|James Rigato of the Root Restaurant in White Lake. Photo by Nicole Rupersburg.|
Metro Detroit isn’t exactly known for its cutting-edge culinary scene, but that’s not the same as not actually having one. It seems like we’re almost always the bridesmaid (getting sloppy drunk and shoveling gobs of buttercream frosting down our throats as we insist we’re really happy for the bride, really) when it comes to James Beard awards and invitations to compete on Top Chef.
Sure, occasionally we manage to eke one out – Eve Aronoff of Ann Arbor’s Frita Batidos and John Somerville of the Lark in West Bloomfield are still the only Top Chef competitors from Michigan to date, though both got booted early on; Executive Chef Alex Young from Zingerman’s Roadhouse won the James Beard Award (nicknamed “the Oscars of Food” and presumably just as political) for Best Chef: Great Lakes in 2011, which brings the grand total of Michigan winners up to three since the awards were established in 1990 (the other two were Takashi Yagihashi in 2003 for Tribute and Jimmy Schmidt in 1993 for the Rattlesnake Club). Hell, if it weren’t for Coney dogs and Phil Cooley’s Corktown metro Detroit might as well just be Ann Arbor’s country cousin for all the recognition it gets from national tastemakers.