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Epicurean Classic Returns To TC‘s Warehouse DIstrict

Rick Coates - September 5th, 2011
Epicurean Classic Returns To TC‘s Warehouse DIstrict
By Rick Coates
After a three-year hiatus the Epicurean Classic returns home to Traverse City this weekend, September 8-11. The four-day food affair left Traverse City in 2008 when title sponsor, Whirlpool, requested the event take place near its corporate headquarters in Benton Harbor.
“I am excited to see the event return to Traverse City,” said Mark Dressler, founder and organizer. “We ran out of space at the Great Lakes Culinary Institute and Whirlpool offered their facilities. Their location was close to Chicago so we gave it a try, but this event belongs in Traverse City.”

NOT SO GOOD
After two years in Benton Harbor, Dressler found the community didn’t have the same amenities that the Grand Traverse region offered.
“Hotel rooms was one; there just was no place for people to stay. Plus, there is not a restaurant scene there like we have up here,” said Dressler. “Add in the wineries, breweries and the fact that people want to come up here and I am glad to be back.”
Dressler, a Traverse City resident, works in the publishing industry as a consultant and says that the Epicurean format will be similar to previous years.
“We will have several chefs and cookbook authors releasing new cookbooks and offering seminars and cooking classes. Not only will we have great chefs from around the country coming in we will also highlight several world class chefs that live and work right here in Northern Michigan.”
The local culinary scene is second to none, Dressler says.
“I really believe what makes this event work so well here in Northern Michigan is that we have a year-round Epicurean Classic happening. I don’t know anywhere else in the country where there are so many people so passionate about all aspects of food and drink. There are a lot of great restaurant towns in this country but no one has the complete package that we have here. When you consider the natural beauty, the lakes, the wine region, the agricultural scene, Northern Michigan has become a year-round destination for food lovers.”
This year’s Classic will take place in TC’s Warehouse District with the InsideOut Gallery serving as the primary building. “We will be tenting parking lots in the area as well,” said Dressler. “This is a perfect location; it is very walkable and there is plenty of parking.”

CRYSTAL BALL
As for the future, Dressler doesn’t see ever moving the Epicurean again.
“We plan to expand the event within the community of Traverse City,” said Dressler. “I expect it to spread out to other locations with the Warehouse District being the primary location. I see some components in the future happening at the Village at Grand Traverse Commons. What I am so pleased about is how this community has stepped up to make this event happen here again.”
To make the event work and keep costs down Dressler incorporated a popular new concept in major events called crowd sourcing, essentially calling on event participants and supporters to lend a hand in making the event possible.
“We have an adopt-a-chef program, where food and home chef enthusiasts have taken in a chef and are helping that chef with everything from food preparation to equipment. The response to this has been awesome. Plus so many people have stepped up to volunteer.”
Another group who has stepped up has been the culinary program at Baker College.
“We are fortunate to have students coming from Baker College to assist us. It is a great educational opportunity for them,” said Dressler.

The Epicurean Classic takes place September 8 - 11 in the Warehouse District in Downtown Traverse City. Participants may purchase day passes or classes, seminars, dinners and receptions may be purchased individually. For a complete list of events and to purchase advanced tickets (seating is limited for all classes and receptions) go to www.epicureanclassic.com

National Writers Series Connection
The opening night will feature an on-stage interview with award- winning cookbook author Gretchen Holt Witt at the City Opera House. Witt’s message goes beyond cooking and into the inspirational--how one person can make an incredibly profound difference. After her toddler son was diagnosed with stage IV pediatric cancer five years ago, Witt discovered that little research had been done for a cure. She decided to hold bake sales to raise research money and sold an astonishing 96,000 cookies. Her efforts have funneled $400,000 into the cause. The event, produced by the National Writers Series, will feature a community bake sale with proceeds going to pediatric cancer research.
The National Writers Series is encouraging everyone to bake and buy cookies! The bake sale kicks off at 3 p.m. at the Opera House. For more information on how to help, go to www.nationalwritersseries.org.
 
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