Friends, however difficult the pandemic has been for the restaurant industry, this year has also reminded us of many of the difficult, chronic issues that our society continues to face. Among the local organizations affecting change is Detroit Food & Entrepreneurship Academy, which works with hundreds of students each year. Our team has elected to do what we can to help further their mission, so we’re delighted to announce that we’re hosting a benefit dinner next month.
Having hosted DFA students at Selden Standard for internships in the past, we know and love the organization. Tiffany and her colleagues are helping to address a troubling statistic: nearly 20% of young Detroiters are neither working nor in school. This is where DFA enters, co-creating with over 300 students year-round through leadership development programming rooted in schools, our food community, and our neighborhoods.
In their food entrepreneurship program, students become creators of their own food business projects – inviting all the self-discovery, innovation, growth that process generates. Through the after school, advanced, summer, and business-launch programs, young Detroiters gain a solid foundation in culinary arts, health and wellness, food systems, and business essentials. DFA’s project-based learning model invites students to work both as individuals and in teams to apply their learnings, engage with community, and launch a food-based business project with tangible impact. Participants gain the confidence, community connections, and hard and soft skills for professional, academic, and personal well-being.
DFA focuses primarily on youth aged 14-22, offering opportunities for hands-on educational attainment, growth of career skills, and personal and leadership development. Students who have been through DFA programs overwhelmingly report improved academic performance, confidence, and relationships with peers and adults alike. We’ve had some of these students work in our kitchen, and we’d love to see DFA’s programming continue to expand.
Can such an engagement-based program continue to be effective under such unusual circumstances? It can: since March 2020, Detroit Food & Entrepreneurship Academy has shifted to a virtual format, delivering programs digitally on Zoom. In the DFA team’s own words:
[Going online] has allowed us to open our doors to a wider audience. In a typical year we serve 13 school and community-based sites in Detroit. With the switch to online programming, we now have students from all over Southeast Michigan and as far away as North Carolina. We have continued with our Afterschool Leadership Programming, now open to all youth who apply and are oriented with us, and also have launched a monthly family cooking program, where families can cook alongside a certified chef to make a healthy meal. We currently have one in-person site at the Downtown Youth Boxing gym where we are supporting groups of students learning healthy cooking techniques, nutrition and fitness. In the winter months we will partner with local fitness leaders to offer free virtual movement classes to our youth and their families.
Although we are remote, we will be ensuring hands-on learning by delivering nourishing groceries, kitchen equipment, PPE, and fitness equipment right to our students’ homes. This will allow us to continue engagement with hundreds of youth across the region while helping families meet their needs.
While you’ll miss some great food and wine, you still have a chance to support a great organization. Visit the DFA website to help support their mission.
Tickets are non-refundable and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Should COVID concerns cause a shut-down or safety issues, we may reschedule for a later date. As always, we will do our best to accommodate all allergies and dietary restrictions, but we ask that you email us after booking so we have advance notice.
Friends, Guests, and Hopeful Denizens of the Selden Patio,
After 94 days, our doors will open again on June 18. Like many of you, many of us are eager to return to restaurants and to see familiar faces. And also like many of you, many of us want to experience the world as safely as possible.
Think of it like Truman Capote’s “Black and White Ball,” and expect everyone to be donning masks in one form or another. Just don’t be Andy Warhol and refuse to wear one altogether.
Wearing masks is one of the rules. There are others. Fortunately, the State has advised we post them for everyone’s convenience and reading pleasure:
In addition to wearing masks, the Selden team will be using other new protocols to ensure your safety – and theirs.
Other changes have less to do with safety and everything to do with ensuring you’ll have as good a time as you would have had at Capote’s Masquerade Ball: We’ve made some small touch ups to our dining room. And we’ve added some capacity for preparing food on our wood grill. Lastly, while our plates are still perfectly shareable, we’re adjusting portion sizes and the menu design so that it’s easier for diners to order a meal with courses of individual plates.
And for those guests at high risk who are unable to join us in our dining room, we’ll be launching online carryout ordering soon.
As has been widely reported, the COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult on the restaurant industry. That’s certainly true.
But it’s important to note that at 50% capacity, we couldn’t invite our entire staff back. Some restaurants are unable to re-open at all, and their staffs are without work. We were fortunate to be able to continue medical benefits for April, May, and June, but most hospitality workers have lost them if they ever even had them.
Some of our staff has lost family to COVID, and others must stay home to care for immunocompromised family, now unable to work in a public setting. Chances are good that some reading this are in a similar position.
We’re very much excited to see you again, but these few months have been a rather stark reminder that we’re quite privileged to be able to entertain our guests. So we hope you’ll join us – but if you have friends who work in restaurants or you frequent other restaurants, we hope you’ll offer them your support as well.
* * *
In short, while we’ve learned that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is a bit like the masquerade ball guest who is going to overstay their welcome well past sunrise, it’s not a guest that need keep us from enjoying one another’s company responsibly.
We promise to do our best to maintain a safe dining room and to serve delicious food and drink. Likewise, please respect the rules. Capote and Warhol might have wanted a raucous party, but we’ll settle for a lovely (and safe) dinner with friends.
Thanks for your help, your trust, and your support. Cheers!
On one hand, the throes of a global pandemic is a strange time to focus on awards.
On the other, what better time to celebrate happy moments? And we’ve got a big one to share: Pastry Chef Lena Sareini has just been featured in the Food & Wine annual Best New Chefs issue alongside some other great national talent.
From article: ‘I know a lot of times when people go out for dessert, it’s just an indulgence,” she says. Some might take just one or two bites before being overwhelmed with sugar. “I want to see empty plates come back.” To do this, Sareini, the pastry chef at Detroit’s Selden Standard, works savory elements—often unexpected ones—into each of her recipes.
If you’d like to take up Lena’s clean plate challenge, you can make (and eat) her Labneh Panna Cotta.
Anyhow, it’s hard for us to think of Lena as “new” since she’ll have been a part of our family for five years at the end of May, but it’s not hard for us to think of her as the best because, well, she is. Congrats to a great pastry chef and an even better person on another well-earned honor. Cheers (from six feet away) to Lena!
The 2020 James Beard Foundation semi-finalists were announced today. A heartfelt congratulations to our beloved Chef Andy Hollyday and Pastry Chef Lena Sareini on their respective Best Chef Great Lakes and Rising Star nods!
And of course, congrats to all our other friends in southeast Michigan for another impressive showing: Sister Pie, Mabel Gray, Marrow, The Sugar House, ima, Miss Kim, Zingerman’s Roadhouse, Saffron de Twah, and the Eid family. It’s an honor and a delight to a part of this evolving food and dining scene with you all.
Every so often, especially around the holiday season, we like to share a recipe or two that you can use at your own table. With Thanksgiving fast approaching, we thought we’d offer up a Brussels sprouts dish.
Ingredients (serves ~4)
Preheat oven to 400 F. Coat a baking sheet with the quarter cup of olive oil. Place the sprouts cut side down in an even layer. Place in the oven and roast for about 30-45 minutes. Check every fifteen minutes. Be sure the cut sides are golden brown and the sprouts are just tender.
While sprouts are roasting, mix together the vinegar, shallot, garlic, mustard, honey and remaining half cup of oil. Season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper and set aside. When the sprouts are done roasting, place them in a large mixing bowl with the walnuts and blue cheese. Season with salt and pepper and dress with as much of the vinaigrette as you like. Reserve any remaining vinaigrette for another use.
This recipe lends itself to modification, so feel free to play around by substituting different nuts, cheeses, or vinaigrettes. Add a seasonal fruit to change things up. Sliced apples or pears, sliced dates, or dried figs all work well here.
For other Thanksgiving recipes, check some of our past posts.