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GTPulse: Young Family Business Will Host Pop Up Brunches All Winter

What do you get when two chefs from Chicago fall in love, start a family and move to Northern Michigan? Modern Bird Bakery. The bakery is brand new and isn’t going to let the winter, and not yet having a brick and mortar stop them from serving up unique and tasty fare that extends far beyond baked goods.

Andy and Emily Elliot broke the most commonly broken rule of working in a restaurant; they began dating. The two were on the line at  Michelin star restaurant Boka in Chicago when they met and their passion and background in food bonded them. They both had attended culinary school and understood that working in a restaurant meant later nights, and not having weekends off.

Like many people who fall in love with Northern Michigan, Emily was introduced to the area as a child when her family visited to vacation. When she and Andy began dating, she brought him up. Their first visit together wasn’t the typical summer vacation.

“I had never been to Michigan before, which is funny because Chicago’s only a few hours away. We came up on January 1st. New Year’s Eve service is a long one in the restaurant industry and we were up really late that night. We got in the car and left at 10 o’clock in the morning and didn’t realize there was a blizzard going on. It took us almost 10 hours.”

Despite the blustery conditions, Andy enjoyed the region and when they came back to Traverse City that summer the couple felt inspired that this could be the place where they could make a home, a life and a business.

“From a culinary standpoint, the produce up here is amazing. It’s night and day from what you can get in Chicago. As a chef, you wanna go where the good raw product is because you have to do less to it to make it taste really good.”

The idea of starting a business of their own was always present and understood between Emily and Andy. They were interested in Traverse City, not only because of the town’s charm and beauty but also because they felt it was a community that they could be apart of. Something about living in a small town forces people to notice each other, and that noticing ultimately leads to the interest which leads to knowing.

“We really wanted to be a part of a community. The last apartment we lived in we lived there for five years. It was a big building and we knew maybe two of our neighbors. We knew we wanted to start a family up here.”

Modern Bird Bakery started this past summer at the Sara Hardy Farmers Market with baked goods. They wanted to start simple and provide market customers with something that they could easily enjoy while browsing around.

“We did a couple different scones, we did mini galettes, galettes are like little, open-face pies. Cookies, muffins, that sort of thing. The farmers market is a great entree to the community. We didn’t want to open something up right away without understanding the town and the area a little bit more.”

Emily and Andy aren’t quite ready to open up a place of their own yet, but they have gotten creative with how they’ll continue to cook and bake for the community throughout the winter with a monthly pop-up brunch hosted at The Little Fleet. 

The creativity doesn’t stop there. Modern Bird’s first brunch was hosted this past weekend and featured typical brunch fare like a New York City bodega style bacon, egg and cheese bagel, but also uncommon brunch items like a whitefish tartine or a meatloaf sandwich. Naturally, the items are brainchildren of Andy and Emily’s.

“It’s just stuff that we would wanna eat. My mom would always make meatloaf and I’m the oldest of three boys, my two younger brothers hated meatloaf so when my mom made it I was always stoked that I would have half a meatloaf to myself for the next three days.”

They plan on having fresh menus each brunch but will keep on fan favorites.

As for the name? Modern Bird Bakery came from their early days of dating and falling in love in Chicago.

“Oftentimes, when you’re a young line cook you go out after Saturday night service to bars that are open very late and we would get to Emily’s apartment and dance to Modern Love by David Bowie. Em and I would change it to Modern Bird for some reason and it became an inside joke between us.”

Fall in love with Modern Bird Bakery this winter at The Little Fleet. Who doesn’t love a reason to go to brunch?

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