Conifer was one of the many story subjects that got put on hold due to the pandemic. Last March I had reached out to brothers Patrick and Michael Evans about the idea of writing something on an upcoming kitchen takeover they were getting ready to do at The Cook’s House. Covid chaos ensued, the event got canceled, and the world missed out on a night of the duos carefully crafted cuisine (say that five times fast.) Not to worry, though. They’re back at it this year with a pop-up series at WaterFire Vineyards that begins next month.
These two young Traverse City chefs have years of culinary experience under their belt with a bulk of it being from time spent in various upscale restaurants throughout San Francisco.
“On and off we were there for a long time. Four years ago Mike moved back, and I’ve been here for about three at this point,” Patrick said.
Traverse City is where the two grew up. Despite both of them working in San Francisco, they didn’t spend much time working together. Conifer is their pop-up restaurant that has changed all of that. They’ve held various dinners at different restaurants and vineyards throughout the region. They’re known for selling out fast and showcasing locally foraged ingredients in their cooking.
“We’re really ingredient focused. When we started cooking in northern Michigan it was a great introduction to farm to table eating and cooking. But we have hard chops in California, so it’s shaped by some of that northern California, ingredient driven cuisine. But we have influences from all over the place. Is it New American? Is it regional? I’m not really sure but it’s northern Michigan, always with simplicity in mind.”
The Summer Wine Dinner Series will be held on the last Sunday of each month from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The five course tasting menu will be paired with a selection of WaterFire Vineyards sustainably grown wines. Tickets are sold through and will no doubt sell out for each event. The menus will change as peak season for local ingredients change.
“People will buy tickets and once we have a complete list for guests who will be joining us for that dinner, we’ll send out an email for food allergies and aversions. We take that and will write a menu closer to the actual date to see what’s available seasonally. So it will change every month completely.”
For anyone traveling downstate in early June, keep an eye out for their guest dinner at frame in Hazel Park on the 4th and the 5th.
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