Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Food Dance Difference

Earlier this month I spent two days in foodie heaven: A Kalamazoo trip sponsored by Discover Kalamazoo, Food Dance Restaurant, Bell’s Brewery, Water Street Coffee Joint, and the Radisson Hotel (downtown). Kudos go to Dianna Stampfler of Promote Michigan for helping with the organizing. This is the first of several blog posts about the tours and food on this trip.    

Michelle Miller, the marketing manager and event planner at Food Dance, was our hostess. We also spent time with Chef Robb Hammond and met owner Julie Stanley. Not only is Food Dance a fabulous restaurant located in downtown Kalamazoo, it is also a bakery, and they butcher hogs, cure meat, and makes some cheeses. For the bar, they make their own infused syrups, vodkas, and bitters. Classes are available on topics such as soup, grilling (on their rooftop), and popsicles.

The restaurant, which opened 18 years ago, was one of the first in Michigan to source ingredients from local farms. The tour included visits to three farms that supply the restaurant: Carlson Farms (chicken, eggs) Mattawan Creamery (yogurt, goat chevre cheese), and Kirklin Farm (black beans, melons, heirloom tomatoes).    

In addition to caring about their staff, Food Dance runs open book management. “The employees know everything,” said Miller. “We are all financially responsible – everyone has a line item.” The employees are empowered to make suggestions and take charge of making changes.” Miller continued, “We are honest with applicants; it’s not just a job.” Employees are all provided with a wellness benefit; full-time employees have a full benefits package.

Keeping with their values, the business waste is tracked in pounds, multiple community gardens pick up food waste for compost, and two people take their used vegetable oil.

The first day of the trip we toured the three farms in the afternoon with dinner at Food Dance capping off the day. Look for more blog posts coming soon!

Food Dance Restaurant is in downtown Kalamazoo, MI

Fresh eggs! - at Carlson Farms

Goats at Mattawan Creamery

Vegetables at Kirklin Farm

Food Dance appetizer

Food Dance decor

Art on the walls - Food Dance

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