Home Is Where the Coney Is

Lake Michigan’s coastline from 30,000 feet

Lake Michigan’s coastline from 30,000 feet

Great Lakes. Tigers (the baseball playing kind). “Up North.” Lemonade. Ice cream. Coney dogs.

This eclectic group of pastimes and food cravings describe summertime in Michigan, my home state. And I remembered just what makes summer so summery (besides steamy Midwest temps) in the Great Lake state during a recent visit home to celebrate my nieces Abbey’s and Allie’s graduations.

As my older niece Allie wrapped up her high school career, the primo food event that week centered on her graduation open house – when family and her parents’/grandparents’ friends would embarrassingly (but lovingly) reminisce about “how fast she’d grown up.” And memories and food go hand-in-hand.

Months ago, Allie landed on her open house theme: summer picnic. Daisies and a summer picnic. Let the picnicking begin …

Lemonade + Iced Tea

Every summer picnic’s favorite refreshing combo – as good apart as they are together. A Michigander enjoys an “Arnold Palmer” as much as the next guy.

Who doesn't love a pitcher of Arnold Palmer?

Who doesn’t love a pitcher of Arnold Palmer?

Summer Salad

Michigan builds cars. But did you know we also build a killer salad bar? A real Michigan salad never leaves off dried sweet/tart cherries (sometimes cranberries), crumbly blue cheese, crunchy pecans or walnuts and a tangy vinaigrette dressing. Toss in crisp cucumbers, juicy tomatoes, crispy bacon bits – with a side of my mom’s homemade macaroni salad – and you’ve got a picnic salad party.

Fresh Fruit

Traverse City, on the banks of northern Lake Michigan, is one of the world’s cherry capitals. Michigan also happens to grow some of the juiciest, sweetest, bluest blueberries. It’s true. If you’re ever at a Michigan summer picnic without a fruit salad heavy on the blueberries, something has gone wrong.

Essential for a Michigan summer picnic!

Essential for a Michigan summer picnic!

Sweet Daisies

Apple blossoms are Michigan’s official state flower, but daisies are a universal summer thing. This picnic sported white chocolate daisy lollipops from a local candy maker among the daisy desserts.

Daisy desserts are the perfect treat for a summer party

Daisy desserts are the perfect treat for a summer party

Not Just Any Hotdog

Hotdogs … an American summer staple. This open house picnic hotdog spread (my sister’s genius) included recipes & ingredients to tailor your ‘dog: Barbeque Bacon-style, Ballpark-style, Chicago-style. But the ultimate Michigan picnic show stealer is the Coney Island Dog (or “Coney” if you’re a local): grilled beef hotdog, with locally made Coney sauce (all meat), yellow mustard and chopped white onion. And you’ll only make the rookie mistake once of describing a Coney as “just like a chili dog.” Flint Coney? Detroit Coney? Different towns put their unique spin on their Coney secret sauce. Serious sauce business … worthy of its own blog post. (Ask Anthony Bourdain, who just scratched the Coney surface during his ‘Parts Unknown’ Detroit journey.)

Uniquely, deliciously, purely Michigan.

If you find yourself exploring Michigan, just ask where to find a good Coney and directions to “Up North” (which really does exist) … and a friendly Michigander will point you the right way.

Cannes You Taste It?

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to attend the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity that celebrates the most amazing marketing campaigns from around the globe. As part of a Ketchum creative crew sent to soak it all in and report back the best creative morsels to colleagues and clients, I traveled to France hungry for some new inspiration.

What I actually found was that some of the most beautiful examples of creativity were not formally competing. Instead, they were found in the window displays and on the dessert menus of the best the French Riviera had to offer. Here are my top three favorite purveyors of works of edible art that I was lucky enough to experience:

Chocolate treasure boxes, Jean Luc Pele.

Stop #1 – Jean Luc Pele, a local chocolatier, designs the most beautiful chocolate creations I have ever seen. From the treasure chests filled with tiny delicacies to the macaron towers constructed with every flavor in the rainbow to the flowing chocolate fountain wall, there is no way a passer-by could resist. Each day, I allowed myself two macarons, coercing myself to choose one from their sweet collection and one from the salted collection. Caramel with sea salt is all you need to know, period. Check out the gorgeous menu items at http://www.jeanlucpele.com/fr. [Read more…]

Dog Days of Summer

Note from the editor: While our headquarters is in New York, Ketchum is a global agency. Please indulge our U.S.-based team of summer fellows to share in their love of one of the foods that’s associated with our 4th of July holiday. If you live outside the states, please let me know about your country’s hallmark holiday foods and we will gladly feature your story on @ppetite. Amy

Fourth of July weekend is always one of my favorite times of the year. There are so many reasons why this last weekend was amazing – family, friends, fresh air, but one dish really sets the holiday apart. We’re all obliged to indulge in a hot diggity dog.

I love this entree option, but it did make me wonder – where did the delicious dog come from? According to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, “Sausage is one of the oldest forms of processed food, having been mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey as far back as the 9th Century B.C.” There is still some debate as to whether Frankfurt-am-Main in Germany created the hot dog or Johann Georghehner (a butcher living in Colburg, Germany) but it is believed that the North American hot dog was inspired by the different variations of European sausage from butchers of all nationalities.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, we at Ketchum wanted to embrace some hometown favorites from past Fourths!

Frank First

As a proper Bostonian, I have to boast about our ballgame treat – The Fenway Frank. I’ve found there’s no place better to get a hot dog in the city. Don’t worry, locals don’t order “a frank” we still order it as a “hot dog”.

Fenway Park - Home of the Red Sox and the Frank!

Fenway Park – Home of the Red Sox and the Frank!

Jacksonville’s Gem

Olivia Wilson, Ketchum’s San Francisco’s Brand team Summer Fellow, recommends Hot Dog Hut for all visitors in the Jacksonville area. “My favorite place to get a hot dog is in Jacksonville Beach, Fla – Hot Dog Hut! It’s a super cute little hut right off the main drag of beach bars and about a block from the Pier. They have tons of toppings but personally I tend to stick with a simple hot dog with onions and ketchup! Definite must try if you’re in Northeast Florida.”

Park Dog

Alyson Barnes, Senior Account Executive in Ketchum West’s Food & Nutrition Practice Group, can vouch that the ball parks she’s visited have lived up to expectations: “Nothing says summer has arrived quite like the first bite of a hot dog at a baseball stadium. From Skyline in Cincy, Nathan’s in the Bronx, and brats here in SF, the hot dogs around the league are as diverse as the teams themselves!”

Alyson's own shot of her favorite ballgame treat!

Alyson’s own shot of her favorite ballgame treat!


Dressing Up the Dog Across the Pond

If you won’t be stateside for America’s birthday, London has a pretty phenomenal option. Bubbledogs is a very small restaurant that specializes in gourmet hot dogs and champagne. It sounds like a crazy combination, but I highly recommend it! Just be sure to make a reservation in advance.

A fancy twist from across the pond

A fancy twist from across the pond


Hot dogs are an integral part of American culture. Did you know “Hot Dog” was Mickey Mouse’s first spoken word? Whether you were in a ball park or a backyard, we hope you enjoyed the dish of the day!

Eating My Way Through Asia: The Photos

Recently, I was lucky enough to travel to Asia on behalf of Ketchum, both as a global scholar and as a trainer of our planning process, RISC.  In a whirlwind of a month, I went through Singapore, Mumbai, Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. When people ask about the experience, I point to the photos, which are mostly of food, naturally. Food is important within all cultures but it takes new heights in Asia. There, food is a manifestation of your persona – your heritage, your hometown, your ability to provide for your family, your graciousness towards a guest in your care. In India alone, I was astounded at the nuances of completely different cuisine belonging to certain regions of India – never again will I order “Indian” and not question if it’s North Indian or Gujarati, to name just two of many.

Here, I take you through my top food experiences, as seen through a selection of my personal photos.

Conveyor Belt Sushi, Singapore
Conveyor Belt Sushi: Though this has certainly hit the US before as a novelty thing, the complete normalcy of this experience in a Singapore mall is what struck me. Why wouldn’t one endlessly grab new dishes off a fast moving belt? For variety-addicts like me, this was one exciting meal (and one that could’ve gone on forever).

[Read more…]

“I’ll have the calf’s head, please,” said my son.

There comes a time in every parent’s life, I suppose, when you see a glimpse of how you have helped shape an emerging adult. Such a moment happened to me last Wednesday night during a vacation with my twin teenage sons at a bistro in Paris. In celebration of some big milestones in my life, I decided a very special trip was in order. Ryan and Joe accompanied me to London and Paris, so I could have the extreme pleasure of expanding their horizons, while treating myself at the same time. A perfect combination.

Springtime in Paris.

Springtime in Paris.

[Read more…]

Going Green in Frankfurt

One of the most delightful surprises of my recent trip to Europe was the city of Frankfurt, a crossroads of culture, architecture and amazing food.

Schriber-Heynes Proletariat, Frankfurt

Schriber-Heynes Proletariat, Frankfurt

Natalie Haut, my host from Ketchum’s Frankfurt office, treated me to the incomparable experience of eating at one of Frankfurt’s famed apfelwein (apple wine) restaurants, Schreiber-Heynes Proletariat. We sat at a long, scarred wooden table, which probably dated back to the 1870s when the restaurant first opened, and had jugs of apfelwein with delicious, coarse German bread.

[Read more…]

Dining in Sochi? An Insider’s Advice on Five-Ring Restaurants.

It took Sochi just a little more than five intense years to turn from a post-Soviet seaside resort with a rather confined local cuisine into a world-class fusion gourmet spot. The Olympic dream fueled the transition, motivating restaurateurs to showcase the bounty of the region and experiment with local Caucasian herbs and spices in the Olympic mode of mixing cultures in a positive environment. For years the Greater Sochi area has been a melting pot of cultures and nationalities blending Greeks,  Armenians, Abkhaz, and Georgians. In the spirit of the winter Games, the chefs have added an Alpine flair to their cuisine. As a result, Sochi’s restaurant scene is hot enough to attract every athlete, coach, fan, or loving mom who came to Sochi to see her child win a medal against all odds.

Sanki Sliding Center, Krasnaya Polyana near Sochi. Source: Reuters Fabrizio

Sanki Sliding Center, Krasnaya Polyana near Sochi. Source: Reuters Fabrizio

In the last seven years Sochi went through a major urban transformation. And right now it is a welcoming Olympic hub. From the local market to the cozy tavern, one can just taste it. Here Olympic Rings might well compete with Michelin Stars. As a proud Russian, I share with you the following list of some of the hottest Sochi dining hot spots.

[Read more…]

Dakar, Senegal’s First Restaurant Week Is Worth Checking Out

Restaurant weeks have been a part of foodie culture for as long as anyone can remember. Even so, these highly anticipated annual events are generally only thought of as something that happens in the world’s more well-known food-centric cities: New York, London, San Francisco, Paris…

The truth is, there are food lovers everywhere. Afua Hirsch wrote for The Guardian about foodies in Ghana, and this week, Senegal joined the ranks of foodie cities with the first ever Dakar Restaurant Week.

Dakar Restaurant Week founders Shruti Dhanda (l) and Diarra Gueye, hard at work

Dakar Restaurant Week founders Shruti Dhanda (l) and Diarra Gueye, hard at work

Dakar Restaurant Week (DRW) founders Shruti and Diarra met during college in Minnesota, but they couldn’t have come from more diverse backgrounds. Diarra, Senegalese by birth, moved to Norway as a teenager to attend school, and Shruti is originally from India, but grew up in the Philippines. They both quit their high-flying jobs in Los Angeles and New York to follow what makes them truly happy, and much of their joy is centered around food. For Diarra, Senegalese culture is all about eating out and dressing up. “You’ll go broke,” she says, “but it’s our culture.” At the same time, Senegalese people have reservations about eating out. “Saying that you’re going to a restaurant is like saying that you’re taking a trip to Vegas. It’s seen as something that’s for the very rich,” Shruti explains, adding that DRW is a way of showing that food at high-quality restaurants is accessible for Dakar’s middle class. [Read more…]

Rediscovering the San Francisco Mission District — One Bite at a Time

If there was ever a time I thought one street, in one city, could redefine what that city stood for, it would be Valencia Street in San Francisco.  I lived just a few blocks away for many years, and Valencia was where you went to get cheap Mexican food and even cheaper drinks. After 10:00 p.m., you watched your back and your wallet. Today, just three years later, it’s one of the most thriving foodie neighborhoods in the country, with a flurry of new restaurants, artisan food and design outlets that will blow your mind.

Single origin chocolate brownie flight at Dandelion

Single origin chocolate brownie flight at Dandelion

Just last week, I embarked with my colleagues and clients on one of our special FOODive culinary immersion tours. The idea is simple. Rather than reading about the hot food trends, we take our clients into the field to experience the latest and greatest in food and design first hand. That way we are the judges of what may become the next big thing in food and beverage.

OK, so what did we see that was so unbelievably cool and delicious on Valencia Street?

[Read more…]