Fish & chips
Munising food stand recognized nationwide
MUNISING — With honorable mentions in world-renowned media outlets such as Conde Nast Traveler and The New York Times, The Fish Basket in Munising has become a must-stop spot for those visiting the gateway community to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
Known for serving straight-from-the-lake whitefish and trout every day, this is the third summer partners Sharon Seremek and Sam Corp have operated out of their carnivalesque food stand at 147 Birch St.
“I’ve been dreaming about doing this for 20 years,” said Corp, who’s famously known as Handsome Sam by locals. “I worked at Matson’s Fisheries a time and again, and we’d come in off the lake and there a was a big guy who cooked the fish and it was better than anything we could get anywhere, and every time we asked him how he cooked the fish, he’d say: ‘I’d show ya but then I’d have to kill ya!’ One day I finally took my chances and I wanted him to show me and so he gave me the special way to process and cook the fish.”
From the moment The Fish Basket opens in May and closes for the season in November, fresh Lake Superior whitefish and trout is served daily. They also serve freshly cut coleslaw made by hand and fries that are cut and fried on the spot.
“This year we had ice in the bay until about June — so we had to fight to get fish before then,” Corp said. “We buy from all the local fishermen in town.”
The Fish Basket makes an effort to open business every day by noon and close “around dark, or when people stop coming,” Corp said; however, depending on when the fishing boats arrive to the docks, it may open later.
“Like (Tuesday), the boat wasn’t in yet — it was blowing out there man,” he said. “They were fighting the waves, it took them three hours longer to get in. We couldn’t open ’til 1 o’clock. That’s how fresh the fish is.”
It was a cooler summer day on Tuesday and the fish and fries were hot from the fryer, which seemed appeasing to everyone who ordered meals.
Two women traveling from France told Corp “it’s simply perfect,” and thanked him. They made sure to thank him again before they left too.
A family of three also commended Corp on “some of the best fish we’ve ever had.”
“Hey, two-out-of-two isn’t bad,” Corp replied.
The Fish Basket recently expanded its seating toward the end of last summer. Prior to, there were several metal tables and chairs outside of the garage near the food stand, which still remain. This has been the first full season customers can enjoy seating inside the garage, which is decorated with framed photographs, wooden tables, vintage mirrors and more.
“People really dig this, man. People will sit in here and say ‘I’ve never been to a place like this before,'” Corp said. “Sharon (Seremek) did a great job at decorating. She did all of this.”
If people are looking for a tasty beverage to go along with their meals, Corp said he sends them to East Channel Brewing Company, which is a couple blocks over.
“And vice versa,” he said. “Sometimes they’ll send people over here and after they get their food they go back and eat at the brewery.”
While the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore has appeared in several newspaper headlines, a music video, books, television shows and more, The Fish Basket has been fortunate to have shared some of its limelight.
In July 2017, journalist Steve Reddicliffe from The New York Times stopped at The Fish Basket as he was heading out of town after compiling information for his article “36 Hours in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.”
“I couldn’t believe it, man,” Corp said. “The New York Times guy just happened to see my sign out on the highway as he was on his way out of town. He asked if I could make a fish sandwich — ‘The best fish sandwich you’ll ever eat, I told him!’ He called me three days later and said it was the best sandwich he ever ate, not just fish sandwich, the best sandwich.”
Corp said a journalist from Conde Nast Traveler also mentioned The Fish Basket in an article published last month called “Road Trip: 3 Days in Northern Michigan” by writer Ashlea Halpern.
“I didn’t know where either of them were from at first and then all of a sudden people started coming in droves, saying ‘Hey, I read about you in this magazine,'” Corp said, adding that friends from all over the world have reached out to him to say they’ve read the articles, many at airports.
“It’s just a really cool thing,” he said.
Jaymie Depew can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.