Detroit's Guns and Butter pops-up in Dubai this weekend only
Motown music, Eminem and automobiles, Detroit is known for plenty. But with Motown a thing of the past, the car industry struggling and Eminem too angry for his own good, the Michigan capital is bringing its cuisine to the top of that list.
And one of the leading pioneers of it is in Dubai for a limited time hoping to make converts of us all. Chef Craig Lieckfelt has been described as one of the culinary world’s rising talents, with a reputation that has gone from strength to strength since the launch of his ‘Guns and Butter’ pop-up dining experience in 2012.
Almost instantly, ‘Guns and Butter’ exploded onto the scene and was soon opening in New York. From there, Craig took the experience to India and Singapore – both of which were very receptive, he told us – and has London and Beirut in his sights.
But from December 11-14 he is in Dubai, and more specifically at Baker and Spice in Dukkan Al Manzil Downtown where he is offering 28 lucky individuals the chance to get a real taste of Detroit with ‘Guns and Butter’.
Diners can expect nothing formal, we’re told, it’s raw like its home city and as hipster as those who live there. Bringing in a crew that has a love for music and a passion for food, you can expect ‘Guns and Butter’ to be a laid back, fun gastronomic experioence – so chill out, kick back and get involved, which you can by booking on 04 447 5808 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more visit facebook.com/bakerandspicedubai
To whet your appetite, What’s On sat down with Craig to find out a little bit more…
Let’s start with the name; it’s certainly one that gets people wondering…
The whole vision of the company is to awaken people, make them talk, discuss things, and the name does that. It is derived from the economic theory, the way a country addresses what it spends its money on, military or domestic goods. We had an old economics teacher back in Detroit who was, let’s say ‘unique’, and he would use guns and butter as examples about 1000 times each class. So it became a bit of an inside joke in High School and then when I moved back from New York, it was a way of making a small group of my closest friends who remember this teacher chuckle. It’s very Detroit.
So what about the food, or ‘Great Lakes Cuisine’ as you call it…
The food scene in Detroit is something that on a national and international level hasn’t had the greatest respect. But for someone from the area, growing up there, I know it is filled with some amazing cuisine, and many different concepts. The city of Detroit is a real mix of cultures that represent their own backgrounds in the truest form, be that Polish, Greek, traditional American, European and even Middle Eastern. For me, Great Lakes Cuisine focuses on the product, the product that comes from the people. We are one of the most diverse varietals in the USA and huge producers of agriculture, too. But that gets lost somewhere.
Are the three ingredients that you think embody that most?
I would say, if I had to take three ingredients with me from Detroit, it would be Kielbasa, a smoked and cured meat, a sausage, that is traditionally Polish. Definitely that. Then there is salt, without a doubt. Our salt mines were very influential in the early years of Detroit as a city so it’s played a key role. And then of course fresh vegetables, but I couldn’t pick one specifically. The whole culture of growing your own is a real part of life in the city so that for me is what the cuisine can be all about. There is a huge culture of pickling those vegetables, too, so you cannot live without that.
How has the food you’ve taken from the city been received?
India was incredibly receptive, they were really very happy with what we provided. I didn’t try and take on Indian cuisine, but I stuck to my style and went into the markets and picked what I found to be the freshest produce. That was a great experience. Then in Singapore I was able to take some of my own ingredients, so I gave them a true essence of Detroit and they were really happy with that. Next, there is talk of us taking this to London, but also to Beirut into a gallery warehouse, and that would be absolutely amazing.
What do you think the ‘pop-up culture’ has bought to the restaurant business?
You know this culture has been around in big cities, you look at London where it is huge right now, and in LA where LudoBites trailblazed it, there is real traction to the concept. The format is there for long-term success and it has been great for me. The pop-up traditionally was designed to have a permanent restautant at the end of the tunnel, and I am no different. That’s why I am so excited that we will be opening up in Detroit in the summer. But it is a grand addition to the restaurant model, with less start-up costs, operating expenses and moving parts of the big machine. It means the little guy can prove himself and get to a place where he is rubbing shoulders with the established and supremely talented chefs.