St. Olaf College | News

WCCO tries a St. Olaf Christmas Festival tradition

WCCO reporter Heather Brown (left) takes a bite of lutefisk while St. Olaf College executive chef Matthew Fogarty (center) looks on.

Local CBS affiliate WCCO-TV visited St. Olaf College to ask executive chef Matthew Fogarty a pressing question: Why is the lutefisk tradition so big in Minnesota?

Fogarty and the rest of the staff of Bon Appetit, the college’s food service provider, are busy preparing more than 700 pounds of the fish to serve at the annual St. Olaf Christmas Festival.

For many of the people attending the festival — one of the oldest musical celebrations of Christmas in the United States — traditional Scandinavian fare like lutefisk and lefse have become as much a part of the tradition as the music.

“It’s something that makes the holidays for me,” James Johnson ’64, who was on campus to plan for his 50th class reunion and enjoy the St. Olaf Christmas Festival, tells WCCO.

With Fogarty’s guidance, reporter Heather Brown even gave lutefisk a try.

“It gets a bad rap — this isn’t horrible,” she tells viewers after taking a bite.