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Serving 800 meals a day, chef strives for quality food

Jason Freeman and Erica Willingham prepare food for the workers at Target Logistics Bear Paw Lodge near Williston.

WILLISTON -- Some of the best dining in Williston isn't open to the public.

Many of the major crew camps that house oil field workers offer full-service cafeterias.

The Target Logistics Bear Paw Lodge doesn't cut any corners when it comes to the 800 meals served daily, said chef Jason Freeman.

"We have better ingredients to work with here than most big-city French restaurants do," said Freeman, of St. Cloud, Minn. "It's done in a meat-and-potatoes setting because these are working folks, but the quality is unbeatable."

The cafeteria is open around the clock, and warm meals are served three times a day. The all-you-can eat meals are included for workers living at the lodge.

A recent dinner menu featured grilled chicken breast Oscar and broiled tilapia with chili butter as the main dishes. The soups that day were salmon chowder and roast beef and potato soup.

Everything is made from scratch.

"The cheesecake is the best cheesecake I've ever had," said Terry Legions, assistant camp manager.

The most popular meals with oil field workers are homemade chicken fried steak and prime rib, Freeman said.

Least popular? Freeman guesses that would be tofu, but he's never actually tried to serve it.

As a chef, Freeman said cooking for the crew camp is ideal because the emphasis is on providing the best food for clients, not on keeping food costs down like he's experienced working in restaurants.

"We're really allowed the freedom to do what we do best," Freeman said. "If anybody was looking for a restaurant, if we served to the public I'd tell them to come eat here."

Dalrymple is a Forum Communications Co. reporter stationed in the Oil Patch.