You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

Apr 30, 2012

By Chef John Zehnder, CEC, ACE, HGT, AAC

Weather patterns in the spring of 1994 were very similar to what we are experiencing this year. Unusually warm temperatures early on in April/May peaking the second week in June with high 90’s for a ten day stretch. Back then, Zehnder’s celebrated Bavarian Festival with nightly Bavarian entertainment and German style all you can eat dinners.

So…here’s what happened on Friday night of Bavarian Festival 1994:

It’s 7 p.m. and the temperature still registers a hot 95 degrees. Zehnder’s Main Dining Room is full with 300 guests just about ready to begin a night of dining and celebration. The Heritage Room is also full and there is a line waiting to be seated. Suddenly and unbelievably, a panic stricken deer crashes through the window panes into the main lobby across from our Guest Services office.

Where it came from, nobody knows! The deer ran into our Guest Services Office, still alive but seriously injured from all the broken glass. Millie, who was working that evening in Guest Services thought quick enough to dive under her desk to avoid a confrontation. Within a minute or two (seemed like an eternity) the Frankenmuth Police Department arrived and put the deer down. No telling what would have happened had that deer turned to the left and ran into the Main Dining Room!

Sauerbraten Gravy
(Sauerbraten was always one of the Bavarian Festival specialties at Zehnder’s)
Want something a little different? This is a great gravy for meatballs or leftover roast beef.

3 tsp. Zehnder’s Chicken Seasoning
2 tsp. leaf marjoram
2 tsp. ground black pepper
6 whole bay leaves
1/2 cup tomato paste
1 1/2 qt. chicken broth
1 cup each shredded carrots, chopped celery & thin sliced onions
1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup cold water/1 cup all-purpose flour (your thickening agent)
3/4 cup dry red wine

1. Add all ingredients to a large saucepan or kettle, except for the red wine & water/flour mix.
2. Bring to a boil, stir and simmer for one hour.
3. Blend water/flour until smooth and slowly whisk into the boiling gravy. Should be medium thick consistency-like a cream soup.
4. Whisk in the red wine.
5. Pour over browned but not fully cooked meatballs-simmer at low heat until done. You can use a crock pot or deep skillet on your stove for this procedure.


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