As Local As It Can Get

On October 26, 2017, Thunder Bay Winery hosted a family-style dinner at their wine bar located in the historic Center Building in Alpena. Kevin Peterson, the current chef at As You Wish Gourmet Eatery and of the up and coming Red Brick Tap & Barrel Restaurant (that will be open for business in Alpena in 2018), prepared several courses and sourced 88% of this Certified Local Food Event (CLFE) from area farmers and producers from the Alpena Farmers Market including Wolf Creek Acres, Presque Isle Farm, and Alpena General Store. This was hopefully Alpena’s first of many Certified Local Food Events to come.

IMG_6233IMG_6256Although a CLFE requires that a minimum of 20% of it be sourced locally, Kevin said, “I want to challenge myself. 20% sounds too easy.” Well, Kevin definitely delivered on this challenge; from the wood of the apple tree used from his neighbor’s yard to smoke the chicken, to the remarkably flaky pasties brimming with seasonal vegetables, replete with lamb raised by Alpena’s 4-H Club, mint from his mom’s garden, to the dough made on site with reduced pork lard from a local pig, this event was about as local as it can get – much to the delight of the diners!

Since Thunder Bay Winery’s first year of wine-making, they’ve grown 30-40% of the grapes that go into their final product (the remaining grapes are also primarily Michigan-sourced). One taste of the winery’s luscious libations, and people quickly understand why Thunder Bay’s wines are so popular. The evening was suffused with amazing food, perfectly paired vintages, and floral flourishes, décor and ambience from local florist and decorator Doreen Thomas. We can’t wait to see what the next Farm to Fork Dinner from Thunder Bay Winery will offer!

Molly Stepanski is the local food coordinator for Northeast Michigan. She also operates Presque Isle Farm with her husband, Dion, and son, Sawyer. Contact her at [email protected]