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What‘s Cookin‘? A look at the Epicurean Classic‘s cookbooks & classes

Rick Coates - September 8th, 2008
The Epicurean Classic, September 11-13, has become one of the top culinary events in the country. It attracts “foodies” and wine and beer enthusiasts from all over (even overseas) to the Great Lakes Culinary Institute on West Bay in Traverse City. Anchoring the event and setting it apart from similar affairs is its connectivity cookbooks.
Each year, a dozen or so cookbooks are released at the Epicurean Classic, with another dozen recently-released cookbooks and the authoring chefs on hand. Each chef offers a class or seminar based on recipes from his or her book. Wine and beverage experts are also present with their books, and also offer tasting seminars.
Each year, several cookbooks that were released at the Classic have gone on to win major awards. In addition to the seminars and classes, the chefs will appear on Saturday night to prepare recipes from their new cookbooks at the Grand Reception (see ‘Tastemakers’).
New this year at the Epicurean Classic is a pass program that allows for access to daily seminars and the tasting pavilion. Passes are available by the day or for two days. There is also the Gourmand Pass that gets the pass holder into the opening night reception, the Grand Reception, both days of the tasting pavilion, and all the seminars. Note that tasting classes are sold separately and not part of the new pass program. It should also be noted that tasting classes are now priced at $29 versus $39 last year.

Here is a sampling of cookbooks and classes
offered at the Epicurean Classic this week:

Everyday Raw
Matthew Kenney

Want to take “eating raw” beyond the traditional veggie tray with Ranch dip in the center? This book and the free seminar from Chef Matthew Kenney is a must. Chef Kenney has been preparing raw foods for years and is a popular guest on the Food Network, Today Show and morning talk radio.
An important aspect to any good cookbook is great photography and Everyday Raw has no shortage of photos. Plus the book is chock full of easy to prepare healthy recipes and encourages readers to use fresh, local organic fruits and vegetables.
Try the Ice Cream Cone recipe; yes homemade ice cream cones made from organic vegetables. Other delicious recipes include: Chocolate-Cherry Smoothie, Red-Chile Pineapple Dipping Sauce, Sesame Cashew Dumplings, Portobello Fajitas, and a Lemon Macaroon Cheesecake Tartlet.
Kenney will offer a free seminar Friday night at the Oryana Natural Foods Market in Traverse City at 6 p.m. He will also offer a seminar on Saturday that is part of the newly incorporated pay one price pass system being offered this year.

A Master Class: Sensational Recipes From The New England Culinary Institute
Mark Molinaro

The New England Culinary Institute located in northern Vermont has developed a reputation worldwide for “pioneering creativity” in the kitchen. The program places an emphasis on professional excellence while showing great respect for growers and producers. A Master Class showcases the philosophies of this award-winning school with a compilation of 200 recipes “using locally sourced, sustainable ingredients, with presentation suggestions, beverage pairings, and notes from the celebrated NECI chefs.”
Executive Chef of the prestigious New England Culinary Institute and the main contributor to the newly-released book, Mark Molinaro embraces the NECI cooking and dining philosophy -- one that pays tribute to the farmer, the food, and the seasons. One of the top teachers at one of the top culinary programs in the world, Molinaro will offer a cooking seminar on Friday at 9 a.m. (part of the new pass program). Just how good is Morlinaro? His reputation has led to his Friday night dinner selling out.

Small Plates, Perfect Wines: Creating Little Dishes with Big Flavores:
Lori Lyn Narlock

The popularity of the “small plate” has proven itself not to be a fad but forever a part of the culinary landscape in our country. In Northern Michigan several restaurants have incorporated “small plate” menus.
Essentially, small plate is a smaller version of a traditional entrée. I love the small plate concept and my wife and I enjoy going to places that offer this option, as we are able to order four to five small plates to share and make a meal out of it.
Author Lori Lyn Narlock has more than 10 books to her credit and is a regular contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle. She has captured the essence of the small plate.
While her book has several wonderful recipes, it is her tips on buying and serving wine that make this book a real bonus. Plus, for those who like to entertain at home, the small plate concept is perfect for those “stand around in the kitchen” parties. Narlock has sample party menus that are perfect for those occasions.
Her seminar on Friday at noon is part of the Epicurean pass program. Lori Lyn Narlock will also be a guest chef at Firefly (310) on Friday night. Firefly was one of the first restaurants in the region to introduce the small plate concept to Northern Michigan foodies.
The New Steak
Cree LeFavour

This is a fantastic book from a great writer who obviously spent a lot of time thinking through every aspect the home chef needs to prepare a great steak dinner. I mean dinner too. See, Cree LeFavour learned from her father (he owned several successful restaurants) that a great steak is either helped or hurt by the side dishes. So LeFavour details the perfect side dish pairings for each steak recipe.
This book is for the novice and expert chef alike. In addition to covering various cuts, LeFavour looks at a variety of preparation methods--sautéing, roasting, broiling, grilling, braising, and wok-frying.
LeFavour teaches writing at New York University and has contributed several articles on food to a variety of publications with her husband, Dwight Garner, senior editor of the New York Times Book Review.
LeFavour will cook several different steaks and side dishes at her Friday seminar at 1 p.m. She will showcase her recipes for putting together a balanced, beautiful plate. With an emphasis on no-nonsense kitchen techniques and approachable recipes made from the freshest ingredients, her demonstration will include marinades; compound butters, pan sauces and some unexpected sides.
Napoleon’s Everyday Gourmet Grilling: Ted Reader

If you were at last year’s Epicurean Classic, you know Chef Ted Reader stole the show. His BBQ presentations were both humorous and tasty. Someone at The Food Network is asleep at the wheel because Ted Reader is a bigger than life personality born to cook and entertain. After just a few minutes with Reader, you realize he is the guy you want at your backyard BBQ party sharing a couple of cold ones with your guests and working the grill.
Last year he introduced us to the art of using planked wood on the grill. This year he has a new cookbook (his 12th book), Napoleon’s Everyday Gourmet Grilling. For those not in the know, Napoleon BBQ grills are among the best in the world, but one does not need to own a Napoleon grill to successfully pull off these recipes.
Ted Reader’s philosophy is if you can eat it, you can grill it. For example, try the Meatball Sub (everything is grilled including the meatballs) with the fire-roasted tomato salsa or his Grilled Greek Salad recipe, and there is even a grilled fruit crumble recipe for dessert.
Ted Reader will host a seminar on Friday at 2:30 p.m. (part of the Epicurean pass program) that will focus on everyday gourmet grilling ideas. Expect things to get a little wild Friday night at the Blue Tractor in Traverse City, as Reader will be the guest chef.
The Berghoff Family Cookbook:
Carlyn Berghoff

Considered by most as Chicago’s first “culinary family”, the Berghoff family has been in the restaurant business since it opened 108 years ago. Now, a fourth generation family member has taken the reins of the Berghoff tradition and written a book of the family’s most popular recipes.
Carlyn Berghoff partnered with her mother Jan, and food editor Nancy Ross Ryan to compile 150 recipes, which included some of their famed classics like Creamed Spinach, Berghoff Rye Bread, and Wiener Schnitzel. The book also includes some contemporary recipes that Carlyn has brought to the table, from studies at the Culinary Institute of America to creating one of Chicago’s top catering companies.
The first time I had lamb was at Berghoff’s as a kid. Their Bistro-Style Lamb Shank set a high standard for me when it comes to ordering lamb elsewhere. The great thing about this book is the history behind these recipes. For example, the lamb is a recipe from a family friend.
Berghoff will host the seminar Favorite Recipes from Berghoff’s: A Century of Chicago’s Best Cooking & Entertaining at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday (part of the Epicurean pass program). On Friday night she will be the guest chef at Bower’s Harbor Inn, the perfect setting for her, as Bower’s Harbor is one of the most historic restaurants in the area.

Seafood Favorites from Fork in the Road: Lessons on Chowder, Gumbo, and Paella: Eric Villeagas

Chef Eric Villegas released his cookbook Fork in the Road last year. His book, based on his popular TV show of the same name, features an eclectic collection of recipes using Michigan products. His show has now gone national on PBS and he covers the culinary happenings around the Great Lakes.
There is no one on TV who is able to cook and talk as fast as Villegas. He is flamboyant and energetic and immediately inspires passion in all who watch his show or attend any of his cooking demonstrations.
While his cookbook features an array of recipes, it will be what comes from the Great Lakes that he will focus on during his cooking demonstration on Friday at 12:30 p.m. (part of the Epicurean pass program). One of my favorite recipes from his book is the Freshwater Whitefish Chowder with bacon, potatoes and basil. Now, when you think of gumbo, you think New Orleans but Villeagas has a Great Lakes Gumbo recipe as well.
Another recipe that Villegas will put forward is his Michigan inspired Paella with Rabbit. Paella is a Spanish rice dish prepared in a fry pan with a variety of ingredients, usually seafood and poultry.
Eric Villegas will also be one of the celebrity chefs at the opening night reception on Thursday. The Great Lakes Mise en Place will focus on products and chefs from the Great Lakes Region.
Other Options:

There are several classes and demonstrations that are centered on a cookbook. One that has caught my attention is the “Farmers Market Inspired Cooking” demo hosted by chef’s Jennifer Blakeslee and Eric Patterson. The two own the popular Cook’s House restaurant on Front Street in Traverse City. They buy 95% of the ingredients they use from Michigan producers and shop regularly at area farmers markets. Their demonstration takes place at 10 a.m. on Friday and is part of the Epicurean pass program.
Another class minus a book is “The Cocktail As Art, Your Bar As Entertain-ment” hosted by Jon Ingham. He is the bar manager at Stella and one of the best in Michigan, if not the Midwest. Ingham is a literal walking encyclopedia when it
comes to cocktails, spirits and good beer.
“You will hear Jon’s theory on mixology where he details ‘Why I don’t shake my martinis, why I hate over-muddled mint drinks, why most Martinis are cocktails and not Martinis, etc.’ He’ll prepare several featured cocktails including the Old Fashioned, Manhattan, Martini (gin and vermouth, not vodka), Moscow Mule and new creations using Lucid Absinthe.”
His class (not part of the Epicurean pass program and is a separate registration fee) is Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

For additional information on all the cookbooks, authors, demonstrations, chefs, receptions and dinners at the Fifth Annual Epicurean Classic, go to or call 231.933.9688.
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