Friday, January 11, 2013

[EID Feature] When you go to the Auto Show, Go Natural

The new atrium at Cobo Center. Photo by Nicole Rupersburg.

By now you've heard about the $300 million renovation project currently underway at Cobo Center. Part of the construction includes a three-story glass-walled atrium overlooking the Detroit River, which will make its debut (temporarily) during the 2013 North American International Auto Show when it opens to the public next Saturday, January 19.

Just a tad less buzzworthy, but something the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority is also very excited about, is their new concession stand Go Natural located on the main concourse, opening just in time for the Auto Show. Go Natural is the first step in a whole new direction for Centerplate, the Cobo Center's food service vendor. This grab-and-go cafe features a variety of prepared foods - soups, salads and sandwiches - all made with fresh, natural, locally-sourced ingredients. Organic produce, locally-raised free-range chickens, from-scratch soups and more are on the menu at Go Natural, which is all part of a larger initiative by Centerplate to not just catch up to the marketplace but "leapfrog" it, offering the kind of food not normally found in convention centers. Options at Go Natural include breakfast and lunch items, and are definitely hearty yet healthy.

In addition to the atrium, which will host private parties and VIP dinners, the new construction in Cobo will include a grand ballroom, additional meeting rooms, a brand-new food court and a new 8,000-square-foot kitchen with private tasting room. Catering will be entirely overseen by Centerplate's ACF Executive Chef Jamie Miller, whose biggest passion and primary objective is to use fresh, locally-sourced ingredients in his cooking.

I had the chance to preview Go Natural, as well as the Auto Show in mid-construction, this past Thursday. Check out the photos in the slideshow below. For the record, I had the buffalo chicken sandwich and tomato soup. The sandwich was made with huge chunks of high-quality chicken and more huge chunks of bleu cheese on ciabatta bread, the soup was loaded with fresh vegetables, and the ladies at the counter were lovely. As far as convention center "fast food" goes, this place seems pretty top-notch.