2008-05-24 / Top News

Grand Offers 'Taste' of Austrian Culture

By Caitlyn Kienitz

Professionals who are members of Grand Hotel's summer staff will present classes in Austrian food and drink as a way of sharing the culture of their home countries. Pictured (from left) are pastry cook Roman Marent, sommelier Arthur Fankhauser, Grand Hotel general manager John Hulett, sommelier Patrick Siegel, and cook Andreas Weinig. Professionals who are members of Grand Hotel's summer staff will present classes in Austrian food and drink as a way of sharing the culture of their home countries. Pictured (from left) are pastry cook Roman Marent, sommelier Arthur Fankhauser, Grand Hotel general manager John Hulett, sommelier Patrick Siegel, and cook Andreas Weinig. This summer's visitors to Mackinac Island will have the opportunity to give their vacations an international flavor. Grand Hotel is offering classes in Austrian and German food and drink as part of a cultural exchange program.

"The Austrian staff that we have are going to present classes to guests of the hotel and to the general public to give them a flavor, if you will, of the kind of food that they use in their own culture, as well as the types of wines and beverages they use," said John Hulett, Grand Hotel general manager.

The class content will vary widely. Visitors in the cooking classes might learn about anything from breads and pastries to soup and stews, depending on the day, Mr. Hulett said. The classes, which are presented by the hotel's Austrian chefs and sommeliers, will discuss cooking methods and preparation, as well as spices used in Austrian dishes.

The classes offer an opportunity to compare American dishes to the cuisine of other countries, Mr. Hulett said.

"When you and I think of goulash, we have something specific in our minds," he said. "When you say goulash to Austrians, it's an entirely different thing - no noodles, lots of meat. It's the same word with a different meaning."

The cultural exchange is a requirement of Q- 1 visas, a new avenue the hotel is exploring to bring summer workers to the Island. According to United States Immigration Services, the Q-1 visas are designated for individuals participating in an international cultural exchange program, to provide practical training, employment, and the sharing of the history, culture, and traditions of the workers' home countries.

Later this summer, the hotel hopes to also offer cultural exchange classes with staff from Jamaica. While the hotel plans to offer classes in Jamaican food and drink, as well, the classes could expand beyond the kitchen into topics such as dance, music, and religion.

The cultural exchange classes are limited to 25 participants per session and are first come, first served, although they may be expanded later.

"Once the program gets more involved and the season gets a little deeper, then we'll adjust accordingly," said Mr. Hulett.

The classes are open to the public as well as Grand Hotel guests.

The charge for non-guests is $25, from which the $15 Grand Hotel admission fee will be deducted. The charge for Grand Hotel guests is $10.

Presentations on Austrian food will take place Sunday, May 25, as well as June 7, 12, 19, and 28, all at 10 a.m. Beverage presentations will take place Tuesday, May 27, as well as June 2, 9, 21, and 23, all at 1 p.m.

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