December 16, 2015

Slow Foods : Why Local Matters

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Slow Foods : Why Local Matters

*** We Didn’t Write this*** Its so Great we Had to Share.

This is a Blog Post from Slow Food Northshore : http://slowfoodnorthshore.org/why-local-matters/

 

Why Local Matters

The best food is grown close to you.

Nothing tastes better than food you grow yourself. But if you can’t grow your own, consider buying directly from local farmers. Why?

Local, organic food tastes better. Food grown in our area is usually picked within the past day or two. So, naturally it is crisp, sweet and loaded with flavor. Local farmers support biodiversity by growing varieties that are not grown on large, industrial farms.

Local, organic food is healthier. Most fruits and vegetables start losing nutrients as soon as they are picked. When crops are grown just a few miles away, harvests can be more recent and produce can be picked at the peak of freshness. Since local, organic food is fresher and has no pesticide residue, it’s better for you. Organic also means it’s not genetically modified, which has yet to be proven safe.

Local produce stays fresh longer after you buy it, because it was so fresh to begin with.

Local food is a better buy. By choosing local produce at farm stands, farmers’ markets, pick-your-own farms and grocery stores, you are paying for taste and vitality, not transportation or packaging.

Local, organically grown food supports a clean environment. Locally grown food significantly reduces the present average of 1,300 miles food travels from “field to plate.” By buying locally grown or produced food, you are reducing your carbon footprint. Organic food, grown or raised without the use of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics or hormones, supports a healthy environment, and healther you. Smaller producers tend to be the best stewards of the land and water.

Local food strengthens our local economy. Buying local keeps your dollars circulating in our community and ensures that farming and local food production will remain viable in our area. Think Slow Money

Local food gives you peace of mind. One of the greatest benefits of buying locally grown or raised food is developing a relationship with the farmer. This allows you to ask questions like: Do you use any chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertilizer on your crops? How are your hens raised? Relationships built on understanding and trust are the foundation of strong communities.

August 18, 2015

The Mulefoot Gastropub – Our Story

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The Mulefoot Gastropub – Our Story

We believe that food should be Local and prepared with passion. The Mulefoot Gastropub is a farm to table concept utilizing most of its products from local farmers within 20 miles of the restaurant. We are located in Imlay City in the heart of Lapeer county; Which is one of the most diverse agricultural counties in Michigan. Identical twin chefs Mike and Matt Romine have been around the United States and as far a Copenhagen Denmark to hone their culinary ability. They have made the decision to bring these skills back to Imlay City and create the Mulefoot Gastropub.

The Mulefoot’s namesake comes from the heritage breed of pork that is served at the restaurant from their local family farm eight miles from the restaurant. We strive every day to bring new and inventive flavors in a comfortable setting. This is a pub. We are not fine dining. Our products are of the highest quality and prepared by hand. Everything we do is craft; from from first courses to beverages. We invite you to come experience a true farm to table experience…. in the community in which your farm products are born.

The Mulefoot Team
#GetToTheFarm

June 29, 2015

Don’t Come Here?

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Imlay City, why the hell would you go there? That is the message I heard when I began my journey of building The Mulefoot Gastropub. It didn’t matter where I was or who I talked to, their response was always the same. Why Imlay City? Are you crazy? Well, as a matter of fact, yes I am! I am crazy and everyone on my team will tell you that!

I’m crazy because I believe in something that is not visible to most people. I have a vision of the future where our community prospers from our QUALITY not our QUANTITY. I’m crazy because I don’t need someone else to go before me to make sure the path is safe. I am not afraid to fail! I BELIEVE IN MYSELF AND MY TEAM! I believe in my town even when they didn’t believe in themselves!

I will never forget the day I put in my two weeks at Roberts Restaurant Group. I sat in the basement office of Town Tavern (Royal Oak, MI) with Chef Pat and told him I was leaving. I had just gotten full custody of my daughter and I was going home to be with my family and open a farm-to-table restaurant. You should have seen the look on his face when he heard I was going to open a place like The Mulefoot in Imlay City! He was so skeptical, maybe not because of my ability, but from the ability of the community to support a place such as The Mulefoot. He was worried about the price point, the ingredients, the philosophy and whether or not it would be financially viable. I can’t say I blame him as someone on the outside looking in!

Last week, I saw Chef Pat for the first time since our chat in the basement. Chef Matt(my twin brother) and I were at Motor City Casino representing The Mulefoot as the winner of Hour Detroit’s Best of the Best Restaurant for General Excellence award. I was proud because my dream, that few believed in, was not only succeeding but performing at the highest level of excellence in ALL OF METRO DETROIT! Out of literally THOUSANDS of restaurants in the booming food culture of Detroit, we were chosen. We are an HOUR (60 miles) drive away! That, to me, is EXCITING!

{I have tremendous respect for Bill Roberts and his team. I find them to be men of great character and integrity, so I was incredibly pleased to be congratulated by them.}

If I would have listened to everyones concerns about Imlay City, would The Mulefoot even exist? Is it Imlay City that is bad for business, or is it a lack of vision and drive that is bad for business? That thought brings me to my next point. DON’T COME HERE. If you are scared, don’t come here. If you lack faith in your ability and the skills of others, don’t come here. If you have are devoid of passion, please do not come here. Our town is full of OPPORTUNITY and we don’t want haters to stand in our way! If you have a skill and believe in a brighter tomorrow, please come here! Our town is ripe for the picking and ready for growth! All it takes is one more person to say I CAN DO IT. If The Mulefoot can succeed here, so can you!

The Mulefoot brings thousands of people from all over the Midwest to Imlay City on a weekly basis. You, as an entrepreneur, do not need to find customers! All you have to do is capture the attention of the people that are already coming here! Our guests are incredible people who care about quality, fun, and happiness! They are the QUALITY customer that every good business wants and they are already coming here! The question shouldn’t be “Why Imlay City” but rather WHY NOT?!

Imlay City was recently chosen as a semi-finalist in a competition called America’s Best Communities. We were chosen because we ARE the best and we will continue to be. Imlay City will support you in every way, believe me! I personally will support every dreamer who wants to call Imlay City home.

Who will join me?

I love you all!

Michael Romine
Executive Chef and Owner
The Mulefoot Gastropub

 

June 19, 2015

Little Hotties

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Little Hotties

!!Picosssitos!!  Ayy Mami!

For those of you who don’t know, picoso means very hot, and anything with the suffix -ito is little, so picossito means “Little Hotties”!  By now, you’re probably wondering what the hell I’m talking about.

A “picosssito” is a salty, sour, spicy corn flour chip from Mexico.  You know, the ones that are full of chemical-laden-shit-ingredients that no respectable chef would ingest normally, but is secretly addicted to at their favorite taco dive? Yes, they’re the ones that stain your fingers nuclear red.

If you know me, you know I have a special fondness for all things from Mexico.  I love their food, music, folk art, attitudes, and mostly their people!  I’m sure the finest chefs in Mexico would stab me with their sharpest cuchillo if they thought I was promoting junk food as the pride of their homeland, so let me make it abundantly clear that I am not!   The only reason I even mentioned the “picosssitos” is because there is a left over bag on my desk, reminding me of how much I love mi amigos south of the border.  The depth of flavor captured in the cuisine of Mexico is truly remarkable.  Mexico, for me, represents a history of pride, love, and tradition that can be tasted in every dish.  Mexico is an experience.  I am so thankful that I get to experience that in my own home town!

Not too long ago, I was the Executive Chef for a resort in a tiny dessert town called Lajitas, Texas.  I lived in a small apartment with the kind of gorgeous sunset view that would literally leave you breathless.  The arroyos, mountains, and canyons left such an impression on my mind that I am often carried back there in my fondest daydreams.  The nature was my Mexican love at first sight!

My second love was even more profound but not as immediate.  When I started working in Lajitas, only one of the cooks spoke English.  A few others attempted spanglish, but mostly we communicated through hand signals and Google translate.  I found myself completely immersed in a language and culture that was totally new to me (besides Spanish class in middle school).  There is something to be said about a group of people who endure many hardships in life.  They are strong together, they support each other so much!  They are joyful and hardworking.  They smile, I mean REALLY SMILE, laugh deeply, and embrace one another!   If I mentioned in passing that I needed a new kitchen table, there would be one on the loading dock the following day!  Once I told a friend Vidal that I wanted a live chicken, and the next day it was there.  Thankfully, Vidal’s cousin was a chicken farmer!  You should have seen the hotel guests reaction when they drove past my apartment and found me outside killing chickens (wearing shorts, no shirt, and cowboy boots of course)!  As I worked next to these people every day, I realized that they have a way of living that every person in the world could learn from!  I sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, LOVE Mexican people!

For me, I feel that love EVERY TIME I walk through the door at Ruiz Taqueria in Imlay City.  It is not fine dining.  It is not gourmet. It is not over the top service and I’m glad its not.  Ruiz Taqueria is about the pork fat wafting in the air, the smell of chilies burning, and the masa permeating your nostrils.  Its AUTHENTIC, REAL, and DELICIOUS!  Don’t expect a salad, or guacamole, or cheese.  Its only tacos with cilantro, onion, and lime, salsa roja and salsa verde.  It always needs a shake of salt, but then they’re fantastic!  For the love of god, do not try to order a burrito!  Order the tripas, the lengua, or the cabeza and if you have a weak mind, don’t ask what it is! It’s cuisine with grit. It feels like the streets of Mexico and it’s the only restaurant I eat at in town.   In fact, my team and I have a tradition of eating here every Tuesday, taco Tuesday!

I invite you all to come to Imlay City for the day.  Start with lunch at Ruiz and tell them your amigos from The Mulefoot sent you.  After lunch, go north to Charlie Mann’s strawberry farm and show your children that berries don’t grow in plastic clam shells on the shelf at Kroger.  Finish with dinner and a cocktail at The Mulefoot.  Come to my town and experience the cultural diversity and flavors of the people here!  Oh, and by the way, if you are a craftsman/artisan and produce something with care, we’d love it if you’d stay!

I love you all, and I look forward to seeing you soon!

 

Michael Romine

Executive Chef

The Mulefoot Gastropub

June 5, 2015

Table Cloths And Cut Offs

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Yesterday, I met my mother at the front door of our restaurant. In her hand was a yellow envelope addressed to me.  “What is that?” I asked her.  Her response really got my blood pumping! “You don’t want to know!” she said!  As a matter of fact, I DO want to know!  I knew in that moment that the envelope undoubtably contained a long list of bullshit from someone who clearly is missing the point.

Inside the envelope was only a wrinkled paper comment card that every guest gets with their check.

The Scores (out of 5)… food 2, beverages 2, service 5. Overall experience, wouldn’t come back.

The scores are the first thing I see when I look at a comment card.  They’re like a magnet for your eyes, ready to fill your heart with joy or rip it from your chest.  I can deal with low scores when there is a reasonable explanation and an opportunity for improvement but this clearly wouldn’t be the case!  The best part of this card in particular was written on the back.  Here are a few quotes….

“When I walk into a restaurant and see the help wearing jeans and cut-offs, I don’t expect to pay these prices.”

“With your prices, I expect white table clothes, candles, and wait staff dressed accordingly. ”

“When we were ready to leave, we asked if you had a senior discount and was told no.  Very disappointed with your restaurant.  With those prices, you won’t last long in Imlay City.”

Now I am confused!  I can’t decide if I want to rage or crack up in a hysterical fit of laughter!  Who are these people and how did they end up here?  Did they know a single thing about us or did they just happen upon us passing by? What century were they born in?  For Christ’s sake, the prices are printed on the menu! They’re not a surprise!  There were so many thoughts and emotions going through my mind.

First of all, we are a gastropub.  That is, Gastro for gastronomy (the science of food and cooking) and pub for public house or tavern.  We are a bar with great food. That means you shouldn’t expect white table clothes!  I literally funded this restaurant with the tag line that we are “Fine dining without the bullshit!”  WE BUILT THIS RESTAURANT SO WE COULD HAVE GREAT FOOD AND BEER WITHOUT  THE PRETENTIOUS ATTITUDE!  INCREDIBLE FOOD AND SERVICE IN A LAID BACK ATMOSPHERE!  Our servers, who are all professionals (not “the help”), do in fact wear jeans.  We are not here to be formal! We ARE here to assist you in having a relaxed and delicious experience.

Secondly, we do not have discounts or freebies or blue plate specials and here is the reason why.  Everything we serve is made COMPLETELY by hand.  Our products are grown and hand crafted by HUMANS, AMERICANS, and PEOPLE IN YOUR COMMUNITY!  The people who make your food work hard, toil in the fields, slave in the kitchen, and devote their lives to giving you the finest flavor possible.  IT IS HARD WORK AND TAKES TIME!  We would be happy to give copious discounts if you would accept factory farmed, robot processed, chemical sprayed, disgusting crap (that isn’t really fit for human consumption) to be on your plate.  Actually. I rescind that last statement.  I would DIE before I succumb to spreading that filth around my community and especially to the people I love.

Now, I know my words may seem a little severe and scathing to those of you who live in a world of rainbows and butterflies and for that I apologize.  I am making a passionate plea to all of our community to consider the route your food takes from growth to the plate.  When you choose a restaurant, choose one who cares about you, the things you consume, and your community.  Choose your food based on QUALITY not quantity or cost!  When you support a quality restaurant like The Mulefoot, you are supporting local farms, local business, and local people!  We love you.  Honestly, from the deepest part of my heart, I love you!  Because I love you so much, I recommend that you do not come here if price is the most important part of your decision making.

In short, choosing to purchase cheap food is saying you do not care about the people who prepare your food or the people who  grow it.  Real chefs are professionals who study food, nutrition, and business.  Would you agree that they deserve to make more than $9 per hour?  What would happen if we as a culture EMBRACED great food and made it a priority in our lives?

 

With love,

Michael Romine, Executive Chef and Owner, The Mulefoot Gastropub