Zack and I love to watch Top Chef on Bravo. Of all of the cooking shows out there, it’s the one we watch religiously for every season and every incarnation. And it has always been our dream to be one of the goofball members of the public who get to try the chefs’ food during the challenges.
When I first read about the Detroit Free Press Food and Wine Experience, it sounded like the type of event that would live up to our Top Chef dreams. A Saturday in September, just days after Zack’s birthday? The perfect birthday present. Dozens of restaurants from around downtown Detroit and other parts of the state were going to be convening in Campus Martius Park for an afternoon of delicious food and wine, as well as panel discussions and cooking demonstrations.
But the crown jewel was the announcement that lifestyle queen Martha Stewart would be the headliner. CAN YOU IMAGINE? For decades, Martha has been an icon. My mom has always told me how much the Martha way impacted how she entertains, and I think all would agree my mom is an A+ entertainer through and through.
The event was held yesterday on one of the most gorgeous days of the summer, and we couldn’t have been happier with how everything went. I enjoyed seeing so many people downtown and celebrating the innovative food options all of the restaurants had to offer.
Here are my four highlights of the Detroit Free Press Food and Wine Experience:
- MEETING MARTHA. FLIPPING. STEWART.
Part of our tickets was the opportunity to have a book signing with Martha and also receive some fun Martha swag (craft paints and a square ladle – Martha says it’s perfect for making jams because the squared-off edge allows you to pour it into a jar without spilling so obviously I will be making jams very soon while using it). I barely spit out that my mom adores her and that I wanted one of our books made out to her and she gave me this smile and it gives me life. It will keep me warm through the next dozen Michigan winters.
I’m also kicking myself that I didn’t bring her a present from Michigan, like one of the Kalamazoo Candle Company Pumpkin Patch candles I’m obsessed with and will be blogging about in the near future. Maybe she would have talked about them in her blog or in Martha Stewart Living. I’m still kicking myself for this blown opportunity. Martha and I might have been real friends and she could have invited me to her farm in Bedford.
Alas, she was lovely and our time together was too short. Until next time, for your 90th cookbook.
- THAT DELICIOUS FOOD, OBVIOUSLY.
It was lunchtime when we went through the gates of the festival, and we were ready. At first we thought we’d do a lap before committing to eating things, or start in the back and work our way forward like you do in Cedar Point (pro tip right there), but the early tents enticed us and it was a free for all. Some of my favorite things I had were the cold brew float with cake batter ice cream (!!!!!!!) from New Order Coffee, the pork belly slider from Wright & Company, a chicken schwarma on a steamed Chinese bun from Grey Ghost, and this salad from Gold Cash Gold:
I wish I had taken more photos of the food, but truthfully I didn’t want to be that person, and I was gobbling things up before I even had a chance to set up a photo. We also received stemless wine glasses to try different wines, ciders, and other drinks, so there was a lot to juggle.As someone with a shellfish allergy, I appreciated that I was able to try more than 90% of what was being offered by the restaurants. One of the only things I couldn’t try was the shrimp and grits.
- THE AMBIANCE.
I had only been to Campus Martius Park during the holidays, which was very magical even though it was freezing cold that day. I remember the ice skating rink and doing Christmas shopping in a pop-up shop, and despite the cold there was a nice amount of people enjoying Detroit.Yesterday was textbook perfect as far as the weather went, and the areas of shade were a welcome reprieve from the sun, especially after sitting through Martha’s cooking demo in the bright sunshine.
I love that Martha wore shades for the whole demo.
Because we were able to get into the park an hour ahead of the general public, we had the opportunity to walk around before it got very crowded. A jazz band did a few sets, and that music paired with the food and the wine and the cute little green metal tables made it feel like Detroit was the most happening place alive.
The book signing (and some of the other add-on events) was held at Parc, which is an absolutely gorgeous and very cool restaurant. I loved the light fixtures, the large portraits of Michael Jackson and John Lennon, the way the glass doors were slid open to the patio and created an open-air feel. I’m definitely dying to go back there for lunch or dinner. It was the perfect setting for the book signing and a place to lounge as we waited.
- ACCIDENTALLY CRASHING MARTHA’S FACEBOOK LIVE TAPING.
Yes, it’s true. As we were getting ready to walk through the Martha Stewart tent, we saw Martha walking right toward us with an entourage of cameras and people. She was filming a Facebook Live video, and if you go to about the 11:25 mark in the video, you’ll see us in the background and me freaking out about it.
I’m not sure if subsequent years will be able to top this fantastic event, but I’ll be happy to find out next year if they do it again. A sunny afternoon of eating, drinking, and people watching was a wonderful way to celebrate Zack’s birthday. It’s a good thing!