California has always been a benchmark (at least for me) when it comes to trends within our food and wine industry. The San Francisco Bay area, along with the surrounding wine country often sets many standards that the rest of us adopt, though sometimes a bit later than sooner. On a recent visit to the region with amical Executive Chef Benjamin Hoxie, it wasn’t a real surprise to see that our Grand Traverse region reflects somewhat of a parallel universe, albeit on a minuscule scale.
Amical has been open since 1994, but I first became truly conscious of the local food availability in the late 90’s. Amical started to take off when we dropped the quick service cafeteria concept completely in 2001. Our menu began to evolve and the Cookbook Dinner Series was getting some attention. The popularity of the Food Channel, celebrity chefs and quality of the published cookbooks had a lot to do with it as well. I remember Newsweek magazine did a cover feature on the Farm to Table movement. Then I realized it was a full-blown, across the board, nationwide shift in dining habits. It wasn’t just for the fine dining aspect of the restaurant industry, this included just about everyone.