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Fat Guy

Plan: 2010 Heartland Gathering

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I guess North Carolina doesn't count as the Heartland, does it? Even though it's a strong agricultural state.

Milwaukee would be a strong choice, I suspect.

And I want to play next year! (and no, I'm not volunteering to do another pig pickin' yet).


Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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I would so love to meet you in person!!

I guess North Carolina doesn't count as the Heartland, does it?  Even though it's a strong agricultural state.

Milwaukee would be a strong choice, I suspect.

And I want to play next year!  (and no, I'm not volunteering to do another pig pickin' yet).


"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" (coined while playing with my food at Lolita).

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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I'd be willing to step up for MSP IF I could get some help from another MSP'er or two (and some wit and wisdom from former organizers).

I don't have the time to do this all on my own, but MSP has a tremendous amount to offer...


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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I'll organize something down here in North Cackalacky. Come on, it's part of the "greater Heartland."


Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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I'll organize something down here in North Cackalacky.  Come on, it's part of the "greater Heartland."

Sounds good to me, Varmint! You're a lot closer to South FL than KC is! :laugh:


"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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I'd be willing to step up for MSP IF I could get some help from another MSP'er or two (and some wit and wisdom from former organizers).

I don't have the time to do this all on my own, but MSP has a tremendous amount to offer...

Yay!!! If I were in MSP, I'd help for sure! Is there anything I would be able to do from a distance? I could think of things to do and places to see (that isn't really much help, though, is it?).

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I'd be willing to step up for MSP IF I could get some help from another MSP'er or two (and some wit and wisdom from former organizers).

I don't have the time to do this all on my own, but MSP has a tremendous amount to offer...

Yay!!! If I were in MSP, I'd help for sure! Is there anything I would be able to do from a distance? I could think of things to do and places to see (that isn't really much help, though, is it?).

Actually, Rona, there is probably some stuff that could be done long distance, especially if we could talk.

One of the reasons I mention MSP is that I can come up with a good kitchen (think commercial grade, if not as large as some of them have been) at my church if we are willing to make a donation.


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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That's how we did it in Cleveland - Church kitchen for donation!

I'd be willing to step up for MSP IF I could get some help from another MSP'er or two (and some wit and wisdom from former organizers).

I don't have the time to do this all on my own, but MSP has a tremendous amount to offer...

Yay!!! If I were in MSP, I'd help for sure! Is there anything I would be able to do from a distance? I could think of things to do and places to see (that isn't really much help, though, is it?).

Actually, Rona, there is probably some stuff that could be done long distance, especially if we could talk.

One of the reasons I mention MSP is that I can come up with a good kitchen (think commercial grade, if not as large as some of them have been) at my church if we are willing to make a donation.


"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" (coined while playing with my food at Lolita).

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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Actually, Rona, there is probably some stuff that could be done long distance, especially if we could talk.

Have Skype will talk! I'll be back from Japan in March or April 2010, but I can also make lots of phone calls and stuff from Japan (my long-distance caller only charges Y2.5/minute--that's only about 2 cents/minute for calls to the US).

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I'll organize something down here in North Cackalacky.  Come on, it's part of the "greater Heartland."

Pig-Pickin' time?

:smile:

Toga, toga, toga . . . (well, you know what I mean :wink:).

But maybe this would be better as its own event, separate from the Heartland Gathering.

Milwaukee has some real merits (Steven had mentioned it, as well) but I don't think we have any 'forks on the ground' there.

=R=


"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

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ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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Milwaukee, eh? I grew-up/lived 60 miles north of Milwaukee until I moved to Chicago in 2004. If you want some suggestions for dining in/around Brew City, don't hesitate to ask. Its always been my 2nd home!

Cheers.

-tw-


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While I did chime in earlier about keeping the voting to cities where we actually have volunteers, I didn't actually make my preference known. While I am more than likely to drive to whatever city is finally chosen, personally, I'd like to see a return to Ann Arbor next year. It's been three years since I attended there and honestly, I think it's time for a return trip. Not that Cleveland or MSP wouldn't also be good venues, but that's just my two cents.

I'll be honest though ... part of that preference is the fact that we have a kitchen space for workshops prior to our Saturday dinner as well as a space to cook for ourselves on Saturday, too.


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While I did chime in earlier about keeping the voting to cities where we actually have volunteers, I didn't actually make my preference known. While I am more than likely to drive to whatever city is finally chosen, personally, I'd like to see a return to Ann Arbor next year. It's been three years since I attended there and honestly, I think it's time for a return trip. Not that Cleveland or MSP wouldn't also be good venues, but that's just my two cents.

I'll be honest though ... part of that preference is the fact that we have a kitchen space for workshops prior to our Saturday dinner as well as a space to cook for ourselves on Saturday, too.

I agree!! I Lurve Ann Arbor!!

Eve( of Eve Restaurant) will be a contestant on Top Chef this upcoming season. I've never eaten there, but have heard great things about the restaurant.

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While I did chime in earlier about keeping the voting to cities where we actually have volunteers, I didn't actually make my preference known. While I am more than likely to drive to whatever city is finally chosen, personally, I'd like to see a return to Ann Arbor next year. It's been three years since I attended there and honestly, I think it's time for a return trip. Not that Cleveland or MSP wouldn't also be good venues, but that's just my two cents.

I'll be honest though ... part of that preference is the fact that we have a kitchen space for workshops prior to our Saturday dinner as well as a space to cook for ourselves on Saturday, too.

I agree!! I Lurve Ann Arbor!!

Eve( of Eve Restaurant) will be a contestant on Top Chef this upcoming season. I've never eaten there, but have heard great things about the restaurant.

I just had breakfast with a sous chef from Eve this morning. I'm sure we'd be able to put together a good Thursday or Friday night dinner at Eve.

Fat Guy has also suggested that we consider incorporating Detroit and suburbs into our plan, and I'm giving that some thinking. I haven't done any outreach yet, but we could see if we could get Brian Polcyn to do something charcuterie-connected for us. Tribute offers another good upscale dinner option. Dearborn has the largest concentration of Middle Eastern population in the USA, so I expect we could put together an interesting shopping trip out there.

So I've got lots of ideas on how to make this Gathering different from the other Ann Arbor ones, if folks decide they'd like to come here.

Tammy


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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If we're thinking Detroit - perhaps a dinner at Michael Symon's Roast?


Edited by NancyH (log)

"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" (coined while playing with my food at Lolita).

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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I just had breakfast with a sous chef from Eve this morning. I'm sure we'd be able to put together a good Thursday or Friday night dinner at Eve.

Fat Guy has also suggested that we consider incorporating Detroit and suburbs into our plan, and I'm giving that some thinking.  I haven't done any outreach yet, but we could see if we could get Brian Polcyn to do something charcuterie-connected for us. Tribute offers another good upscale dinner option. Dearborn has the largest concentration of Middle Eastern population in the USA, so I expect we could put together an interesting shopping trip out there.

OK, Ann Arbor is starting to sound better and better. :smile: A charcuterie workshop with Polcyn would be awesome.

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I just had breakfast with a sous chef from Eve this morning. I'm sure we'd be able to put together a good Thursday or Friday night dinner at Eve.

Fat Guy has also suggested that we consider incorporating Detroit and suburbs into our plan, and I'm giving that some thinking.  I haven't done any outreach yet, but we could see if we could get Brian Polcyn to do something charcuterie-connected for us. Tribute offers another good upscale dinner option. Dearborn has the largest concentration of Middle Eastern population in the USA, so I expect we could put together an interesting shopping trip out there.

OK, Ann Arbor is starting to sound better and better. :smile: A charcuterie workshop with Polcyn would be awesome.

Or how about a wonderful meal at Diamond Jim Brady's? Mary Brady would surely be a wonderful choice to reach out to, and I'm sure would be able to accomodate us with something special.

Regarding Roast: it would *have* to be a dinner (they no longer offer lunch), and on a weekend, Roast tends to be full of reservations, and walk-ins fill whatever else they have left. Plus, it's not like you'd get to meet Michael Symon or anything like that...he's hardly ever there. That being said, I kind of like the limited experience I've had at Roast, though I've only been there for Cocktail Hour, with reduced prices on some things.

Brian Polcyn may be pretty busy these days, what with The Forest Grill up and running and he's redoing his Five Lakes Grill into a Mexican restaurant up in Milford. Still, he's a Detroit dining icon (along with Rick Halberg, who's at Eve now), and he's pretty accessible from what I understand. His charcuterie is legendary, for sure.

I've got lots of other ideas, too! If the Detroit area is being considered, I may want to do my part to help out.

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Perhaps Indianapolis or Bloomington would be good destinations, too.  But my food experiences in the rest of Indiana have only been memorable in the negative sense, and profoundly so.

I travel several times a year to Indiana, and the restaurants there have improved dramatically in recent years - not only in Indianapolis/Bloomington, but throughout the state. Indianapolis itself has come a long way, with great standouts like Oakley's Bistro, R Bistro, and Oceanaire. But you need to travel around to try some of the other outstanding eateries throughout the state. A few months ago I ate dinner at Joseph Decuis just outside Fort Wayne, and it was as good as any place I've eaten in Indiana. LaSalle Grill in South Bend continues to be excellent. And at both ends of the state you're right across the state line from two terrific eating cities.

Of course, as previously noted, we need to hold the event somewhere where one or more eGulleteers are willing to step up to do the organizational work, and that may or may not include Indiana. But there are some great eateries in the Hoosier State...


Edited by nsxtasy (log)

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The Gathering is still about a year away. Is it really necessary to decide right now?

There are three people who have expressed interest in hosting next year:

tammylc--Ann Arbor/Detroit

NancyH--Cleveland

snowangel--MSP-area

Two have hosted the gathering before, so the volunteers are very familiar with what's expected (from the organizers and the gathering).

Would it be possible for someone to post those expectations for others who may be interested in hosting, but who have never attended? And perhaps also comments about what is necessary (i.e. post about expectations vs necessities--for example, does there have to be a Thursday night dinner, or is it merely expected? Does there have to be one "higher-end" dinner, or can the whole weekend be done "on the cheap"?)

I think knowing what's involved would help people decide if they're interested in hosting, and perhaps people from other areas previously unvisited may volunteer, as well. It would be great if the event could move around more--the Heartland is such a large area with each state having something different to offer. Even if I can't attend each gathering in person, I'd be just as happy seeing the different areas vicariously.

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The Gathering is still about a year away.  Is it really necessary to decide right now? 

There are three people who have expressed interest in hosting next year:

tammylc--Ann Arbor/Detroit

NancyH--Cleveland

snowangel--MSP-area

Two have hosted the gathering before, so the volunteers are very familiar with what's expected (from the organizers and the gathering).

Would it be possible for someone to post those expectations for others who may be interested in hosting, but who have never attended?  And perhaps also comments about what is necessary (i.e. post about expectations vs necessities--for example, does there have to be a Thursday night dinner, or is it merely expected?  Does there have to be one "higher-end" dinner, or can the whole weekend be done "on the cheap"?)

I think knowing what's involved would help people decide if they're interested in hosting, and perhaps people from other areas previously unvisited may volunteer, as well.  It would be great if the event could move around more--the Heartland is such a large area with each state having something different to offer.  Even if I can't attend each gathering in person, I'd be just as happy seeing the different areas vicariously.

I had created "brief history of the Heartland Gathering" post after last year's event, summarizing what the activities were at each of the gatherings, but I think it probably got lost in the beginning of the 2009 planning post that's no longer available. (If there's a mod reading this, any chance you can dig that up?) That's a good place to look to see how the Gathering has evolved, and to get some idea of what might be considered core vs optional.

The formula in recent years has been Thursday dinner, Friday tours/workshops, Friday dinner, Saturday shopping and dinner, and Sunday brunch. Usually the Thursday dinner has been more expensive and the Friday dinner less.

The heart of the Gathering is - of course - the Saturday feast. For that, you need a good market to shop in, and a place to cook and eat. Finding that space at a price that's affordable is probably the most challenging part of the event. Church kitchens are probably the most easily accessible spaces with the kind of setup we need. Attendance at the Feast ranges from about 25 to 50 people.

Other key requirements from the organizers are just attention to detail and the ability to keep track of all the various activities, how they're being paid for, etc. Having someone to organize hotel rooms blocks is good. Sending out directions. Printing up maps. All the little event-organizing details that make something like this go smoothly.

I pretty much ran the first two Ann Arbor events single-handedly, but I have a lot of event planning experience and was able to put a lot of time and effort into organizing them. Plus, the Gathering was simpler then, with fewer activities. Both of the Ann Arbor ones didn't start until Friday night, for instance. Cleveland was the first to add Thursday activities, and that was picked up by Chicago and KC.


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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And to the question of "is it really important to decide now?"

Well, of course it's not. But there's always some energy and enthusiasm right after a Gathering, so it's a good time to capture that and initiate movement. But organizers probably don't want to devote a lot of time or effort to making connections and arrangements if they don't know for sure if they'll be hosting or not.

I've been emailing with a few Ann Arbor/Detroiters, and here's what we're noodling about in terms of an Ann Arbor gathering.

Thursday: upscale dinner, either in the Ann Arbor area (Eve, Common Grill) or Detroit (Tribute, many other possibilities)

Friday Day: workshops in Ann Arbor (bread, whatever else people want to organize). For those not interested in a workshop, a shopping/eating tour of some Detroit neighborhoods. There are a lot of possibilities there - Dearborn for Middle Eastern, Mexicantown in Detroit, the great National vs. Lafayette coney dog controversy, Polish food in Hamtramck, etc. Maybe lunch at Brian Polcyn's place in Birmingham? And a Jiffy Mix factory tour is also a possibility if people thought that would be interesting.

Depending on what the interest level was for various of these activities we could potentially run a couple different "tours" in parallel, rather than all of us hitting all the stops.

Friday Night: Less expensive dinner in Ann Arbor, probably a Sichuan banquet at one of our two hidden gems where jmsaul and kitchenchick are friends with the chefs.

Saturday Day: Shopping and lunching at the Farmer's Market, Feast cooking in the afternoon, maybe there's some kind of demo we can squeeze in early afternoon.

Sunday morning: Brunch somewhere, haven't given this one much thought yet.

So that's what we're thinking about here in Ann Arbor/Detroit, but I do understand the desire to get to another part of the Heartland and won't be crushed if that's what people want to do!


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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One of the comments I heard this year was that the KC gathering had a somewhat more sparse daytime schedule than some of the previous years. I think some did appreciate having an opportunity to go back to the motel and rest, or to explore on their own. But others may want to have lots of activities planned, and I just didn't hear that point of view.

I think it would perfectly acceptable, and it would take some of the pressure off, to have 'holes' in the schedule and furnish participants with a list of food-related places to go (including addresses) and let them explore on their own, take a nap, or do whatever they wanted to do. Even though we all have the same basic interest in food and cooking, some may want to explore local ethnic eateries, while others go to bakeries, chocolatiers, or whatever the area has to offer.

Having been to only one of these events, I can't offer any recommendations other than that. But I could understand that a host might feel an obligation to keep everyone entertained, all day and all evening. Deliberately providing some unstructured time is an absolutely legitimate approach, and might simplify things at least to an extent.

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jgm,

I agree. I skipped the market tour to go to the art museum. I only made it halfway through. I also so saw other interesting shopping that would have been fun to check out. I think KC was well planned and I never felt like we had a packed schedule, or felt rushed, which I appreciated, nor did I feel it was underplanned. But I certainly could have found things to do if there was more free time. I definitely want to return to KC to see some of those things. And eat more burnt ends. Also, I know in Chicago a number of people struck out on their own part of the time.

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