Meet the Manitou Crew – Cook Lexie

What do you get when you cross a classically trained ballerina with a culinary trained chef focused on farm-to-table? 

You get Alexis “Lexie” Nelson, Manitou’s talented and easy-going Cook.

Lexie started on the Manitou as a deckhand in 2011. The following summer she returned as 2nd mate, but took over the cook’s position half way through the season. It was then she truly discovered her joy for cooking and the intimacy of relating to guests through food.

After returning to Colorado where she was born and raised, she began to research culinary schools around the country and ended up attending Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, a French school based in Boulder, Colorado, with a focus on farm-to-table where she had the pleasure of working with fresh produce daily, as well as responsibly sourced meats. For her externship, Lexie returned to Michigan, in 2014, to work at the Boathouse Restaurant on Old Mission Peninsula, which was appealing to her as it is a farm-to-table restaurant. That fall Lexie had pre-arranged with Capt. Dave to cook for the Manitou windjammers, where she was able to show off some of the skills she worked so hard on during school.

Lexie returned to Colorado and moved to Vail where she worked mainly as a sous chef at a French restaurant. However, she missed the access to local farming and the intimacy of cooking on the boat.  She visited Michigan in September and that is when the opportunity was open to return to the Manitou.

In her spare time, Lexie is a classically trained ballerina and still attends classes, loves camping, traveling, experiencing new places to eat, snowboarding…. you name it, she probably likes doing it.

A sample menu for our 3 and 4 day windjammers:


  • Soft breakfast pastry with coffee service (muffins, scones, bread, etc.)
  • Frittatas in the well-seasoned cast iron skillets (they create a beautiful flavor profile as well as incorporate the natural smells of the fire)
  • Fresh fruit bowls
  • Baked oatmeal or home-made granola served with yogurt

Lunch (usually vegetarian):

  • Soup, it is so versatile and a great way to build complicated flavors
  • Fresh salad with home-made dressings
  • From-scratch bread (can’t go wrong with classic French baguette)
  • Some sort of cookie or brownies for dessert


  • Appetizers are served an hour before dinner and people can expect baked brie with home-made jams, hummus dip, cheese or charcuterie boards (great for the wine tasting sail)
  • Dinners are classic well-balanced meals (protein, starch, and vegetables). Things as simple as whole-roasted chickens to a stuffed leg of lamb.
  • Dessert can also be simple, or classic, or unique  (red wine poached pears with blue cheese and candied nuts, carrot cake, lemon meringue pie, home-made chocolates, etc.)

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