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.
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PETOSKEY, MI – MARCH, 2019: Staying home for a spring break or holiday is often more appealing than the busyness of getting ready for a vacation. Staycations are becoming evermore popular.
“Not everyone takes off for a week-long spring break,” explains Bob Keedy of Wineguys Restaurant Group. “We wanted to reach out to our friends and neighbors to make a stay-at-home spring break a little more appealing.”
This year, dozens of restaurants are participating in Traverse City Restaurant Week (TCRW) from February 24 – March 2nd . This is the perfect opportunity to take a culinary excursion and enjoy some of Traverse City’s finest restaurants! Prices always range between $25-35 a person, three course meals are offered, and reservations are strongly encouraged.
Myth: It’s impossible to find local food in the middle of January in Michigan. Reality: it’s easy! In fact, many restaurants participating in the Ann Arbor Restaurant Week, January 13 – 18, are putting local food at the center of the table. See the list of who is going local during restaurant week here, designated by the Taste the Difference® logo.
This summer marks the 20th anniversary of a Southeastern Michigan favorite with a loyal follow – ing: the Common Grill in Chelsea. Before the doors opened on Main Street in July 1991, “ I estimated that we could appeal to a 10-mile radius,” says owner and Executive Chef Craig Common. Chelsea was a bit sleepier than it is today, and the Purple Rose Theater—which eventually grew to draw people to the town from around the country—had just been launched by actor Jeff Daniels in February of that year. It was Daniels’ father, Bob Daniels, owner of Chelsea Lumber, who approached Common about starting a restaurant for the theater crowd.
Where to eat? If you’re out and about in downtown Frankfort, this is far from an easy choice. There’s the festive atmosphere and promise of pints at Stormcloud Brewing Company, the reliably delicious pub fare at Dinghy’s, and the generously stuffed deli sandwiches at L’Chayim. After a long July day of delivering boxes of our Local Food Guides throughout Benzie county, though, I was ready to really treat myself! My friend and I made our way to the sun dappled back patio of Coho Fine Dining for a few plates of local fare. Right on Main Street, Coho has a relaxed and breezy but refined feel to it. On their about us webpage, the team at Coho states “We love showcasing seasonal food and refuse to compromise on quality in our restaurant. That’s why we source our fresh ingredients from local farmers and producers.”
You either sink or swim under the grueling demands of a busy professional kitchen. Chad Edwards has been cooking in Gaylord restaurants since age 14, and was the chef for two establishments in the city before turning 21. After years of rigor and practice, Edwards’ was swimming full bore on October 28, 2010, when he opened The Bearded Dogg Lounge. And at this colorful cafe, “you may sit in a booth made from old doors or at the bar crafted from maple flooring from the local nunnery, at a gathering table, in a loveseat, or at any one of several antique dining tables.” You can tell a lot of love and ingenuity has been put into this place. And it’s not just the quirky, hand-hewn seating and masterful plating of food. It’s the flourishing garden in the adjacent field constructed and tended by Chad and his father that accents the menu’s favorites. It’s the fact that Edwards wants to create a line of his own bottled salad dressings and brews the restaurant’s Doggweiser Blonde Ale. It’s the fact that in northeastern Michigan, Chad Edwards is pioneering in an old way of doing things again.
Michael Timmins was initiated into the world of food at a young age. His parents owned three bakeries in metro Detroit. And since that time, although Timmins has traveled the world and garnered gastronomic knowledge from the best of the best, from Japan to Germany to Israel, he sticks to his Michigan roots.
Here in Northern Michigan, we have the option – and the luxury – of buying and consuming a cornucopia of raw and processed food products procured right here in the Great Lakes State.