Culinarians from around the country came to West Michigan this summer to learn more about blueberries and explore new ways to create amazing dishes with them. Hosted by the U.S. Highbush Council in conjunction with the Sterling Rice Group, these culinarians toured blueberry farms and were introduced to a multitude of blueberry varieties. Creative Dining Services’ Director of Culinary Innovation and Operations, Ian Ramirez, helped to organize the event and led a team of Creative Dining chefs that created innovative and delicious dishes with blueberries for the attendees to enjoy during their stay.
- Michigan has blueberry plants from the 1930s that are still producing blueberries.
- Michigan’s blueberry crop is harvested from July to August
- Michigan is the third largest blueberry-producing state.
- West Michigan is the state’s primary blueberry growing region.
The trip was not only about learning but about tasting! Creative Dining Services chefs created a menu featuring fresh blueberries for attendees to enjoy at the Macatawa Bay Yacht Club and South Haven Conference Center. The menu included dishes such as Blueberry Pickled Deviled Egg topped with a Black Pepper and Blueberry Candied Bacon, Honey Buttermilk cornbread with Blueberry Butter, and Smoked Mushroom Garum Farro with Popcorn Puree, Pickled Blueberry Compote, and Loch Duart Salmon.
Attendees not only enjoyed lunch and dinner menus crafted by Creative Dining chefs, but also visiting many restaurants and retail establishments around the West Michigan area to sample their blueberry treats. Shane R. Boling, from Bluegrass Ingredients, attended the event and shared his favorite stops with us and why. You might want to check them out!
Best Blueberry Spots
Bowerman’s on 8th : Best Blueberry Donut
The Blueberry Store : Blueberry Beef Jerky is the bee’s knees
Farmhouse Deli and Pantry: Sweet and savory blueberry treats beside the smoker
Bambu: Blueberry Boba tea, Vietnamese coffee…Let’s go!
Other Local Highlights
South Haven Conference Center: The View! The chicken and ribs had this country boy hooked.
DeBoer’s Bakery: Delicious pastries
Macatawa Bay Yacht Club: Awesome dinner and views!
Fustini’s : Excellent oils and vinegars
Holland Farmer’s Market: All local. All the time. You could feel the passion of the vendors.
Haworth Hotel: Excellent stay. Never felt more at home.
Fenn Valley Vineyard: Knowledgeable winemakers and tour givers
Pennyroyal Café: Charcoal-fired chicken on the patio – Yes!
The Flying Dutchman: Sunset cruise on the lake – Stunning!
Want to learn a bit more about creating new and exciting dishes for your diners? Contact us today!