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Sanford Center Executive Chef Elbert Smith cooks up a sizzling steak before a recent Bemidji State hockey game at the Sanford Center. The Chicago native started at the arena in May and is focused on making good food from scratch. Jack Hittinger | Bemidji Pioneer

Good food from scratch: Sanford Center executive chef dedicated to making a name for Bemidji cuisine

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Elbert Smith considers himself old-school. Stubborn, even. Name a menu item at the Sanford Center and it’s likely made completely from scratch, from the pizza dough to the salsa to the hamburgers.


“I’m one of the oldest chefs that still likes to do a lot of things from scratch,” he said. “I’m stubborn a little bit.”

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Jack Hittinger
Jack Hittinger is the sports editor of the Bemidji Pioneer. He is also the Bemidji State beat writer. He hails from the Great State of Michigan. Read his Bemidji State blog at and follow him on Twitter at @Jackhitts.
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