TRAVERSE CITY — The Epicurean Classic is back in Traverse City with new features and a home in the city's burgeoning Warehouse District.
Local chefs and nationally known cookbook authors will conduct cooking demonstrations and host dinners at area restaurants during the event, which runs Thursday-Sunday, Sept. 8-11. Tasting seminars on wine, tea and coffee and a tasting pavilion, with tables of wine, craft brews, spirits and food are scheduled. A bicycle ride ends with a barbecue back at the Warehouse District, located along Garland Street north of the Boardman River.
The district is home base to this year's Classic, which returns to town after two years downstate in St. Joseph. It was previously held at Northwestern Michigan College's Great Lakes Campus.
"Everybody is absolutely thrilled that the event is back here. No one is more thrilled than I am," said Organizer Mark Dressler.
The city's Warehouse strip is a growing area with an underground vibe. The Classic will use the InsideOut Gallery for a cooking demonstration stage, set up tents in parking lots and hold wine-tasting seminars at Handz On Art, a paint-your-own pottery studio off Hall Street.
Julie O'Hearn Cox, owner of Handz On Art, gladly agreed to let the Classic use her space and said the event will showcase the up-and-coming Warehouse District.
"It is the happening place," she said. "I think it's great."
The Tour du Terroir, a bicycle ride through Leelanau County, will begin and end at InsideOut Gallery on Sunday, Sept. 11. Routes include 32K, 65K or 100K cycling distances. Riders return to enjoy a barbecue feast overseen by chef and grill master Ted Reader from 2 to 6 p.m. The menu includes plank grilled bison burgers, chicken, various vegetables and local beer.
Cost for the bike ride and barbecue is $45. All routes swing past the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Station on Center Highway, where coordinator Nikki Rothwell will give a presentation at 1 p.m. Rothwell will discuss the region's unique growing conditions and how the climate influences local food.
On Friday, Sept. 9, local restaurants will team with visiting chefs to host dinners with menus inspired from their cookbooks. Eric Nittolo, chef at the Boathouse Restaurant on Old Mission Peninsula, will create a menu featuring fish and beef choices drawn from Louis Lambert's book "Big Ranch Big City Cookbook." Nittolo is thrilled with the Classic's return to Traverse City. He helped out for the event several years ago as a culinary student.
Nittolo said the event shouldn't attract just hard-core foodies.
"It should be people that just want to see something different," he said.
For a full schedule of Epicurean Classic events or to purchase passes, visit the website www.epicureanclassic.com.