July 4th: Webster’s Prime Style

The 4th of July is a time of year that Michiganders live for.  Some of us can’t wait to load up our coolers with our favorite Michigan craft brews of the summer, and head to the nearest body of water with family and friends, while others stay home and enjoy the fireworks and Independence Day festivities put on by their own home towns.  The Webster’s crew is certainly looking forward to this upcoming weekend, and we decided to share a piece of our holiday celebrations with you.  Read on to see what the Webster’s crew loves most about this time of year, and feel free to share your fun filled 4th with us!

ANNA – Triple Threat Employee (Bartender/Server/Supervisor) a.k.a. “Goddess”

I have so many fun memories of Independence Day throughout the years! As a child, it wasn’t 4th of July unless someone baked a “Cool Whip” American flag cake to commemorate our Independence, and my 8 year old stomach. As a teenager, 4th of July meant my best friend and I got to lie out on the beach all day while we hoped of meeting cute boys at a firework show. Growing older, 4th of July has recently meant a great time with close friends and good wine.

Stop by the Bank St. Market on Thursday and pick up your local berries!

Stop by the Bank St. Market on Thursday and pick up your local berries!

 

I’m excited for what this 4th of July will bring!-but based on these memories, I do have a few recommendations to ensure you have an ideal independence!:

1.Pick up some fresh berries at your local Farmer’s Market and break out the Cool Whip! Recreating the American Flag is always sweeter when it’s on a cake.

2.WEAR SUNSCREEN. It is a lot easier for cute boys to notice your face when it’s not red.

3.Enjoy some of my favorite summer wines that pair well with BBQ, but even better with fireworks and great friends!

–          2012 Starborough Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand

–          2012 Orin Swift Mannequin White Blend, Napa Valley , California

–          2011 Echeverria Reserva Pinot Noir, Maule Valley, Chile

–          2012 Opolo Vineyards  Mountain Zinfandel, Paso Robles, California

 

MEGAN – Hostess

My favorite 4th of July memory was always going up north to Higgins Lake in Grayling, Michigan with my whole family. We always ended up trying to squeeze 15 or more family members into this tiny little 500 square foot cabin. We loved grilling out, having bonfires, and watching the fireworks over the lake!

 

NICOLE – Server

My favorite fourth memory is several years ago, me and some friends would spend the weekends in three rivers and would be on the lake all day and night, the only time we’d go in is for food breaks. At night we would hook up 5-6 pontoons so that you could walk from one to another and hang out. Far enough away from home to be a relaxing weekend getaway.

 

What are you throwing over the coals this year?

What are you throwing over the coals this year?

SHAUN – Veteran Server

Celebrating with both friends and family, the 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays. Basking in the sun with a cold drink and surrounded by ones I care most, what more could I ask for? I find it hard not to feed off of the infectious energy that seems to be in the air amongst us and everyone around us. This year I plan to spend the day playing games, boating and having good food with great people. Have a safe and wonderful Independence Day everyone!

Also, if you’re traveling to see fireworks keep in mind on your way home as your traveling 1mph that it’s likely the car in front of you wants to backhand the car in front of them just as bad. Patience!

 

AMY – Line Cook

My most memorable 4th of July experience was two years ago. I was moving into a new apartment with my boyfriend when I was living in Minnesota for school. We decided to travel the 9 hours from Kalamazoo to Minneapolis on July 3rd. As night fell, fireworks lit the skies everywhere! We had our own personal firework show as we slowly made our way to our new home. It was a beautiful sight I will never forget, and it definitely made the long journey go by much quicker!

Fun at Anne's new lake house!

Fun at Anne’s new lake house!

 

ANNE – Bartender Extraordinaire

Fireworks, friends, family, flags, and great food all in celebration of our country. It has to be my favorite holiday of the year. This year will be extra special for myself and my partner Ian, because we are now enjoying life on the lake with our new summer home on Pine Lake. It will be our first year creating these extra special memories that we can share for a lifetime. We plan to grill our favorite American food; burgers, brats, hotdogs, and BBQ chicken. But our lake house favorite will be campfire s’mores. After all the fun boating and the sun starts to set, campfires round out our ideal day. Never will there be a shortage of Hershey chocolate bars, marshmallows and a pack of graham. It’s a favorite for all ages that make a visit our way. Webster’s has created my favorite 4th indulgence with our S’more Bavarian dessert. Can’t make it to a campfire? Visit me in the Tasting room and Webster’s will do the messy work for you! Have a safe and happy fourth everyone.

 

TRICIA – Hostess

When I was young my family and I would go camping at the beautiful Ludington State Park for the 4th of July. With the sand dunes separating the beach from our campsite, we always worked up an appetite during the day climbing and swimming for hours. So when dinner time came around we always had to have a feast prepared. Some friends from Ohio showed us a new “camping food” that was simply too good to pass up on. We would take seasoned steaks or burgers wrapped in tinfoil with your veggie of choice, (such as red potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and whatnot), with a little bit of water and cook them all wrapped up on a tripod grill over a campfire. When the meat and veggies are fully cooked you take them off the fire and put them on a plate to be devoured. This was such a great idea because everyone can create their own meal. Independence Day will always bring back those great memories for me. Thanks to all the service men and women who have made and continue to make that possible for us.

 

RICHARD – Lead Line Cook

Most of the summer holidays my wife and I get together with a bunch of friends at a lake near Vicksburg.  Our friend Trevor, his grandparents have a house that sits right on Indian Lake.  We have been doing this for many years unless we happen to be traveling.  Everyone brings their own item to be grilled; be it meat or vegetarian items.  Most people bring a dish to pass or a wonderful dessert, but I usually bring my ‘famous’ salsa.  There are games to be played, relaxing with a magazine, enjoying each other’s company, or swimming.  We also take pontoon boat rides around the lake.  When it gets dark, we start a campfire and fireworks are the night’s entertainment both lit off by our group and the people that live on the lake (some of the firework shows rival some city funded ones).  We enjoy s’mores while playing with sparklers and watching the night sky being painted by the explosions of color in celebrating our country’s birth.  Happy Independence Day!

Kicking back and relaxing doesn't sound like a bad idea this 4th of July.

Kicking back and relaxing doesn’t sound like a bad idea this 4th of July.

 

 

NATE – Kitchen Supervisor

On 4th of July, I like to think back when I was young and so bewildered by fireworks. I remember the excitement to spend the day with all of my family, eating barbecue and my grandmother’s sushi. I like to look at my nieces now and watch their similiar feelings and excitement. This is a nostalgic holiday for myself.

Nate and his niece Olivia.

Nate and his niece Olivia.

 

KAYLEE – Server

Every week before the fourth my mom and nana and I make big sunhats with our monogrammed initials on them with big bows. Then we go up to the grand hotel on mackinaw island! I’ve gone since I was born and I’ll never miss it!

 

DAVID – Server

To me the 4th of July is about the freedoms our friends and family have fought for. Knowing the sacrifices so many have made so we can say we are the land of the free and home of the brave.  It’s one of the reasons I’ve taken my friends Ben and Jordan out to Websters giving them a great meal before they left for basic training this spring.

 

Nothing like herbs and veggies from the home garden to create the perfect meal.

Nothing like herbs and veggies from the home garden to create the perfect meal.

STEFAN – Executive Chef

There have been some great Independence Day meals; a Polish with spicy mustard and kraut on the softest potato bun ever at Kaufmann Stadium in Kansas City, general admission seats and a killer fireworks display (we were sitting up so high the explosions seemed to be at eye level!).  This one is ruled out due to the flying insects that gravitated to the large stadium lights above us and swarmed as the sun went down.

I participated in a lobster boil one Fourth of July, the food was awesome, all the fixings, red spuds, cobbed corn, amazing key lime pie.  Ate like a last meal.  This one is ruled out because no human should have to endure 100 degree plus temps, high 90% humidity, and have to boil fresh lobsters for 60 people.  Think I lost about 12 pounds that day even though I consumed my share of 2+ pound Maine lobsters.

Stefan's greyhound Sara knows how to celebrate.

Stefan’s greyhound Sara knows how to celebrate.

The winner was a gathering of all the kids and grandkids, attaching the hose to the slipper slide thing, grilling way to many of everything; I’m partial to the food in tube form, Polish, Kielbasa, etc, but there were patties of turkey, cow, and chicken as well, everyone brought a side of something (we always forgive the ‘bag o’chip’ folks, very little forethought) and we ate way to much making sure no one was burned by sparklers.  Then we packed up and headed to a community firework display taking the fixings for poor man smores, marshmallow fluff, grahams, and Hershey’s that always melt on the way.  This experience is made even better by the invention known as Baby Wipes!  What a lifesaver!

Lindsey, Destiny and Bailey bundled up and waiting for the fireworks to start!

Lindsey, Destiny and Bailey bundled up and waiting for the fireworks to start!

There is nothing better than celebrating with family on the 4th!

There is nothing better than celebrating with family on the 4th!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I guess the moral of the menu is sometimes it’s not what you eat, where you eat, or how you eat, but who enjoys it with you.  A safe Independence Day to you and yours!

 

KENNY – Prep Cook

I don’t really have a favorite memory of the 4th, I have traditions I do every year to make it just as good as the last year. The first thing is good food like smoked ribs, grilled burgers, and sweet tea. The second thing is good people. People to hang around a fire with and almost get blown up with. The third thing every 4th needs something that goes boom!! Fireworks top off an already awesome day.  My 4th is like every night at websters prime good food, good people, and something that puts it over the top.

How are you preparing your Independence Day steaks?

How are you preparing your Independence Day steaks?

 

ALEX – Event Coordinator

When I think of July 4th, the first thing that comes to mind is family.  Growing up my parents we’re always the “party house” for these types of events.  My mom, sister and I would spend all day on the 3rd making potato salad, baked beans, hamburger patties, taco salad and every other dish you might see at your traditional American cook-out.  My dad is a moonshine master, and can’t wait to share his latest creations with everyone.  He’s also a lover of craft beer, and has Bell’s Oberon on draft all summer long in their outdoor gazebo.  Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, friends, neighbors and anyone you want to drag along is invited, and no one usually arrives without a dish to pass.  Kids are running around … everywhere, fireworks are always scheduled at dusk and a family bonfire to finish out the night, which wouldn’t be complete without our traditional s’mores.  I love my family, and couldn’t think of a better way to spend this holiday and can’t wait to load up the car and head home on Thursday night!

A throwback shot of the Tipton clan having some July 4th fun!  Mom is behind the camera, and yes, that's our Event Coordinator pictured in the front!

A throwback shot of the Tipton clan having some July 4th fun! Mom is behind the camera, and yes, that’s our Event Coordinator pictured in the front!

KYLE – Line Cook

My grandmother shares her birthday with the birth of the United States, so every year my fourth celebrations are the same. My uncles load up the family in their boats and we spend the day in the Saginaw bay entertaining/ being entertained by fellow boaters. After the day passes we dock the boats for a family potluck at gram’s place. Money is won and lost in poker tournaments(where gamp’s used to clean house every time). Once everyone’s pockets are empty and stomachs are full with grandmas sugar cookies, we re-take our places on the Bay and watch the fireworks coming from both Bay City and Saginaw. The grand finale is always the lighting of the SAGINAW sign on the bridge, over the bay river. The night ends the same way when we re-dock and gram makes the comment, “for some reason they do this for me, EVERY year!”

 

HOLLI – Bartender Extraordinaire #2

My favorite memory/tradition for 4th of July is to spend it with my friends and family in Michigan.  We sit by the pool, eat some hotdogs and burgers, and have cannonball contests all day! It is a wonderful time to appreciate the people that have fought for our freedom and to spend it with the most important people in my life.  Looking forward to it this year!

What's your favorite summer cocktail to whip up?  This is "The Holli" - New Holland Hopquila, cilantro, chili simple syrup, lime, and pineapple juice. Coming to our menu soon!

What’s your favorite summer cocktail to whip up? This is “The Holli” – New Holland Hopquila, cilantro, chili simple syrup, lime, and pineapple juice. Coming to our menu soon!

From our family to yours, please have a safe and happy 4th of July weekend.

Webster’s Prime will be closed both Friday and Saturday so our staff can enjoy their Independence Day traditions!

– Webster’s Prime Staff –

Cali Restaurant Tour: Making Food Memories

 

 

The last time we talked, it was all about the wine. My fiancée and I visited California last September, and I couldn’t wait to share my teeth stained adventures, and I promise there will be more to come. Today, it’s all about the food.

It seems that the majority of my days I am eating food, talking about food or thinking about food. Nate and I laugh because we’re usually talking about what we plan to eat for dinner while we’re still eating lunch. Since we always have food on the brain, it seemed fitting to plan our entire trip around just that … food.

I can’t take the credit for the strategic meal planning that took place on our adventure, that all goes to Nate and his sister. We had every day mapped out, and we’re sure to never overlap the same cuisine in the same day. We definitely had days that we “overbooked” ourselves and opted for a nap over nachos, but all in all, a very successful trip.

A quick stop at Goose Island before hopping on the plane to L.A.

A quick stop at Goose Island before hopping on the plane to L.A.

 

Let’s start from the top. Fresh off the plane from Chicago to L.A. we jumped in the car with Nate’s sister (I didn’t know at the time, but my future sister-in-law) and rushed to Animal. The restaurant was dimly lit and bustling with people. Our waiter was as hip as I could hope for my first L.A. restaurant, and guided us through the experience with ease. A kampachi tostada served with herbs, a fish sauce vinaigrette and peanuts stuck in our conversations for days. Chicken liver toast, spicy beef tendon chips, bone marrow, shrimp and rabbit sausage spring rolls, barbeque pork belly and sweetbread ‘milanesa” filled the table, and we shared stories while we shared our first meal of many together.

The wine and stories came home with us that night, and lunch was our next meal on the docket. Chili cheese fries on the brain, we decided to head to The Oinkster. This place is what fast food chains are like in your dreams, but better … way better. We devoured the house cured pastrami, slow roasted pork, chili cheese fries that I still daydream about. And of course, an ice-cold beer.

These are the chili cheese fries that haunt my dreams, but in a very good way!

These are the chili cheese fries that haunt my dreams, but in a very good way!

 

House Cured Pastrami from The Oinkster.

House Cured Pastrami from The Oinkster.

Sushi was at the top of my list when we started planning, and Sushi Yuzu hit it right on the mark. The restaurant was sleek and simple, but beautiful. The chef’s worked diligently yet gracefully and the food was divine. Edamame with white truffle sauce, crab hand rolls, tuna on toast, amazingly fresh sushi, Sapporos all around and a sake toast made for the perfect California sushi night experience.

Sushi Yuzu was the ultimate Cali sushi experience!

Sushi Yuzu was the ultimate Cali sushi experience!

Tuna on Toast

Tuna on Toast

L.A. was very good to our stomachs, but it was time to head up to Napa Valley. The trip was long, and we made some very delicious stops along the way, including Sides Hardware and Shoes in Los Olivos, where I enjoyed the amazing “Hammered Pig”. A fried pork tenderloin sandwich with red cabbage, and an apple and mustard seed slaw, paired with a local sauvignon blanc.

 

Sides Hardware & Shoes  - Home of the "Hammered Pig"

Sides Hardware & Shoes – Home of the “Hammered Pig”

Finally arriving in Napa, our first stop of the day was the Oxbow Market to get our hands on some oysters! Why Oxbow? This is where Hog Island Oyster Co. is, and we couldn’t get enough. Our minds kept telling us to save room for the epic dining experience we were about to encounter that evening, but our stomachs demanded more chowder, oysters and po’boys. I’ll let the pictures do the explaining on this one.

SONY DSC

Oysters!

Oysters!

 

Clam Chowder

Clam Chowder

 

The epic dining experience we should have been starving ourselves for, was an experience that I will never forget as long as I live. We had the honor of dining at The French Laundry. I wish I could delve into every course, explaining every detail. I would explain how course after course we we’re surprised and delighted with something new and different, something that triggered a memory and something that kept you wanting more. I’d tell you about the pristine dining room, elaborate service and welcoming smiles. The fresh flowers that reminded me so much of the flowers I pick up from Pat for Webster’s. The feeling you get when you walk into a place like that is unforgettable, and indescribable. It’s an experience that you should hold close, and keep the special moments to yourself. Which is exactly what I will do.

How do you follow up The French Laundry? You go in the opposite direction, and head to Gott’s Roadside for some of the most delicious burgers in the valley. This was a must-see on our list, and we wouldn’t miss it for anything! We filled up on burgers, hotdogs, heavenly fries, milkshakes and of course, ice cold beer … again.

 

Gott's Roadside is the perfect place to fill up before a long day of wine tasting.

Gott’s Roadside is the perfect place to fill up before a long day of wine tasting.

 

Nate devouring his Gott's burger, now that's a food memory!

Nate devouring his Gott’s burger, now that’s a food memory!

All of these restaurants hit a chord with me that I will always remember. Animal was that first L.A. restaurant experience and it totally lived up to the hype. The Oinkster will forever occupy my dreams with dancing chili cheese fries, and I will not leave this earth without eating another hand roll from Sushi Yuzu. Hog Island Oyster Co. will be remembered as my first meal in Napa, and The French Laundry is a bucket – list item that we never dreamed would get checked off so soon

I’m very proud to work somewhere that has hit some of these same chords with people. We’ve had so many memories, big and small, created in our restaurant and we’re honored to be a part. Whether a couple is returning because this is where they were engaged or a local returns for another one of his favorite pastrami sandwiches, we’re just happy to be a part of that memory.

Until next time, here’s to making memories in the food world and enjoying your experiences!

#foodmemories

 

Alex Tipton

Event Coordinator

The Future of Hospitality

Webster’s was fortunate to recently provide a discussion and lunch for Tammi Mallos and her students at KRESA.  The students were ‘job shadowing’ throughout the Radisson in various areas from Housekeeping to Reservations, Front Desk to Security.  During the meal we discussed back and forth the merits of hospitality and were challenged to answer questions from the students.

Students getting ready to ask questions, and enjoy lunch.

Students getting ready to ask questions, and enjoy lunch.

I know that society has a bring your child to work day and I remember the career days of decades past when parents would come to our elementary school and discuss their profession.  Tammi’s classes are a group of young men and women who have chosen hospitality as a profession and many showed promise.

Nate and I prepared a simple steak salad, fresh arugula with pickled onions and sweet red grapes, a nice medium rare beef tenderloin sliced and fanned on the plate, topped with Pecorino slices and a balsamic cream.  Nate’s fiancé and our event coordinator Alexa (Alex) served the group.  After we sent out the food, we went and sat with the students and discussed our career paths.

Our first round of job shadows!

Our first round of job shadows!

John Mendles, our Executive Chef in Banquets and Alec Durocher, Sous Chef of Burdicks joined us as we answered questions from the students.  They weren’t bashful, they asked tons of questions, some were intended to break the ice “how long have you worked at the Radisson” to some insightful “what is your favorite food to prepare and why”.  We had a blast.

Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency’s website answers the question ‘what is EFE?’ as follows:

Education for Employment (EFE) is an award-winning career and technical education center without walls that               offers a wide range of programs to 10th – 12th grade students.

Programs are held in multiple locations: in high school buildings, on college campuses, and at actual business                and industry sites.

EFE programs reflect “real world” applications and maintain the rigorous requirements of the Michigan Merit                Curriculum as well as state, national, and industry technical standards and requirements.

These students are the future of hospitality.  Personally, I’m glad to see them pursue such an important endeavor.  The Radisson has several intern opportunities and has partnered well with State Universities and it is wonderful to see some energy and passion prior to college from the EFE students.  In a time when Customer Service is often lacking in society, we enjoyed our time with the students.

There were some exceptions, such as maintaining their attention when their electronic devices were buzzing.  I have three granddaughters, that wasn’t such a challenge.  Perhaps more so were the questions regarding their future?  I’m not sure any of us had answers.

 

It started me thinking about the assessments I received way back in elementary school, think I was going to be good at farming and industry if I remember right.  My father was in public relations, my mom was in medical transcription.  I wanted to play golf professionally and my culinary career found me, I didn’t wake up and decide to be a chef one day.  These students have such an advantage today with specialized training and access to information.  I just hope that they understand what a blessing that can be in their futures.

Nate, Alex, John, Alec, and I saw a brief glimpse of the future of Hotel, Restaurant, and Travel Management with Tammi and her students.  We were afforded the opportunity to discuss finding passion in your work and the simple understanding that no matter what you do, do your best, try your best, and you will find an inner peace.  Others may not recognize it, but there is a satisfaction that comes from knowing you did your best.

 

It sank in with some, others were more interested in Nate’s cream puff dessert, and others yet were looking at their phones.  But I noticed the spark in some and that is good enough for me.  I’ve seen that spark before, in countless servers who are now teachers and nurses and supermoms and dads to numerous line cooks who now work on cruise ships, are personal chefs and one is a master gardener.  Many of us took a circular path to our passion and career, here’s to a shorter distance for Tammi’s students.  May hospitality be alive and well with the next professionals from the EFE program thru KRESA.

Group Shot Funny

It wouldn’t be F&B if we didn’t have a little fun!

 

– Stefan Johnson

Executive Chef: Webster’s Prime

What’s in your Glass? Highlights from Napa Valley: Part 1

When I started my first shift at what used to be Webster’s Restaurant and Library Lounge, the only thing I knew about wine was that I didn’t drink it. I was so intimidated by those around me talking about their favorite “cabs” and “pinots”, and wondered why I couldn’t find this so called “cab” on the list anywhere! It certainly didn’t take me long to fall in love, beginning with sips of exotic, tropical filled New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs and the oaky, buttery Chardonnays of California. From there I found the reds, and never looked back. I couldn’t tell you a favorite, because I love so many for so many different reasons. The earthy, deliciously dirty pinots from Oregon, and the Barolos and Barbarescos that are as rich in history as they are in flavor. It doesn’t matter if I’m enjoying my cheap “go-to” from the local market, or popping open something special from a recent winery visit, I love red wine.

Driving into California wine country, I remember thinking to myself, “I wish I could bottle this smell, and take it home with me”. The air was filled with an aroma that I had only smelled once before, while driving Old Mission and Leelanau’s peninsulas a few summers ago. It’s a smell that can’t be fully described, you just need to visit wine country and take a whiff for yourself, because most will tell you that it smells like wine, and I can promise you, it’s so much more than that.

 

The first winery we visited, we being – my fiancé, his sister and her husband, was Jarvis Estate, and it was certainly one of my favorites in the valley. The entire winery is actually completely contained within 45,000 square feet of caves. These caves are tunneled into the Vaca mountains, and provide the perfect environment for aging some of California’s best wines. We were able to tour the estate with a small group, the other half of the group hailing from Texas and this clearly was not their first stop of the day, as the mother of the group had many pressing questions in regards to her beloved “boxed” wine. Luckily, we were blessed with an awesome sommelier with a very dry sense of humor, so he was able to poke fun at the group, providing us with some added entertainment.

They make a stellar Chardonnay, but are really known for their elegant, tasty reds. We were able to try many of these in an unbelievable wine tasting included in our tour, and still have a bottle of their 2007 Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon getting more delicious by the day in our wine cooler. Of course, I forgot to bring my camera along for this stop, so I missed out on photographing the beautiful estate and winery, so I highly suggest visiting their website, or the winery if you’re ever in the area.

www.jarviswines.com

The grounds surrounding Schramsberg Vineyards are beautiful, and they were working on restoring the original manor house during our visit.

 

Next stop, America’s House of Sparkling Wine, otherwise known as Schramsberg Vineyards. This is another winery within caves, 34,000 square feet of caves to be exact, but they specialize in sparkling wines. On any given day there can be up to 2.7 million bottles of wine in the Schramsberg caves!

Our guide at Schramsberg was fantastic, and really made booking a private tour worth it. If you look closely you can see the stacks of wine bottles that line all of the walls.  These can be multiple rows deep too!

These wines are aged anywhere from 2 to 10 years before being released. The estate is located on Diamond Mountain, and is rich with history that the current owners are always trying to restore. I loved how passionate the staff was about the history of the winery, and how proudly they held themselves as members of the Schramsberg team. They seem like a tight-knit group, and that’s something I can really respect and understand in the world of food and beverage. The tour was very intimate, and led to a candle-lit wine tasting before being released into the Tasting Room to purchase as much wine as you can ship home. We went with a bottle of their 2009 Brut Rose, which is being kept safe until we say our “I-do’s” in December. Whether you love sparkling wines or not, Schramsberg is definitely a must-see in Napa.

www.schramsberg.com

The candle lit wine tasting was definitely a highlight from the Schramsberg visit. The next time we sip this champagne, we’ll be tying the knot at Webster’s.

 

Another favorite stop was Stags’ Leap, but that will need a blog post of it’s own. The Manor House was out of this world beautiful, the history behind the estate is exciting yet slightly scandalous, the wines were delicious and I finally cleared up the Stags’ Leap/Stag’s Leap/which one had the leaping stag confusion! Maybe I’ll crack open their 2010 Petite Sirah for that adventure.

Until then, drink what you love and share what’s in your glass with our team at Webster’s Prime. Whether your sipping on something new and exciting, visiting your favorite winery or cracking open a bottle of your old go to, we want to know what your drinking … because we might want to drink it too! #whatsinyourglass

Want to get out of the house and sip some vino? Join us every Wednesday for Wine Down Wednesday! ½ off select wines by the glass AND by the bottle, live music with Steve Kamerling , delicious eats and always friendly, welcoming service. Sit back, relax and enjoy yourself, you probably deserve it!

#winedownwednesday #webstersprime

 

 

Alexa Tipton

Event Coordinator

 

Grapes fresh off the vine at Stags’ Leap. More to come on this amazing visit in my next post.

Time to get your Grill on!

It’s that time of year! The time to plant your garden and watch the perennials reappear from under the inches and inches of snow. Get the lawn mower tuned up and blade sharpened to cut the grass for the first time. It is also the time that we get to wear our white shoes with the matching belt. The un-official start of summer has begun! Happy Memorial Day!

My vegetable garden

This is a shot of my outdoor vegetable garden.

This is the weekend to clean off the grill and make sure the gas tank is full or you have a new bag of Kingsford next to the Webber. Cleaning the grill does not mean just the outer shell of leaves, dirt, and spiders, the inside needs to be scraped of charred food from last season (or winter grilling) then rub the grates with a little corn oil (or similar high smoke point oil). This should help the food not to stick plus using a clean surface always makes the food look and taste better.

 

This holiday weekend is also the time to put the dock in the water so invite friends and family to come over enjoy the sun and watersports. Everyone should bring a dish to pass while you fire up the grill to get ready for some outdoor cooking. The grill is a great addition to the patio for some outdoor cooking that can be done year ‘round (except maybe this winter with the massive amounts of snow covering everything). Everything can be cooked on the grill from meats to veggies to breads. Meats should be cooked before the vegetables and separately from each other if you are cooking chicken with beef just so there is not any cross-contamination of meats. The veggies can either be skewered or cooked in a grill wok which works very well.

Market Drop Off

Crisp Country Acres is one of many local farms we get our fresh veggies from.

What do you cook for a ‘cook-out’ with friends and family? That depends on everyone’s taste and eating habits. Some people bring their own meat/veggies to grill, but my choices are usually burgers with melty cheese, chicken, and a wonderful prime steak. Make sure the grill is hot is one area to achieve those restaurant quality grill marks then move the meat into a ‘cooler’ location to finish cooking to the chosen temperature. How do you know when the meat is done? I found that experience is the main way to know when the meat is cooked to the person’s liking. But there are some simple ways to cook ‘to temp’ meat. The palm of your hand indicates the doneness of the meat or the area between your thumb and index finger when each finger touches the thumb. Please do not cut into your steak or chicken because all those wonderful juices will flow out of the muscle and make the meat tough plus there may be a flare-up and burn the meat.

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We here at Webster’s Prime will not be open on Sunday or Monday of Memorial Day weekend. This gives a chance to spend the holiday with our loved ones celebrating our soldiers who have kept this country free and safe. As per Congress, at 3 pm on Memorial Day, all Americans should pause and remember the fallen soldiers. Get those outdoor chores done early so you can relax and spend quality time with the family either at a parade, in the backyard, or by the lake.

Please have a safe and fun holiday weekend from all the staff here at Webster’s Prime!

 

– Richard J. Steward, Line Cook

Webster’s Prime

Bank St. Farmers’ Market is back!

 

“Once in your life you need a doctor, a lawyer, a policeman and a preacher, but everyday, three times a day, you need a farmer.”

-Brenda Schoepp

 

 Michigan has arguably the best Asparagus on the planet.

Michigan has arguably the best Asparagus on the planet.

 

The Kalamazoo outdoor Farmer’s Market re-opened on Bank Street this past Saturday. I am still ‘green’ to this market, as this is only the third opening that I’ve counted down to diligently. I’ve seen a lot of changes in my short yet growing relationship with this market and the people in it. I think the biggest to note is being purchased by the People’s Food Co-Op, who really made vast improvements for shoppers, vendors and farmers last year; let alone the growth in the amount of all those people.  It makes for a very exciting and anticipating season to follow.  It felt comparable to if ‘Breaking Bad’ was going to air new episodes (I apologize if you’re not a fan of the show, replace with one of your favorite concluded television broadcasts.)

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Fresh Michigan Ramps hand picked from Kirklin Gardens in Kalamazoo, MI.

This time of year could be my favorite harvesting of Michigan vegetables. Maybe the winter was so…winter, that anything on the tail end seems to resemble truffles and caviar. Wild ramps, green garlic and the first bits of asparagus are here. Let alone ‘harder to find’ gems, like morels and fiddlehead ferns. The treasures of Michigan’s spring are plentiful, but late summer is unforgettable with its heirloom tomatoes, endings of sweet corn and beginnings of stone fruit. Fall has the promise of squash, stalks of brussel sprouts and the earthiness of root vegetables. Maybe I don’t have a favorite.

 

Either way, it was a pleasure to meet up with our friends again. Some we haven’t seen since last fall, some we have kept close over the frigid months. Pat Smith from Kirklin Gardens always greets with a smile on her face and a recommendation of her best ‘stuff’. Mitch and Lindsey from Crisp Country love to fill my bag full of produce and are always excited to help fill yours full of anything you need, as well as grow something new you’re interested in. Dave from Young Earth Farms has the best pork I’ve ever had, definitely ask him about his hogs and you will be fascinated in his process. Trent and Ruthie from Green Gardens always have welcoming faces and some of the best greens around. The Otto’s Poultry boys are always good for a solid laugh, and chicken that will make you skip the ‘supermarket’. Jon Templin from Butternut Farms has some of the most beautiful product I’ve ever seen. These are just a few of our friends, and maybe the beauty in it all is that we make more friends every season. I dare say it is not the food they grow, but relationships I’ve made with these farmers that keep me close.

Pat Smith of Kirklin Gardens sorting flowers for our main dining room.

Pat Smith of Kirklin Gardens sorting flowers for our main dining room.

 

Please stop by the market this summer and make some friends of your own, or come in to Webster’s Prime and see what we do with the jewels from Michigan’s prime.

 

Follow us on Instagram @websterprime to see what we’re picking up at the market this season!

 

Fresh daffodils to help brighten up the restaurant.  Visit Kirklin Gardens at the Bank St. Market for some of the most beautiful and unique flowers!

Fresh daffodils to help brighten up the restaurant. Visit Kirklin Gardens at the Bank St. Market for some of the most beautiful and unique flowers!

This must be the Place (and I’m glad to be back)

“Feet on the ground, head in the sky.”

I wouldn’t call myself a diehard Talking Heads fan, in fact, this post has absolutely nothing to do with the Talking Heads.  Pretty opposite actually, my return to Event Coordinating at Webster’s Prime, sipping wines, craft beer, favorite restaurants, local food, cooking at home, floral arrangements, the crazy, strangely addictive restaurant world and everything in between will most likely be the mixed up direction I go when posting to our blog. These new wave gods come into play for two reasons; one, because let’s be honest, they are amazing and that has to be a reason and two, because “This Must be the Place” reminds me of the point in my life when I realized that I belong in restaurants. Some say it’s a love song, which it certainly is, and others say it’s about the moment when David Byrne found his small place in the world.  The moment he found his way, the moment he was home.

Event Coordinating is all in the details.  These mason jars are filled with arborvitae from my backyard.  Beautiful and inexpensive, more event planning tips to come!

Event Coordinating is all in the details. These mason jars are filled with arborvitae from my backyard. Beautiful and inexpensive, more event planning tips to come!

As long as I’ve been working, I’ve been in the restaurant world.  My first job only lasted one short shift.  I was hired as a waitress at a small family owned restaurant, in a small village (yes, village … that small) near the very small town that I grew up in.  The other servers were ladies that were easily 60+ and I was barely 16.  Training consisted of a brief crash course on ticket writing, throwing me on the floor and then handing my tips over to Betty. The day started to wind down, and I was actually feeling pretty good with how I handled everything, until I saw the linen bag.  We didn’t have linens on the table, this was a mom and pop diner, so why the linen bag?  Then it hit me … I had probably thrown away over 60 cloth napkins throughout the course of my shift!  Needless to say, maybe my stomach started to hurt at that very moment, and maybe I had to call my mom to come pick me up because I was “sick”, and maybe my first day was my last day.

Luckily, things could only go up from there and I was able to leave the faraway diner behind.  I’ve served in multiple different restaurants over the past 8 years from Bob Evans, to Texas Roadhouse to finally landing at Webster’s Prime inside the Radisson. By that time I was almost 23, and hanging on to college by a thread.  I was lost, and desperately searching for my small place in the world.  After 3 years of searching, I realized I was already home.  My passion lied in the restaurant.  I took on the role of Event Coordinator, which grew into so many things. I eventually grew into a management position at Old Burdick’s Bar and Grill, then moved on to Zazios Italian Restaurant, and now a new chapter begins as I step back into the Event Coordinating role at Webster’s Prime.

Webster's allows for so many great opportunities, some of my favorite are our local food & charity driven events.  This is shot with our volunteers from Eat Drink Give 2014.

Webster’s allows for so many great opportunities, some of my favorites are our local food & charity driven events. This is a shot with our volunteers from Eat Drink Give 2014.

Events for me is all about the details, those little  moments or surprises that make an evening or event memorable.  Whether it’s something as large as a cocktail event for 100 guests, or an intimate anniversary dinner for 2, I love to help create that special moment.  I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in so many of our guest’s special days, and look forward to those on the horizon.  On the docket this spring we have the Greenleaf Hospitality Group 2nd Annual Signature Chef’s Dinner, taking place on May 15 at 6:30 p.m. This is going to be an amazing night, with chefs from all of the Radisson restaurants, including our very own Chef Stefan, Chef John and Joe from Zazios, Chef Brandon from Burdick’s for Breakfast, Chef Alec from Old Burdick’s, Chef Howie from Radisson Catering and Sherrie our talented pastry chef!  Each chef is cooking up a delicious course, with a wine paired from our featured winery Duckhorn Vineyards.  We’ve paired with our friends from Great Lakes Wine and Spirits on this one, and they have really knocked it out of the park with the wine this year.  All of the wines will be available for retail, and Duckhorn plans to have most, if not all of their portfolio available for ordering.  I know I’m saving my pennies for some of those mouth watering reds!

Our GHG Chefs gearing up for the Signature Chef Dinner last year.  Join us for the 2nd Annual Signature Chefs Dinner on May 15th. Call me at 269.226.3144 for reservations!

Our GHG Chefs gearing up for the Signature Chef Dinner last year. Join us for the 2nd Annual Signature Chefs Dinner on May 15th. Call me at 269.226.3144 for reservations!

I love what I do, and it spills into every aspect of my life.  My fiancé is an amazing chef, we love good food, we love good wine, beer and cocktails, we love dining out together and we love cooking at home just as much.  Whatever my passion is at the moment, is what I plan to share, whether it’s the bold Barbaresco I recently discovered, my recent trip to the farmer’s market, wedding details for our December wedding (at Webster’s Prime of course), insider event planning tips or the latest excitement coming out of the restaurant.  Whatever it may be, I look forward to sharing it with you.

I’ve worked in multiple restaurants here at GHG, and I’ve enjoyed and learned from every experience, but Webster’s will always be my home.  I am very happy to be home.

 

I love my Webster's family, we are certainly a tight knit crew.

I love my Webster’s family, we are certainly a tight knit crew.

 

If you’re looking to plan any style of event, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.  We have a very versatile space at Webster’s Prime and can accommodate a variety of groups.  Love craft beer?  Let’s plan a beer tasting, or a menu paired with your favorite beers!  Not big on beer, let’s plan a menu paired with your favorite wines or cocktails.  Birthdays, Rehearsals, Corporate Events, Weddings, Anniversaries, Graduation, Cocktail Events, Girls Night Out, Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties, Reunions, Baby Showers, Bridal Showers … you name it and I’ll plan it.  Looking for a lunch event?  Webster’s isn’t open for lunch, but we’ve done plenty of lunch events and are happy to accommodate groups during the day.

E-mail me at atipton@ghgkz.com

Call me at 269.226.3144

I look forward to hearing from you!

– Alexa

 

 

Visit http://www.bit.ly/chefswinedinner for details on the GHG Signature Chef’s Dinner!

 

Follow us on Instagram @websterprime

Marie-Antoine Carême “The First Celebrity Chef”

Marie-Antoine Carême has been considered the first ‘celebrity’ chef.  He was also known as the “king of cooks and cook of kings” (Kelly 2003: 225).  Along his maturation into the culinary world, his cooking and creativity helped to develop haute cuisineHaute cuisine or Grande cuisine is the “rich, intricate and elaborate cuisine of the 18th and 19th century French aristocracy and upper classes.  It is based on the rational identification, development and adoption of strict culinary principles.  By emphasizing the how and why of cooking, Grande cuisine was the first to distinguish itself from regional cuisines” (Labensky et al 2007:  5).  Carême followed strict principles in creating a genealogy of sauces which he categorized into béchamel, velouté, espagnole, and allemande.  In the simplest form they are thickened milk, thickened stock, thickened dark stock with tomato, and egg/acid emulsion like Hollandaise (Kelly 2003:  201).  These rules are evident and discussed in his five volume encyclopedia on cookery called L’Art de la cuisine which is basically a ‘how-to’ book on haute cuisine.  How did Marie-Antoine Carême become this great chef and create a new cuisine for the world?

Marie Antoine-Carême

Marie Antoine-Carême

Marie-Antoine Carême was born in Paris, France on June 8, 1784 to the poorest of parents.  He was named after the infamous Queen of France which he would become known as Antonin for the rest of his life.  Carême was part of a large family that might have ranged from eighteen to twenty-five children of Marie Jeanne Pascal and Jean Gilbert Carême.  Many of his early records were destroyed in 1871 from the Franco-Prussian war so that is why there is such a large range of siblings.  There are many stories of Antonin’s departure from his family.  The basis of his story is that Carême was abandoned on the streets of Paris and so to be fortunately picked up by a local cook.  Was this fate or a lucky circumstance that placed one of the future great chefs of the world in the hands of cook?  Whether it was fate or a lucky happenstance that landed Carême into the household of a chef, this new life facilitated his future into the exciting culinary world.  Antonin lived and worked with his ‘new’ family for six years until he was the age of fifteen.  He worked to earn his keep in the new household as lowly kitchen-boy in a chophouse that was where the cook who took him in was employed.  The work in the chophouse was basically the bottom of the Paris food chain while the top or most prestigious was the confectioners or pâtissiers.  This would add another chapter in Carême’s story of becoming a great chef to the world.

At the age of fifteen, Marie-Antonin Carême started his journey into the world of pastry.  Carême began his apprenticeship with Sylvain Bailly who was a pâtissier in Paris on the rue Vivienne (Kelly 2003:  35).  This was a very fashionable section of Paris and in view for many locals that would pass the windows of this patisserie.  All this work in this shop may have started Antonin’s health demise.  He worked in conditions that were very unhealthy because that was the design of the day.  The kitchens existed below the house in the late 18th century and some even lived below the street level.  Though his work days were long, hot and foul smelling, Carême would spend his afternoons studying and reading at the Bibliothèque Nationale where he would research ancient and foreign foods.  Along with studying foods from around the world, his other passion was architecture which would influence his pastry centerpieces or as they were named extraordinaires.

Updated Kitchen Uniform

Updated Kitchen Uniform

While working at Bailly’s patisserie, one of its patrons of Carême’s windows was another gourmand named Charles Maurice de Talleyrand.  These public displays of his works would have a big influence on chef Carême’s culinary life.  Talleyrand was a significant French diplomat which he served from Louis XVI to Napoleon I and other leaders of France.  Carême partnered and cooked for Talleyrand for twelve years.  Talleyrand did not visit Bailly’s patisserie, but Carême’s talent was noticed by Talleyrand’s maitre d’ named Boucher.  Boucher persuaded Carême to leave his position at Bailly’s to take a post with Gendron.  Antonin was not of legal age when he joined Gendron, but he worked out a deal that he could do some free-lance work.  Most of these special jobs came from Talleyrand.  These two men had much in common such as both were abandoned by their parents.  Their friendship would last for more than thirty years (Kelly 2003:  49).  In Talleyrand’s employ, Carême mainly made his extraordinaires, but he gained experience in both banquet cooking along with his confectionery skills.  As time went on, Talleyrand introduced Carême to many of his influential friends.  Through these meetings, Carême cooked for Napoleon’s sisters, and by 1803 and with the money he earned from his sugared centerpieces, Carême opened his own patisserie.  At his own place, Carême could create new desserts.  This was where Antonin started to pipe meringue through an icing bag which nobody did before.  Meringue was formed by using two spoons to get the shape that you want.  He ran that business until 1815 or 1816, but it remained an establishment, in name, until 1863.

Antonin Carême’s career was gaining notoriety among the powerful and with the nouveau riche.  And with Talleyrand’s connection to Napoleon, Carême got to make the food preparations for his wedding banquet along with designing and making the cake.  After his time creating for Napoleon, Carême began his connection to the Tsar of Russia, Alexander I who was the grandson of Catherine the Great.  A few years later Carême worked for the crowned Prince of Great Britain who later became George IV.  With all these influential people that Carême worked for, he got to travel to many different countries.  He worked and visited countries and cities such as Great Britain, Russia, and Vienna, Austria.

Marie-Antonin Carême contributed many ideas, dishes, and techniques to the culinary world.  One of his main contributions was to the chef’s uniform.  Carême updated the uniform and introduced a new style of hat worn by chefs.  This hat is called the toque.  This form of hat is still worn by chefs today.  Carême was the first chef or person to create categories for the sauces in the culinary milieu.  These became the four mother or leading sauces which are mentioned above in this paper.  He also helped to create a new cuisine that branched away from local or regional cuisine, and it was name haute cuisine.  Influenced by what Carême witnessed in Russia, he changed his service of meals from service à la française with service à la russe.  This modernized the way people served food from all at once on the table to bring out each dish according to the menu.  Carême was also credited with “introducing cream as alternative to vinegar in Russian sauces” (Kelly 2003:  167).  Carême not only had influence on techniques and dishes, he had some influence on future chefs such as Auguste Escoffier.  Escoffier took Carême’s haute cuisine and modernized and simplified it along with adding another leading sauce to the list.

Elaborate Dessert Designs by Carême

Elaborate Dessert Designs by Carême

During his last days, Carême wrote in total five books on cookery and desserts.  Most doctors said that he had intestinal tuberculosis, but the main reason Carême was dying was because of his life in the kitchen.  Antonin endured with a low-level carbon-monoxide poisoning from his days in a charcoal smoked filled kitchens that had no ventilation system.  On January 12, 1833 Marie-Antonin Carême suffered a stroke and passed away just a few months from fifty years of age.

By working at Webster’s Prime in Kalamazoo and in the culinary world, I believe that it is very important to learn the history of the kitchen.  We as chefs can learn from the past to move our career and field to new levels of the art of cookery.  Today’s kitchen is still influenced by Carême by the uniform we wear and the sauces we make, plus the way we serve our menu in course instead of all at once.  I will leave this blog with a quote from Carême to all chefs, future chefs, and to everyone:

“Advice to young chefs:  young people who love your art; have courage, perseverance…always hope…don’t count on anyone, be sure of yourself, of your talent and your probity and all will be well.”

Richard J. Steward
Line Cook

Richard

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited and Reviewed

Chefs Toque Culinaire. 22 March 2006. 26 May 2010 <http://www.chefstoqueculinaire.net/modules/AMS/index.php?storytopic=11&gt;.

  1. 27 May 2010 <http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=4436&gt;.

Kelly, Ian. Cooking for Kings: The Life of Antonin Careme, The First Celebrity Chef. New York: Walker & Company, 2003.

Labensky, Sarah, Alan M. Hause, Steven Labensky and Pricilla Martel. On Cooking: A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals. Upper Saddle River: New Jersey, 2007.

Stradley, Linda. History of Sauces. 2004. 26 May 2010 <http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/SauceHistory.htm&gt;.

 

 

Parting Words

Radisson Plaza Hotel & Suites Kalamazoo, MI

Radisson Plaza Hotel & Suites
Kalamazoo, MI

I remGreenleafember my first day with Greenleaf Hospitality Group, outlet – Zazios Kalamazoo; I was 19 years old and had not a care in the world besides completing my college degree.  If you would have stopped that 19 year old girl in the lobby of the Radisson hotel and asked her where she saw herself in seven years, I assure you the answer would have been quite different from where she is today.

I started working as a hostess for Zazios Kalamazoo in the fall of 2006.  I was thrilled to be a part of something so special and unique.  I was excited about the way Greenleaf Hospitality adapted the ‘Yes I Can’ attitude towards their guests and how eager they were to accommodate both their internal and external guests.  I learned so much from Zazios Kalamazoo.  I learned how to appreciate the fine cuisine that my father always encouraged me to try, but I never would.  Scallops, mussels, rapini (it’s terrible don’t try it,) brussel sprouts, radish, beets, veal, prosciutto, pork belly, lamb, duck, the list goes on…  Zazios opened my eyes to the wonders of many exotic foods that I used to snub my young, undeveloped palate to before joining their team.

For Today (Wood)

Zazios Salami Tasting

It was here at Zazios that I met many of my best friends, including Shawdy Moaiery whose start date was just a day before mine – November 28th, 2006.  We attended all of our human resources training classes together and have been friends ever since.  I also met many others through the years, Kristin Mantila Brown and Jess Southerland (Armstrong) both of whom I still meet almost once a week for a girl’s date.  It was also here that I met my incredible boyfriend, Alec Durocher, whom I’ve been dating for over three years and we are planning our futures together.  It would be hard for me to say that I could imagine my life without these amazing people who have helped shaped the person that I am today.  So it is safe to say that Zazios Kalamazoo will forever hold a special place in my heart.

Zazios

Zazios Italian Restaurant + Bar

 

Upon completion of my degree from Western Michigan University, I wore a duel cap; working days at a local school as a Paraprofessional and nights as a server at Zazios.  When the elementary school year ended, we were in the process of opening Zazios Birmingham in 2010.  I decided (because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life…to apply to graduate school or not to apply to graduate school,) that it would be worth life experience to move to Detroit, MI.  It was here as a bartender/server that I learned so much about life, love, and what I wanted for my future.  I also met another acquaintance, Allie Tucker, who will forever be a life long friend.

Zazios Birmingham, MI (This location is now closed.)

Zazios Birmingham, MI (This location is now closed.)

It was in the fall of 2012 that Alec and I moved back to Kalamazoo and I was extended the hand of Stefan Johnson as my future mentor – an experienced and trusted adviser, who was much more than a boss.  Stefan had faith in who I was as an individual; he saw the promise in me and gave me a chance at a career with Greenleaf Hospitality.  Sure he “made me” host, serve, and bartend before I took on the role as Event Coordinator, turned Restaurant Supervisor of Webster’s Prime, but he also invested in me.  He helped mature my many talents and strengths and learn how to develop them for a future career path.

Webster’s Prime is where I really got my feet wet in hopes for a future career path in food and beverage.  I met so many wonderful people from all different walks of life.  Some guests I met through corporate or private events, some through sharing in their special days – wedding ceremonies, rehearsal dinners, and receptions, some were entertainers that I booked to play in our Tasting Room, and some were frequent dinners in our restaurant who were just looking for a great dining experience.  It is these people who make working in food and beverage such a reward.  I will miss many of them deeply and will hope that our paths cross once again in life.PicMonkey Collage

Aside from all of our sensational guests here at Webster’s Prime, it is the brilliant people that I had the privilege of working with every day who will be greatly missed as well.  You don’t always get to see all that goes into running a successful and unique restaurant.  For example we meet with our marketing department every Tuesday, our food and beverage department every third Wednesday of the month, and our all staff meeting is held every month as well.  All staff includes leaders from the sales and catering department, the banquets department, Wings Stadium, Wings West, Rio, Sydney, Blush, front desk, The Wedding Studio, and the list goes on…with a team of 800 people employed here at Greenleaf it’s hard not to miss such a group of wonderful, talented people!

Stefan and Alana

It is for all of these reasons that Webster’s Prime, Zazios, and Greenleaf Hospitality will forever be a part of who I am.  When I decided to put in my two weeks and accept my new position with The Hinman Company I had a hard time.  It was a challenge to leave the comfort of what this company has provided – friends, support, and potential.  However, I know that The Hinman Company will be a new and exciting challenge for me and I am so thrilled to start on April 16th!

So for some parting words –

THANK YOU!

Thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout the last seven years with Greenleaf.

Thank you to our patrons for choosing to dine in such wonderful downtown Kalamazoo restaurants, Webster’s, Zazios, and Old Burdick’s.

Thank you for staying in our distinctive downtown hotel, The Radisson Plaza Hotel and Suites.

 

I look forward to seeing you in the future, at The Hinman Company.

All the best,

Alana Fisher
Event Coordinator
Restaurant Supervisor

The Angler’s Assumption: taking our seafood for granted

Prawn - Florida, wild caught, roasted tomato 'salsa'

Prawn – Florida, wild caught, roasted tomato ‘salsa’

I will never forget the first time I caught a fish. A bluegill whose fair size was relative to the ‘Twin Lakes’ outside my childhood home in mid- Michigan. I remember the wonderment I felt as a young boy peering at this fish, so alive with its sheen and squirm, dangling from my arched fishing pole. Time held still as my father’s strong hand slid down the top of the fish and held its sharp dorsal fin in place. I listened closely as he carefully removed the hook from the mouth and instructed, “this is a gift, and gifts come with responsibility.”

Skuna Bay Salmon from Vancouver

For about twenty years, those words have stuck with me.  They are subconscious aspects of the food I cook in my personal and professional life, especially when it comes to seafood. I certainly didn’t learn about sustainability, locational sourcing or birth-to-catchratios in my five-second “life lesson” on the Twin Lakes that day, but I’ve always known I hadto respect the food I eat. As I’ve progressed through my life and have had the privilege of experiencing and experimenting with rare ingredients, the humane responsibilities of making that selection are imperative.

I know that seared blue gill with acidity and contrasting texture is phenomenal, or that Michigan is known for its Friday Fish Fry. What about having Coldwater Maine Lobster, Alaskan Halibut, Scallops from Massachusetts, or Japanese Oysters? Eating these delicacies are a rarity, and should be treated as one. We should all be educated on the horrors of over-fishing and net-rigged catch of beautiful fish such as the Chilean Sea Bass or the Pacific’s massive Bluefin Tuna, the toxicity caused by certain mass fish farming and the proper harvesting season of crustaceans.

Ocean Tasting

We should all also know that being responsible for what seafood we eat is much simpler than understanding every aspect of our aquatic kingdom on Earth.

In coastal California, not far from San Francisco, is the beautiful Monterey Bay, where my sister was wed and home toone of the most important and relevant aquarium/research institutes in the United States: Monterey Bay Aquarium Research institute (MBARI). Located in Moss Landing, the bay is vastly blue and filled with lush sea life, colorful coral and the occasional humpback whale. They are globally recognized for their research and standards concerning oceanic habitat.

Their website also has a convenient app for mobile devices, MBA Seafood Watch, which I use regularly when ordering seafood for the restaurant, buying fish at the store and researching into menu design. MBARI clearly decides and explains what seafood by location is categorized as a ‘best choice’, ‘good alternative’, ‘bad alternative’ or ‘avoid’.  There is also great detail into fishing practices and specific weather effects in all areas of the world.  They even have now added a social media aspect, connecting people to share where they source sustainable seafood.

33lb Striped Bass, hand-line caught, Maryland

33lb Striped Bass, hand-line caught, Maryland

If you’re having a hard time sourcing high quality and sustainable seafood, come into Webster’s and we would love to meet you and aid in supplying you with responsible seafood.

It is a big world out there, and we cannot allow its size to make us oblivious to what we eat. As all of you know, the future is inevitable. We need to share information and help each other to better this planet, and ourselves. I see myself sitting on an old wooden dock one day, early in the dawn of the beautiful Michigan fall, casting a fishing lesson with my child.

 

http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/

http://www.seafoodwatch.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx

http://www.webstersrestaurant.com/

Nate Shaw
Kitchen Superior

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