If you’re wondering what Taste of Michigan is, read this post, then come back here and read this one.

Liz and I have been planning this event for months and we were so thrilled to finally get to experience everything that we had planned for our attendees.

Photo courtesy of Liz Della Croce. PS: A very RARE pregger photo of me.

The day was a bit chilly (or so I was told–I have a heater built into my belly right now and it felt great to me!) but it didn’t keep the 20 of us from having a great time getting to know each other and the beautiful city of Grand Rapids, Michigan. My hometown. If you’re wondering why we chose Grand Rapids, I want you to do two things. First, read this post by Liz. Second, visit and see for yourself!

We began the day with breakfast at Silver Spork Food Truck and shopping Fulton Street Farmer’s Market. Some people ate chorizo hash and some opted for the baked oatmeal. I went for the “Egg Sammy” because I knew with the long day ahead I’d need my protein. It was delicious, a perfectly fried egg on a baguette with crispy bacon, tasty cheese (white cheddar perhaps?), pesto and tomato. Some went with the hot cider which was definitely called for on the crisp fall day.

Next up, we headed to Art of the Table. Art of the Table is more or less foodie heaven, jam-packed with specialty foods, wines, beers and every thing you need to serve that food in a beautiful way. The owner, Amy, went out of her way to really treat our attendees well. She provided them each with a beautiful swag bag that her vendors helped her compile. She also brought in Patricia of Patricia’s Chocolates to discuss  chocolate and wine pairings and give out samples of her wonderful chocolate.

We also had coffee at Rowster (I’m ruined for life–best coffee ever, roasted in-house!) and did some shopping at the unique shops in the area.

Following shopping, we went downtown Grand Rapids for lunch at Bistro Bella Vita. They opened the restaurant just for us and brought us waaaay more delicious food than we could ever eat!

At Bistro Bella Vita, Liz conducted a fantastic KitchenAid demonstration and we all got to try her famous hummus. We also gave away a gorgeous mixer (congrats Megan!) and a toaster (congrats Becca!) along with a few other fun giveaways.

After lunch, we went to get wine and cheese–makes sense, right? We were treated like queens at Reserve Wine & Food. Peter, the general manager, gave us a wonderful tour. He was so knowledgeable about not only their wines, but also their food and even the architecture and history of the building. I highly recommend stopping in at Reserve Wine & Food if you are in Grand Rapids. Ask to see their vault!

And no day would be complete without a gourmet dinner! We headed to the JW Marriott hotel to have cocktails at Mixology and dine at Six.One.Six. They treated us SO well. The extremely talented chefs came out (on one of their busiest weekends!) and talked to us about each course. They didn’t seem rushed and took their time explaining their gorgeous food to us. It was such a great experience. I could eat that food every day for the rest of my life and be more than happy.

When the night was winding down, each attendee left with swag valued at well over $500 dollars! It included free passes for two to almost all Grand Rapids’ best attractions, as well as Beanilla vanilla beans and extract, sparkling wine, chocolate, coffee, hot sauce, pasta, pasta sauce, a coffee mug, a KitchenAid utensil and free food for a whole YEAR at BD’s Mongolian Grill. And that’s just scratching the surface!

I want to take a second to say a huge THANK YOU to….

  • Liz. I couldn’t have done this without you. Thank you for all of your hard work, thank you for putting up with me, and thank you for your energy. I loved it all and am so happy that I can finally say you’re an in-real-life friend.
  • All of our attendees. I couldn’t have hand-picked a better group. It was a blast meeting all of you and I can’t wait to see each of you again.
  • Our two big sponsors! Beanilla and the Grand Rapids Wine, Beer & Food Festival.
  • Our venues. You all obviously rock, as demonstrated above.
  • KitchenAid for the awesome giveaways!
  • Dianna from Promote Michigan. You were a gigantic help in planning and securing swag! Thank you!
  • My hubby for putting up with my obsessive planning of this event.
  • My parents for taking care of my beautiful daughter during the event.
  • And the academy. Oh wait.

PS: All photos (except swag and menu) are cell phone photos. I was too busy to mess with my real camera. However, Jessie was kind enough to capture some gorgeous photos for us. Make sure to check out her site. See below for a sneak peek of the gorgeousness.

Photos in collage courtesy of Jessie Kaufman Photography

PPS: I had a very cute, although not very cooperative, travel buddy for the drive to Grand Rapids. She’s quite the diva.

PPPS: Make sure to browse other attendee’s blogs for more recaps!

PPPPS: Is this getting annoying yet?