If you’ve ever noticed a castle-like restaurant on the shores of the Red River, you know where to find Usher’s House. Located in historic Davy Memorial Park in Moorhead, MN, the building was originally built in 1936 as an American Legion and has transformed over time. An old bear cage is visible from our floor-to-ceiling glass windowed Dining Room, a remnant from when the land was once a zoo. Today we are a restaurant and event venue, with an atmosphere inspired by old English pubs and a menu crafted to perfection by our chefs. Customers say it’s the best of both worlds -- fine dining and chef-inspired cuisine, in a casual, cozy setting. And when you look out the window, you simply can’t beat the Usher’s House view.
Joseph “El Jay” Thompson has been cooking since the age of five, when he started helping his grandma make buns and French toast. As a middle child with one brother and four sisters, he learned to fend for himself in the kitchen and made himself scrambled eggs and other dishes. At 16, he started cooking at Granite City, when he realized he wanted to be a chef. Over the next fourteen years he worked at the HoDo -- where he was distinguished from other Joes by the nickname “El Jay”--,Taste of Italy, Beefsteak Club, helped to rescue his hometown cafe, and eventually came to Usher’s. His cooking style is described as old school mixed with new school, and he enjoys adding an interesting twist to classic Midwest dishes. In his free time he gets competitive in co-ed softball and works on creating a massive rubber band ball. You’ll recognize him by his kitchen-inspired tattoos, including a custom knife and a fish spatula.
Cary’s first experience cooking came in fourth grade, when -- inspired by a scene in the book Indian in the Cupboard -- he grabbed a piece of tar from the driveway, set in on fire in his bathtub, and used it to cook a piece of baloney. But the Frazee, MN native didn’t fully launch his career as a chef until a fateful night when he saw a Cordon Bleu commercial. “I knew then that’s what I wanted to do,” he says. He gave up dreams of being a drummer in California, graduated from Cordon Bleu, and started cooking. For over ten years he worked at a variety of restaurants cooking everything from Bison burgers to burritos. In 2009, he started working at Usher’s and has been here ever since. His favorite cuisine to make is fresh fish, and he highly recommends trying the scallops.
Besides being a superb chef, his other talents include singing in the kitchen, giving solid high-fives and whistling really loud. He’s also the father of two kids and aspires to be drafted into the NFL along with Usher’s House Sous Chef, “El Jay.”