co-Op of Duluth.