It’s often said that learning through experience is the best way to acquire a new skill. Achieving proficiency as a chef under the mentorship of an expert is but one example. For almost a decade, this time-honored concept has been alive and well in the Upper Peninsula community of Hessel at the Les Cheneaux Culinary School. Hessel, and its sister town, Cedarville, are the mainland anchors of the Les Cheneaux community (loosely translated from the French as “the channels”), an archipelago of 36 islands hugging the Lake Huron shore about 30 miles east of the Mackinac Bridge. Emerging as a summer colony during the late 19th century, the community’s early residents included wealthy industrialists from Detroit and Chicago, but also from points as distant as Cincinnati, Akron, and St. Louis.