Local Heroes 2016
We all know that heroes come from all walks of life. So once a year we ask you, our readers, to identify heroes in our local food scene. Here is a list of this year’s winners.
Chef: James Rigato
James Rigato is the executive chef of The Root Restaurant & Bar in White Lake. He is well known for his commitment to sourcing from local farmers and creating delicious seasonal dishes. Last year he and his business partner Ed Mamou opened a second restaurant in Hazel Park called Mabel Gray.
Beverage Artisan: Eli Tea
Owner Elias Majid created Eli Tea to bring high-quality tea to the Detroit area. His teas are free of artificial ingredients and flavors, and each cup of tea is brewed to order. In 2014 Majid opened the Eli Tea Bar in Birmingham. Eli Tea sells more than 70 kinds of loose tea in bulk, both online and in stores.
Farmer's Market: Eastern Market
One of the oldest and largest markets in the nation, Eastern Market has been called “the market that nourishes Detroit’s soul.” More than four and a half acres offer fresh fruits and vegetables, specialty foods, food trucks, art, community programs and wholesale vendors. Look for an entire issue devoted to Eastern Market this summer.
Farm: Michigan Urban Farming Initiative
MUFI is a 100% volunteer-run nonprofit farm based in Detroit’s North End. This urban farm has produced 50,000 pounds of produce since opening in 2011. Customers from the surrounding community use a pay-what-you-can model. The rest of the produce is sold to restaurants, local markets and food pantries.
Food Artisan: JD's Motown Mustard
Jeffrey “JD” Downs uses a family recipe from Germany to make small-batch artisanal mustard with only five ingredients. Processed in Livonia, JD’s is sold online and in Cantoro’s Italian Market in Plymouth and at Devries & Company and Rocky’s in Eastern Market.
For more than 38 years, Gleaners Community Food Bank has been “feeding hungry people and nourishing our communities.” Last year, Gleaners distributed 34 million pounds of emergency food to more than 510 partner soup kitchens, shelters and pantries in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Livingston and Monroe counties.