Farm to Table Dinner at MSU Tollgate Farm to feature local food prepared by chef and MSU alumnus Jeff Rose

Jeff Rose, Michigan State University alumnus and Come as You Are (CAYA) Smokehouse Grill executive chef, will be the featured chef at the MSU Tollgate Farm to Table Dinner, Aug. 25, 2018, at 4 p.m. The event’s four-course meal will highlight food grown at the MSU Tollgate Farm in Novi, Michigan, or from farms within a 25-mile radius of the facility.

Screen Shot 2018-08-05 at 12.49.06 PMRose graduated from MSU in 1994 with a degree in hotel and restaurant management (now called hospitality business). He has loved cooking his entire life and has received many accolades for the impressive culinary skills that he developed while studying at MSU.

Rose’s dedication to his alma mater is evident. When asked what made him donate his services for the inaugural Farm to Table Dinner event, Rose replied, “Because I am a Spartan.” With no more explanation needed, Rose embodies the Spartan spirit in all MSU alumni and is grateful to be able to share his abilities with other MSU alumni and friends of the MSU Tollgate Farm.

The CAYA Smokehouse Grill, located in Wolverine Lake near Detroit, is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year. As its executive chef, co-owner and operator, Rose creates all of the dishes on the menu. He takes pride in selecting ingredients that are produced locally to ensure their quality and freshness.

Rose will create the menu for the Farm to Table Dinner with help from other local chefs: Alan Merhar of Compass Group Detroit; Jay Gundy, the executive chef at Red Dunn Kitchen; and Chris Johnson, the chef and owner at Meeting House.

“Eating and serving local food is important because you have to support local farmers, businesses and economies to keep people with jobs and employed,” said Rose. “Why would I buy asparagus that is shipped in on a boat when I can get fresh asparagus from two miles up the road?”

The Farm to Table Dinner is being held in partnership with Taste the Local Difference and Edible WOW, two local food marketing agencies passionate about helping consumers make educated and sustainable food choices. The dinner is a “Certified Local Food Event” by Taste the Local Difference to guarantee MSU Tollgate Farm’s high standards for a sustainable future.

“Shopping local allows you to get to know your farmer, understand their growing practices and support businesses that are producing food in ways that conserve our natural world,” said Kelly Wilson, Taste the Local Difference Southeast Michigan local food coordinator. “Nationally, farmers only receive 14.8 cents per every food dollar spent, but when you buy directly from a local farmer, nearly 100 percent of your dollar goes in their pocket. If every Michigander were to spend just $10 on local food, $1.6 billion dollars would be poured into our local economy.”

Being a Certified Local Food Event requires at least 20 percent of the total ingredients associated with the event be locally sourced. Event organizers must also encourage community engagement, incorporate local artists and specialists, and be mission-driven. These high standards help emphasize the importance of community and validate the efforts that event coordinators make to support local farmers and growers.

All proceeds from the Farm to Table Dinner will support the MSU Tollgate Farm and Education Center’s educational programming. Tollgate is a 160-acre farmstead in Novi that is jointly owned by MSU and the Americana Foundation. The facility provides hands-on, nonformal learning opportunities that allow children, families and adults to explore agriculture and food production in an urban environment. With the help of research-based teaching materials and methods, visitors can explore the joys of gardening and the natural world, appreciate and promote locally grown food, and learn ways to help develop healthy communities.

“The Farm to Table Dinner is going to be fun and I am excited to use all of the produce from the farm,” said Rose. “The MSU Tollgate Farm is great, the people at the farm are great and the food that comes from the farm is great.”

MSU alumni and friends of MSU Tollgate Farm are invited to register for the Farm to Table Dinner by Aug. 13 at

This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit To have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit To contact an expert in your area, visit, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

Emily Kittendorf is part of MSU’s College of Agriculture & Natural Resources Communications and Marketing team. This article was originally published on MSU’s Tollgate Farm and Education Website. See the original here.