Raised in Union Lake, Michigan in a lake house meant one thing: visitors! Family, friends, boaters, fishermen, swimmers, sailors and neighborhood friends…my mother fed them all.
Folks ask when I decided to become a Chef and I say, “My mom started it”! Cooking at home for friends and family was our trademark. I cooked for and with my high school friends, some of which became chefs and chocolatiers. Looking back, I realize that the food that brought us together would also feed us for a lifetime.
I entered college at Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pennsylvania on a scholarship and a chance to be on the rowing team. The first year away from home was great, the food was not and the more athletic I became the more important food quality became. School breaks meant working the kitchen scene at the Blue Bird & Riverside Inn in Leland or on sailing trips in the Caribbean. Opportunity upon generous opportunity allowed me to cook for business owners and the community. This self-guided education seemed to match my need for improvisation and adventure.
When I traveled to North, Central and South America my eyes were opened beyond measure. I discovered the open markets and food stands where the indigenous people eat local food. I tasted foods I can’t pronounce. I learned to cook directly from the land and water. These revelations of simplicity and availability became the prologue to my career.
I met Cammie in my early 20’s in the food scene never realizing that our combined talent, philosophy of food and ability to put in the hours would produce Epicure Catering. I have had the good fortune to collaborate with amazing fellow chefs: Mario Batali, Brian Polcyn, Steve Grostick and learn seam butchery from Christoph and Isabella Weisner. We have been open from Mother’s Day to Halloween for the last 15 years, and I’m proud to say that we are loyal to our initial mission which is to “Contemporary Local Cuisine” with foods from farmers we know and friends we have made.
As a family tradition would have it, I spent every summer of my youth in Omena. My great great grandfather started the tradition in the late 1800’s. As if it were yesterday, I remember shucking corn with my sister in our swimsuits while Dad lit the grill and mom seasoned the meat. Every sense awakens during summers in the county. I can still smell the charcoal off the grill, I can hear the boats humming by, I can taste the Leelanau peaches. These fond memories of childhood unwittingly guided my path.
My first job was scooping ice cream in Leland; I never switched industries. Gathering around a good meal with good people isn’t just a past time, it’s my passion along with being active, being outside and travelling. The combination of my degree in Outdoor Education from Ohio University, and the decade long journey of life in Northern California as a cook and snowboard instructor brought me full circle, back to Northern Michigan where my love of local food began.
I approach coordinating your event as a unique adventure. We pull together every element to ensure we are honoring your vision- your taste, the local food, our staff and the venue. Andy and I design the menu to suit you and Andy makes it a reality on event day while I manage the service staff. For over 15 years, we have been doing what we do best; building relationships with our farmers to make healthy, local food for good people in a county rich with beauty, bounty and food artisans.
In the off season I enjoy working on all different types of projects with other small business owners and industry professionals. Recent freelance stints include working as a kitchen manager for a program on the Cooking Channel, and catering in San Francisco, New Orleans and Moab. I find the people I meet along the way to be a constant source of light and inspiration.
The experiences I share with people are what make this work so meaningful. I hope I have the opportunity to collaborate with you on a project in the near future!
Coming from a military family I was born to be a soldier. I instead fell in love with the brigade of the kitchen. We moved a lot when I was growing up but the majority of my youth was spent in Texas and Southern California. I got my first job working at a deli when I was 14 and I’ve been in the industry ever since.
I graduated from the CIA in Hyde Park, NY in 2005. Since then I’ve been working in professional kitchens from New York to Los Angeles, San Antonio to Chicago, and now I am proud to call Traverse City Michigan my home. I have a lot of experience cooking in professional, fast paced kitchens for respected restaurants all over the country.
My wife and I are both in the industry and decided we would move to Traverse City to be closer to family and to immerse ourselves in a tight knit food community. Catering has provided me with a job that I love but the flexibility to spend time with my wife Michelle and newborn baby girl Rosie Gabriella.
Growing up in Northeastern Michigan, I was never far from water, food, and true hospitality. My dad cooked for us as a symbol of his love, and since, food and love have been synonymous. I started farming in 2007, and quickly learned how farming and the culture surrounding food is intertwined, but so easily lost in the modern era.
The transition from farming to kitchens was a natural progression which I made in Pittsburgh, filling my time with baking by day, and cooking in restaurants by night, for two years. After working in foodservice in Minneapolis and Chicago, Michigan has called me back to it’s cool waters, vast horizons, and kind people.
Feeling connected to the farm but seeing how people find warmth, sustenance, and comfort through food is truly rewarding. I currently split my time between Epicure Catering and The Leelanau School.
Hailing from 1972 in Traverse City’s cold season I was born to ski, skate, and build the finer things.
After graduation I travelled the country and saw that there was nothing out there as great as home. I am a mason & a builder by trade, but I spent a lot of time in the kitchen as an only child of working parents. Those formative years had more of an impact on me than I recognized once I started working with food. I gravitate towards butchery and working with proteins, but find all elements of cooking exciting.
I’ve been a caterer since 2011 and love the uniqueness of each event, from the first day of prep,to the last dish put away. This land and it’s surrounding water is my home, and cooking it’s bounty for people during the celebrations of their lives is rewarding.
I spent my youth just down the road on a centennial family farm in Lake Leelanau. My grandfather showed me how to hunt, fish, and work hard alongside nature. The yard included a huge garden, fruit and nut trees. My grandmother showed me how to process, freeze, dry, preserve, pickle, and store it all.
My kitchen career began at age 14 in my uncle’s restaurant—The Leelanau Country Inn. I connected with Andy and Cammie and what would become Epicure Catering at the Riverside Inn, Leland. During college, I studied science and education while working with kids on CSA farms. During my first teaching job in Chicago, I took students on urban forage outings. Today I am the counselor at a local boarding school where we maintain a campus greenhouse and raise chickens on the shores of Lake Michigan.
Things have come full circle as I continue traditions today in my own life—growing, raising, and canning with my wife and son here in beautiful Leelanau County. Each season brings unique culinary treats. The summer offers the chance to share it all with people at their special event.
Written by Cammie Buehler
Epicure started as a kernel of an idea early into our friendship. Andy and I met while cooking at a Leelanau County restaurant. Every night after work the kitchen staff would have a few beers and go skinny-dipping, washing away the kitchen grime while stargazing from the velvety black water.
Sitting on the dock those warm summer nights, we would ramble on about ideas, dreams, future travels, how we wanted life to be. Becoming fast friends, we kept in touch through many significant others, cross country relocations, world travels and forays into other professions, maintaining our connection to professional kitchens all the while. Some 8 years later after many travels, blissful days spent simply absorbing life and long nights in hot kitchens; we felt the pull to put down roots here in Northern Michigan.
When we started the company, our main goal was to showcase the best food and talent that the region has to offer. After years of witnessing firsthand the immense ripple effect of the local food movement elsewhere, we were inspired to do what we could to facilitate those same positive effects here in Northern Michigan. We worked tirelessly to showcase artisanally produced food and build a team of incredibly talented and skilled friends. Andy’s art background has played a huge role in the presentation of our food, and is now something for which we are known. Our team is our family, and because of that, atmosphere at our events reflects the bond.
We are fortunate enough to work as ‘travel chefs” in our off-season. Along the way, we pick up new food sources, new preparations and ways to create the perfect experience for our clients. We collaborate with other businesses on all sorts of projects; it keeps our process fresh. We enjoy the work and feel fortunate to share our kitchen with such a talented team of true hospitalitarians. Our satisfaction lies in knowing that we are providing you, our guest with an experience true to our convictions, and those of our team.
Today, almost 15 years later, we have not strayed from the path. We enjoy what we do. We try to bring delicious professionalism- responsibly produced local food, presented beautifully, in a way that honors the artisan who made it, the farmer who grew it, or the cook who transformed it – to every event. Add exceptional service to this and everyone wins. That is the Epicure experience. -CB