This post is a bit off-topic from my usual writings.
Today I'm answering the question, posed by Pillar's corporate chef, Chef Traci: "What does Fine Cuisine mean to you?" (Here is a picture of her describing the wonderful food she presented at our recent monthly meeting).
For me, "Fine Cuisine" starts with fantastic ingredients. Chef Traci's trips to the Ann Arbor farmers' market is a great beginning.
Furthermore, Fine Cuisine (especially as it pertains to in-house corporate catering) should have both familiar elements and elements that are new and challenging enough to be inviting, inspiring, and educational. For example, Chef Traci served homey pork tenderloin sandwiches and spicy brussels sprouts and spicy green beans that might not be familiar to everyone, but which were accessible enough for lots of people to try!
Another Fine Cuisine requirement in my book: dishes that accommodate people with "special needs" that don't feel like afterthoughts but instead feel as integral to the menu as the other dishes. Some special dishes should be traditional enough to be recognized and enjoyed while some dishes give non-special-needs people the chance to learn that foods they might not have experienced (like veg/vegan or non-typical grains or vegetables) can be wonderful. Traci excels at this!
Finally, Fine Cuisine should span many parts of a meal: small bites, snacks, salads, entrees, desserts, and interesting alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages! Besides the variety of interesting craft beers, yesterday's meeting had a variety of sodas and a cucumber and berry-infused water!
Thanks Chef Traci for the question that got me thinking about all these things!