On his recent trip to Dubai, Chef Craig Lieckfelt of Guns + Butter prepared several dinners, in addition to giving a talk on the cuisine of Detroit. A picture of this last event, with a caption, was posted to the Guns + Butter Facebook page, and a quick comment from a fan sparked a thoughtful post about local Detroit and Michigan food, culture, and the damaging effect of stereotypes.
Whether genuinely excited or just stirring the pot, the commenter got more than anticipated when he quipped: "Coney Island Hot Dogs?"
The response from Guns + Butter (Chef Craig?) was swift and thoughtful:
"With all due respect to you and endless respect to the coney, a more accurate picture of our food culture needs to be painted. Michigan has over 55,000 farms, second only to California in the diversity of its agriculture. Our lakes, streams and rivers are home to an extensive list of fish species. In the wild, ramps, ferns and foraged mushrooms like morels and chantrelles are cherished by some of the nations top restaurants/chefs. Game is a way of life and in my family hunting is a right of passage."
The post continued with a more local focus on the city itself:
"Within the city of Detroit, a diverse list of ethnicities and their native food culture can be tasted. Urban Farmers are growing some of the most flavorful produce I've ever tasted. Eastern Market is the largest open-air market in the United States. The coney island hot dog is a timeless, iconic staple in our food culture but to say it defines us is a status quo that needs to be shattered."
The coney dog mentality is the status quo that chefs like Lieckfelt are working to change on a daily basis, but clearly there are still converts to be had.
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