The Culinary Extravaganza is a once a year fund raiser held by the Schoolcraft College Foundation to raise funds for a scholarship program for future chefs. It is held at the schools Vis Ta Tech Center of the Waterman Wing on the grounds of the college. It is a state of the art facility for the students to learn the culinary arts, though I am sure that when they graduate they will not be working in such a fine environment as the school furnishes. The school also maintains a full restaurant on the campus to allow the student-chefs the ability to experience the real world in an academic setting. As it has been explained to me, the alumni of the college return to this event representing the restaurant, catering company or similar business where they are now employed, so the system works very well. This is an event that my Bride and I and have been going to for years, due to prior commitments we have missed only a couple of the events.
This is the first time that I had the good fortune to go with the “eye” of a blogger. I am sure that some of the people may have objected because of the way I may have stopped the flow of traffic among the tables as I tried to make some annotated notes. I also would stop and take pictures of the wines along the way.
The first year we had to purchase the tickets by calling, since then we are on the books and we receive by post an offer each year to attend, so procuring the tickets is much easier. After standing in line, we then proceed into the complex where our tickets are taken and we are each given a square plastic tray that has a slot in one corner, and we are given a wine glass that fits perfectly into the slot so that one can hold the tray and wine glass with one hand. This comes in handy, because as one walks along the myriad of tables of different culinary businesses and distributors of not only wine, but craft liquor purveyors it is an easy juggling act. Each table of food service, between watching them prepare the final dish in a small paper plate and then placing the paper plate on the tray for you to sample the dish that is being offered. The chefs as well as the students are all eager to discuss the work and the ingredients that entail the different dish. So while it is not a sit down dinner per se, by the time all of the “grazing” of the tables are completed, one is totally sated, and if there was a dish that was intriguing, one could always go back in line and try the dish again.
There were appetizers, salads, soups, vegetables, breads, cheeses, sea food, assorted meat and fowl entrée dishes and enough different desserts to make even the fussiest diner happy. There are tall tables arranged through the rooms for diners who wish to stop for a minute to savor a dish, or one could eat the two or three bites per dish on the way to the next table. There were also tables and chairs for diners that wished to enjoy the dishes in a more leisurely manner as well.
There was besides the food and wine, the Michigan Grape & Wine Industry Council brochure (plus some wines), there was a silent auction of over forty items, there were raffle tickets that offered the chance of winning money, and dinners at the American Harvest Restaurant, which is the school’s own restaurant. They also had a seminar of “Wholesome Healthy Food & Wine Pairings” held in the Demonstration Kitchen of the facility.
In the next couple of postings, I will discuss some of the restaurants, dishes and wines that we sampled as there were forty different food and beverage companies that participated in a hands on manner. As much as I would like to discuss each and every dish and wine, I shall keep it to a manageable amount in a couple of more articles. After the three hour event, let me add that my Bride and I took a two mile walk to help with the digestion and to discuss some of the more memorable dishes and the pleasure that had experienced.