Thursday, November 29, 2012

Left Foot Charley Winery Earns Coveted Jefferson Cup for Riesling – Seventh Hill Farm (2011)

Left Foot Charley Winery in Traverse City has recently been awarded a prestigious Jefferson Cup for its 2011 Riesling – Seven Hill Farm, Old Mission Peninsula in the “White Vinifera Wine” category. It was the only Michigan wine to make the list this year.

The 30th Annual Jefferson Cup Invitational took place in mid November in Kansas City, MO. This noted competition features wines that are pre-selected to exemplify viticultural and winemaking in America. The invited wines have all proven their excellence in competitions and tastings throughout the year, and according to organizers, are extremely deserving of the nation’s attention.

From the original 700 invited wines, came 79 which were selected as nominees for the Jefferson Cup – and only 29 wines made that final list – including LFC’s Riesling.

"Earning a Jefferson Cup for Left Foot Charley has been on my radar for years,” says owner/winemaker Bryan Ulbrich. “This was the first time we had enough wine to enter into the invitational competition.”

The grapes for the 2011 Left Foot Charley Riesling were grown by Tom Scheuerman in a small, two-acre vineyard on the Old Mission Peninsula called Seventh Hill Farm. Only 310 cases of this medium sweet Riesling were produced, and fewer than 100 cases remain. It sells for $23.

“This is an excellent example of Riesling that will age gracefully over the next decade – truly one of the great vintages for this vineyard,” Ulbrich says. “I am so proud of Tom and our cellar staff's commitment to excellence – it has been a team effort 14 years in the making. Riesling loves Michigan!"

In all, LFC submitted five wines to be judged. The 2011 Missing Spire Riesling earned a Medal of Excellence (gold equivalent), while the Blaufrankisch 2011, Pinot Blanc 2011 and Pinot Gris 2011 each received a Medal of Merit (silver equivalent). Several other Michigan wines also showed well in this esteemed competition, receiving the equivalent of gold and silver medal status).

With more than a dozen years of winemaking to his credit at a handful of Northern Michigan wineries, Ulbrich launched his first 200 cases of Riesling under the LFC label in 2004. He and his wife, Jennifer, created Northern Michigan’s first urban winery in the center of the historic Northern Michigan Asylum – now known as The Village at Grand Traverse Commons. Ulbrich is quietly gathering the region’s top small vineyards and is showcasing them in the new LFC facility, which has been open since July 2007.

Left Foot Charley Winery & Tasting Room
806 Red Drive – Traverse City, MI 49684

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Café Cortina Carries On Family Tradition of Pairing Business with Local Philanthropy

When Café Cortina first opened the doors of its Italian eatery in the suburbs of Metro Detroit in 1976, it was with a sense of family tradition and community responsibility inspired by old world philosophies. Now, more than 35 years later, and under the direction of its second generation, Café Cortina retains its presence as one the country’s leading culinary destinations.

Located in an Italian countryside vineyard setting in Farmington Hills, Michigan and under the auspices of the Tonon family, Café Cortina started out as a “best kept secret” restaurant that has turned into a world-class foodie destination. This authentic Northern Italian eatery operates with a passion for people, memorably delicious food, genuine Italian hospitality, and an inspired philosophy of making a positive difference in their local community and beyond.

From the beginning, Café Cortina’s menu has reflected traditional hearty Northern Italian food from 150 years ago, presented in an exquisite and modern way. Although a popular restaurant trend today, this ‘true’ Italian gem is one of the first garden-to-table restaurants in the country. The café has always had their own onsite garden, producing about 70% of needed summer produce including herbs, tomatoes and peppers for roasting, creating a menu that is seasonally-influenced. Ingredients are mainly sourced in Italy, Michigan and California, with everything made in-house – including pasta and desserts.

In its nearly four decade long history as one of the more noteworthy metro Detroit “heart and soul” businesses making a difference, the locally- and nationally-acclaimed Café Cortina, has consistently strived to be more than just a restaurant.

“Breaking bread is one of the most powerful tools in life,” says Adrian Tonon, Director of Operations, third generation restaurateur, and son of co-founders, Rina Tonon and the late Adriano Tonon, “Food brings people together and, for us, it is a catalyst to making a positive difference in other people’s lives. Chefs, restaurateurs, and foodies need to create awareness that ‘we can help’ and we can change the world with food. When you’re in the hospitality industry, you touch one person at a time, but we all need to challenge ourselves to touch those outside the restaurant.”

From previously hosting a show intended for the Fine Living Network called “Culture Café” to his current venture, The Adrian Tonon Project, ( Tonon utilizes “philanthrotainment” to drive home his message that everyone has something to offer to make the world a better place.

The Adrian Tonon Project approaches nonprofit organizations and charities with one simple question, “What are three immediate nonmonetary needs you require assistance with in order to achieve your mission?” The Adrian Tonon Project then proceeds to prove that philanthropy is about more than money, services, and products by locating and working with other businesses in the quest to provide these specific needs. Tonon’s relentless pursuit to bring happiness and a helping hand to those around him is touching, inspiring and contagious.

In addition to his work at Café Cortina and The Adrian Tonon Project, Tonon, a father of four, also serves on the Board of Directors for Orchards Children’s Services, Founder of Food First Program of Michigan, a member of the International Visitors Council of Detroit, and an advocate for the Slow Food Movement, Children’s Center and Youthville.

Café Cortina is often seen as a place of special, meaningful celebrations such as birthdays, anniversaries and weddings, but other meaningful experiences occur at the café as well. Tonon often can be seen gathering community minded people together at a corner table in his family’s warm and welcoming “more than just a restaurant” to break bread while discussing solutions to area issues.

Between homemade courses of fresh salads and bread, scrumptious pasta, and savory main courses, bonds and alliances are formed, action plans are created, and people are united for a common purpose to do good work. From addressing neighborhood blight and crime, to providing education to children on the importance of nutrition and healthy eating habits, to bringing people together to donate their time and talents, Tonon seeks to empower all individuals to join him in a movement to make a positive impact in other’s lives.

“I’m just following my passion, my dream and my family legacy of serving others,” he says, “and while I’m not sure where it’s going to take me and the restaurant – it’s just something I have to pursue.”

Café Cortina
30715 W. Ten Mile Road
Farmington Hills, Michigan
Café Cortina Facebook

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds-Michigan Names Lori Tews as New Executive Director

The Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) - Michigan has named Lori Tews as its new Executive Director. Tews has more than nine years professional experience, including more than six years in association management.

“As an association professional my focus has been in membership recruitment and retention, program and project management, governance, and budget development and forecasting,” says Tews.

Tews previously served as membership manager for the American Association of Endodontists (AAE), a 7,200 member dental specialty association. While in this role, she increased chapter participation in a dues collection program and managed the production of the annual directory. Prior to the AAE, she worked for CFA Society of Chicago, working closely with the CEO and leadership to enhance the usability of the member website, membership recruitment, and managed the logistics for more than 40 events per year. Her career in association management all began at the American Medical Association Foundation, where she worked with the Executive Director on governance issues and served as liaison between the AMA and the AMA Foundation.

A native of Bay City, MI, Tews holds a Bachelors of Arts in Communication from Saginaw Valley State University and has completed eight graduate courses that will lead to a Masters of Nonprofit Administration from North Park University in Chicago, IL.

“As a child I spent numerous weekends camping, fishing and trail riding on ATV's,” says Tews. “I am so glad to be back in Michigan where I can experience all the beauty and wonders of this great state, but this time through adult eyes. I am very excited to be joining ARVC Michigan as the Executive Director. I look forward to meeting all of you and working with you to achieve the goals toward continued success of the association.”

ARVC-Michigan represents nearly 170 member campgrounds with more than 25,000 sites available throughout the state. These private campgrounds are promoted in an annual Michigan Campground Directory, available at various locations statewide, including all Welcome Centers. ARVC’s mission is to lead in the development of the RV Parks and Campground industry through education, communication and representation. ARVC-Michigan is a member of the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Record Crowds Turn Out for 5th Annual Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer & Food Festival

6th annual festival returns to DeVos Place-Steelcase Ballroom: Thursday, November 21 thru Saturday, November 23, 2013

Organizers of the Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer & Food Festival are reporting a record of more than 17,500 individuals for the 5th Annual event, which was held this past weekend in the Steelcase Ballroom at DeVos Place – a 31% increase over 2011’s attendance of 12,000. Original projections for this year anticipated attendance at about 14,000.

“Grand Rapids is the perfect community for this event,” says Henri Boucher, Show Producer. “It is large enough to support it with interested people; it is an emerging dining and entertainment destination for the region; and yet small enough that most attendees run into friends in every aisle. We truly love working on an event that is so well received – and new ideas just keep on coming.”

According to Show Manager Dawn Baker, nearly every inch of exhibit space was utilized to offer festival-goers the best possible culinary experience. More than 1200 wines, beers and spirits; a dozen area restaurants; local producers of food products, accessories and home décor; and a dozen featured presenters made this year’s event bigger and better than ever before.

“The Convention Arena Authority is proud to co-host this event with Showspan,” says Steve Heacock, Chairman of Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority. “We thought that we had a good idea from the start but have been overwhelmed by the event’s success and how it has become part of the electric atmosphere that is downtown Grand Rapids. We look forward to the 2013 International Wine, Beer and Food Festival next November.”

Attendees, exhibitors and sponsors are all reporting back with positive feedback about this year’s festival.

Meijer – who has been an ongoing sponsor since the first year of the festival – plays an active role in the marketplace, as well as providing countless hours on the workshop and seminar stages.

“The show was a perfect place to showcase the many holiday solutions that Meijer has – food, wine and entertaining décor!” according to Shari Steinbach, Meijer’s Healthy Living Manger.

“This year was the best show and had the largest selection that would rival any wine and beer festival in the country,” says Ray Sierengowski, Meijer Corporate Research Chef.

Dates for 2013 have been announced for November 21-23.


We have been involved with this event since its inception and we feel that it is one of the premier events in West Michigan. Our customers appreciate that we are a part of such an upscale event in the community. Every year we see more and more of our customers at this annual event. – John M. Leese, President Harvey Automotive Group

The attendance was fantastic again this year. The Showspan staff was very helpful in meeting our needs. I would highly recommend the Grand Rapids Wine & Food Festival as an exceptional way to exhibit your company's products to the public. Congratulations on promoting another great event. – Greg Morano, Morano Foods, Inc.

The Wine, Beer and Food Festival is such a fun event for West Michigan - with all the great food and drink choices, it represented Grand Rapids well. And the complimentary vendors (like Old World Olive Press) made the event complete! – Shasta Fase, Old World Olive Press

The Grand Rapids Wine Beer and Food Festival is a great opportunity for us to connect with new customers as well as other business owners. – Lindsay Coonan - Lindsay Truffler, LLC

Once again, nice job to all for a fun, interesting and well organized event. – Bill Koski, Gilmore Collection Wine Club

We were delighted with the turnout for the show and also the wide range of attendees. In three days we met people from all over the Midwest, had them taste our delicious product and then gave them coupons for them to purchase at one of their local Meijer Stores. We were successful with the sales we had as well as the promotion we desired. We CAN'T wait to be back for next year! – Mike Freestone, Good Life Granola

This was our second time at the show and once again it was a great success for Great Lakes Pierogies! We were thrilled with the excitement from everyone to see us back again and all the positive feedback on how much people love our pierogies! – Theresa Arkesteyn, Great Lakes Pierogies

Best show yet…Great food with plenty of options for beer wine and even Jimmy Luv’s Bloody Mary’s, which the line never ended. Great job by both Show Span and SMG on truly professionally run event. – Tom Zuiderveen - Wine Brand Manager, Kent Beverage Company Inc.

One of the best opportunities we have every year to link to our existing customers and make new contacts in a fun and professional setting. Congratulations again to Show Span. – Don Coe - Managing Partner, Black Star Farms

Each year the Wine Festival gets bigger and better. This event also helps us learn more about what our Customers are looking for. – Tim Sanders, Henry A Fox Distributors

As a made-in-Michigan manufacturer, we were very excited to be a part of the Wine, Beer, & Food Festival. It was a great venue for spreading the word about our products and local dealers...and right in our own back yard! – Duane Gilbert, Marketing Manager - AGA Marvel

It has been great to watch the GR International Wine, Beer and Food Festival grow over the past few years. Like a good wine, the event just seems to get better and better with age! – Paul Stansbie, Grand Valley State University Department of Hospitality Education

This festival offers an incredible opportunity to meet true local foodies; to discuss food preparation, trends, and flavors; and to share stories and laughs with like minded people. It's an event we look forward to every year, and we are always energized and excited by the great people we've met, the tremendous foods we've eaten, and the fabulous drinks we've shared. – Drew McLean, Bear Boy Gourmet

Chateau Chantal experienced another great GR festival this year, providing us the opportunity to mingle with our fans, make new friends, and share our new release wines with an important market. – Marie-Chantal Dalese – Chateau Chantal

It was great to meet so many consumers enthusiastic about Michigan wines. People were excited to try our bubbly or to introduce friends to our brand which is what makes the festival so important to me. – Mike Laing Assistant Winemaker - M.Lawrence Sparkling Wines

For more information about the Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer & Food Festival: or 800-328-6550.

Wine and Food Festival, LLC
2121 Celebration Dr NE
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49525
616-447-2860 • FAX: 616-447-2861

Food Dance Adds Bread Baking to Repertoire

Food Dance – West Michigan’s premier farm-to-table eatery – has added bread breaking to its impressive list of hand-made offerings, with the recent purchase of a German MIWE oven.

“I have always wanted Food Dance to produce as much of the food on each plate as possible,” says executive chef Robb Hammond – who has been with the restaurant for years. “Once we moved into our amazing new facility in 2007, we realized that the opportunity to create foods that could only be found here was immense. Whether it’s ketchup or bacon, sausage or bread, we pride ourselves on giving an experience unique to Food Dance.”

Chef Robb admits that changing a product from one used – successfully – for many years, comes with some trepidation. For years, Food Dance has sourced its various breads from the internationally-recognized Zingerman’s Bakery in Ann Arbor.

“For over a year, our pastry chef, Amber Burns, has been bringing us delicious bread she’s been baking at home. I knew with the right oven and her talent, we could bake great bread,” says Chef Robb. “I feel confident in our abilitly to take on this large undertaking and add to the overall experience for our guests here at Food Dance.”

According to Chef Robb, the process of baking bread is dependent on so many variables you can’t control. The weather on the day of baking or the day the flour was milled can have as much to do with the final product as the temperature of the oven or the correct kneading. It is a very intuitive craft that can only be learned through years of work, in various conditions.

“Why did we want to make our own bread? Because we are so passionately committed to making traditional artisan foods right here at Food Dance,” says owner Julie Stanley. “Besides, our bakers just LOVE to bake! With so much passion to be found under our own roof, we decided to push forward and try our hand at making bread. We are excited to share these new breads with you, and we plan to keep introducing new flavors as time goes on!”

This new MIWE oven will allow Food Dance to produce a variety of breads for its menu and marketplace, including sourdough, potato rosemary, ciabatta, whole wheat, focaccia, brioche and rye (on weekends).

Food Dance’s bakers will put hours into their breads – 18-24 hours for rising alone – to allow for the great flavors to develop. Other ingredients include naturally-fermented sourdough starters, yeast, unbleached spring patent flour, whole wheat berries, whole oats, local potatoes, free range eggs, fresh Wisconsin Grassland unsalted butter, Michigan honey, toasted caraway seeds, fresh rosemary, sea salt, and extra virgin olive oil, resulting in a truly tasty loaf of bread.

As one of the original West Michigan farm-to-fork restaurants dedicated to using locally-produced food, the culinary team at Food Dance works to provide a positive environmental impact and educates its staff and guests on the importance that this mindset has to the culture and community in which we live. Food Dance also supports the belief that we are all mutually-accountable to obtain excellence, by providing opportunities that create community engagement through great food and great service.

401 E. Michigan Avenue
Kalamazoo MI 49007