“I feel like I’m in a room full of giants,” remarked one attendee at Corp! Magazine’s inaugural awards breakfast honoring members of the food and agriculture industries, which took place November 15, 2012 at Schoolcraft College in Livonia.
It was an appropriate observation, as many of the people in the room were representatives of families who have been fueling Michigan’s agricultural and food industries for generations.
Dorothy Zehnder, a woman upon whose recipes an entire empire was built in Frankenmuth, was on hand. At nearly ninety one years of age, she’s still most commonly found in the kitchen, cooking for guests and setting an example for future generations.
At the other end of the spectrum is Grace Keros, the third-generation owner of American Coney Island, charged with carrying on a legacy. The iconic Detroit restaurant located on Michigan Avenue and Lafayette, was started in 1917 by her grandfather. He is credited with creating the classic combination of a hot dog, chili, onions, and mustard, commonly known in these parts as a “coney dog,” and a delicacy for which the city is now known.
There were also some relative newcomers on the scene being honored at the event, like Nifty Hoops. This Ann Arbor upstart designs, manufactures and installs greenhouses that allow farmers to grow throughout all four of Michigan’s seasons.
Whether year-round or not, our booming agricultural industry is in fact the heart and soul of all food and beverage sectors. Restaurants and grocers across Michigan have access to a plentiful bounty of fresh-grown foods and locally-produced beverages to then make available to consumers. This cycle is what has made the industry the second largest in Michigan, and is also one of the keys to being recognized as a leading destination for agri- and culinary-tourism.
It also happens to be one of the absolute best reasons to live in Michigan.
In her remarks at the event Corp! President and CEO, Jennifer Kluge, characterized the industry as being relatively humble, citing that as a particularly good reason to do some bragging on its behalf. The magazine is profiling each of the companies honored, and according to Kluge, is committed to doing more to promote this significant segment of Michigan’s economy.
The 2012 nominees honored by the magazine were: Achatz Handmade Pie Company, American Coney Island, American Spoon, Argo-Culture Liquid Fertilizers, Atlas Wholesale Food Company, Bell’s Brewery, Better Made Snack Foods, Breakfast on the Farm, Busch’s Fresh Food Market, Cadeau Creations, Calder Dairy, Carrettino Italian Market & Wine, Chateau Grand Traverse, Chateau Aeronautique Winery, Cherry Central, Chive Talkin’, CityFARM, Coffee Beanery, Cook’s Farm Dairy, Country Home Creations, Dearborn Sausage Company, Detroit Popcorn Company, Eastern Market Corporation, Edibles Rex, Faygo Beverages, Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn Restaurant, Gleaners Community Food Bank, Gordon Food Service, Graceland Fruit, GreenStone Farm Credit Services, Groeb Farms, Harvest Michigan, Hunt’s Hillside Farm, Just Baked Cupcakes, Koppert Biological Systems, Macomb Restaurant Supply, Michigan Agricultural Commodities, Michigan Farm Bureau, Michigan Farmers Market Association, Michigan Milk Producers Association, Michigan Pork Producers Association, Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee, Morley Candy Makers, Munsell’s Poultry Processing, National Coney Island, Nifty Hoops, Peterson Farms, Serra Cheese Company, Spicer Orchards, Sweet Potatoes Sensations, Traffic Jam & Snug, TraverseGourmet.com, Tri City Cheese and Meats, U.P. Pasties Company, Valentine Distilling Company, Wilde Thyme Foods, Zeeland Farm Services, and Zoup!
At the ceremony Corp! divided the nominees into four categories: Agriculture, Nonprofits, Retail, and Suppliers/Distributors. An overall winner was selected in each category. They are as follows:
Agriculture: Cook’s Farm Dairy (Brandon Township)
Nonprofits: Eastern Market Corporation (Detroit)
Retail: Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn Restaurant (Frankenmuth)
Supplier/Distributor: Atlas Wholesale Food Company (Detroit)
Winners in each category were not announced until the event, and a spokesperson from each of the four winning organizations was invited to spontaneously share some remarks with the crowd.
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