The appetizing and bold flavors of Gander’s Restaurant Week 2015 entrees are flavorful and unique because of their philosophy on using Michigan-sourced products and ingredients in dishes that highlight what the state has to offer.
“Over 95 percent of our items are from Michigan,” said William Read, executive chef. He is constantly searching for Michigan-based products and ingredients to get that closer to 100 percent.
Ganders opened in March highlighting this fervent desire to feature Michigan ingredients and products in everything from their small plates to soups and salads to burgers, sandwiches, and main entrees. Chef Bill Read, who brings 20 years of culinary experience to Ganders, stated that Michigan grown, sourced, and produced products are what their menu accentuates. A sign greets visitors to the restaurant stating that, “A Michi-gander is passionate about our state. At Ganders, we’re passionate about Michigan too. Michigan grown, Michigan made, Michigan brewed.”
A diner’s beverage choices also can reflect this passion with the vast array of Michigan-brewed beers, liquors, and wines to compliment the Michigan-inspired food entrees. He said Fenn Valley Vineyards & Winery produces special wine blends for the restaurant. Read believes the Michigan-inspired creations of Ganders also allow DoubleTree Hotel guests from out of town to experience meals and beverages that highlight all Michigan has to offer. Guests from the area and outside of Michigan will have the opportunity to experience some of the best, delectable creations that resulted from this passion during Restaurant Week 2015. “We always create a menu from the options that are available at the time,” he said.
The Restaurant Week menu includes three small plate options to start the dining experience. These include the bold flavor of the Mama Mucci Arborrio risotto with Blis Blast hot pepper sauce, Michigan grown shrimp, coconut tempura shrimp, and Michigan fresh basil with a hint of spiciness. The filling, grilled flatbread loaded with fresh and appealing toppings from Michigan includes house-smoked artichokes, Ebels smoked ham, a house tomato sauce, baby greens, Farm Country white cheddar and Andruilis Horseradish Famers cheese. The final choice is the S&S lamb pastrami wrapped ahi tuna. The tasty, succulent main entrée choices include citrus braised Michigan short rib tacos, Mama Mucci garlic parsley linguine, and herb grilled Michigan beef tenderloin. The tacos include a blend of flavors with the pickled red onions, charred shallot guacamole, cilantro lime vinaigrette, baby greens, Remy Picot blue cheese, and roasted pepper salsa. The Mama Mucci garlic parsley linguine is distinguished by its use of Michigan grown shrimp, Detroit chorizo, farm tomatoes, and Michigan herbs blended with the New Holland Dutchess vodka butter cream. The desserts highlight Michigan’s berries with the choice of the Michigan blueberry and orange strudel, the local farm egg crème brulee with fresh cream and Michigan berries, and the Michigan apple cinnamon sponge cake.
Finding everything from Michigan can be a challenge that Read has learned to take in stride. When questioned as to why he uses all Michigan based ingredients from cheese to meat to spices especially if it is challenging to find items, Read said he believes it is just the right decision. “What other way is there to do it,” Read stated.
Finding products that consistently have the high quality that Read requires is the hardest part. Sysco, Superior Foods Company, West Michigan FarmLink, and local farmers are some of the sources of high quality, local products. “We look at different companies all the time,” Read said. The easiest product to get locally is cheese while the most difficult is beef. Finding Michigan beef that is mass-produced “is hard to get a good, consistent product.” “Ganders is unique because the main focus is the Michigan ingredients in everything we do,” Read said.
Since menus are based around the local products in season, Read also faces some challenges in developing the spring, summer, fall, and winter menus that other restaurants may not face. The menus are based around ingredients that should become available at certain times, but it leaves him searching for products if something happens that an item is in short supply. The tradeoff for the challenges he faces are high quality and fresh, local ingredients, knowing where ingredients come from, and knowing he is supporting Michigan’s economy and businesses through his purchases. Read’s preference is to show support for these businesses by listing where he gets the ingredients from whenever possible in his menu. From northern Michigan to Traverse City to Detroit to the Grand Rapids area, Read gets his ingredients throughout the state. When traveling around Michigan he keeps the restaurant in mind. “I’m always looking,” he said.
Read prefers working with suppliers to have products delivered to his location rather than spending time at markets. This means he can spend his time planning and preparing his entrees rather than gathering supplies.
For the winner: This giveaway is valid ONLY during restaurant (August 12th-23rd) week and ONLY for the specified items on the restaurant week menu. This prize does not include tip, so remember to take care of your server.
Article by Cindy M. Cranmer
Photo Credit: Katherine Thelen