Food

By Ingrid Sjostrand

From international cuisine to ice cream and freshly-brewed beers and meads, Hazel Park has been building a food and drink destination along John R Rd. for years. Check out some of the city’s most popular dining destinations.

CELLARMEN’S
24310 John R Rd.| 586-413-4206

MEADS CONTINUE TO RISE AS THE NEXT BIG beverage, and Hazel Park is at the forefront with Cellarmen’s – the only Demeter-certified biodynamic meadery on the planet.

Founded in 2015, by four friends – Dominic Calzetta, Ian Radogost-Givens, Jason Petrocik and Andrew Zalewski – they have created over 100 flavors in the three years since opening, including fan-favorite “Hungry Girl,” a strawberry-and-white pepper mead.

“We make mead, cider, and beer out of the highest quality ingredients we can find – we use only real fruit and honey in our recipes and never use flavorings or fruit concentrates,” Calzetta says. “We all come from kitchens, so everything is very food- and flavor-driven, along with tradition of mead and cider making.”

Quality has been key in every decision Cellarmen’s has made, including picking the ideal location for their business.

“Bolyard Lumber had been a staple in the community for years. The building actually burned down in the ‘60s and was rebuilt to what we have today. The space in the back which was the former yard is perfect for our production,” Calzetta says.
Hazel Park as a city continues to win them over too.

“The city could not be more perfect for us. A few of us lived here before we opened and always had eyes on our building. When we began our relationship with the City, we knew it was the place for us,” Calzetta says. “The people, the spirit, the leadership – there is nothing not to love about Hazel Park.”

Cellarmen’s 200-seat tasting room is open Wednesday through Sunday, where you can find live music and monthly comedy shows. Their products are sold throughout Michigan at all craft beer retailers.

PI’S THAI CUISINE
24940 John R. Rd | 248-545-4070

AUTHENTIC INTERNATIONAL CUISINE CAN BE HARD TO COME BY, so when a credible place opens it tends to succeed. Pi’s Thai illustrates this perfectly, having opened over 30 years ago when owners Pirote (Pi) and Boonserm (Boon) Chinthanond migrated to Hazel Park from Thailand and opened their restaurant.

“Thai cuisine was relatively unknown in the Metro Detroit area and Thai restaurants practically nonexistent. Pi and Boon saw an opportunity to introduce the exotic flavors of Thai cuisine to Metro Detroiters and in the Spring of 1986 Pi’s Thai Cuisine opened in Hazel Park,” the restaurant’s Cuisine Management says.

When they retired in 2011, they passed ownership to second cousins to ensure family recipes would be honored. The restaurant built an online presence and the building was updated but the food stayed the same – fresh ingredients and authentic dishes.
“Everything served at Pi’s Thai Cuisine are the original recipes Pi and Boon would cook at home. About 95 percent of the sauces used are also homemade,” says management.

Spicy Thai food is not uncommon, but Pi’s prides itself on their extra fiery levels; they’re known to not even let new customers try ‘hot’ without sampling their ‘medium’ spice first.

“We work hard to create the best flavors for our food and we want our customers to enjoy it, not suffer from the spiciness of the chili,” Pi’s Thai says. “However, we do have some brave souls that order ‘extra hot’ on the regular. Only a handful that I can remember have ordered ‘triple extra hot’.”

The most popular dishes are their Pad Thai, fried rice and drunken noodles. Pi’s has become a staple in Hazel Park and over the last 32 years, Pi’s has come to see the residents as family – even watching some come in as small children and slowly build their spice level as they grow.

“Food brings family together, and especially in Thai culture where the phrase, ‘Have you eaten?’ is used interchangeably to ask, ‘How are you?’” the cuisine management says. “Coming to Pi’s Thai Cuisine is an experience and we wouldn’t have it any other way!”

JOEBAR
23839 John R. Rd. | 248-291-5711

THE EVERYDAY NEIGHBORHOOD BAR, for the ‘everyday Joe’ – a down-to-earth watering hole with authentic food, fair priced drinks and good music,” Cari Vaughn, co-owner of Joebar, describes the restaurant best.

“Our clientele is an amazing mix of college-aged kids, blue-collar workers, city officials, suburbanites and city dwellers,” she adds.

Opened in March 2017, Vaughn runs Joebar with Managing Partner and Chef Rebecca LaMalfa and husband Joe Vaughn. The restaurant offers weekend brunch and $10 burgers and beer, but there is more than meets the eye at 23839 John R. Rd. Technically, it’s three restaurants in one.

They recently collaborated with Dark Matter Coffee, a Chicago-based roaster, to open shop inside the restaurant. This is Dark Matter’s first location outside Chicago. Additionally, the back half of the restaurant is “frame” – a unique culinary space that holds chef residencies.

“We’ve played host to the most amazing chefs this past year, from the likes of James Rigato, Craig Lieckfelt, George Azar and Luciano DelSignore,” Vaughn says. “No two days are ever the same at frame. From cocktail workshops to private events, it’s an ever-changing line-up of chefs and experiences. frame doubles as a food studio by day for commercial and editorial clients.”

Whether you’re looking for a fresh-roasted cup of coffee, a burger and a drink, or an exclusive culinary experience, it can all be found inside the doors of Joebar.

DOUG’S DELIGHT
24110 John R. Rd

DOUG’S DELIGHT is probably the newest restaurant in Hazel Park, but it already has a lot of history and connections in the city. You could call it Mabel Grey’s little sister; the restaurant is run by their Executive Chef James Rigato and Pastry Chef Kristina Conger.
“Doug’s has been around for 50 years, and has served as a community gathering place for ice cream and snacks,” Rigato says. “It sat for a couple years, and then we bought it and restored it to what you see today.”

The diner-style space opened in April of 2018 and is a reinvention of the original Doug’s that closed in 2014 when owner Vicky Muccino passed away. The restaurant will still feature favorites like soft serve and hot dogs, but there will be upgrades and unexpected culinary specials too.

“It’s definitely fun and nostalgic. The savory side is hot-dog-focused, with tater tots, curly fries and nacho cheese, but Brittany Decamillo (our savory chef) is always doing cool specials like al pastor tacos and bacon-&-jalapeño grilled cheese on homemade sourdough,” Rigato says. “The sweet side features ten percent milk fat soft serve ice cream, Guernsey’s hard scoop and dairy products, as well as homemade brownies and cookies. We’re definitely sourcing the nicest products possible.”

Open seven days a week as of June, they hope to expand pastry production in the coming months and continue to promote the growth of Hazel Park.

MABEL GREY
23825 John R. Rd | 248-398-4300

MABEL GREY MIGHT BE ONE OF THE most recognizable restaurants in Hazel Park – it won the Detroit Free Press title of “Restaurant of the Year” in 2017, was featured in The New York Times and became a James Beard Foundation semi-finalist for “Best New Restaurant” in 2016 – and these accolades are well deserved.

Owner and Chef James Rigato opened Mabel Grey in 2015, with business partner Ed Mamou, to expand his culinary imagination and build unique new flavors and dishes.

“I wanted a small restaurant that I could oversee and use as a vessel of constant creativity and shareable space for my fellow industry friends,” Rigato says.
“We allow the menu, space, ambiance, music and vibe to change with all the other variables of life.”

“The menu is an ever-changing playlist reflecting the seasons and influences around me. I think of Mabel Gray as a canvas for creativity, R&D, exploration, education and personal growth. Change is a necessity for these things,” he adds.
The restaurant seats 40, and Rigato created an urban ambiance to reflect the city around him.

“I lived at 11 Mile and John R for years. I’ve always loved Hazel Park. The layout, the buildings. The businesses like Pi’s Thai, Loui’s Pizza, Kozy Lounge were places I already loved,” he says. “I liked the idea of taking a small, shotgun building, the kind a tool-&-die shop would be in, and opening a creative food think tank where I could be free.”

As for future plans for the restaurant, visitors can expect to see continuous change and an ever-evolving menu.

“Mabel Gray will continue to change, grow, evolve and celebrate the people and influences that walk through both its front and back doors. I always have ideas and aspirations for the future,” Rigato says.

 

FERNDALE IS NOT YOUR CONVENTIONAL MIDWEST TOWN, and that is reflected in the unusual shops, eclectic restaurants and even its festivals.

For 15 years, The Funky Ferndale Art Fair has been bringing unexpected and edgy fine art to the city. A few years later, the DIY Street Fair began, adding music, beer and a selection of less traditional art mediums. Both shows return this year on September 21-23.

Presenting two fairs at the same time creates an opportunity for shoppers to see a greater variety of art. Those attending one fair may discover that there are also things that they love on the other side of Woodward. Each fair is separate, with different planning and visions, so they stay surprising.

In addition to over one hundred artists or vendor booths in each show, both offer hands on opportunities to explore the arts. Traditionally, DIY has had family-friendly projects adjacent to the library. Funky has introduced some unusual projects over the years, from the world’s longest comic strip to toilet-paper-mache. This year, participants will be able to work on the community mural, create take home art projects, visit selfie stations, have their caricature painted and more.

Both shows have their own distinctive personality. DIY has a strong focus on music, beer and food trucks. It celebrates the concept that peo-ple with a “Do It Yourself” outlook bring a passion to everything they do. Funky Ferndale is dedicated to juried artists from across the country. Many are represented in major museums and galleries. A difference between Funky Ferndale and other major art fairs is that the jurors look for artists that have an edgier touch. You may find some of them in other fairs, but to see over 100 in one place you must go to Funky Ferndale.

Funky Ferndale Art Fair has turned into a very competitive show, with over 300 applicants each year for about 120 spaces. The committee works to include both established favorites and great new artists. This year, more than 25 artists are coming for the first time. This includes established artists from as far away as California and some that work out of their Ferndale garages. A list of artists, with sample images of their work, is available on the FunkyFerndaleArtFair.com web site.

DIY has a wide selection of offerings, including items such as soaps, candles and t shirts. All show creativity and a dedication to quality. Their web site (www.Ferndalediy.com) includes lists and photos of what to expect on the East side of Woodward and Nine.

If you’re looking for a great time and some quality one-of-a-kind items, there’s no place better to go than art weekend in Ferndale featuring both the Funky Ferndale Art Fair and the DIY Street Fair.

Funky Ferndale Art Fair – Friday 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM, Saturday 10:00 AM until 7:00 PM and Sunday 11:00 AM until 6:00 PM. Nine Mile west of Wood-ward.

DIY Street Fair – Friday 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM, Saturday 11:00 AM until Midnight and Sunday 11:00 AM until 11:00 PM. Nine Mile and adjacent areas east of Woodward.

Parking – Ferndale’s many parking lots will be open. Street parking is permitted in many areas. The Credit Union One parking structure will also be available for a small donation for Fern Care.

FunkyFerndaleArtFair.com 

Ferndalediy.com

Story by Sara E. Teller
Photos by Bernie Laframboise

Forgotten Harvest was founded 27 years ago by Dr. Nancy Fishman, who knew firsthand what it felt like to go to bed hungry. “She had suffered the indignity of hunger herself and vowed to dedicate herself to relieving hunger in Metro Detroit,” explained Tim Hudson, the organization’s Chief Development Officer. “Nancy started Forgotten Harvest from the back of her own vehicle and began to rescue food from restaurants in the area.”

Fishman’s venture has since branched out substantially and, today, Forgotten Harvest employs over 70 people and has a fleet of 35 trucks that rescue food from grocery stores, restaurants, caterers, dairies, farmers, wholesale food distributors, and other Health Department-approved sources in and around its headquarters in Oak Park. In it’s 2016-2017 fiscal year alone, the effort’s Rescue Team has received over 45.8 million pounds of food by collecting surplus, prepared, and perishable items.

The food that is collected is redistributed to those in need, fulfilling Forgotten Harvest’s mission of relieving hunger in metro Detroit and preventing nutritious food waste. “We deliver that food free of charge to over 250 agencies in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties,” Hudson said. He added that those who need food can visit pantrynet.org directly, contact Forgotten Harvest at (248) 967-1500 or send the organization a message on any of its social media channels.

Forgotten Harvest offers volunteer opportunities at its headquarters in Oak Park, as well as at Forgotten Harvest Farms and is actively seeking participants. “Last year over 16,000 people volunteered at our Oak Park headquarters and at Forgotten Harvest Farms” Hudson said. “Interested parties can register to volunteer online. It’s easy. There are two sessions held six days a week. Morning and afternoon sessions are available.”

Recent notable donations to the cause include 16,200 pounds of frozen poultry contributed by Miller Amish Country Poultry on behalf of The Kroger Co. of Michigan this past December. The Miller Poultry contribution included 300 40-pound cases of frozen bagged drumsticks, representing approximately 36,000 meal portions; 300 12-pound cases of fully cooked chicken sausage, representing approximately 10,800 meal portions; and 100 cases of ground chicken, representing approximately 1,800 meal portions. Little Caesars Pizza also donated $30,000 toward the cause during the holiday season.

Hudson said that operating in Oak Park is ideal because, “It is a central location for our trucks and was chosen due to access to all major freeways.” This allows volunteers to quickly and easily collect and redistribute items. He added, “One in six people face hunger or food insecurity in the Tri-County area,” which makes being positioned in Oak Park important for readily providing hunger-relief services to those in need.

Forgotten Harvest is a member of Feeding America, a nonprofit organization that includes a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks which feed more than 46 million people through food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and other community-based agencies. Feeding America works to educate the general public about hunger. The national office produces educational and research papers spotlighting this issue, and its public policy staff works with legislators to advocate for changes in public attitudes and laws geared toward hunger issues to aid in nationwide hunger elimination and prevention.

Forgotten Harvest is creative with the ways in which it raises contributions to support its efforts. Twenty-six years ago, comedian Tim Allen co-founded Forgotten Harvest Comedy Night, and the Detroit-area comedian will return this year to host the event at the Fox Theatre on April 20 at 8:30 P.M. The annual event benefits and gives the organization’s supporters a chance to showcase their achievements in the community. Past presenters have included Jay Leno and Martin Short, among other notable celebrities.

Tickets can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com, 313Presents.com, and ForgottenHarvest.org.

Story by Ingrid Sjostrand

One of the most anticipated additions to the City of Oak Park in 2018 will be the revitalization of the WWJ Transmitter building into a restaurant. Why the hype? The American comfort-food-style restaurant tentatively named 8MK will be the ninth venture for restaurant group Union Joints – joining The Clarkston Union, The Union Woodshop and Vinsetta Garage, among other eateries throughout Metro Detroit.

The art deco structure, located east of Coolidge Hwy. on 8 Mile Rd., has occupied the lot since 1936 when the Scripps family built the transmitter building as a full-service radio station for WWJ-AM (950). Designed by famed Detroit architect Albert Kahn, the building contains a lot of art and Detroit history, which Union Joints plans to preserve.

“Maintaining the original design and character of the building was extremely important to the City,” says Kimberly Marrone, Community and Economic Development Director for the City of Oak Park. “With past experience on projects with this developer, we knew we were leaving the building in good hands with Union Joints.”

The company is almost as famous for their repurposing of historic buildings as they are for their Union mac and cheese. Several of their existing restaurants are based out of unique locations, like turning an old automotive shop into Vinsetta Garage in Berkley and revitalizing a volunteer fire station into Fenton Fire Hall.

“Part of our purpose is repurposing. We’re drawn to buildings that have always served one purpose and are destined to serve another,” Union Joints co-owner Curt Catallo said at Oak Park’s State of the City address in February of 2016, when the project was announced. Ann Stevenson, wife of Catallo and co-owner/head designer for Union Joints, will work with Von Staden Architects on the design of 8MK.

“Our approach is to really just simply…let it be. We’re working hard to honor the building by not introducing a drastic change. It’s such a grandly handsome space with such a commanding presence—one which doesn’t require a tremendous amount of adjustment to its footprint,” Stevenson said. “The architect on this project, Tamas Von Staden, has a really wonderful way of working with the building and not against it.”

Construction will begin this summer on the 5,228 square-foot building that has been vacant since WWJ shut their doors in 1995, but planning has been in the works since 2014 when the City of Oak Park decided to attempt to purchase the building.

“We started working on this project in the Fall of 2014 when we tried to envision what could be done to the long vacant building. We began working with the property owner to see if they would sell the building to the City. We came to an agreement that they would,” Marrone says. “In the meantime, we reached out to Ron Campbell, Principal Planner and Preservation Architect for Oakland County’s Economic Development and Community Affairs Department, to see if he had any ideas or leads. As it turns out, he worked with Ann and Curt before on their other restaurant projects and set a meeting for them to meet with us on site.”

Plans for expansion on the five-acre lot include an addition of a 5,103 square-foot space for a kitchen. The restaurant will have approximately 140 seats, two outdoor spaces, and a large parking lot with a 160-car capacity.

“The restaurant is creating a destination restaurant in our community that will draw people far-and-wide to visit Oak Park,” Marrone says. “It gives us the opportunity to showcase what a great community we are and hopefully see some additional economic development activities because of it.”

The Union Joints team is just as excited as the City to highlight the great community of Oak Park, and has benefited from the involvement of the economic development team.

“The City of Oak Park has a dynamic vision for their future and we are so honored that they’ve entrusted us with its gem. Happily for us, they have a keen understanding of how bogged down and unnecessarily complicated a project like this can be, and they’ve duly paved the way to make everything smoother and more efficient,” Stevenson says. “A warmer, more accommodating group than Oak Park does not exist. It’s been a joy.”

By Ingrid Sjostrand
Photo by Bernie Laframboise

Be patient. Sometimes you have to sacrifice everything and weather the storm. Sacrifice equals success, it will pay off.”

Those are the words of Patrick Peteet, owner and founder of Peteet’s Famous Cheesecake, and it’s safe to say he knows a bit about success. Since opening in 2010 with no professional background in baking, Peteet has expanded his operation to selling wholesale in over 150 locations – including The Henry Ford Museum, Cliff Bells and the Fox Theatre – and was recently endorsed by comedian Steve Harvey.

But it hasn’t always been success and celebrity endorsements for Peteet. Before cheesecake, the family business was real estate. After his father tragically passed away in 1997, Patrick took over Peteet Realty and managed it successfully until 2010 when the recession forced them to close. The setback didn’t slow him down, though. Peteet used the opportunity as a fresh start to turn the hobby he began at 11-years-old into a new business.

“It’s all part of our story. When one door closes another one opens,” Peteet says. “You can’t look at it as negative because it might be the reason something better came along,”

He opened Peteet’s Famous Cheesecake at 13835 West Nine Mile Rd., and made sure to keep family a part of his business. Peteet works daily with his mother, brother, cousins and sometimes even his two children. Another important part of his business was staying in the community that gave him years of profitability in realty; Peteet thinks he even owes some of his cheesecake success to the City of Oak Park.

“I attended Oak Park school systems, and at that time they had home economics class at Roosevelt Middle School where we learned to bake,” Peteet says. “It inspired me to want to start baking, and I experimented with making my aunt’s cheesecake recipe.”

Peteet actually made a mistake with the family recipe, but everyone loved the flavor so he kept the change. Today, Peteet’s Famous Cheesecake makes their preservative-free cheesecakes fresh daily and they offer over 90 different flavors ranging from their widely acclaimed sweet potato cheesecake to more unique flavors like superman and strawberry shortcake vodka. Thirty of these flavors are offered on a regular basis.

“I look at what people like to eat in ice cream, cookies, cake, and other desserts and convert them into cheese-cake,” Peteet says. “I ask questions like ‘what’s good in the market? What are traditions in people’s houses?’ And I base recipes off of dessert trends that people like.”

Now Peteet is looking toward the future by expanding their location and working to grow their wholesale operation even more. He is working with the City of Oak Park to take advantage of their One Stop Ready status with Oakland County. He hopes to help the next generation gain some hands-on business and baking experience, just like he received.

“When we’ve completed expanding our facility, I hope to reach out to high school students and start a mentoring program where students can learn to run a business from baking to back-of-the-house operations.” Peteet says. “We’ve been in talks with the City to help with getting grants and initiating the program.”

“Oak Park is a good place to start a business. The City is behind you, and they have good public safety – the police and fire department are behind you.” he says. “It’s an up-and-coming community always working toward growing and helping their businesses.”

Story By Andrea Grimaldi

“I woke up one morning and thought to myself, ‘I’m going to die. I’m not going to make it another year.’” Ferndale resident Shanna Stamper realized one morning her weight was killing her, and something needed to radically change if she wanted to live a long life.

A FULL-TIME NANNY FOR MULTIPLE FAMILIES, Stamper knew that becoming healthy would be the only way she could keep working with children, a lifelong dream. Motivated by the desire to stop taking blood pressure medications, and end the aches and other daily challenges caused by obesity, Stamper began a healthy diet and exercise regime. Two years later and two hundred pounds lighter, Stamper could not be more grateful for the progress she has made,and the community standing behind her as she forges ahead.

She started with a membership at the Royal Oak YMCA. “The first day I was out of breath before reaching the front desk,” she recounted. She began with slow progress on the treadmill and stationary bicycle, working her way up to complete a mile, then another, then another.

Stamper began seeing changes in her body and her energy levels. She added swimming to her routine, an exercise that made her feel light in the water and protected her bones and joints as she shed the weight. Soon, she didn’t need the blood pressure medications, and her ailments began to improve.

Stamper joined TV Fitness, on Woodward Avenue with Ryan Carruthers, and began the process of toning her body. She joined countless online communities centered around health and happiness. Sharing her journey online and reading about other people going through the same experiences and frustrations helped her realize a healthy life is completely attainable.

She was friended by strangers who saw her progress and were inspired by her journey. With each recipe exchanged and every supportive message sent and received, Stamper stayed true to her health and path.

Within two years of consistent dedication to her health and fitness, she lost over 200 pounds without surgery or medication. “People are so hard on each other and themselves. You can be your biggest discouragement.” This past spring, Stamper ran her first Triathlon. She spent months preparing and training with the goal to simply complete the race, only competing against herself. Stamper surpassed that goal by placing fourth place in the women’s division and earning a medal, one of her proudest feats.

Stamper did not place goals on her journey – “it wasn’t about the number on the scale or how clothes fit, although those are obvious benefits too,” Shanna explains. “I feel like I’m back in control of my body.” After shedding so many pounds, Stamper began plateauing, losing less weight each week despite working as hard as ever. Rather than getting discouraged by the numbers slowing, she focused on the changes she felt daily.

“Life still isn’t perfect,” Stamper explained. “I still have days where I crave pop or have pizza for dinner.” But the main drive is seeing how far she has come. Coming from a place where she could drink ten sodas in a day and now having overcome those cravings is the inspiration to keep going. “It isn’t an overnight process, and I will have to stay committed for the rest of my life. But I’m committed.”

Stamper has incredible gratitude to the friends and support system that has helped her along the way. Support pours in from Facebook health groups, coworkers, church friends, and especially her partner and best friends. The people closest to her texted support daily, and reminded her of her progress when she couldn’t see it. Without the support and kindness, she says she could have never stuck with it.

Stamper also enjoys supporting others through their journeys, and loves exchanging exercises and recipes with others. It is a long and difficult journey to undertake, and reaching out to local groups and friends is a great way to keep on track.

By Jennifer Goeddeke

SINCE OPENING IN 1985, THE OM CAFÉ has developed a pioneering status in the local realm of vegetarianism. Located north of 9 Mile on Woodward in the heart of Ferndale, The Om has a welcoming and cozy interior, including a range of beautiful artwork on the walls from local artist, Sumi Lee. Colleen Smiley was the original owner of The Om for over 20 years, and she helped forge a path ahead for those who favor a meat-free diet. While the meatless market is widely accepted as a healthy lifestyle in modern times, public perception was not always so favorable. The emphasis at The Om has been consistently on meatless cuisine, with menu options focusing on homegrown and organic fruits & vegetables, plus GMO-free/pesticide-free grains (macrobiotic and gluten-free menu options included). The Om formerly served fish, but these days the only non-vegan foods served are cheese (with certain dishes), and eggs are available on the brunch menu at least for the near future.

Since 2014, Om Café has been under the co-ownership of two Ferndale residents: Bill Blondy and Jessica Norwood. Both Blondy and Norwood were long-time customers and devoted fans of The Om. Norwood is currently handling the majority of the café operations, along with her husband, Matthew Helsel, and a team of 12 other staff. Norwood was introduced to The Om Café at age three, through her mom, and worked her way up over the past five years, from waitressing to management, then into ownership. She fondly describes The Om as, “a child of mine since I was little…I used to empty my piggy bank for a nori roll! This is absolutely my dream job. I can’t imagine being away from this space and this environment.”

Norwood’s main goal with the menu, as she explained, is to: “Stay fresh to the times while still respecting the tradition of everything The Om stands for. I am basically creating a niche within a niche, by focusing on ‘vegan comfort foods’! On a daily basis, I am asking myself, ‘what are people excited about eating?’”

Being the head chef comes with considerable responsibility to her customers. “There are so many different forms of vegan cuisine, and being a chef is generally an egocentric profession. But I continuously learn and grow. Food is life. It’s a gift to enjoy. Every member of staff here plays a pivotal role.”

Customers gravitate to The Om Café for a variety of reasons. Some are influenced by advice from a doctor, to eat less meat in order to lose weight for example. Others may be drawn to try vegetarian or vegan cuisine due to a girlfriend or boyfriend eating that way.  Many times, a macrobiotic diet is suggested for those fighting different types of cancer.

Norwood has an abundant passion for The Om, where she believes that even her personal attitude and energy level will be conveyed through the food she cooks, “I feel like I am home when I am here! I met my husband here, was proposed to here, and have had friends’ and family birthdays here. It can be humbling to think that my positive or negative energy translates into the quality of food that I serve.”

The Om Café has received several awards over the years. Most recently, the ‘Click on Detroit’ Channel 4 News award for ‘Best Vegetarian Cuisine, 2017.’ Norwood likes to give back to the community also; there is a donation box inside the café and the proceeds go to a local shelter. Recently, she hosted a “Nom Week,” where The Om joined forces with the nosh pit food truck, and together they raised money for Ferndale’s Catfe Cat Shelter.

Norwood is not just creating delicious vegan dishes, she is creating an overall vibe of enthusiasm and positivity, which is transferring to staff and customers alike. We look forward to seeing more of what she has in store for us soon!

23136 Woodward Ave., Ferndale, 248.548.1941
Jessica@omcafe.com
www.facebook.com/omcafeferndale
M/W/Th/Fri: 4-9pm.
Sat: 11a-3pm; 4-9pm.
Tues, Sun: Closed.

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Story by David Wesley
Photos by Bernie LaFramboise

LAST WINTER, FERNDALE WELCOMED ANOTHER ADDITION TO ITS EXPANDING DINING SCENE WHEN VOYAGER, AN OYSTER-FOCUSED RAW BAR AND SEAFOOD RESTAURANT, OPENED IN A TINY FORMER WAREHOUSE A FEW BLOCKS EAST OF THE CITY’S DOWNTOWN.

Owner Eli Boyer, an opening partner at Gold Cash Gold in Detroit, parted ways with business partner and chef Marc Bogoff a few months back, and has recruited Justin Tootla and Jennifer Jackson from Chicago to serve as co-executive chefs at Voyager.

The romantically-linked pair met at the Culinary Institute of America in New York and worked in a number of Chicago restaurants together, including the seafood-focused Kinmont. Jackson is a native of Athens, Georgia, and brings a little bit of her Southern roots to the table with subtle Lowcountry influences peppering the coastal-inspired fare. Tootla is a Bloomfield Hills native whose cooking career began at Hunter House in Birmingham.

The Voyager menu always features six to eight oysters with a daily-changing presentation of fried, dressed or grilled preparations. There are also a handful of other raw offerings, such as ceviche, crudo and beef tartare. The raw bar makes up about a quarter of the offerings, but the bulk of the menu is cooked seafood, vegetables and salads. Voyager’s goal is to appeal to folks who might be wary of raw seafood while pushing the boundaries of what’s available in the area.

Part of the approach involves looking outside of the large seafood restaurants. Instead, they are reaching out directly to coastal suppliers and shellfish farmers, many of whom ship their fare from tide to table within 24 hours.

On the beverage side, the offerings have been selected first and foremost to complement the seafood-heavy menu. That translates to a selection of about 15 sparkling wines, high-acid whites and low-tannin reds, all available by either the glass or the bottle.

The tropical flavors are echoed slightly in the bright space itself, with its white, orange and light-blue color palette. Designed by Ferndale-based 5/8ths Architecture, the interior boasts blonde wood panels, white tile and stylish gold trim. The color palette and vaguely Scandinavian-inspired design gives off a mid-century modern vibe, bolstered by the vintage school chairs that double as seating. The 1,400-square-foot space seats 40, with 12 seats at the long bar and 28 in the dining room, which is split from the bar by a low divider sporting individual drink shelves, or “niches,” instead of a rail. Because of the restaurant’s petite size, the single glass-paneled garage door provides ample natural light. It is rolled up in warmer months to add a few more seats on the indoor/outdoor patio.

Eli Boyer was gracious enough to sit down with Ferndale Friends to give an intimate interview about Voyager’s beginnings, current operations and future plans and more:

DW: What was the catalyst for opening a seafood restaurant in Ferndale and how did it all come about?
EB: Often the catalyst is as simple as recognizing a need and a having desire to fill it. There was a void in the marketplace; nobody was going deep on oysters or presenting seafood in a contemporary fashion. In Ferndale, we have a helpful city government, supportive small business community and welcoming neighbors who only want to see us succeed. And people travel here from elsewhere for unique dining and nightlife experiences. I can think of no better place to open a restaurant.

DW: In such a competitive and diverse food scene as Ferndale, how does Voyager stand out? What things do you bring to the table other restaurants don’t?
EB: We really focus on doing one thing well, rather than attempting to be something for everybody. We want to create an experience for our guests— through food, beverage, hospitality and atmosphere — that transports them from the eastside of Ferndale to “{insert major American city here}”. Every night, it’s about creating a conscious desire within our guests to return as often as they’re able.

DR: What are the plans for the future?
EB: We just launched an oyster catering program called the Roaming Raw Bar (there’s more information on our website). And we’re planning a bunch of seafood-focused events for the coming months. In our spare time, we’re working on a new burger restaurant in Capitol Park called Loverboy.

 

Story By: Ingrid Sjostrand
Photos By: Bernie LaFramboise

PICTURE A RESTAURANT WITH A ROTATING MENU of exotic cuisine made mostly in a barbeque smoker, and to top it off it’s based out of a food truck. That’s just one of the twists that give Rogue Estate BBQ an edge over the trend of food trucks in Ferndale.

Another defining quality is that it’s a food truck that doesn’t travel. Owner Bob Perye got tired of moving between locations, the lack of a consistent crowd and the wear on his equipment, so when he parked his truck at the corner of Woodward Heights and Gainsboro St. two years ago he decided to never leave.

“It was right around the time that 9 Mile went under construction, so it was kind of good timing,” he says. “And it’s been great, I love this neighbor-hood. Everyone in this neighborhood has been supportive.”

The block seems to be growing around Rogue Estate too, with UrbanRest Brewing Company and butcher shop Farm Field Table opening in the last two years and bringing additional business to the area.
Perye doesn’t have the typical chef backstory either he didn’t go to culinary school or work in restaurants building his way up to opening Rogue Estate. Surprisingly, he spent the majority of his career as a computer engineer. “I did engineering for 20 years and was always on a call, always had multiple phones and pagers and I was getting burned out,” Perye says.

After trying a change in companies without relief, he knew it was time for a career switch, but it wasn’t as easy as trading in the computer for a smoker. Prior to leaving his job, he started the Rogue Estate cooking club with a few friends.

“We started cooking every week; that went for a while and it was a lot of fun,” he says. “We did a lot of cool stuff, and the gist of it was that you guys can do this too, anybody can tackle this complex stuff.”

Once word got around about Perye’s skills in the kitchen, he began catering events like B. Nektar Meadery’s annual party and various veterans benefits. As his reputation grew, Perye found the confidence to take the leap and open Rogue Estate BBQ.

While he doesn’t miss working in computer engineering, Perye says he is still using those skills every day, whether it’s troubleshooting the sales system in extreme weather or repairing the truck, and he’s happy to share his skills with his neighbors. “I don’t just cook, it’s fun and keeps it interesting,” he says.

After refining and perfecting the classics – like pulled pork, ribs and beef brisket – he set out to explore the fare of the world and seems to have found his creative calling.

“I started dabbling into the Rogue Estate premise that we’re cooking something from another part of the world every week,” Perye says. “It’s fun to do the research, I watch Anthony Bourdain and I’ll see a country I’ve never heard of or a combination of flavors, and I have to try that.”

The standard barbeque options are always on the menu and typically sell out as favorites among regulars, but Perye wanted to keep things interesting, so he began exploring international cuisine as a daily special.
“There’s this entire other group of people, new customers and repeat customers alike that are here for the special and they get that every day because it’s different every day,” he says. “It makes me a better cook and keeps the guests interested.”

The secret to knowing what culture is being featured each day are the flags Peyre has hanging around the fencing of his lot. He started by hanging flags of things he liked or had an affiliation to and it grew with the international menu.

“The flags were just a natural grab of attention. I thought I’m gonna get a flag for whatever the first culture was. Now Amazon gets about five or ten bucks from me buying new flags each week,” Perye says.
Currently Rogue Estate is open Thursday through Saturday from 3:00 P.M. to 7:30 P.M. year-round. Perye hopes to expand hours in the near future, but is working with a staff of only himself and two employees and understands the realities of cooking with a smoker.

“The brisket takes 12 hours minimum, sometimes 14, so when we’re out we are out,” he says. “We can only sell so many in a four-to-five-hour period.”

This isn’t stopping Perye from planning ahead though, and he has no intentions of leaving the space he parked in two years ago.

“I love this neighborhood – the regulars, my guests and my neighbors – The folks that have been here for 40 years and the new neighbors – it’s great to be part of this,” he says.
“The dream is to have our own restaurant and I think that’s when you’ve finally made it.

I’m not beholden to this giant box on wheels, I think I would like to get a building and then sell that on to the next guy that wants to get started.”

Story by Sara E Teller
Photos by Roche Photo Collective

THE AXLE BREWING CO. HAS BEEN BREWING, CANNING AND DISTRIBUTING THEIR CRAFT BEERS IN MICHIGAN SINCE SEPTEMBER 2015. Axle Brewing President Dan Riley (a Detroit native with over 20 years of experience in the media industry), along with his partners, sought to create a destination that would
embrace the neighborhood and elevate the typical craft brewery experience.

The company “began looking for the perfect spot for their public taproom shortly after,” according to Axle’s social media and marketing guru Jill Giacomino. Dan spotted a location on Livernois while doing one of his favorite things – biking riding from Ferndale to Downtown Detroit – and the rest is history, as they say.

Livernois Tap was established at 567 Livernois St and opened for business on June 3rd, acting as a family-friendly communal gather-ing space where patrons can enjoy a wide variety of craft beers and inspired beer food against a backdrop of great conversation and hand-selected tunes. “The space is our modern American interpretation of a classic European beer hall,” according to Jill. “It includes a sprawling outdoor beer garden, 30-seat bar, dining room, brewery, and the team’s offices.”

Livernois Tap’s menu includes specialty creations from Grey Ghost Detroit, a group of culinary experts committed to the art of butchery, refinement of crafting cocktails and unparalleled hospitality. The name stems from a notorious rum-running pirate fleet on the Detroit River during the prohibition era, members of which were never identified. The culinary copy includes food enthusiasts John Vermliglio, David Vermiglio, Joe Giacomino and Will Lee.

The Tap’s menu features over twenty items that pair perfectly with its extensive beer collection. Signature dishes include an eclectic mix of buffalo fried green tomatoes, a fried bologna corn dog and chicken shawarma wings. Guests can also enjoy a beer float in the restaurant’s porter. Weekend brunch is available on Saturday and Sundays from 11:00-2:00 PM, and includes a rotating selection of quiche bites, toaster strudel and other favorites along with a fleet of beer cocktails, of course, including a Shandy with our Noble Ghost and citrus oil. On the kid’s menu parents will find grilled cheese, popcorn chicken, mac ‘n cheese and corn dogs, along with a root beer float, cookies and pudding.

“The menu is currently being executed day-to-day by our Executive Chef, Elliot Patti,” Giacomino explains. Raised on the island of Maui in Hawaii, Patti graduated from the California School of Culinary Arts with a Diploma in Culinary Arts and certified in Le Cordon Bleu method of cooking. He was then fortunate enough to complete his externship training at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago in the Four Seasons Resort in Wailea, Maui before relocating first to Los Angeles, then the Detroit area.

Livernois Tap prides itself on being family-friendly, catering to a wide range of restaurant-goers. “Our customer base is wide!” Giacomino exclaims. “We see families from the neighborhood, locals from Detroit, neighbors from University District and Green Acres, business people, bikers, and everything in between. We are very proud of the inclusive environment we’ve created and thrilled how the community has embraced us.”
The restaurant’s music selection is a combination of tunes selected by staff and those requested by guests. “Our team is comprised of huge music fans (okay, nerds),” Giacomino admits. “While we don’t have live music, we do feature curated playlists nightly of our favorite songs and requests from our friends and guests. We also feature themed nights such as ‘Throwback Thursday’ and ‘Soul Sunday’.”

Livernois Tap has already hosted a number of corporate events and social gatherings since its inception, Giacomino said, “We’re also planning to host group bike rides, yoga and other programming in the future. And of course, look for news about our inaugural Oktoberfest coming soon.”