It’s been a busy late winter and early spring here at Nino’s.
It all began in February, with a focus on seafood with visits to Superior Foods in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to tour their fresh fish facility and sample some of their most recently acquired, prepared food products.
It was only a week later that we were off to Chicago’s Supreme Lobster and Seafood Company, where we again toured and discovered a number of products we hope to introduce in our seafood department at Nino’s.
Finally, it was on to Boston for the North American Seafood Expo, a fitting end to a month-long seafood adventure and one that yielded some promising new products we know you’re going to love.
Back at home here in Detroit, one of the Midwest’s up-and-coming food vendors, Carmela Foods, showed off its own wares at this spring’s show, with over 200 vendors showing off their products within the Eastern Market’s newly remodeled Shed 3 on Wednesday, April 6th.
Carmela Foods’ portfolio of products provides Nino’s and many of Detroit’s finest food retailers, clubs, hotels and restaurants with many of the signature ingredients they use to create their outstanding recipes.
Examples of Carmela’s food products include outstanding meats from Detroit’s own Fairway Packing, fresh and frozen fish and shellfish from Supreme Lobster, cheeses and specialty goods from international importer Atatlanta in New Jersey and countless other unique items from small, local suppliers and multi-national companies.
Carmela also has an extensive wine and beer catalogue with labels from the United States, Chile, Argentina and Australia, just to name a few.
For me, however, besides tasting all of the amazing food for the last three years, I’ve had another job to do, and that is to judge the Carmela Chef Competition.
This year, four teams were invited to participate in the annual East vs. West (Michigan) Chef Competition. They included, from the east, the team of Chef Brian Beland and Chef Amy Knoles from Country Club of Detroit and Chef Christian Houston with Sous Chef Joseph Nyeste from The Old Club on Harsen’s Island.
Competing against those two teams from the east were two teams from the west, which included Chef de Cuisine Dan Blanchard and Sous Chef Jeremy Paquin from Bistro Bella Vita in Grand Rapids and Chef de Cuisine Russell Miller and his Sous Chef Jeff Minkwic from Boyne Mountain Resorts.
With all four teams competing simultaneously, and their dishes ultimately being judged on taste, presentation, creativity and the full use of the “mystery basket” of ingredients supplied by Carmela, it was, as usual, a delicious-but-difficult choice, with ultimately, the east team of Chefs Beland and Knoles from the Country Club of Detroit in Grosse Pointe taking the honors.
Besides their names on the trophy, the winning chef also received a Rolex watch valued at $10,000. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon in The “D”!
Back at Nino’s, still more vendor and product sourcing trips are on the near horizon as a May visit to the National Restaurant Show in Chicago, a bakery show in Houston and the Summer Fancy Foods Show in New York City are on the calendar.
Look for many new products to appear on the shelves of Nino’s in the coming months as these shows always pay off with new finds and great deals, which we bring back to share with our customers.