During the summer months, I’ll have the opportunity to introduce you to our talented culinary team. Our executive chefs work each day to provide delicious, healthy, fun meals to our guests. I look forward to introducing them to you so you can learn a little more about what makes them howl in the Great Wolf Lodge kitchen.

Executive Chef Russ MeeksStarting as a line cook at the Great Wolf Lodge in Wisconsin Dells, Executive Chef Russ Meeks understands what it means to be a park of the “pack”. Serving in multiple roles over the last 12 years, he currently oversees the culinary team at the Great Wolf Lodge in Charlotte/Concord, North Carolina.

With degrees in Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management, Chef Meeks understands the entire operation of food prep and team building.Through his innate creativity, he has developed his own twist on a few southern classics for guests to enjoy at the lodge.

Great Wolf Lodge – Do you have a favorite recipe or culinary treat that you have created just for our guests?

Chef Russ Meeks  During my time at the Great Wolf Lodge in Charlotte/Concord, I have perfected two very popular recipes for our guests - my Signature Southern Sweet Tea Barbeque sauce. After tasting my signature barbeque sauce an upcoming client requested two gallons to share with their office. It has become a very popular menu item at the lodge.

Great Wolf Lodge – What have you brought to Great Wolf Lodge during your time as a chef?

Chef Meeks – In addition to my Signature Sweet Tea Barbeque Sauce, we offer our guests a unique blend of chocolate and spices with my signature Howlin’ Hot Chocolate. During the holidays and cooler months in North Carolina, our guests enjoy this sweet indulgence. We are even working on a plan to sell a pre-portioned version for our resort guests. It is a very close replica for our guests who would like to enjoy a warm cup of Howlin’ Hot Chocolate at home.

Great Wolf Lodge  What inspires you most as a chef?

Chef Meeks  I was is inspired to be a Chef working the kitchen with my Grandmother. She encouraged me as a boy to help her make various things and taught me many secrets of cooking I still use today. It is a tradtion I continue to share with my family and friends.

Great Wolf Lodge  What advice do you offer to someone who wants to become a chef?

Chef Meeks – Have a passion for it! Live it! Learn something new every day! Being a chef takes constant change and the ability to adapt. For me, it is a great reward when I can showcase a new twist on a traditional recipe. Without a passion for the culinary arts, it can be very tough to excel in the dayo-to-day.

Great Wolf Lodge – What makes being a chef at Great Wolf Lodge so special?

Chef Meeks – Working for the lodges over the years I have learned a lot. Something that is very special to me is our allergy program. After working with these families in our restaurants I am inspired to make the experience something special for each guest.  These families tell us, the only time they get to eat out together is at the lodge. 

It’s that time of year again. Most of you have probably purchased school supplies and helped pick out the official “first day outfit”.  Some of you have even laced up shoes, helped strap on backpacks and walked your little one to the bus stop.

Back to school means a lot of things—the end of summer, new friends and new adventures. It also means that homework is once again part of the daily routine. And no matter where you live, or what grade your child is in, everyone is united by that first proverbial assignment, “How did you spend your summer break?”  Whether it’s drawing pictures, writing essays, giving speeches—the topic is one that schools across America love to kickoff each new year with.   All of us at Great Wolf Lodge want to get in on the fun with our version of this time honored assignment. We invite you to take part in our Back to School Contest

We want to hear your favorite Great Wolf Lodge memory.  Maybe your family visited this summer, and you can actually write about how you spent your summer break.  Or you can write about the very first time you met Wiley or Violet.  Does your family spend every Christmas with us for our Snowland celebration?  Whatever the memory, whatever the story, we want to hear it.

Your assignment is to write a 300 – 500 word story about your all-time favorite Great Wolf Lodge memory.  Get creative, because our judges will be picking three winners based on creativity, originality and of course, sticking to the assigned topic.

This contest is open to Great Wolf Lodge fans in the US (including DC) and Canada (excluding Quebec), age 13 and up.  Your assignment is due Noon CT on September 18th.  And don’t forget the photos of your stay, not only do we love seeing them, but at least one photo is needed to enter.  Entering is easy, just visit the Contest section of our blog.

So pull out those spiral-bound notebooks and #2 pencils and start writing!

For official rules visit gwld.gs/fbContest

Every summer my parents (65 & 66 years old), 6-year old niece and 11-year old nephew and I (39 years old) take a vacation together. This year the kids picked Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine, Texas after seeing commercials on one of the New Orleans TV Stations.

Our vacation was awesome. We checked in to the Great Wolf Lodge at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 8, went to the indoor waterpartk and played til 8:30. We order food from the snack shop, which we thought was resonably priced, ate then we went straight to our room for the night. The kids were so tired that they did not even want to play video games or participate in the MagicQuest game. 

The next morning we got up to go eat with Wiley and Violet at Camp Critter Bar & Grille, but were told we had to make reservations, so we made them for 9 and hung out in the lobby for an hour.  We couldn't pass up the chance to eat with Wiley and Violet.  After eating with the characters, which was well worth the money, we headed to our room, the KidCabin, packed up and at about 10:30 checked out of our room, put our luggage in the truck and enjoyed both the indoor and outdoor waterparks.

At about 2 pm both kids were ready to shower, dress and hit the road to explore the Grapevine Area. We had a blast! The only thing we think can be inproved upon is the room lighting and when you check in the front desk should tell you that you need to make restervations for the Camp Critter Breakfast. Other than that we can't wait to come back hopefuly next year!


Name: Michelle LeBoeuf
City: Houma
State: Louisiana
Email: shellyonbayoucoteau@yahoo.com
Lodge: Grapevine, TX

After spending the day riding all the waterslides in Bear Track Landing and playing MagiQuest throughout the resort, families at the Great Wolf Lodge in the Pocono Mountains can now enjoy a round of putt-putt golf in the dark at Howl at the Moon Glow Golf.

The newest attraction to the Pocono Mountains Lodge is the place where the forest meets mini golf fun. Families can take an evening stroll through the woods, along this themed golf course, no matter what the clock says. With our uniquely indoor “moonlit” sky,  

Don't worry; we didn’t turn off all the lights. With the help of backlights and glowing pathways, you will Putt your way to victory along the wooded path. You will even have a perfect line of sight for a hole in one. Just be sure to yell "fore" so you don’t startle our forest friends.

Howl at the Moon Glow Golf

For avid golfers, leave your clubs at home and share the joy of the greens with everyone in your family. The team at Great Wolf Lodge has thought of everyone, and the course offers golf clubs that are perfect for every age and height. Just bring your imagination and get ready to hit the mini links.

Located along Main Street on the first floor of the lodge, just across from Ten Paw Alley, plan to visit Howl at the Moon for nine holes of indoor fun. Keep an eye out for the little creatures who call the golf forest their home – they will guide your team along the putting green to an above PAR delight.

At just $5 per person, this experience is the perfect way to spend time together complete with friendly competition. And, don’t worry. We took out all the sand traps to help ensure everyone feels like a winner at the end.

Next time you're at the Pocono Mountains Lodge be sure to try your hand at this new addition to our array of entertainment and activities. This new experience is not your average shot in the dark.

Is your family a big fan of mini golf fun? Guests at the Great Wolf Lodge resorts in Concord, Kansas City, Traverse City and Williamsburg can enjoy our outdoor course at the Howl in One Mini Golf or Wacky Wilderness at the Niagara Falls lodge. These are open each summer from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

During the summer months, I’ll have the opportunity to introduce you to our talented culinary team. Our executive chefs work each day to provide delicious, healthy, fun meals to our guests. I look forward to introducing them to you so you can learn a little more about what makes them howl in the Great Wolf Lodge kitchen.

Chef Kuan Yu is the very talented Sous Chef at the Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, WA. Since March 2005, Chef Yu has introduced his Asian-inspired talents to many families staying at the resort.

With degrees from the Japan Culinary Academy in Tokyo and a former instructor at Johnson & Wales University, Chef Yu not only create culinary works of art, but also mentors and encourages rising chefs to do the same.

Some of Chef Yu’s signature dishes at the resort include sushi and General Tso’s Chicken. His Asian flare even earned her the People’s Choice Award at the Taste of Williamsburg for three years in a row. As Sous Chef at Great Wolf Lodge, Chef Yu admires the family-centric approach the resort has towards meal time.

Great Wolf Lodge  What is your all-time favorite food?

Chef Kuan Yu – I love rice. It is especially good in my General Tso’s Chicken prepared just for Great Wolf Lodge. With my training in Asian-style cuisine, it is my favorite dish to prepare for families.

Great Wolf Lodge  What makes a meal at Great Wolf different from other places?

Chef Yu – Food at Great Wolf Lodge is prepared with love and passion. This is not something I’ve seen in previous kitchens. Not only is it a fun work environment, but I like to think our guests taste the difference our staff puts into food preparation each time they visit the Lodge.  

Great Wolf Lodge  What have you brought to Great Wolf Lodge during your time as a chef?

Chef Yu – Since starting at the Lodge, I have introduced the art of making sushi to the food and beverage team. This is such a popular dish with our guests and the quality of fresh seafood available here makes this a must-have for our menu – and for families to try.

Great Wolf Lodge  What inspires you most as a chef?

Chef Yu – It is important to cook with love. Your feelings and emotion are exemplified in the final dish. It is important to share your love for cuisine with each guest who is dining in the restaurant. 

Great Wolf Lodge  What makes being a chef at Great Wolf Lodge so special?

Chef Yu – The emphasis on making a special memory for each family at that time is so important. To create the environment for them to spend quality time together is remarkable to observe.

During the summer months, I’ll have the opportunity to introduce you to our talented culinary team. Our executive chefs work each day to provide delicious, healthy, fun meals to our guests. I look forward to introducing them to you so you can learn a little more about what makes them howl in the Great Wolf Lodge kitchen.

Chef Tom Hanrahan Grand Mound, WAChef Tom Hanrahan’s passion for cooking began at the age of 14 and has continued to grow and increase with each step he has made in the profession. At the Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, WA., Executive Chef Hanrahan leads the culinary team and delivers exceptional guest experience throughout the resort.

Chef Hanrahan has a passion for the Northwest and enjoys the opportunity travel to other Great Wolf Lodge locations to collaborate with his fellow chefs.

Great Wolf Lodge – Do you have a favorite recipe or culinary treat that you have created just for Great Wolf Lodge guests?

Chef Tom Hanrahan – One of my signature recipes for guests in Grand Mound is for Roasted Corn and Crab Chowder. We use local ingredients to make fresh chowder each day.

Great Wolf Lodge  What makes a meal at Great Wolf different from other places?

Chef Hanrahan  The ambiance, the fun and the exceptional food we provide is something families will be hard pressed to find other places. We engage the whole family in the dining experience to make it something enjoyable from beginning to end.

Great Wolf Lodge  What new programs have you brought to Great Wolf during your time as a chef?

Chef Hanrahan – One of my passions as a chef is healthy dining for all ages. From our restaurant menus and outlets like Bear Paw Eats & Sweets to our banquet and meetings menus, we continue to add healthy options for families to choose. Secondly, an increased awareness in our allergen training has been instrumental for the Food and Beverage Pack Members. We see it as an extension of our promise to deliver quality food to our all guests. 

Great Wolf Lodge  What inspires you most as a chef?

Chef Hanrahan – One of the most inspiring things is training people from the ground up. It’s great to see people start as an aqua chef and make it to culinary management. Each step along the way you can see their growth and drive to succeed. It’s a great feeling to help others fulfill their dreams.

Great Wolf Lodge  What makes being a chef at Great Wolf Lodge so special?

Chef Hanrahan   The people that I work with on a daily basis make the difference.  There are so many inspiring people at my resort and throughout the company. To be able to share ideas and build that camaraderie is something unique to Great Wolf Lodge and the people who choose to work here.

 

Dungeness & Roasted Corn Chowder

 

Ingredients:

6 oz. Pancetta, ground
1 ¼ C Onions, small dice
1 ¼ C Celery, small dice
1 ¼ C Green peppers, small dice
1 ¼ C Red peppers, small dice
1 ¼ C Flour
48 oz Chicken stock
3 lb Whole cob corn char grilled and cut off cob
3 lb Potatoes, small dice

2 Bay leaves
25 oz Heavy cream, scalded
20 oz Milk, scalded
Salt, to taste
White pepper, to taste
Tabasco, to taste
Worcestershire, to taste
8 oz Rock crab
8 oz Dungeness crab

Directions:

  1. Render the pancetta.  Sweat the onions, celery and peppers in the rendered pancetta.  Add the flour and cook to make a blond roux. 
  2. Add the chicken stock gradually, whipping to work out lumps. 
  3. Bring the soup to a simmer.  Cook for 30 to 40 minutes. 
  4. Puree half of the corn and add it to the soup with the potatoes.  Add the whole corn kernels and bay leaf and simmer until the corn and potatoes are tender. 
  5. Combine the heavy cream and milk; add to the soup.  Remove and discard the bay leaf.
  6. Add both kinds of crab.  Adjust the seasoning with salt, white pepper, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce, to taste.

Vacation comes packed full of stress! As moms we carry the "stress" for the family and typically do all the planning. Which means we worry about what to pack, what to wear, where to go, how to get there, what to do when we are there, what to eat, what the weather is going to be like, and so on. BUT I didn't have to worry about any of that while at the Great Wold Lodge! My kids were always entertained, and it didn't matter what the weather was like! I purchased the Pup Passes for the kids, so they knew exactly what they were able to do—so complaining was obsolete. Everything was provided for—I really had nothing to worry about. I actually was able to sit back and enjoy my children. Isn't that what vacation is all about?

We had an amazing time! You can find a full review on the lodge at my blog, Home Grown Families

Name: Melissa Brouillette
City: Greenville
State: SC
Email: momtosprouts@yahoo.com
Lodge: Charlotte/Concord, NC


 

This week, my blog entry has been written by a young friend from my hometown. I hope you enjoy her personal story of her family's first visit to our resort in Sandusky. - Susie

Hi! My name is Evie Parfitt, and I love traveling!  I am 11 years old and live in Rochester, New York.  I also have my own blog, AlwaysEvie, and I sometimes guest write for my dad’s travel blog, Adventures by Daddy. I love brownies and videogames - as well as traveling! Here's my story about visiting Great Wolf Lodge.

It was a Friday Morning, the last weekend in June. I was super excited for the weekend to come! Because we were going to Great Wolf Lodge Sandusky.

It was supposed to be a five hour drive from Rochester, NY, to Sandusky, OH, but unfortunately, it took us seven and a half. All because of traffic! But, the drive was worth it, because the moment we got to the resort, I knew my family and I would have a great time!

When we first walked into our room – it was a family fireplace suite – we saw a box of cookies on the counter and milk in the fridge. We immediately felt at home. I got one of the queen beds, Mom and Dad got the other, and my teenage sister happily accepted the pull-out couch, due to the extra privacy behind the half wall. We settled in a bit, then went to dinner at the Gitchigoomie Grill. It was very nice and filling. I got the kids' chicken fingers, which came with a pair of complimentary wolf ears! They were AWESOME!

Then we went to the waterpark and I went around the Lazy River about 15 times! Then we went back to our room and enjoyed our cookies. (Which, by the way, were great!)

The next day, we had a delicious and filling breakfast at Lumber Jack’s Cook Shanty. Then, we visited some local attractions. At 3:30, my sister and I had manicures at Scooops Kid Spa. (And yes, it does have 3 o’s!) I got a very bright shade of purple, and my sister got a sparkly blue. We had warm towels put on our hands, got lotioned up, and then our nails were painted. It was very nice and relaxing! We then went back to the waterpark, where I went around the Lazy River another 20 times! After that, we just hung out and went to bed. (We were all exhausted!)

The next day, we packed up, and got breakfast at Bear Paw Sweets & Eats. After that, we hung out at the waterpark, then we had an AMAZING lunch at the Gitchigoomie Grill. I had a pulled pork sandwich. Then, bummer, we had to drive back home.

Overall, my experience at Great Wolf Lodge was GREAT! My favorite part was the waterpark! It had tons to do, I could stay there all day! I had an absolutely FUN time, so I really think everyone who wants a fun family vacation, should go to Great Wolf Lodge!

During the summer months, I’ll have the opportunity to introduce you to our talented culinary team. Our executive chefs work each day to provide delicious, healthy, fun meals to our guests. I look forward to introducing them to you so you can learn a little more about what makes them howl in the Great Wolf Lodge kitchen.

Chef Tim Reardon Great Wolf Lodge WilliamsburgStarting as a Sous Chef at the Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, Chef Tim Reardon was promoted to Executive Chef 10 months after joining the team.  His desire to learn and be creative with the resort’s meals is reflected in all that he does.

With culinary arts training from Johnson and Wales University, Chef Reardon brings over 13 years of restaurant and culinary leadership experience to the resort.  Most recently, he won the 2010 Williamsburg Iron Chef Competition and the top two awards at the Taste of Williamsburg 2010. He looks forward to the opportunity to show off his award-winning cuisine with families at the resort each week.   

Great Wolf Lodge - Do you have a favorite recipe or culinary treat that you have created just for Great Wolf Lodge guests?

Chef Reardon - The Mahi Fish Tacos at the outdoor pool is a dish I am very proud of at the Lodge. It is a big hit with guests and a fun seasonal item. My year-round favorite is the Pepper Jack Chicken Quesadillas. While I’m not the one who created the recipe, it is something I could have once a week.  

GWL - What makes a meal at Great Wolf Lodge different from other places?

Chef Reardon - The fact that it is a great atmosphere for kids, but also caters to adults with great regional cuisine. Our range of menu items makes it easy for every member of the family to find something they like to eat.

GWL - What have you brought to Great Wolf Lodge during your time as a chef?

Chef Reardon - Since joining the culinary team at Great Wolf, we have really have raised the bar on food quality.  I have also worked on the initiative to create a standard appetizer menu for all of our resorts, added healthy options for the Spirit Island menu and created an order guide for all properties. While these are things done behind the scenes, everything is to help us continually improve the guest experience at all the lodges.  I hear great feedback from our repeat guests.

GWL - What inspires you most as a chef?

Chef Reardon - Probably the fact you cannot be complacent in this field. The ever-changing variety and ingredients to work with create new challenges and change each day. Being able to use creativity on a daily basis is a passion of mine and something I try to instill in my staff.

 

Pepper Jack Chicken Quesadilla

Ingredients

1 each -12 inch Tomato Flour Tortilla
4 oz Chicken Fajita Breast Strip Precooked  
2 ½ oz Shredded Pepper Jack Cheese
2 ½ oz Fire Roasted Tri-Peppers
2 oz Pico De Gallo
2 oz Sour Cream
1 each Lime Wedge
1 Sprig Cilantro

 Directions

  1. Assemble Quesadilla as follows: Chicken, Pepper Jack and Tri-Peppers.
  2. Cook on flat top until browned and cheese is melted thoroughly.
  3. Cut in fours and plate as shown.
  4. Serve with a side of sour cream and Pico de Gallo for dipping.

Great Wolf Lodge Splash MobWhat do you get when you bring together 380 cheerleaders, Wiley the Wolf and a huge waterpark? A HOWLIN’ good time! Last week at the Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine, Texas we presented our first-ever Splash Mob to the surprise and delight of our guests.

This year we knew we wanted to create something that would take place in one of our waterparks. We wanted an event that was memorable and captured just how fun Great Wolf Lodge is for summer travel, but would also show us in a unique light.  

It quickly dawned on us that we also had an amazing opportunity to highlight one of our larger groups of resort guests – the Universal Cheerleader Association (UCA) summer camp attendees. Each year, several of our properties host week-long cheer camps. The attendees work hard on their stunts, routines and cheers, and also enjoy all that Great Wolf Lodge has to offer.

The more our Splash Mob concept evolved, the more we knew the perfect partner was UCA. Months of emails, conference calls and planning led us to August 6, when we met the cheerleaders for the first time and told them WHAT they would be doing a mere two days later.

Our Splash Mob was our way of celebrating the summer games in London. We reached out to Dallas-area resident, Carrie Garten, a former member of the US National Synchronized Swimming Team and invited her provide input for the event. Carrie taught the cheerleaders a few signature arm moves and fan kicks from synchronized swimming that were easy to coordinate into the routine. 

On Wednesday, August 8, I woke up excited and ready to share the Splash Mob with the world. Our UCA staff partners, Adam Slutka and Jamie Graham, and their camp attendees were going to bring our little idea to life.

I can’t describe how it felt to see the camp attendees wearing Splash Mob t-shirts and our Great Wolf Lodge wolf ears and tails. When the music started, the energy level at the pool soared. First a few cheerleaders started their routine. Then a few more hopped into the pool. Suddenly, they were cartwheeling out of the cabanas – and soon our entire pool and pool deck – was filled with cheer. My favorite moment was seeing Wiley the Wolf join in – he knew the routine and danced with everyone.

Bet you wish you were there, too, right? Check out our video, and you’ll feel like you were:

Long ago I was given the advice, find what you love to do, and do it. That way, “going to work” won’t feel like work – but instead it will be something you enjoy. Standing on a balcony, watching 380 cheerleaders, a dancing wolf and excited resort guests, was definitely a “work event” that reminded me I love what I do. And I’m proud to do it for Great Wolf Lodge!

Wiley Golfing

While August is one a popular time to visit Great Wolf Lodge, it also means “back to school”. Kindergarten, grade school, high school and college - all of the above. This fall, 11 students are heading to college with a little bit of help from our dedicated Great Wolf Lodge Pack.

When I joined the Great Wolf Resorts team, I was excited to learn more about our Great Wolf Resorts Scholarship Program. Two years ago our CEO, Kim Schaefer, took part in the CBS prime-time show “Undercover Boss”. During her time visiting our resorts, and filming segments for the show, she met Pack Members who worked at Great Wolf Lodge while attending college. Upon returning home, she shared her desire to find a way to help with the cost of tuition. From that desire, we created the scholarship program.

Last fall we held our first ever fundraising golf outing – and then we shared the news of the scholarship with the Pack Members working at our resorts, corporate offices and the reservations center.

Flash forward to today and our inaugural class of scholarship recipients has been chosen! We are awarding $48,000 to 11 deserving Great Wolf Lodge Pack Members to put toward their college education for the upcoming 2012-2013 school year. To apply for a scholarship, interested Pack Members submitted a letter of recommendation, an application and a personal essay for consideration.

Great Wolf Lodge Scholarship

I’m so excited to share that Pack Members from four Great Wolf Lodge resorts, located in Concord, N.C.; Grapevine, TX; Sandusky, OH and Traverse City, MI; as well as our reservations office in Madison, WI, make up the first group of scholarship recipients. 

The entire company is proud of the more than 100 applicants and 11 recipients of this year’s scholarship. A great Howl of congratulations is extended to the following Pack Members as they pursue their higher education goals this fall:

Pack Member Great Wolf Lodge resort College Attending
Elena Aleman Central Reservations Office, WI  Edgewood College
Kristina McNeill   Central Reservations Office, WI Edgewood College
Virginia Lytton Concord, NC Univ. of NC at Chapel Hill
Stephanie Walton Concord, NC Univ. of NC at Greensboro
Kelly Swanson Concord, NC Univ. of NC at Chapel Hill
Alexander DeRossi Grapevine, TX Texas Tech University
Kedric Rose Grapevine, TX University of Texas at Arlington
Mackenzie Keegan Sandusky, OH University of Toledo
Stephanie Hollis Sandusky, OH Terra Community College
Natalie Radocy Sandusky, OH Lorain County Community College
Erin Kuhn Traverse City, MI Grand Valley State University
 
We are already looking ahead and planning for of our next class of scholarship winners. The 2nd Annual Great Wolf Resorts Scholarship Golf Outing will take place next month here in Wisconsin – and I just know we’ll raise even more money to assist our Pack Members’ with their education.

 

During the summer months, I’ll have the opportunity to introduce you to our talented culinary team. Our executive chefs work each day to provide delicious, healthy, fun meals to our guests. I look forward to introducing them to you so you can learn a little more about what makes them howl in the Great Wolf Lodge kitchen.

Chef Greg Nicolaou Traverse CityChef Greg Nicolaou just celebrated his sixth anniversary at Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City, MI. this past March. He takes great pride in the success of the lodge and looks forward to the opportunity to mentor rising chefs. With over 18 years of culinary experience, Chef Nicolaou has a wide breadth of knowledge and expertise.

Chef Nicolaou served as the the founding President of the Northwestern Michigan Chef’s Association, and also voted Chef of the Year by his peers. As the Leader of the Pack in 2010, Chef Nicolaou has a contagious passion for cooking and creating unique family moments at each of his restaurants.

Great Wolf Lodge – How have you made menu items at the Great Wolf Lodge healthier options for guests?

Chef Nicolaou  I think that braising foods is something I’ve done throughout my career, and can be done with a variety of meat cuts.  Braising can be made very healthy by using very little fat, starch, and bringing fresh vegetables and herbs to the center of the plate.

GWL  Have you created a unique dish only found at Great Wolf Lodge?

Chef Nicolaou  We do a couple of very authentic Greek dishes at the Lodge. They have been very well received by the guests.  These dishes range from a pita sandwich made with marinated lamb sirloin, and imported feta cheese to a marinated double semi-boneless chicken breast baked and served with stewed green beans and fresh rice pilaf.

GWL  What is your biggest passion in in general?

Chef Nicolaou  I really enjoy cooking items that my wife, family, and friends. We harvest from our gardens, fields, wetlands and woods in the area and find it very rewarding.  The opportunity to create unique cuisine from local bounty of our Northern Michigan foods is very fulfilling.

GWL  What would you like to tell an aspiring chef?

Chef Nicolaou  I tell young and aspiring culinarians they should absolutely love high temperature, high pressure, and excitement of working in a constantly changing environment.  I try and let them know that educating themselves and training staff never ends.  Also, I try and let them know that their chosen profession is both physically and mentally very demanding, and to go in with their eyes wide open.

GWL – What makes being a chef at Great Wolf Lodge so special

Chef Nicolaou  Several things actually, first off I’d say the families and kids so wide-eyed with excitement. We have a very professional culinary team and everyone works together. The management from the top down seems genuinely and sincerely concerned about the education, safety and training of all staff.

07
Aug
2012

This past June we stayed at the Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, NC while I attended the Reviewer's Retreat Conference. The kids were very excited about our stay and from the time we drove up everyone was so friendly and welcoming. It was like we were in a totally different world. With both kids having food allergies, traveling is always hard. But the lodge helped ease the worries of a food allergy mom. Both kids got special "I have food allergy" bracelets to alert staff of their allergies and the chefs and servers were very knowledgeable and attentive.

My oldest loved that he could explore the lodge on his own and not have to have his little sister tag along everywhere. His favorite was the MagiQuest game, and he played it as much as he could.

My youngest had a blast at the waterpark. But the best moment for us was when she met Violet for the first time. It was just one of those moments in life that you will remember forever. It was also a big accomplishment for a shy little 3 yr old.

Thank you Great Wolf for making our trip worry free and fun. We'll be back, the kids are already trying to convince us to go back to the lodge instead of going to Disney for vacation in February.

Name: Cara Jouglard
City: Metairie
State: La
Email: cara@peanutsareevil.com
Lodge: Charlotte/Concord, NC

 

During the summer months, I’ll have the opportunity to introduce you to our talented culinary team. Our executive chefs work each day to provide delicious, healthy, fun meals to our guests. I look forward to introducing them to you so you can learn a little more about what makes them howl in the Great Wolf Lodge kitchen.

Executive Chef Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky, OhioAs the Executive Chef at the Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky, Ohio, Chef Greg Kaufman has been a part of the pack since 2001. Chef Kaufman has also helped open numerous Great Wolf Lodge resorts and train new Food and Beverage pack members in the kitchens.

With degrees from Bowling Green State University and the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, Chef Kaufman enjoys creating delicious food for families at the resort.

GWL  What inspires you most?

Chef Kaufman  My inspiration would have to be presentation.  I like trying new ideas for plating and presentation.  I look for thing to have a “wow” factor before they leave the kitchen.

GWL  What would you like to tell someone who wants to become a chef?

Chef Kaufman  If it is your dream then follow it whatever it is.  This profession takes a lot of dedication and patience to get ahead.  If it is your passion then the time will fly by and always remember that you can learn something from everyone no matter how talented you or they are.  Every day is different; no two days are the same in this profession.

GWL  What makes being a chef at Great Wolf Lodge so special?

Chef Kaufman – With so many properties there is always someone to reach out to for brainstorming on a variety of topics.  Having so many chefs in so many different regions makes this job entertaining and enjoyable.

GWL – What is your favorite tool in the kitchen?

Chef Kaufman - My favorite kitchen gadget is a simple one - a high heat rubber spatula.  It’s simple and never melts.  You can leave it in a hot pot or skillet and don't have to worry about it burning.  Personally everyone should have one, and they'll never have to buy another one again because they are so great.

So the first time I ever set foot in the Great Wolf Lodge was down in Williamsburg, VA.  My mom took my sister and me for a few days during our break from school.  I was almost 6 and couldn’t understand why my mom was taking us to a waterpark in the middle of the winter. 

Coloring at Cub ClubOnce I saw the waterpark I was so excited.  This was back before Williamsburg did the addition, so the Lodge was small.  We stayed in a family suite—which is a standard room.  I remember playing for hours in Fort Mackenzie. My sister, who was 14 at the time, wasn’t as excited as I was.  But being my big sis she went with me on all the slides—at least the ones I was tall enough to go on—and she loved them.  I colored my first Great Wolf Lodge t-shirt at this Cub Club, the Cub Clubs have gotten so much bigger since then.  

It was at the Lodge in Williamsburg that we realized that there were Lodges all over the country.  It was there I challenged my mom to go to all of the Lodges.  Little did I know she would take me up on it.

Trying the Wolf Rider Wipeout

So flash forward a couple of years later and the Lodge in Williamsburg has become one of my favorites.  Why?  When they did the addition they added the Wolf Rider Wipeout (the ride that simulates surfing).  It is not as easy as it seems.  One visit my friend came with us and my mom allowed us to take the group lesson after the waterpark closes.  Cool to be in the waterpark after it has closed. We had one-on-one instruction and learned a few tricks, mostly how to hold on. My friend Eric discovered that it is pretty funny watching others on the  Wolf Rider—especially when people wipe out.  

The trip that Eric went with us we stayed in a Majestic Bear Suite.  In this suite there are actually bedrooms.  My mom had her own room with a Jacuzzi bathtub and us boys shared the second bedroom.  We still had the living room with the sofa and fireplace.  Eric said this was the suite that his family got when they went with another family—plenty of room for every one. 

Ask A Mom Son

RJ H.

RJ is the son of our Ask A Mom Panelist, Leslie H.  Like his mom, he has visited all 11 Great Wolf Lodges. Stay tuned for more from RJ and his mom Leslie.

 

Earlier this year, 13-year-old Jeremy Wuitschick made headlines when he and fellow student, Johnny Wood, helped prevent an accident as their bus driver suffered a heart attack while driving. Jeremy got behind the wheel of the school bus and brought it to a safe stop while Johnny started to perform CPR on the driver. The story earned national attention for the two boys from Milton, Washington.  

Jeremy Wuitschick visits Great Wolf Lodge Grand MoundAfter the incident, Great Wolf Lodge Grand Mound invited the boys and their families to visit the resort and see how its lifeguards learn how to react when dealing with a stressful situation, like the one they experienced on their school bus. During Jeremy’s stay, he took part in the Junior Lifeguard Program. He learned about Great Wolf Lodge’s lifeguard training program and CPR basics. Jeremy received a personalized sweatshirt from Great Wolf Lodge and an “Honorary Lifeguard” certificate. He then had a great timing howling with waterpark guests.

During his stay, Jeremy told us about the situation on his school bus and shared his thoughts from the experience.  

Great Wolf Lodge: What was your first thought when you noticed something was wrong with your bus driver?

Jeremy Wuitschick: I thought, “This is so unusual.” I had never seen anything like that happen before.

GWL: How did you remain so calm?

JW: I didn’t know what to feel; my gut instinct took over and I just did what I did to help.

GWL: Were you surprised by all of the media attention you received?

JW: I was completely surprised! I had no idea our actions would get so much attention; we had no idea what to expect. I always dreamed about what it would be like to receive such attention but not during something tragic.

GWL: What has been the coolest thing to happen to you since the incident on your bus?

Jeremy Wuitschick visits Great Wolf Lodge Grand Mound

JW: I got to visit New York City with my mom! We stayed across from Central Park. I actually thought it would be like (in the movie) Madagascar 3 but it was completely different. I enjoyed taking pictures of Lady Liberty and Rockefeller Center. 

GWL: Do you have any advice for other kids if they ever find themselves in a scary situation like you did?

JW: Expect everything. When something happens like that, expect everything because anything could happen.

GWL: As you got ready for your visit to Great Wolf Lodge, what were you most looking forward to?

JW: I couldn’t wait to see my mom go down the Howlin’ Tornado in the dark and scream. I also love the breakfast buffet in the Loose Moose Cottage! Give me bacon; bacon, bacon, bacon!

GWL: Has this experience made you think about what you want to be when you grow up?

JW: It would be fun to be a host on a show like “Top Gear” - driving cool cars and doing crazy stunts. But, if I were to be more logical about it, I’d say an accountant. I enjoy helping people and math.

 

During the summer months, I’ll have the opportunity to introduce you to our talented culinary team. Our executive chefs work each day to provide delicious, healthy, fun meals to our guests. I look forward to introducing them to you so you can learn a little more about what makes them howl in the Great Wolf Lodge kitchen.

Executive Chef at the Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas CityAs the Executive Chef at the Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City, Chef Stoutingberg opened the resort in Charlotte/Concord as the Executive Sous Chef before moving to the Sunflower State of Kansas.

Chef Stoutingberg has been working in resort kitchens since 1991. His passion for the culinary field comes through in every dish he creates for families at Great Wolf Lodge.

GWL  What is your all-time favorite food?

Chef Stoutingberg – My favorite item are the crab cakes on our menu in Camp Critter. They are served as an appetizer with our signature red pepper aioli and corn salsa (recipe below).

GWL – What makes a meal at Great Wolf different from other places?

Chef Stoutingberg  The family friendly atmosphere where the entire family can enjoy a meal while the kids can still interact with Magi Quest be entertained by Wiley and friends and even splash in the water while mom and dad enjoy their meal..

GWL – Please share any career achievements/highlights or awards that you have earned as a chef either prior to or during your time with Great Wolf.

Chef Stoutingberg  I’ve had the honor to prepared and served meals for many notable dignitaries and events in my years as a chef. Some of them include the Queen of England, Presidents Clinton and George Bush, opening event of USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier and the opening of Great Wolf Lodge in Concord.

 

Broiled Crab Cakes 

with Red Pepper Aioli and Corn Salsa

Ingredients:

Crab Cakes Red Pepper Aioli Corn Salsa
  • 1 C mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp grain mustard
  • 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 lb jumbo lump crabmeat
  • ¼ C breadcrumbs
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ½ C roasted red bell peppers, drained, patted dry
  • ¼ C mayonnaise
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • Dash of lime juice
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 fresh ears of corn
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 3 tsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 tsp chopped red onion
  • 3 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp sugar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Directions:

To make the crab cakes:

  1. Mix together the mayonnaise, mustard, cilantro, lemon juice, Old Bay, bread crumbs and egg.
  2. Gently fold in the crabmeat.
  3. Form four crab cakes, spray skillet with pan spray, lightly cook on each side for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Top with Red Pepper Aioli and serve with Corn Salsa (recipes below).

To make the aioli:

  1. Finely chop the garlic in the food processor. Add the peppers and blend until almost smooth.
  2. Blend in the mayonnaise, and lime juice with the machine running, blend in the oil.
  3. Season the aioli, to taste, with salt, cayenne and pepper. 

To make the corn salsa:

  1. Grill jalapeno skin-side down, until charred but still firm, about 5 minutes. Cool slightly; finely chop.
  2. Roast corn in 350 degree oven for 8 minutes, after cooling cut kernels of husk.
  3. Mix with rest of ingredients jalapeno, cilantro and red onion in a bowl. Stir in the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil, the lime juice, sugar and ½ teaspoon salt.

As a new mom, I love the insight, parenting tips and ideas I get from blogsand I especially love to work with bloggers. After attending the Reviewer’s Retreat at Great Wolf Lodge Concord, PA-based mom-blogger, Gina Badalaty, wrote about her children’s dining experience on her blog, Mom-Blog.com. I asked her to share her story with you. 

Gina Badalaty blogs about parenting, raising children with disabilities and advocating for special needs families at Mom-Blog.com.  She lives in PA with her husband and 2 beautiful daughters, and a cat that thinks he's a dog. 

Enjoy, 

Susie

 

Tips for Traveling with Kids with Allergies

Gina's daughter enjoying a meal at Great Wolf LodgeMy children have allergies.  Specifically, their diets need to be gluten- and casein-free, which means they can’t have dairy or any kind of wheat products.  When we travel, we have to be careful not just to avoid glutens, but also to make sure the food they eat is not cross-contaminated. They can’t even eat something that has been on the same grill as food filled with glutens.

Going on vacation can be challenging! As you can imagine, this means that vacationing takes extra work on our part, so our favorite trips are to resorts that help make this easier. Great Wolf Lodge is a place we really enjoy. The resort’s chef will personally talk with you and discuss your needs for a gluten-free menu. My kids love that at Great Wolf Lodge they can eat food they love, and we are happy that everything can be made to their health requirements. Our meals are even cooked separately!

We’ve learned a lot along the way. Here are a few of my top tips for traveling families whose children have special diet restrictions and food allergies:

Do your homework beforehand.
There are dozens of apps that tell you where the gluten-free restaurants are, but it’s up to you to do your own due diligence.  We once went to a park that advertised itself as being dairy- and gluten-free, and when we got there, we discovered that was not the case. Spend time on your destination’s website. Call the resort or attraction. We were pleasantly surprised by how accommodating and helpful the staff at Great Wolf Lodge was—it made our vacation less stressful!

Buy fresh produce along the way.
My children eat tons of fruit and vegetables because they are naturally allergen-free and will do in a pinch!  We try to buy organic, and during family road trips, when we drive by a local farm stand, we make a stop.Gluten Free Meatballs and Mac

Take advantage of resort amenities.
At Great Wolf Lodge, each suite has a refrigerator and a microwave. We often travel with our own snacks and this is a great way for us to keep fruit fresh during our stay. Gluten-free bagels are easy to carry and eat in the car, as well as serve as late-night snacks!  

Talk to the staff.
It is always a good idea to talk to the chef. Many restaurants and resorts, like Great Wolf Lodge, invite you to talk to the chef specifically about your family’s dietary needs and allergies.  You can share your family’s needs and he or she can detail what steps they can take to prepare food that best suits your child.

When our family thinks of Great Wolf Lodge we think of it as a place to visit in the Fall or Winter (we have visited during both). But this year our children convinced us that it might be a fun place to visit in the summer too.

I must admit that peeking through the waterpark doors during the cold days of winter, did tease my curiosity as to what it would be like to swim outside and be at the Great Wolf Lodge.

So this summer we decided to test it out. We booked a room and the countdown began. The countdown was just as fun in the summer as the winter, so I had a feeling the visit would be, too!

We packed up our van and our family of five headed to Great Wolf Lodge, Pocono Mountains. After checking in, I guess you probably know the first place we went to- the outdoor pool! My five year old daughter could not wait to take her first slide on the mini frog slide. She had waved to that froggy since she was two years old from indoors, so none of us were surprised when she gave it a big hug and kiss before sliding!

My sons went right for the basketball zone and although the inside was calling them to slide, slide, slide, something about the sunshine and the scent of the yummy burgers being barbecued and the sight of frozen drinks passing by from the Racoon Lagoon that kept them right where they were.

Although, my sons and hubby did do their share of indoor water slides, my daughter and I who are not big into water slides parked it outside by the pool for our three day jaunt! She loved splashing in the water geysers and other water fun activities. Not to mention the fantastic music for everyone to enjoy! No complaints from any of us, that's for sure! We absolutely loved Great Wolf Lodge Poconos in the Summer! It was surprisingly wonderful and refreshing to visit during the months when we could enjoy swimming in the pool that we just drive by in the winter.

My family liked it so much that they are ready to trade in our regular August getaway for an extra night's stay in August before the summer sun tucks itself away. That, of course, is still being decided upon, but is looking more probable the more we talk about all the fun we had this summer at Great Wolf Lodge Poconos!

Name: Diane Sullivan
City: Newark
State: NJ
Email: elgeorgia@aol.com
Lodge: Pocono Mountains, PA


 

I wanted to shared my favorite memory from my trip to the Sandusky, Ohio Great Wolf Lodge. I was about 14 years old. I went swimming at my aunt's house the week before we left, suspecting nothing . I had no clue we were even thinking about going until I got home from my aunt's and my sister told me we were going next week. She clicked on the Great Wolf Lodge website and I stood there for a minute until it finally clicked—we were returning to the Great Wolf Lodge for another trip!

I was so excited.

We had an amazing time from the moment we stepped into the lodge. I would have to say my favorite part of the trip was when we went to eat at the Gitchigoomie Grill and had an amazing waiter named Michael.  He was awesome! He kept us laughing and we had a great time because of him!  For instance, my sister was kind of bummed that it was our last day and wasn't in the best of moods.  He came over to our table and noticed we were Buckeye fans. After that everything became about football!  He made our last day at Great Wolf Lodge a memory that will last forever!  

That was the best trip ever because we got to spend time as a family and made amazing memories together.  I enjoyed it very much, thank you Great Wolf Lodge and Michael!

Name: Carrolyn Brown
City: Galion
State: Ohio
Email: Joy_102003@yahoo.com
Lodge: Sandusky, OH