From the Editor: Life as an Editor Isn’t Always Glamorous
You know you’re not as much fun as you used to be when you’re offered a yurt for the night and you turn it down in order to relocate to a hotel with a king-sized bed and an in-room hot tub.
In my defense it was snowing in Grand Marais when I visited Teri Davis-Downing at the Wunderbar Eatery and Glampgrounds, and even though she had a heater going in the tent, I knew that my husband and I probably wouldn’t survive a night sleeping on a mattress on the floor and having to walk 30 yards or so to visit the porta-potty—several times—during the night.
I may have been tempted, but my husband's definition of a "big tent" is when you keep all your friends close—as in, once a friend always under his big tent. Apparently "big tent" works better for us as a metaphor than as a bedroom.
Room service will be delivered in coolers via a little red wagon for glampers.
I was visiting early in the transformation of the old mainstay for Grand Marais, the Harbor Light supper club. I'll have to wait for summer when I'll have another excuse to return to the North Shore to check out the final version.
I first learned of the project from Sheba Fidelar of Sheba Concept & Design, who designed the cute logo of a red old-style camper. (It's worth going to Wunderbar's Facebook page to see that logo.) So while it may have been more prudent to wait to interview Davis-Downing after the restaurant was opened, I couldn't wait. Not even the five-hour drive deterred me.
Sometimes seeing someone's vision in the rough is more telling than seeing the finished project. Davis-Downing, her cousin and her bar manger met me that day and they were all giddy with excitement about what was going on in the once-abandoned restaurant. Plans call for creative bar food, music, poker competitions for charity, an upscale whiskey bar, a spot for meditation and yoga in the woods.
Living in Grand Marais has been Davis-Downing's dream since the first time she visited her husband's family there 12 years ago. The Harbor Light was out of business all those years she drove past it, but she still remembers looking out the car window and saying, "I'm going to own that place someday."
I like people who dream big, and Davis-Downing and her husband Chris have big dreams. And you know, it couldn't have happened to nicer people.
Not glamping wasn't my only adventure last month. I also had the opportunity to be a judge for the Mall of America's salute to the military via a culinary competition. That invitation came through our connection with Open Arms, the official charity of The Charlies. Open Arms was a sponsor of the Culinary Fest Chef Challenge, and Lisa Lane, the senior director of development and community engagement at Open Arms, was a fellow judge.
It was a long day, and I wasn't even the one cooking four different meals. The first round kicked off at noon and the last plate was removed and winners announced around 5:40 p.m.
The competition had a fun twist, all the dishes had to include one MRE, those prepackaged meals with a long shelf-life, designed to feed soldiers in combat zones. I never had to eat MREs as a kid, but I do remember one of my favorite meals was SOS—canned and salty chipped beef in white gravy, served on toast. I haven't had it in years and I'm not sure whether at the time I liked the salty flavor or just saying the name. It's not often as a kid you can get away with implied cussing without reprimand.
We've got other stories to share this issue as well. Events Editor Laura Michaels reports on our Foodservice News summit, as well as our sister publication's big event in Vegas, the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference.
Reporter Jane McClure has a cautionary tale for restaurateurs in St. Paul about being proactive, and Mecca Bos has a new twist on institutional dining.
Have a festive holiday season and we'll see you next year. Just remember our first edition of the year is a combined January/February issue. So you'll see us closer to Feb. 1. But we'll stay in touch via our blogs at www.foodservicenews.net.