Check, Please! Farm to Table

2013-08-27T10:29:00Z 2013-08-27T12:45:24Z Check, Please! Farm to TableJane Ammeson
August 27, 2013 10:29 am  • 

Check, Please!, a long time favorite Chicago restaurant show, is hitting the road again, gathering top notch chefs, artisan vintners, microbrewers and distillers for the 2nd Annual Check Please! Farm to Table Festival, taking place on Sunday, September 1 at the Round Barn Winery, Distillery and Brewery in Baroda, sponsored by Maytag.

It’s about bringing diners to the source of their food instead of the other way around says David Manilow, creator and executive producer of Check Please! which first aired on Chicago Public TV station WTTV in 2001 and now is in half a dozen cities noting that last year’s festival, their first, was a big hit attracting people not only from Southwest Michigan but also the Chicago area and Northwest Indiana.

The concept of the show is that the host of the show, Catherine De Orio, talks to three guests who have each selected one of their favorite restaurants plus visited the other two restaurants and voice their reviews.

With more than 40 chefs attending, the list is long and includes Chicago chefs and restaurateurs such as Michael Kornick, founder and owner of mk The Restaurant, Greg Biggers, executive chef at Café des Architectes and Art Jackson and Chelsea Kalberloh Jackson of Pleasant House Bakery who recently opened Pleasant House in downtown Three Oaks. Michigan chefs attending include Chad Miller of Soe Café in Sawyer, Mike Stone and Barb Clark from The Ideal Place in Benton Harbor and Robb Hammond of Food Dance in Kalamazoo.

Michigan vintners and distillers in attendance include Domaine Berrien Cellars, Fenn Valley Vineyards, Free Run Cellars, Round Barn Winery, Brewery & Distillery, Hickory Creek Winery, Greenbush Brewing and Journeyman Distiller. Farmers and food producers from both Southwest Michigan and Northern Indiana include Alex’s Veggies, Big Head Organic, Granor Farms, Mick Klug Farm, Jakes Country Meats, Kaminski Farms Meats and Gunthorp Farm.

For the price of admission—and it’s all for a good cause as a portion of the event's proceeds will benefit, build and enhance the "Garden Club" at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton Harbor—diners get to fill their plates and glasses at vendor stands. Free cooking demonstrations (for times and subject see list below) are also part of the festivities. There’s live music and plenty of space for laying down blankets or setting up lawn chairs to sit under the sun, sample the foods and spirits and enjoy the best of Michigan’s bounty as interpreted by great chefs.

Cooking Schedule of Events:

12:50 p.m. Cooking Chef Ender, World of Whirlpool

1:15 p.m. Wine/Beer/Spirits Matt Moersch, Round Barn Winery/Free Run Cellars

1:40 p.m. Cooking Chef Ben Sheagren, Hopleaf

2:05 p.m. Q+A Catherine De Orio, Check, Please!

2:30 p.m. Mixology Virtue Cider

2:55 p.m. Cooking Chef Brad Hindsley, Spire

3:20 p.m. Mixology Cody Allee, DiVine Spirits

3:45 p.m. Cooking Chef Sean Sanders, Browntrout

MAYTAG SPONSOR: Find out more at and connect,

Robb Hammond’s Salmon and Sushi Rice Cakes

Salmon and Cucumber

1 cucumber, seeded

½ teaspoon red pepper

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

½ cup seasoned rice vinegar

6 ounces filet, Sockeye salmon (4 each)

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon black sesame seeds

4 each, sushi rice cake (see recipe below)

2 bunches rainbow chard

6 ounces maple soy glaze (see recipe below)

With a mandolin or very sharp knife, cut cucumbers in a half moon, julienne peppers, and put both in a bowl with vinegar for 30 minutes.

Heat two sauté pans -- one non-stick pan on medium heat and the other on high heat. Place rice cakes with a tablespoon of sesame oil in non-stick pan to cook on both sides until golden brown. Place a tablespoon of vegetable oil in other heated pan and season the salmon with salt and sesame seeds.

Place salmon filets in pan and sear for 2 minutes per side. Rest salmon on a cookie sheet in a 120-degree oven. Place the chard in the pan you cooked the salmon in until it is slightly wilted.

Maple Soy Glaze

2 cups maple syrup

¾ cup Tamari soy (gluten free)

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Simmer to reduce all ingredients until you achieve a thick, syrupy consistency when cool.

Sushi Rice Cakes

2 cups sushi rice

24 ounces water

2 ounces seasoned rice vinegar

2 ounces ginger

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Mix the salt, water, rice, and ginger in a heavy bottom pan and cover with foil. Place this on medium heat until boiling. Bring it down to a simmer and cook for 10 more minutes before removing. Let it stand (covered) for 15 minutes before removing the foil. Form the cakes by hand or by using a ring mold with ¾ cup per cake.

To plate:

Drizzle the maple soy glaze on a plate. Place the rice cake on the plate; add chard on top of the cake, and then top with salmon. Drain cucumber mixture and place on top of salmon and sushi cakes.

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