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September 3, 2014

TCH brings fresh, local food to the table at annual event

By Tiffany Esshaki
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
Michele VanDevelder, of Bald Mountain Mushrooms, sets out fresh caps during last year’s Farm to Table event, while Vic Pone, of Macomb, eyes what he wants to take home.

BIRMINGHAM — This Saturday night, leave the burners off and the cutting board in the cabinet. The Community House has got dinner covered with its second annual Farm to Table Block Party food festival.

The celebration of all things tasty and local was such a hit among guests last year that TCH is going to bring it this year with even more talented chefs and food vendors lining the streets surrounding the building in downtown Birmingham.

Well-known restaurants from Oakland and Wayne counties will show off their culinary best with tastings that include exclusively Michigan-grown ingredients. The whole family will get the chance to fill up on great Great Lakes flavors while enjoying other activities, like animal balloon sculptures, face painting and more.

For those who want to take some local tastes back home, Michigan vendors will be on hand with locally produced fruits and vegetables, cheeses, meats, baked goods, and lots of other goodies. Guests can look out for favorites like Imerman Cake Co., Eli Tea Bar, Slow Jams, Sweet Artisan Marshmallow and plenty of others.

Camille Jayne, president and CEO of TCH, said they were so pleased with the turnout for last year’s inaugural event that they hope to garner even more attention this year for Michigan food purveyors.

“We had just about 700 people last year and we were really, really happy with that,” she said. “I think people just feel better when they know they’re supporting local. TCH is all about sustaining Michigan, whether it’s the OUR TOWN art shows or student Art Town exhibit — which is all Michigan artists — we’re all about supporting everything Michigan.”

Not only do residents seem to enjoy supporting local businesses and keeping their food dollars in the state, but the quality of cuisine seems to be a draw, as well. That’s certainly the case at The Stand Bistro in downtown Birmingham, which for the first time will participate in Farm to Table.

Manager and co-owner John Kelly has been brainstorming with his co-owner, chef Paul Grosz, on which tastings they’ll prepare for the event that will showcase both the restaurant’s elite menu, as well as the best seasonal foods the state has to offer.

“We loved the concept because that’s who we are, pretty much. We serve local Michigan shrimp, fish from the Great Lakes, plenty of local produce, and all of our fowl is local from the outlying Ann Arbor area. It just makes sense to partner up with someone doing the same thing we do,” Kelly said.

While other dishes are in the works, one item that will likely be served up at The Stand’s booth on Saturday will be their Michigan vegan corn dish, featuring corn grown in the Caseville area, prepared with toasted candied almonds and house-infused lavender oil.

“It’s sweet, and it calms you like lavender does,” Kelly said.

Other participating restaurants include Cacao Tree Café, Forest Grille, The Root, Peabody’s, Streetside Seafood, Lafayette Market and Café, and more.

To wash down all those tasty bites, local breweries, wineries and distilleries will be there to offer samples of craft beverages. Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales in Dexter, Verterra Winery in Leland and Journeyman Distillery of Three Oaks are among those expected.

Like most events TCH hosts, proceeds from Farm to Table will go to benefit the nonprofit’s outreach programming for at-risk children around metro Detroit, specifically the TCH iCount program, which focuses on promoting wellness, exercise and proper nutrition for at-risk teens in Wayne and Oakland counties. Over the summer, more than 500 teenagers participated in weekly sessions of instruction to learn how they and their families can achieve healthier lifestyles.

“It’s such a great family event. Last year we were thrilled that more families came and not just adult couples; and they all left stuffed,” said Jayne. “People always enjoy good food, and these chefs are great chefs from great restaurants. We’re very excited about it.”

In the event of inclement weather, Farm to Table will be held inside The Community House. Tickets for the event, which will be held 4-8 p.m. Sept. 6, are $25 for adults, including one drink ticket, and $10 for children younger than 12. For more information or to purchase advance tickets, visit www.tchservers.org.

The Community House is located at 380 S. Bates St. in downtown Birmingham.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Tiffany Esshaki at tesshaki@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1095.