2014 Traverse City Culinary Scene

We asked a sampling of Traverse City’s food & drink leaders about new developments in their businesses and their thoughts about what 2014 might bring for TC’s culinary scene. If you have thoughts, share them in the comments!

Grapes at LCF instagram eatdrinktc

J. Michael DeAgostino of the Grand Traverse Resort says they’re excited for Traverse City to take center stage as the host of the 2014 Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism. Appropriately enough, the theme will be culinary tourism, and this is probably some of the biggest news for TC’s culinary star in 2014 as our food & drink producers take center stage March 9-11, 2014.

Pure Michigan Vice President George Zimmerman explains the choice: “Traverse City has a highly regarded, and accessible, foodie scene that makes it a perfect place to host this year’s culinary-themed tourism conference. There is no doubt attendees will be treated to some good eats along with opportunities to network and learn more about how to capitalize on culinary tourism here in Michigan.”

Little doubt indeed George!

Outgoing Department of Agriculture commissioner and current Traverse Bay EDC board member Don Coe says he’s happy that the Conference will be highlighting culinary tourism relates “My last Ag Commission meeting was held up here, and we brought together local organizations who are preserving farmland and promoting fresh & local food. With a regional Food Hub funded and a meat processing facility slated for Kingsley, I think that the members of the commission were really impressed with how far northern Michigan has come. People up here have really gotten things together!”

Eric Patterson of the Cooks HouseEric Patterson of The Cooks’ House says that through the end of April, they will be offering 3 courses for just $30 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Eric says “We also have 9 wine dinners coming up in the next few months. People can check our website for a schedule of those. Other than that, we just plan on doing what we do over the next year!”

Evan Smith of Cherry Capital Foods says that: “Without a doubt, the refurbishing of the Glacier Dome as a Food Hub in conjunction with the Grand Traverse Foodshed Alliance is going to be a big deal. The addition of value-added production co-located there with shared infrastructure is cutting-edge thinking that reflects our region’s commitment to growing our local food economy.”

The Great Pumpkin Pickup

The Great Pumpkin Pickup

Carter Schmidt of Carter’s Compost says that they have plans for 3 more Neighborhood Compost Stations and 10 more Backyard Pile Sharers as part of their Community Sustained Compost project. He predicts that Traverse City will continue to embrace the idea of growing local food with local compost. “TC loves its food, but you can’t have yummy veggies without awesome garden soil.”

New Mission's Hop Picker!

New Mission’s Hop Picker!

Brian Tennis of New Mission Organics says that they’re in the middle of building another hop processing facility in the Leelanau Peninsula which will give them two facilities, one strictly for organic processing and the other conventional. They are also adding & expanding hopyards and waiting for a new hop picker from Poland that will be one of the biggest stand-alone machines in the United States. Brian adds some season-appropriate news: “We are also in the process of expanding of greenhouse operations. We will have one in TC, one in Omena, and one in Grand Rapids and will now be supplying hop plants to Michigan growers. Some will be the first certified organic hop plants for sale in the state!”

The Barrel Room at Brys Estates

The Barrel Room at Brys Estates

Coenraad Stassen of Brys Estate relates “We are very excited about our new 60 person elevated deck that will overlook East Bay and a new barrel room that will hold 72 barrels. In 2014 I will be releasing a 2012 Artisan Pinot Noir that is made with 90 % gravity flow and no filtration.”

Higher-Grounds-Trading-Company-new-lookHigher Grounds Trading Company is launching a new brand in 2014. Owner Chris Treter adds, “We’ve developed a new line of seasonal coffees, small lots that will only be available for a few months directly after harvest. These special limited-availability coffees represent our close connections with farmers who are working hard to produce the very best coffees, from naturally-processed Peruvian Cepicafe to the very first coffee ever exported from the Furaha cooperative in the DR Congo’s conflict-ridden Eastern Lake Kivu region.”

brengman brothers

Robert and the Brengman Family

The Brengman Brothers are looking forward their annual events including the Feast of St Vincent on April 26th and their Celebration of the New Vintages on July 5th. Robert Brengman asks (and answers): “Will this be the year that our wine region receives the national attention it deserves from fine wine writers such as Matt Kramer, Terry Theise or Robert Parker? We predict it will with the help of our new wines to be released in 2014 especially the amazing barrel aged 2012 vintages that are about to be bottled. It will be difficult for the national media to ignore!”

John Neidermeier of Brewery Terra Firma is looking forward to beer dinners in 2014 with The Cooks’ House and the Great Lakes Culinary Institute. He doesn’t have dates but you can stay tuned to eatdrinkTC for all the details! They also have a tap takeover with 7 Monks on the schedule for January 28th and Terra Firma Tuesdays at Big Papa’s featuring 1/2 price BTF beers every Tuesday. On the first Tuesday of every month, BTF staff comes out to share some samples and their beer knowledge.

New Porterhouse Tent Venue

New Porterhouse Tent Venue

Sam Porter of Porterhouse Productions and Tent Venue LLC says they’re gearing up for a fantastic culinary year with some big announcements regarding their new mobile 4000 capacity amazing venue and new food, music and regional wine and brewing events. “Making food fun is our mantra, and over 50,000 tickets in 6 years has helped to drive new foodies to our region. New for the 2014 Winter Microbrew and Music Festival is a Brewers Dinner with 10 brewers on February 7th at the Grand Traverse Resort. We’ll be highlighting the best of local food, chefs and liquid coming from our delicious region. Put your foodie seat belts on!”

Tina Schuett of Rare Bird

Tina Schuett of Rare Bird

Tina Schuett is looking forward to opening her new Rare Bird Brewpub in early 2014. Tina says, “Rare Bird will be more than just a brew pub. We’ll have 6-10 of my beers on at a time and fill out the rest of the 35 taps unique beers from all over the world plus a full menu of liquor, wine and cider so everyone can get something yummy that fits their taste!”

Restaurant Week courtesy Visit Traverse City

Restaurant Week courtesy Visit Traverse City

Colleen Paveglio of the Traverse City DDA says that “Entering only its fourth year, Traverse City Restaurant Week has become a foodie favorite! The 2013 event packed area restaurants that offered prix fixe menus with a three course dinner for $25 per person. Restaurant Week returns February 23 – March 1st and is a great time to try test your palette and try a new establishment or return to your favorite while you wine and dine your way through Traverse City.”

Patio & Arbor at Bowers Harbor Vineyards

Patio & Arbor at Bowers Harbor Vineyards

Spencer Steginga of Bowers Harbor Vineyard says “Late in 2014 we will release our first ever bottling of our 2012 Selection S red meritage wine! Only 45 cases were made of this special blend of 1/3 Cabernet Sauvignon, 1/3 Cabernet Franc, 1/3 Merlot grown in the best weather conditions for red grapes to date and aged in perfect barrels of the tightest grain French Oak.”

Shannon & Cortney Casey of Michigan By the Bottle cover the state’s wine scene and say “We’re excited for some of the wineries in the Traverse City area slated to emerge on the scene in 2014, including Villa Mari on Old Mission Peninsula, which we hear is experimenting with several grape varieties not typically grown in Michigan.”

One of these wineries is the Bonobo Winery that brothers Todd & Carter Oosterhouse are building on the Old Mission Peninsula. Todd says “We’re targeting opening in late summer of 2014. We have a nice 2013 vintage of Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir and we also have 600 cases of Chardonnay & Riesling from 2012. We planted 4 years ago, so most of our wines are from our vineyard. The winery & tasting room are being designed to allow folks to take and some of the pairings we’ll create using local fare.”

2012 Edible Art "Best Chef" Winner!

2012 Edible Art “Best Chef” Winner!

Tricia Phelps is market master at the Village Farm Market (Saturdays November – April, 10-2 PM) and shares the management of the Sara Hardy Market (Saturdays May – October, 7 AM – noon) with Christina Carson. In addition to the 5 year anniversary dinner for the Village Market (details coming soon) Tricia says, “The 5th Annual Edible Art Show on March 8th at The Village Farmers Market challenges Village residents, local farmers, producers and chefs to create a masterpiece made entirely out of edible items. The Public is the judge, and all you need is 1 canned good or $1 to receive a ticket and choose your favorite edible masterpiece. All proceeds will benefit Father Fred Foundation and the edible art winners will receive the coveted golden trophy!”

Cooking Class at Chateau Chantal

Cooking Class at Chateau Chantal

Marie-Chantal Dalese of Chateau Chantal says “In addition our cooking classes, we are doing a handful of wine dinners during the off-season. The first is the ‘St. Vincent’ Burgundy Wine Dinner on January 18th.” She says that they don’t have menus set for them all yet, but here’s the menu for the Burgundy dinner.

Kate Vilter of The Riverside Inn in Leland says that they will be serving dinner Thursday, Friday & Saturday nights throughout January – something they have never done! She notes that they will be the only restaurant open in Leland after this weekend and adds “People are out here already in January with skiing & snowshoeing – we’re hoping that they’re ready to relax and dine too.”


Picking Ice Wine at Black Star Farms

Coryn Briggs from Black Star Farms is excited about their Digs & Swigs tastings at Black Star’s Suttons Bay & Old Mission tasting rooms. “These are designed to be entertaining, out of the ordinary wine tasting experiences with interesting & interactive themes like ‘Oscar Mania’ or ‘Show Us Your School Spirit’ along with special offers.” She adds, “The 2013 vintage is looking great. We a 2013 Ice Wine in production that should be available by summer of 2014 and our first ever Gruner Veltliner! ” Read about Black Star Farms 2013 Ice Wine harvest on eatdrinkTC!


Students at the Tasters’ Guild Auction

Fred Laughlin of the Great Lakes Culinary Institute says that Lobdell’s Teaching Restaurant opening for spring semester on February 5. Lobdell’s serves student-created lunches featuring local & seasonal menus. Students also prepare world cuisine dinners and food at the annual Tasters’ Guild Scholarship auction on February 28. Fred says that last year’s event raised over $85,000for scholarships. His prediction for 2014?  “The TC food scene will get even more dynamic and interesting.  Wishing for more quality food events like Pigstock TC.”

Brian Polcyn & Michael Ruhlman, photo by Joe Hakim/TheHungryDudes.com

Brian Polcyn & Michael Ruhlman at Pigstock 2013, photo by Joe Hakim/TheHungryDudes.com

Speaking of Pigstock TC, organizers are already working on plans to expand and partner with other community organizations to create larger “Harvest Celebration” for Traverse City in 2014.

Second Spring Farm is looking forward to another great season in 2014. Reid Johnston says “We are currently offering winter storage vegetables at the Village Farmers Market, Oryana, and a few Traverse City restaurants. We will also be offering CSA shares for the first time this year – check our web site for details on how to sign up.”

InsideOut's new kitch!

InsideOut’s new kitchen!

Mike Curths of InsideOut Gallery says that in 2014 they will be expanding their patio & adding food service from their new 1964 AVION Travel Trailer. Mike says, “We’ll have a globally influenced and and ever-changing menu with emphasis on local & fresh. Think Tom Waits meets David Chang. Also we are working on a rather substantial bar expansion to feature 15 tap handles, over 100 Whiskeys and the largest Absinthe selection in Michigan.”

Mark Ganchiff, Publisher of Midwest Wine Press predicts that 2014 will be the year that demand for Michigan wine increases dramatically. He says “The out-of-state following for Michigan wine has been building for a while, but on the heels of Virginia’s success, I think Michigan is the next “hot” emerging wine region.”

New HopsBrian Tennis is also a representative of the Michigan Hop Alliance and notes. “We are also branching off into Michigan-grown malt. This will be the first year that we are actually growing malt for the Michigan beer market, working with the Pilot Malt House near Grand Rapids. As for a prediction, we see the Michigan craft beer scene continue to grow rapidly and and the use of Michigan-grown ingredients increasing right along with it. We will finally start to see a true 100% Michigan beer.” He adds “My wish is for farmers from all over Michigan to come together and really start working together with a unified voice. We must work for the common good of all Michiganders and we need to focus on true sustainable agriculture now more than ever.”

Bel Lago’s Charlie Edson says, “One of the best wines of the 2012 vintage is a new one for Bel Lago, a select harvest dry Riesling. Full of luscious fruit with depth and a rich texture, it will be released this spring. I continue to be excited about Auxerrois and Pinot Noir. The 2012 Auxerrois is a marvelous wine with great fruit and texture and the 2013, now in neutral French oak barrels promises to be excellent, as well.”

Larry Mawby of L Mawby hints at exciting new developments in store for 2014 and boldly predicts: “2014 is going to be a lot like 2013, except different.”

dave denisonDavid Denison of amical says that this year will be their 17th Cookbook Dinner Series. “We always learn quite a bit producing recipes from these books in mass quantities, not to mention new techniques or unique ingredients to source. 2014 also marks our twentieth year as we opened our doors on July 1st 1994. We will address this anniversary with special memories and offerings throughout the year.” He’ll be teaching a cooking class involving many of amical’s signature lunch recipes at The Box on March 1st and adds:

“As for a wish for 2014, I certainly hope for the continued success of our food community. I caution all of us not to rest on our laurels and positive notoriety. Keep producing creative & quality-minded menus while focusing on exceptional service for our treasured local clientele and valued visitors to this beautiful area. Here’s to a fantastic 2014!”

Indeed, here’s to a fantastic 2014 in Traverse City and on our culinary scene!