Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Thursday

February 7, 2013

Celebrating food: NMC holds a festival

Saturday classes feature local chefs, food purveyors

TRAVERSE CITY — A feast of food fun is on tap at the annual Festival of Foods Saturday.

Presented by Northwestern Michigan College, the event features 16 different sessions packed with tips from culinary experts with demonstrations and tastings in every room. A record 125 to 130 attendees are already registered.

The Festival of Foods began in 2009 to showcase local foods, college cooking classes and the newly renovated commercial kitchen in the Oleson Center. Attendance and enthusiasm have steadily grown to make the day a winter happening for foodies.

"It's a fun day and people look forward to it," said Julie Doyal, program coordinator for NMC's Extended Education Services. "We always get a good chunk of repeats, but also some new people, too."

The day features four time slots, each offering four classes at a time for attendees to choose from. Topics are varied, fun and intriguing: following a chocolate bean from "bean to bar," learning secrets of knife care and use, cooking without recipes, making ravioli minus the pasta, air brushing cakes, a taste of Japan, farm breakfasts, vegetarian tarts and salsa secrets.

A mix of local chefs, including some staff members at NMC's Culinary Institute, and local culinary artisans who run specialty food businesses are among the presenters. The festival mixes new faces every year in a roster also featuring veteran presenters.

"We have a couple that come back year after year and what they prepare is always different," said Doyal. "Year round, I'm always looking for what would be good for a one-hour demo."

Stacey Wilcox, owner of Bay Bread Company, will delve into the world of bread. She will show attendees creative ways to use spreads, toppings or dipping oils to create tantalizing yet simple appetizers using bread. The first-time presenter will also provide samples of a variety or artisan breads.

"Bread is an easy thing to talk about — I love sharing about it and showing people the difference between breads," Wilcox said. "If you have good basics, you can do anything with it."

NMC offers a range of cooking classes in its commercial kitchen throughout the year. The Festival of Food helps spread the word about them within the food-loving community.

"We have a popular cooking program but a lot of people don't know about it yet," Doyal said.

For more information, call 995-1700 or visit and click on Extended Education.

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