Nearly 15 years ago Epicure Catering was born of a desire to showcase the best artisanal products our region has to offer. In a rented commercial kitchen, we gathered our cook friends and set to work creating menus highlighting producers and embodying the “farm to table” movement; a concept and practice that was just beginning to emerge in our area at the time. Our foundation was a duty to source from and support our local economy, and it remains the same today.
In 2005, the renovated hog barn of the historic Cherry Basket Farm in Omena became the home of our new commissary. Nestled on 10 acres alongside a large gambrel barn, charming farmhouse and additional outbuildings, our new setting brought with it new opportunity, unbeknownst to us at the time. It quickly became apparent that Cherry Basket Farm, a historically active agricultural property, would make a stunning event venue for our area featuring Epicure Catering as onsite caterer. The first event was held at Cherry Basket in 2008.
When we moved Epicure Catering to Cherry Basket Farm, we sought to partner with a local farmer to cultivate the land. We worked with Jim Bardenhagen for a number of years, who then referred us to our current partner, Nic Welty of 9 Bean Rows, a Farmstead, Café and Bakery with a no pesticide or fertilizer policy. For 8 years since, Nic has been farming a variety of produce on the 6 acres of Cherry Basket land including beets, corn, chard, garlic, kale and baby lettuces. All of which are featured seasonally on our menus or make their way into the 9 Bean Row CSA or Café.
The opportunity to partner with other businesses who echo our love of sharing local food is something we relish, so we were thrilled when in 2016 Zingerman’s Food Tours (a member of the Zingerman’s family of businesses, based in Ann Arbor) approached us with an invitation to become a stop on their Grand Traverse Bay tour. Zingerman’s Food Tours mission is to provide tourists with an opportunity to experience a “real and direct connection to the source of great American food, it’s source and it’s soul.” To that end, we invited a collection of local producers including Nic to co-host the event with us, giving each the spotlight to share with the group all the ways in which their product(s) are special.
We’re happy to be included in the tour once again this year, in part because we love the chance to host a meal at Cherry Basket, but largely because we’re so happy the bedrock of the company – to showcase the best artisanal products our region has to offer and supporting the local economy- is one that resonates with food lovers everywhere and gives our producers the chance to shine on plate, on paper, and for this event, in person. It’s a lucky thing to live in an area with so many talented and skilled artisans. It’s luckier still to work with them daily, and we feel very fortunate.
Sarah Peschel is the creative director of Epicure Catering and Cherry Basket Farm. For more information, contact Epicure Catering at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos courtesy of Weber Photographers