This week on "What's the Buzz" our panel is discussing the growing food scene in Detroit. We invited three professionals with ties to the culinary world to sit on our panel: Chef James Rigato, the owner of Mabel Gray in Hazel Park; Joe Cosenza, the Chef de Cuisine and instructor at Henry Ford College; and Serena Maria Daniels, the co-founder of the food magazine "Tostada."
Our first topic: when do we hit the restaurant peak in Detroit? Are we getting close? Have we already hit it? Rigato started the group off, saying, no, we have not reached peak restaurant just yet. Detroit is a big city and there are a lot of neighborhoods that are still growing. Cosenza agreed, saying it is all about what the community will support. Daniels also agreed, saying that to get there we need to see a lot more restaurant density.
Recently a local restaurant critic gave a rather harsh review of a new restaurant, saying essentially, great, just what Detroit needs, another burger bar. Is this form of criticism fair? Again, Rigato got the discussion started saying critical journalism is necessary and benefits all. Just opening a restaurant is not enough these days, you need to contribute to the conversation. Daniels agreed, but said someone coming into the city will want choices, and so multiple burger joints are all different choices. Cosenza says critical journalism causes chefs to push themselves to create new, inventive dishes. He also said that just because something critical was written about a restaurant, it doesn't mean he won't still go there to try and make his own decision about it. They also clarified critical journalism is much different than the lists you will get off of a restaurant website like Eater or Food Beast, which can also be beneficial in their own way.
We then moved on to Instagram and social media in general, and how that is affecting the food scene. Rigato was very pro-social media, saying it allows restaurants to take advertising and marketing into their own hands. Daniels says she enjoys social media and says that it creates a communal experience.
Live in the D's Michelle Oliver asked our viewers if social media influenced what restaurants they wanted to try and here is what they had to say:
Wrapping up the conversation, host Jason Carr asked how optimistic they were about the Detroit food scene and they all said 7 or higher (on a scale of 10).
'What's the Buzz' airs every Monday on Live in the D; if you want your voice heard, look for the topic question posted Sundays on the Live in the D Facebook page.