Cook County Blog

Heart of Hospitality Awards - 2021

Posted by Visit Cook County MN on 10/29/21 1:09 PM

For the third year in a row, Visit Cook County has asked local business owners and managers to nominate staff members who exemplify extraordinary hospitality service within their organizations.   VCC_Heart-of-Hospitality_Logo_Horizontal_RGB

Typically this award is announced during the annual Fall Gala celebration that Visit Cook County co-hosts with the Cook County Chamber. Unfortunately, the 2021 annual Fall Gala that was scheduled to occur on October 30 at Grand Portage Lodge and Casino was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.  However, it was overwhelmingly agreed that it was important to continue the recognition of the individuals who work so hard to keep our local economy moving forward. Great service creates guest loyalty, something that is clearly the case in Cook County. 

“Kudos to all of the nominees,” says Linda Jurek, executive director of Visit Cook County. “In reading through the nominations, it is apparent that our community is full of incredible individuals who take a lot of pride and are really good at what they do.” 

Each year, numerous glowing nominations are submitted. The following individuals were nominated for this year’s award:

  • Charlotte Smith - Bearskin Lodge
  • Sue St. John - Birch Terrace 
  • Sean Henkenius - Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts
  • Michele Scuderi - Caribou Highlands Lodge
  • Tami Engrenn - Cascade Vacation Rentals 
  • Erika Ternes - Grand Marais Public Library 
  • Rachel Andrus - North House Folk School
  • Garrett Eckman - North Shore Winery
  • Terri Goettl - North Shore Winery
  • Rich Metzger - Raven Rock Grille at Skyport Lodge
  • The entire beertending crew - Voyageur Brewing Company

Kjersti Vick, Marketing and Public Relations Director, and Linda Jurek Executive Director, of Visit Cook County arranged surprise visits to present the recipients with their award.

Here are the winners of the 2021 Heart of Hospitality: 


Charlotte Smith - Bearskin Lodge (Gunflint Trail)

HoH Charlotte Smith of Bearskin LodgePictured above: Linda Jurek, Bob McCloughan, Charlotte Smith

Sue St. John - Birch Terrace Supper Club (Grand Marais)

HoH Sue St John of the Birch TerracePictured above: Carah Thomas-Maskell, Steve Larsen, Evelyn Larsen, Sue St. John, David Larsen, Linda Jurek

Tami Engrenn - Cascade Vacation Rentals  (Lutsen, Tofte, Schroeder) 

HoH - Tami Engrenn of Cascade Vacation RentalsPictured above: Linda Jurek, Tami Engrenn, Sarena Nelson


You can watch the videos of the award presentation on our youtube:


Visit Cook County and the Cook County Chamber were unable to host the Fall Gala in 2021. The celebration, which celebrates the end of a busy summer season, certainly has been missed the last two years. Over 200 of our business and community friends typically join together for a night of celebration and recognition of achievements. However, Visit Cook County feels strongly about recognizing our hospitality employees and did not want to forego the Heart of Hospitality Awards. In 2019, Visit Cook County launched the new award and in September 2021 launched a new Hospitality Coffee Break program with plans to expand throughout the season to celebrate the hardworking hospitality workers.

See the 2020 Award Recipients presentations here:


Topics: Grand Marais, Gunflint Trail, Grand Portage, Lutsen Tofte Schroeder