100 Townsend Street
Birmingham, MI 48009
September 22, 2011
$160 per person inclusive
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HOST VENUE - Rugby Grille at the Townsend Hotel
The Townsend Hotel is a gem of European elegance, tucked away amidst the pleasing parks, sophisticated designer shops and nationally acclaimed art galleries of Birmingham.
A perfectly cut chandelier celebrates your arrival with glittering crystals of light. Cherry wood panels adorn the walls, while sprays of fresh flowers complete the traditional décor.
Exquisitely appointed Guest Rooms and Suites welcome you with fine furnishings, luxurious beds and linens, marble bathrooms, and the calm and privacy of a quiet suburban location. Our staff welcomes you with exceptional courtesy, a desire to serve, and genuine hospitality.
Our Rugby Grille offers a sumptuous menu of innovative American-Continental cuisine, accompanied by a selection of the world's finest wines and spirits. The Rugby Grille has been recognized with many culinary awards including, "One of the Top Ten Best Restaurants in the United States," by Zagat's Restaurant Guide.
The Townsend Hotel is a Forbes 4-Star and AAA 4-Diamond hotel, as well as a perennial favorite on the Condé Nast top hotels. A haven for the most discerning travelers, its splendid combination of amenities, service and setting await your pleasure.
GUEST CELEBRITY CHEF - Aaron Butts
RESTAURANT Joseph Decuis, Roanoke IN
Chef Aaron did not attend formal culinary school. He started cooking in high school, and was excelling so fast he didn't want to slow down to go to school. As part of the learning process he has done internships at restaurants, such as Fat Duck and Charlie Trotter's. In addition to internship, he has learned much through reading. He also has earned certification as a sommelier, which has helped him with wine pairings and cooking.
Working at Joseph Decuis, he has learned the importance of working with fresh local foods. At their farm, they raise Wagyu cattle, chickens, herbs, and vegetables. In addition, they supplement with produce, meats, and dairy items from other local and similarly minded farms. These other farms tend to be small farms, many of whom are producing heritage breeds. Working with these local farms, they serve items only when they're in season locally. As Chef Aaron stated, "Indiana tomatoes are amazing, but when they're gone, we don't have them any more. We don't buy them from California or Mexico to keep them on the menu."
Located in Indiana and having standards such as that, it may seem difficult to provide produce to their diners in the winter. Chef Aaron did note, "We do have to source, some things can't be grown locally. Our citrus comes from Florida. Arugula salad is grown north of Indianapolis, hydroponically, which keeps us in greens year round." In addition, this restaurant has formed a relationship with a local Amish family that should help solve the problem. The family has built a greenhouse and will be growing items, such as collard greens and kale, for the restaurant's use.
Discussing what he likes best on the menu, Chef Aaron indicated that the Wagyu beef was a favorite ingredient for cooking. The farm has been raising these cattle for seven years, and within that time it's changed what the chefs can do with the beef. Instead of working with only the "good cuts", such as filet, the chefs use all parts of the cow. As he explained, "We can elevate mundane cuts. When we are left with rounds, rump roasts, flank steak, and a ton of other cuts, we use cuts like that in a way that is up to our standard, which is always fun." In fact, next year they may try to butcher their own cattle to maximize the amount of cuts that they get.
Moving from food to customers, we discussed why Joseph Decuis has so many loyal patrons. Chef Aaron attributed it to two factors, "The quality of food and quality of service. It is leaps and bounds above local restaurants." He continued, "People come to us for the honesty of our food. Some people view it as a trend, but it is something we live by. It is not trendy. They know the eggs in the pasta are from 6 miles up the road. The chicken is fresh, never frozen. They know where the food is coming from."
Working at Joseph Decuis with truly farm fresh ingredients and dedicated staff, Chef Aaron may be another one of the reasons why their patrons are so loyal.
GUEST CELEBRITY CHEF - David Gilbert
RESTAURANT - Forest Grill, Birmingham MI
Chef David Gilbert is a yet another Oakland County born Michigan chef who has an impressive work history and has been deemed by Chef Polcyn as a "rising star" in the culinary world. He has worked at notable restaurants in both the United States and Europe such as the French Laundry (Yountville, California), L'Astrance (Paris, France), Martine Berastegui (San Sebastian, Spain), and Michel Bras (Laguiole, France). He moved back to Michigan in 2005 to take the position as the Chef at the Rugby Grill in Birmingham. There Chef Gilbert had many local accolades for his culinary excellence. One of Chef Gilbert's signatures dishes is his torchon de foie gras.
With Chef Gilbert's extensive knowledge and experiences in nouvelle French cuisine and traditional French cuisine made him an ideal fit for the Forest Grill. Working at various three-star Michelin rated restaurants in Europe and highly rated American restaurants has made him an ideal chef to work along side Chef Polcyn.
Chef Gilbert is a man of exceptionally high personal standards and values genuine collaboration. He has also participated at a guest chef at the "Celebrity Chef Series" at Stratford, Ontario's Chef's School. He continually travels to further expand his culinary knowledge and repertoire. Chef Gilbert is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and began his pre-CIA culinary career at Five Lakes Grill.
HOST CHEF - Jim Bologna
RESTAURANT - The Rugby Grille
Jim Bologna is the executive chef of The Rugby Grille at The Townsend Hotel in Birmingham, Mich. Bologna has held this position since August 2008 and manages the full array of culinary services at The Rugby Grille and at the hotel's nighttime hotspot, The Corner. Bologna also oversees all catering services for The Townsend Hotel. He is also responsible for the hotel's partnership with Local Farmers to deliver the freshest products available. Products used in the Rugby Grille's dishes are concentrated within 150 miles of Detroit to minimize the carbon footprint being made during delivery.
Prior to joining The Townsend, Bologna was executive chef for Morels/Shiraz and Capital Grille. He then joined Holiday Market, a high-end off-premise catering company located in Royal Oak, Mich., as the executive chef. While there, Bologna designed the company's kitchen and started a very successful cooking school, The Mirepoix.
Bologna graduated from Michigan State University, located in Lansing, Mich., with a degree in business and hospitality. He also received an associate's degree in culinary arts from Schoolcraft Community College, located in Livonia, Mich.