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Madison Heights

November 7, 2012

Food lovers go ‘Around the Globe in Madison Heights’

Free taste festival and cultural show returns Nov. 15

By Andy Kozlowski
C & G Staff Writer

MADISON HEIGHTS — The city of Madison Heights has a diverse population, something reflected in the variety of ethnic restaurants within its borders.

There are many exotic flavors to try, as well as familiar American fare, and both will be available for taste testing at one of the city’s most popular events — Around the Globe in Madison Heights, held Nov. 15 by the Madison Heights Southend Downtown Development Authority.

The event, in its fifth year, continues to grow; last year it drew about 1,500 guests in two hours, and 1,000 the year before.

“Every year, it’s grown in attendance,” said Linda Williams, economic development coordinator for the city of Madison Heights. “This year, we’re expecting over 2,000, due to a couple of things.

“One, we’ll have all of our favorite vendors and restaurants come join us again, but we’ll have a number of exciting new restaurants as well, which will attract more people,” she said. “And for the live entertainment, I believe we’ll have increased participation from students in both school districts, which will naturally bring more families.

“It will be a packed event,” Williams concluded. “Parking is always an issue, so I recommend coming early.”

The event takes place in the cafeteria and gymnasium at Wilkinson Middle School. This year, to improve foot traffic and avoid the bottleneck between the two areas, they’ll have all of the food vendors in the gym.

This way, people can fill their plates with food samples and eat them in the cafeteria, where there will be more tables and chairs to accommodate the crowd as they watch the entertainment unfolding onstage.

Everyone who attends the free event gets a number of taste tickets as their “passports,” for the sake of quantity control and head count. They are then free to tour the different vendors on display, of which there will be about 50 in all.

Not all of the vendors are in the food business. There will be a number of civic organizations like the Crime Commission, the Community Family Coalition and possibly the Parade Committee, educating the public on what they do. A couple of churches will be in attendance, and the police and the fire departments will both be at the show for a bit of friendly culinary competition.

There will be retail businesses like Northern TV, a newcomer this year, as well as Sterling Autobody, The Pet Beastro, Modern Skate, Lady Jane’s Haircuts for Men and Seasons Hospice, which is donating all of the utensils at the event.

The biggest stars are the restaurants, of course, including a number of returning favorites like $5 Crunch, Culver’s, Biggby Coffee, Big Boy, Boodles, Edamame Sushi, Fuji Buffet, Jimmy John’s, Marinelli’s, Natalie’s Bakery, On the Rocks, Red Robin, Texas Roadhouse and Thang Long.

Cici’s Pizza is also likely to attend, while Dairy Queen and Little Caesar’s were invited but unconfirmed at press time.

Then there’s a variety of new food vendors, including Asya Middle Eastern Cuisine, Dunkin’ Donuts, LC’s Asian Kitchen, QQ Bakery, Satay Chinese Restaurant, Sushi Gallery and Tim Hortons.

“We’re still figuring out whether we should represent Korean or Japanese,” said Angela Lee, daughter of the owner of Sushi Gallery, the city’s first Korean restaurant but also a Japanese one, as the name would suggest.

“When we first opened, Linda (Williams) told us about this, so we’re excited to come and see all of the other restaurants and how they do everything,” she said.

Asia Shaya-Rayis, owner of Asya Middle Eastern Cuisine, shared this sentiment.

“For me it’s like home, bringing everyone in the community together,” Shaya-Rayis said. “It’s also a chance to show the food to people and teach them how healthy it is.

“I’m thinking about bringing three different dishes,” she said. “A popular healthy salad called fattoush, some chicken shawarma and hummus.” 

In all, there will be foods representing more than 10 countries, including the U.S., Vietnam, Philippines, China, India, Thailand, Mexico, Korea, Japan, Italy and Middle Eastern nations.

The ethnic display extends to the live entertainment, where students from Madison district will take the stage at 5:30 p.m., followed by students from Lamphere district at 6 p.m., each showcasing fashions and dances from different cultures.

The last performance will be a traditional Chinese dance by the Detroit Oriental Art School, sponsored by Fuji Buffet.

“They always put on a very colorful and enchanting dance show,” Williams said. “It’s always a perfect finale for what we hope will be another successful event.”

The 5th annual “Around the Globe in Madison Heights” taste festival and cultural show will take place at Wilkinson Middle School, 26524 John R, from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15. Admission is free. For more information, including how to become a vendor, call Linda Williams at (248) 837-2612.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Andy Kozlowski at akozlowski@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1104.