food

The Next Idea

The Incubator Kitchen at the Grand Rapids Downtown Market is helping people with an idea for a food product or business turn their dreams into reality without risking their life savings.

The Incubator Kitchen is a full-sized commercial kitchen where hopeful food entrepreneurs can get help with business planning and the licensing required to legally produce their products and sell to the public.

Max Johnston

The Bear Claw Cafe in Copemish is full of bears. Don’t worry, the bears are only decorative. But they are a part of a unique diner whose owner wants you to look at the animal differently.

Sam Corden

The Crystal Café in Benzonia has been a popular breakfast spot for 20 years. The café serves standard diner fare like corned beef hash, but also get creative – with dishes like Hawaiian omelets and bread pudding French toast.

"The Table of Knowledge" is a group of mostly old-timers who gather every morning at The Front Porch Cafe for a cup of coffee or a bite to eat.
Dan Wanschura

It’s five o’clock in the morning on Main Street in Ellsworth, and it seems like most of the village is sleeping. It’s quiet and dark outside, but there is a light on outside The Front Porch Cafe.

Inside, Brenda Powers is getting ready for another day.


Sam Corden

Listeners have been recommending diners across northern Michigan, from Grand Marais to Beaver Island, during IPR’s series Order Up. IPR took the advice of one caller and visited Randy’s Diner in Traverse City – with him. 

Sam Corden

For the most part, Kritters is your typical local diner. They specialize in pulled pork sandwiches and generously sized hamburgers, and they’re a popular local breakfast spot.

But on Thursday nights, Kritters attracts bikers from all over northern Michigan.

Sam Corden

The new owners of a popular hangout in Baldwin are stepping into some very big shoes. Edie Mitchell, the previous long-time owner of Edie’s Log Bar, was a well-known character in town.

Morgan Springer

In Traverse City’s East Bay, on the busy hotel strip on U.S. 31, is Don’s Drive In. The pink and turquoise restaurant is known for its burgers and shakes and the fact that it’s kind of old school.

Aaron Selbig

As you pull into Mancelona, the highway narrows, following alongside railroad tracks and past a couple of abandoned warehouses. And then, there it is – a red, white and blue chicken, the unofficial mascot of the Iron Skillet.

Maya Kroth

At Cops and Doughnuts in Clare, classic tunes play on the stereo while customers line up at the glass display case, waiting to place their orders.

But Bill White isn’t here for the doughnuts.

Aaron Selbig

Most towns Up North have a local diner – a place everyone knows about, where you can get a simple meal and a strong cup of coffee at a reasonable price.

But diners are more than just a place to eat. You can see the history of a town slowly unfold over generations of conversations in a diner.

Mike Nygren, owner of the Iron Skillet in Mancelona, gets satisfaction out of that.

“To me, having a business in a small town is all about being part of the community,” says Nygren. “It’s not just about us making money; it’s about helping the community grow.”

Grocery store shelves, restaurant menus and cookbooks are a lot different in 2017 than they were 30 or 40 years ago.

Americans tend to pay a lot more attention to the food we eat and how it's prepared. We know more about fine wines. Many of us seek out organic fruits and vegetables, and are willing to try exotic foods our parents and grandparents couldn't even imagine.

But, at the same time, we've seen the income inequality gap widen. How has "good food" become conflated with high status?

It's sugaring season in Michigan. Did a mild winter and recent burst of warm weather give maple syrup producers anything to worry about?

What better way to bring people together than through food? That's the idea behind the gastrodiplomacy movement.

Mana Heshmati is bringing gastrodiplomacy to Southeast Michigan with her low-profit start-up Peace Meal Kitchen.

 

A recent MLive poll asked readers: What’s Michigan’s state food? Climbing above competitors such as the pasty, the Boston cooler and Superman ice cream, the Coney Island hot dog emerged on top.

The Coney Island hot dog is an key part of Michigan’s food scene, especially in Detroit. But how did it become so popular? And how did it get its name?

Joe Grimm looked to answer that question in a book he co-authored with fellow journalist Katherine Yung, Coney Detroit.

Improving food recalls

Jul 5, 2016

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say 48 million Americans get sick from eating contaminated food each year. That's one in six people.

One of the big challenges for companies is tracing those food products and getting them off the shelves quickly.

Kaitlin Wowak is an assistant professor of management at the University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business. She’s the lead author of a new study in the Journal of Business Logistics. She says a number of factors determine how difficult it is to recall a food product quickly.

I’m very lucky to be an intern for Stateside. So lucky, in fact, that I was provided lunch when I forgot to pack one this week.

On the menu: dried crickets with a dash of chili powder, garlic, salt, and lime.

Fast food has dramatically changed our food landscape.

Unlike our parents or grandparents, we don't have to plan too far ahead to figure out what's for dinner tonight.

But the greater variety and convenience of ready-to-eat meals hasn't made finding good food easier for everyone.

The Thanksgiving feast is at hand.

­If you’re a guest this year, you might be wondering what you can bring to the table.

East Lansing food writer Maureen Abood has some suggestions for one of her favorite holiday meals.

The Next Idea

School gardens seem like a great idea. Teachers get to reinforce key concepts in science and math, students get hands-on experiences with healthy food, and everyone gets to eat homegrown snacks at the end of a few months. Sounds good, right? Wrong.

In fact, most school gardens fail. They might look good at first. But without constant attention from parents, students, and community members, the plants wither, the weeds sprout, and the garden goes from an optimistic symbol of health to an ugly eyesore right in front of the school. 

Michigan's local food movement is growing and thriving. We're seeing more chefs who deeply care about what they buy and from whom.

Chefs like James Rigato of the Root, a locavore restaurant in White Lake Township.

Writer Michael Jackman of the Metro Times recently analyzed a meal prepared by Chef Rigato and traced nearly 100% of its ingredients to Michigan producers. His just-released story in the Metro Times is billed as "a grand tour of Michigan's local food movement."

The meal consisted of a Charcuterie platter with meat, cheese, fish and vegetables from the region.

Popping the cork on a bottle of Champagne can make an occasion extra-special.

The reputation of real Champagne comes largely from the industry standard that requires the Champagne to be very consistent from one year to the next – unlike ordinary red and white wines, which can be very different from year to year.

Chris Skellenger likes to say he's gone from ornamental to survival horticulture. That's because he used to run a landscape company and nursery near his home in Empire on the Leelenau Peninsula, but these days he drives each week to Highland Park where he tends an urban farm that produces fresh food for people whose nearest food source might just be a gas station or convenience store.

Maureen Abood left her big-city job in Chicago to follow her heart to culinary school.

After training in San Francisco, Abood came back home to Michigan and has dedicated her life to cooking and writing about Lebanese food.

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