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

The Tasting Room

Mixologist Angie Jackson Leading a Cocktail Class

Mixologist Angie Jackson Leading a Cocktail Class

I used to think a good first impression was everything, and I will never forget the first time I walked into Webster’s Tasting Room. It was dubbed the “Lounge” at the time, filled with beautiful dark wood, statuesque paintings and chairs that were more like sofas. There was an instant feeling of ease and comfort as you peered towards the fireplace or the windows overlooking part of Kalamazoo’s downtown district. A very impressive room, but as a 20 year old at the time, my wallet suddenly felt light. I didn’t feel unwelcome, but I was nervous to see prices and the looks from Kalamazoo’s elite. Well, I’ve definitely learned to not trust my first impression.

Live Music Wednesday and Friday Nights

Live Music Wednesday and Friday Nights

Webster’s Tasting Room is the place where anyone can enjoy great food and drink, live music, local artwork and several special events. We have Hoppy Hour from 5p.m. to 7p.m.  Monday through Friday, allowing you to order any of the beers on our list for half off. Wine Down Wednesdays features half price on select bottles of wine, all night long. We have a great selection of Michigan craft beer and an impressive wine list, as well as some locally made and specialty spirits. Aside from our dining room menu, we are offering a “shareables” and “sandwich” menu, with very affordable pricing to fit every occasion.

Webster’s Prime is proud to now be a curated Art Hop site. We showcase local artists’ work all month long as well as on Art Hop, which is the first Friday of every month.  The beautiful wood floors and relaxed tone of the tasting room is perfect for doubling as an art gallery. We usually like to do something special for our Art Hop guests also. For instance this past week the Tasting Room hosted a gin sampling from Two Birds Artisan Spirits alongside Denis Billen’s beautiful photography. Check out Art Hop, and if you miss it, we’ll have art hung all month.

New Holland Brewing Tapping Dragons Milk

New Holland Brewing Tapping Dragons Milk

Being a cook, it is natural for me to be most excited about the food. Webster’s Prime has rejuvenated its kitchen over the last two years. Take it from me, I have been working in Webster’s kitchen longer than both my chefs and my fellow cooks. Not to say that gives me wisdom, I just have seen all of the changes. The eagerness, creativity, knowledge and refinement from our kitchen is absorbing. The food is better than ever before, with an emphasis on high quality proteins, local product and skillful execution. The kitchen is breeding ground for education and elevation. The team and I have become a much stronger culinary force, and we will keep growing and perfecting our craft.

Ocean Tasting

Ocean Tasting

These aren’t your grandmother’s sandwiches (although I’m sure your grandmother made amazing sandwiches.) A staff favorite, Jud McMichael’s house cured pastrami is to die for. The smoked and feathered beef with melted Jarlsberg cheese, spicy mustard and grilled rye is a mouthful of flavor you will not forget. We also love to make our steak sandwich, especially being a kitchen that prides itself on serving high quality cuts of beef. Sliced medium rare steak, caramelized onions and horseradish cream has always been a guest favorite. All sandwiches come with warm German potato salad and pickles.

Pastrami Sandwich

Pastrami Sandwich

With spring will come a couple of new sandwiches in our Tasting Room. A BLT will feature our new house made bacon, the pork bellies come from Young Earth Farms in Decatur. We then cure them for six days with salts and other flavorings like lemon zest, fresh thyme and black pepper.  A quick two hour smoke and you have beautiful bacon. The other sandwich will be a warm ham and cheese. Delicious rosemary ham, melted gruyere and mustard on house made foccacia will redefine the ham and cheese sandwich for you. If you’re not in the sandwich mood, any of our sharing plates will definitely satisfy, from samplings of grass-fed, grain-fed, wagyu and dry aged beef, to some of our favorite cheeses or even shrimp cocktail. Soon we will also feature daily canapes, a true inside look to the everyday creativity of our kitchen.

Curing Pork Bellies

Curing Pork Bellies

Whether your college students or professors, staff or management, hotel guest or local, Webster’s Tasting Room is an exceptional choice for everyday food, drink and leisure.

Nate Shaw
Lead Line Cook
LobTail

You had me at service

What is it that makes us return to a restaurant?  Is it the comfortable chairs, as our Executive Chef recently wrote about?  Is it the astonishing mouth watering dish that you find yourself dreaming about when pondering where to stop for dinner?  Or is it the amazing service?

VellumAnn Arbor, MI

Vellum
Ann Arbor, MI

For me, it has always been about the service.  Anywhere from the greasy spoon where the ma and pa behind the counter engage you in friendly conversation, to the six course fine dining back server and front server experience, it has to have great service for me to return.  Not perfect service, no no, I never strive for the perfect dining experience, just something that takes the dining experience from average to extraordinary.  I understand that mistakes happen, and servers get busy, but it is how they conduct themselves in a professional and welcoming manner that keeps me interested.

We’ve all been there, the situations where you try a new place for the first time and you swear you will never be back.  Once a place has a black mark for me, I swear I won’t go back for years!  I don’t even realize how much time goes by…I almost forget the reason why I didn’t like it in the first place…but I won’t choose to give them a second chance unless someone else suggests that we go.

I have to say that my friends and I are a tough crowd, not because we aren’t easily pleased but because we expect great service.  It’s the expectation where we come from.  Most of us are chefs, restaurant managers, servers, bartenders, event coordinators, hostesses, dining room assistants, and just plain foodies!

My foodie friends and I recently met in Ann Arbor for dinner, a mecca of great places to dine!  How can one from out of town even chose where to go?  Well for us, Vellum had us from the get go.  Their website was top notch, and their Chef de Cuisine was from Kalamazoo and a WMU graduate!  We had to check it out once we had read that, and we were not disappointed.

Beer Vellum

For me the experience started with (if you’ve read my past blogs…you could probably guess) that’s right, an ice cold beer.  I was pleased that they had Final Absolution from Dragonmead (one of my favorites) and Dragon’s Milk from New Holland on draft.  They also had my favorite bourbon, Basil Hayden’s in which I enjoyed after my dinner.

But it wasn’t the great beer, bourbon, or even the modern American chow that blew my socks off, it was their attention to providing wonderful service.  We were first greeted by a nice amuse bouche from the chef, they removed all dirt y silverware throughout the meal, and when our entrees arrived they presented us each with a complimentary sample of wine that paired nicely with our entrée selection.  After dinner they surprised my boyfriend with a complimentary upgrade from his VSOP cognac to an XO cognac.  We never wanted for anything, the food was great, and the Director of Operations, Ric Jewell was a real pleasure to meet.  Ric Jewell and our server created the ultimate dining experience for us.  We felt like royalty, and will return because of the service in the near future for sure.

The food at Vellum was a bit too modern for my taste; I like a more classical approach.  Not moth balls classical, but just you know, somewhere in the middle.  While their food was tasty, when I ordered the bone marrow, I expected a bone on a plate with a little demitasse spoon.  Instead we received bone marrow custard, with braised short ribs and cute little root vegetables.  Tasty, but not what I expected.  So while it may not be the food that pulls me back to this modern year old establishment it will be their attention to providing excellent service.Bone Marrow Vellum

So what is it that you look for in a restaurant?  Comfortable chairs?  Great food, modern food?  Or outstanding service?  We want to know!

Alana Fisher
Event Coordinator
Allie and I

Well Brewed in Kalamazoo…

I opened the first two Bell’s bottles on a nice night in the Tasting Room.  I ordered myself Localthe Chef’s Local Tasting which at that time was on the regular dinner menu.  I enjoyed a delectable soup and salad combination which consisted of Jonagold Apples, Watermelon Radishes, toasted pecans, house made Sourdough Bread, and a Romanesco Cauliflower Soup, and to wash it all down, a delicious and refreshing Bell’s Amber.  To follow was my dessert, a Bell’s Best Brown, and wonderful conversation with a dear friend.

If you read my last blog, I wasn’t all that thrilled at the time to drink my way through the six Bell’s beers on our list.  I guess I was just more excited to try the ones from Breweries that I wasn’t all that familiar with, like Brewery Vivant, and Tri-City.  Bell’s had slowly became a customary item to me.  How quickly I forgot about the year I spent in Detroit pining for six pack of Oberon on what Kalamazoo-ins call “Oberon Day.”  But what I love about writing this blog, and taking this ride on my beer adventure, is that I keep surprising myself.  What I found was a greater respect and a greater knowledge of Bell’s beers and I am happy to say that I enjoyed all six that Webster’s Prime had to offer me.Bell's Blog

The Amber I had enjoyed many times before, and I knew it was one of those easy to drink beers.  It has a cloudy and golden-amber appearance.  The Amber is extremely floral, with slight notes of hops and carbonation.  But what I really like about the Amber is that it is a well balanced beer.  It is one of Bell’s year-round brands that sits right in the middle between malt and hop intensity.  This is an easy one to enjoy!

Bell’s Best Brown is a step up on that malt, hop intensity scale that I mentioned.  It is a seasonal brand for Bell’s, that has more hop and malt intensity than the Amber does.  It is dark brown in color and possesses a nutty/ malty aroma.  This Ale was light and easy to drink with hints of cocoa and caramel.  It is nice and balanced, do not let the color of this one steer you away, it is not a heavy beer by any means.bells-oarsman

Now, I’ll admit I did not actually drink the next four brews in the Webster’s Prime Tasting Room.  Sometimes a restaurant girl needs a little break from the hustle and bustle of the busy season.  So I ran down to Drake Party Center and built myself a six pack, took the bottles home, and had a Bell’s experience on the couch.  (Beers mentioned are on the Webster’s Prime beer list!!)

I started with the Bell’s Oarsman Ale, a year round beer for the brewery, and an astringent, refreshing brew that would be of great reward after a 5k or while sitting on the pontoon boat on a hot afternoon.  It has an apple cider fruitiness, tart with hints of lemon and lemongrass.  This is a traditional sour wheat ale, using traditional mash methods.  It is cloudy and yellow in appearance, citrus on the nose, and sour to your taste buds.  I am extremely sensitive to sour, it makes my upper lip sweat, so this beer was difficult for me, but it would be really nice for someone less sensitive to sour.  Maybe I’m slightly allergic to lactic and citric acid?  It is a session (clean finish, high drink-ability)/wheat beer with use of citrus hops and bright notes; you really get that sour on the sides of your tongue.  With its light carbonation this would be a great chugging beer on a hot day.Bell's Blog 2

Next I enjoyed the Winter White Ale, a great wheat/witbeir/Belgian style ale.  This is a winter seasonal for Bell’s that is cloudy orange in color and has sweet wheat, citrus on the nose with slight malt coming across.  It has that “bready” type quality that I love.  With its full mouth feel it reminded me of a Belgian White Ale.  It has lemon, orange, banana, and clove aroma and taste.  Very easy to drink, and highly recommended for those looking for a lighter beer during the winter months.

Then I was on to the Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, this is an Indian Pale Ale (American-Style) with American malts and hops and a nice crisp finish.  It has a floral hop aroma, but a subtle hop flavor on the tongue.  This one is not overly hoppy; it has the perfect light hop background with grapefruit forward.  Very easy to drink, clean, slight dryness on the finish that leaves you wanting another sip.  It also possesses a slight “booziness,” with grassy hops and a malt finish.  VERY, VERY GOOD!  Want to amp it up?  Try a Hopslam next, if you like the Two-Hearted.Two Hearted

Lastly, I was ready for the grand finale, the Kalamazoo Stout.  A wonderful American stout, brewed with brewers licorice.  It is a full-bodied beer with flavors of roast and dark chocolate.  It is very dark in color, almost black, with a roasted coffee and chocolate aroma and finish.  Some mild hop presence and a roasted malty full body.  Nice creamy mouth feel, some caramel notes, hints of molasses, and anise.  Delicious!

All in all I have to say that Bell’s makes some Bell's Blog 1great beers.  They are easy to drink, they have vivid full aromas, and they are extremely well balanced.  I’m looking forward to our upcoming workshop at Bell’s and their Chef’s Table at Zazios Restaurant in Kalamazoo.  I have attended a Bell’s Chef Table dinner at Zazios once before, but I am so excited to attend another, a year later, during Kalamazoo Beer Week.  Pumped to try their Kal-Haven Ale, and their Midwestern Pale Ale, in addition to their Hell Hath No Fury, and Black Note.

Speaking of Kalamazoo Beer Week, please join Webster’s for our “Meet the Brewers” events Monday, January 14th through Wednesday, January 16th, and Friday, January 18th.  Monday we will have Founders, Tuesday Arbor, Wednesday Arcadia, and Friday Perrin Brewing Company (a newbie from Grand Rapids.)  On Thursday, January 17th please join us for a New Holland After Party featuring musical artist, Megan Dooley!  The party kicks off around 8:00pm; look forward to seeing you there!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season, and please have a wonderful NYE!

Alana Fisher
Event Coordinator

Alana

Gaining new taste and knowledge one beer at a time

I have been slowly working my way through the Webster’s Prime beer list, (tough life I know,) and have truly been awed by my expansion of beer knowledge and ever growing taste.  I have never been one to say, “No,” to trying something new, food or beverage, but I tend to order things for myself that I know I’m going to like.  A creature of habit perhaps, I always order the same things on the menu that I’ve had before and I always order a wheat or light Belgian style beer.  Not anymore!  As I have consumed the first nine beers on the Webster’s Prime beer menu, I have learned that I can truly find a great beer in a style that I never thought I was ever going to like, like the Arcadia Hopmouth, double IPA.  (A new favorite!)*

Atwater D-Light

This week I dove into the Atwater beers on our list.  Atwater D-Light, Atwater Michigan Lager, and Atwater Vanilla Java Porter, all beers that I would recommend trying.  Atwater is a brewery located in the Rivertown district in Detroit, MI.  The brewery was founded in 1997 and they produce wonderful German style lagers.  All of their equipment was shipped in from Germany and has been in use for over 200 years!  They use malt and hops from Germany for all of their lagers; however, they use American hops for all of their ales.

Atwater D-Light is a Kölsch style beer.  An American Kölsch is light, delicate, and a refreshing type of ale.  In most cases it is less aggressive than a pilsner, lighter hops and extremely crisp.  This beer was indeed light on my palate, reminded me of an American pilsner, and a little sour on the finish, but not over powering in the sour taste.  It was really easy to drink, slight carbonation, and golden honey in color.  It is crisp and clean, and a great starter beer for those who aren’t really into drinking beer.

Atwater Michigan Lager

Atwater Michigan Lager was exceptionally delicious!  Webster’s is slinging this one in a can, I love it.  This beer is a tradition of a hand crafted German style lager, on the palate you almost get a sweet flavor in the beginning, then it settles out, to a nice and light wheat finish.  Cloudier than the D-Light, but again golden honey in color.  SO GOOD!  It is a Munich-style Helles Lager, which makes it a bit malty, but “Helles” is German for light.  I really liked this lager, it was well balanced, and a little more my style than the D-Light.

Atwater Vanilla Java Porter

Atwater Vanilla Java was a great little porter, one of my boyfriend’s favorites.  It is a chocolate malt beverage, brewed with fine-roasted coffee beans and added natural flavor of vanilla bean extract.  It is very dark in color like coffee, and I liked that it had so much vanilla essence; the chocolate does not over power or come forward to much.  It was revitalizing because I typically get chocolate in a lot of these stouts and porters.  It isn’t too sweet but it is well balanced between the malt and the vanilla.  Overall, it is a unique American Porter, and I recommend trying it out if you are looking for something sweeter, or to get your vanilla fix on.

Not a beer drinker?

Webster’s Prime Tasting Room will soon be launching its new winter drink menu…if you’re not into the beers, please stop in to check out the amazing new cocktail list.   Featuring traditional, and classic cocktails, like the French 75 and the original Side Car.  A new wine list, bar, and dinner menu soon to come as well!  Did you know that the Tasting Room offers both the regular dinner menu and its own bar menu, which features sandwiches and appetizers?  The Tasting Room also has live entertainment on Wednesday and Friday evenings.  This Wednesday, November 14th, Steve Kamerling and Barry Ross 7:30-10:00pm, and Friday, November 16th, The Hired Hands Band 8:30-11:30pm.  Maybe I’ll see you there!


Alana Fisher
Event Coordinator

*Webster’s Prime, Zazios, and Burdicks will be visiting Arcadia Brewery this Sunday in Battle Creek!  Check for photos next week, on our Facebook page! http://www.facebook.com/webstersprime

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