An entrée from San Chez, a tapas bistro in Grand Rapids and one of the festival’s featured restaurants
An entrée from San Chez, a tapas bistro in Grand Rapids and one of the festival’s
featured restaurants

Commence Food Coma

Looking for Thanksgiving inspiration that transcends the usual turkey/stuffing/marshmallowed yam tradition? There will be all manner of culinary muses in Michigan this weekend at the 5th annual Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer & Food Festival—from 5 to 10 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 8; from 4 to 10 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 9; and from noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 10.

Roughly 14,000 visitors are expected to check out the epicurean offerings in Grand Rapids’ 40,000-square-foot Steelcase Ballroom. Throughout the exhibition hall, local fine-dining restaurants will offer tastings of their signature dishes. Workshops abound, on topics such as balsamic vinegars, cake design, sushi making, and cooking with seasonal ingredients. At the Riverfront Market, shoppers can buy luxury food products from imported olive oils and meat rubs to Bloody Mary mixes and specialty coffees.

Here, three highlights from the festival’s weekend offerings:

  1. Ready to get into holiday spirits? Check out the wares of more than 100 wineries from around the world. The festival will also feature an array of brew masters and distillers proffering samples of artisanal ales, lagers, and hand-crafted hard liquors. The “Wine and Spirits Stage” will host presentations by sommeliers, vintners, and brew masters; for the full schedule, click here.
  2. Hungry? Chefs from four fine dining establishments (Bar Divani, Tre Cugini, San Chez, and Spinnaker) will pair with wineries and breweries to offer multi-course meals wherein each dish is complemented by a specially chosen wine or beer. Tickets for each meal are $30 to $40 in advance; to purchase, click here.
  3. Looking for inspiration? Check out the numerous food seminars. Saturday’s classes include the author Jaye Beeler’s talk on Tasting and Touring Michigan’s Homegrown Food (3 and 5 p.m.) and a course in holiday canapés by local chef Angus Campbell (7 p.m.). For the full seminar schedule, click here.

GO The Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer & Food Festival, 303 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids, 800-328-6550,

Where to stay: Prairieside Suites Luxury Bed and Breakfast (3180 Washington Ave. SW, Grandville, 616-538-9442, provides luxury —all rooms have two-person Jacuzzis, fireplaces, king beds, heated towel bars and toilet seats, among other amenities—ensconced in modern décor; rates range from $239 to $269 a night. The City Flats Hotel (83 Monroe Ctr. NW, Grand Rapids, 616-451-1892, is an upscale, 28-room, eco-friendly hotel within walking distance of Grand Rapids attractions; rates range from $139 to $200.

Where to eat: At Six One Six (235 Louis Campeau Promenade NW, Grand Rapids, 616-242-1448,, executive chef Christian Madsen prepares large plates for sharing (such as mussels with house-made Andouille sausage) and a diverse array of entrées (goat cheese agnolotti, skate schnitzel). At Bar Divani (15 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids, 616-774-9463,, executive chef Colin McPhee offers braised oxtail, duck sliders, and quail with dandelion greens and prosciutto.


Photograph: Courtesy of San Chez