How Chefs in Detroit Are Addressing Winter Sourcing Challenges

How Chefs in Detroit Are Addressing Winter Sourcing Challenges

By Dorothy Hernandez, Foodable Contributor

A strawberry grown out of state in December versus a strawberry grown locally in June. It’s no question which fruit is superior in terms of taste. So what do you do during the winter when you’re a Michigan chef who focuses on seasonal cooking and local sourcing?

“Everyone asks me that question,” says Chef James Rigato, known for his contemporary American cooking with a Michigan focus at The Root in White Lake, Mich., and now his ever evolving menus at the recently opened Mabel Gray in suburban Detroit. “What you’re really talking about [is] field growing, that’s what you lose [in the winter] — the wild foraging, you lose field growing, but there’s still a lot of food production going on.”

In recent years, more artisanal food producers have cropped up, and these products have excited chefs like Colin Brown, the executive chef at the Royal Park Hotel in Rochester, Mich. The hotel recently opened Park 600 Bar and Kitchen, which features locally sourced products and craft cocktails; it replaced the upscale hotel’s fine dining restaurant.

“I’ve seen a big change in the last 10, 12 years with new products coming on,” says Brown. “Artisan producers are really coming to the forefront with great products in Michigan.” 

Some of these products and producers include maple syrup, local bakers, and cheese makers.

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Introducing Detroit, Our Newest Foodable City

Introducing Detroit, Our Newest Foodable City

The Motor City has been surrounded by a cloud of smoke, so to speak, for a while it seems. Detroit has topped the Forbes list of “The 10 Most Dangerous U.S. Cities” repeatedly (four years in a row at No. 1, to be exact) due to its gang-related crime. But according to The Wall Street Journal, which penned an “Insider’s Guide to Detroit” just a few days ago, the city is becoming more attractive to young creative professionals. The piece also tips its hat to Detroit’s emerging dining scene, with more than a dozen recent restaurant openings.

Detroit’s resurgence, supported by the above, is just a glimpse of why the Foodable team chose Detroit as our newest city-level blog, bringing us to a total of 18 U.S. cities. Earlier this year, we were fortunate to spend some time in downtown Detroit to dig deeper into this so-called resurgence. What we found were lifelong locals who told us stories of the changing neighborhood, and how local businesses, with an emphasis on talented chefs and restaurants popping up in the area, are providing a boost to the local community. Detroit has always had good food in its surrounding suburbs (just look at Northville), but chefs are reviving downtown with new energy.

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