April 6, 2007:
KFYR-TV features Liz Gjellstad and her "Thor's Favorites" lefse DVD!


Who is Liz?

Liz began rolling lefse in 1971 with her mother-in-law Hazel Gjellstad. A common staple in her childhood home, Liz had watched and helped her grandparents Thor and Hilda Logan as they prepared lefse for family celebrations. Working together with Hazel, Liz learned how to make and roll lefse herself, thereby passing the family tradition down a generation, and continuing it in her own family. Liz and Hazel's status in the community as seasoned lefse rollers meant that they were often asked to make lefse for the local Sons of Norway chapter as well as friends and neighbors.

Liz in AchorageWith years of practice behind her, Liz started her own lefse business in 1998. She named the company Thor's Ethnic Foods in memory of her maternal grandfather. Liz formed a loyal partnership with Miracle Mart, a local grocery store chain, to distribute her lefse at two locations in Minot. Business flourished and grew as word of Liz's quality product spread through the community. Customers would plan their grocery shopping trips to coincide with Liz's lefse delivery to the store. Several stopped to chat as Liz unloaded the day's wares, often commenting that this was the best lefse they had tasted since their own family matriarch had made it. Many visitors also made a point of buying fresh lefse before they left for home, saving it for themselves or purchasing extra to share with family and friends. Liz's lefse found national distribution in this way; one customer even shipped it to a relative in France.

Lefse demand increased on a seasonal high that lasted from August to January, as the Scandinavian community in and around Minot prepared for celebrations surrounding the Norsk Høstfest, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year. The Norsk Høstfest is North America's largest Scandinavian festival, held annually in Minot. One year Liz made lefse for the daily lutefisk dinners and snack carts at the Norsk Høstfest. During the peak season, Thor's Ethnic Foods employed up to five people to keep pace with the local lefse market. Rolling pins furiously spinning to meet the demand, Liz and her colleagues hand-rolled up to 500 lefse each day.

An elementary teacher by training, Liz sought opportunities to share her passion for lefse-making with students in the classroom. She demonstrated the techniques and offered hands-on learning sessions to elementary and secondary students in the public schools in Velva and Minot, North Dakota. In 2004, Village Charter School in Anchorage, Alaska, invited Liz to teach a three-week Norwegian culinary seminar to the K-8 students enrolled there (see photo above). Students learned to roll lefse and flatbread.

Click Here to Download Liz's Curriculum Vitae