Image courtesy of EE Berger
The cherry trees are blossoming and the first greens are popping up in the rows at the farm, the barn doors of Cherry Basket Farm are opened, and we are getting ready to celebrate our 15th anniversary and begin our sixteenth season as Epicure Catering.
With a full season of weddings, events, and collaborations ahead of us, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on our excitement for going into this year, and the gratitude we have for being able to do what we do.
We started Epicure Catering with a passion fueled by our experiences in the food and beverage industry, our adventures and travels, our love of good parties, and our resolution to make ourselves a home we loved in Northern Michigan.
Certain outcomes, shaped by our goals have always been at the forefront of our mission. And we are so proud of the work we have put into being consistent with those goals.
Creating enticing custom menus that could be scaled for large events. Serving classic and creative food with style and substance. Honoring Midwest food and farming traditions while exploring other influential cuisines. Growing a staff that was professional, skilled, observant, and functioned wholeheartedly as a team. Giving families an opportunity to celebrate milestones together and introduce people to the heart of Leelanau County through gracious hospitality.
We knew we had the skillset, the mindset, and the capacity to achieve those goals. But other outcomes weren’t necessarily predicted, and they both challenges us and defined who we are today.
We didn’t predict that the wedding industry would grow out of banquet halls and hotels to barns and open spaces. We didn’t realize Leelanau County was going to be a mecca for luxury rural destination weddings. We didn’t even know ‘rural’ and ‘luxury’ could describe the same wedding. But we were more than well positioned to meet that desire. Nor could we predict how our humble yet beautiful Midwest farm would evolve to accommodate the tastes of trend savvy couples from Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas, but we did it with confidence and adapted to the industry boom.
We didn’t predict that the quaint seasonal town of Traverse City would grow to become a year round micro-city with a booming food and beverage scene, and that we would get to play a role in elevating our hometown as both a statewide, regional, and national destination for good food. But we were more than happy to make new friends and acquaintances within this new community of passionate food lovers and make our contributions to the industry’s growth and recognition.
We didn’t predict that our dream to preserve a piece of Leelanau County history in purchasing Cherry Basket Farm would be such an integral part of the fabric of our County, and that our business model would inspire other business owners to consider a back to the farm mentality for growing their agribusinesses and forever protecting our area’s natural and agricultural history. But we are happy to see that many places we loved growing up are still here today and are still enjoyed by tourists and locals alike. We are beyond pleased we could work to preserve the character of our town of Omena through our efforts to have the Omena National Historic District added to the National Register of Historic Places Program.
We didn’t predict the American consumer awakening to wholesome, sustainable, local, and organic food served in a non-pretentious but conscious manner. But we were there to serve you our favorite dish of roasted kale when it became a household term.
Looking back, you could say it was either a lot of hard work or a lot of ‘right place at the right time’ that brought us here today. We prefer to think our hard work in the right places, at the right times, carried us into this season.
Arriving at the spring of 2018, we are 15 years further into our industry. This translates to hundreds of parties catered, dozens of freelance gigs and countless mistakes made. Those mistakes have always resulted in actionable tweaks which make us better as a team and as a company. We have developed systems and gotten significantly more efficient at what we do.
The cornerstone of Epicure Catering has always been hospitality. Hospitality comes first, and always will. But taking the time to define who we are and what we do and do not do (and why) has been significant. Business with intention, versus just taking whatever jobs come in has allowed us to be confident in our expertise and keep hospitality at the forefront of what we offer.
One of the greatest measures of our success for us has been in the staff who have returned year after year. Some folks are returning for their tenth season, or their fifth. Our staff is made up of teachers, artists, students, other business owners, and community members who are just as proud as we are to showcase the spirit of Leelanau County through hospitality and really good food. Building time into the hustle of a wedding day for our staff to sit down and enjoy a relaxing meal is how we have always shown our appreciation for everyone’s efforts.
To gear up for the season, and to celebrate this milestone, we invite our staff for a spring kickoff in our picnic area. Some are bringing their partners, their siblings, or their children because working for Epicure Catering each summer has become a family tradition. We’ll host, but everyone will bring something to the table. We feel like the opportunity to enjoy a meal with friends is still at the heart of why we still love what we do.
We hope to see you this summer on the farm!